CONCEITS OF THE FOGY SET
Recounting a fun conversation I had with a peer. By “peer”, I mean someone who was in and around my age. Like me he grew up with AC/DC, Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Clapton resurrected, and Stevie Ray Vaughan but we also weren’t so far removed from Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, and the Stones. We grew up with some great music all around us. Our preferences were influenced by the Sixties Gods, but also newer innovations in heavy metal, punk, and rock.
It so happens that the person I was having a conversation with was white, so we didn’t share many experiences with Rap or Hip Hop. That wasn’t our scene. I did, however, have the good fortune of sharing a dorm room with a very talented Hip Hop DJ, so I got to experience that cultural expression up close and personal as well. I didn’t realize it, but for a few years I was immersed in what turned out to be the Golden Age of Hip Hop. Eh! I was still into my rock and blues inspirations, but via DJ Sandman I did learn to respect Hip Hop as an art form.
Consequently, among the first political debates I ever got involved in was the free speech movement that emerged from the Tipper Gore PMRC Hearings in 1985 and later debates on 2 Live Crew and Ice-T.
Music was central to our lives.
And, as with most people my age, music is a magical source of nostalgia. We can lay back, put some of that old music on, turn up the speakers and, as Billy Joel said, “keep the faith.”
So, it was no surprise that we ended up in a discussion about…yep…you guessed it…”music these days.”
“What I really can’t stand,” my fellow fogy stated, grinding his fist into his palm, “is just how much today’s music sucks! I mean, how can they (young people) listen to that crap?” He then went on to list his grievances with musicthesedays.
I have to admit, there was a visceral part of me that wanted to agree, that wanted to lose myself in the warm comfort of fogyism.
But I have a teenager daughter…
…who’s a talented and passionate musician.
I have the good fortune of being subject to lots of musicthesedays when my daughter is in the car. And…well…I have to admit. Musicthesedays isn’t so bad. It’s just not…
…it’s just not MY music.
When it comes right down to it, the real problem we older folks have with musicthesedays is that it’s not made for us.
This is a real problem because in our formative years the music was, quite literally, made for us. Record producers since at least the 40’s learned to target their production to the youth. This strategy meant focusing on the most innovative sounds of the time. Jazz. Blues. Rock ‘n’ Roll. Punk. Metal. Hip Hop. Grunge. and…yes…musicthesedays.
My generation aligned musical expression with visual imagery. We spent untold hours watching the VJs on MTV roll out the latest Def Leppard. We then biked and later drove our clunkers to the record store to buy the album, in my case the cassettes.1 We then snapped them into our boom boxes and blasted the neighborhood with our favorite songs.2
That was our time. That was our music. It was made for us.
Later, our music faded to newer music. We were a little older for Nirvana or Pearl Jam, but we still liked it. We were hip. At least we tried to be…for a while. ish…
Eventually, much to soon it seems, it was impossible to even pretend. Musicthesedays dominated the radio and we were relegated to the Classic Rock station, Classic Vinyl or the Classic Rewind stations on Sirius.
Metallica is Classic Rock? Really? When did that happen?
This was quite the shock to us. Up to this time we really really believed that it was the culture’s job to make music for us…to make OUR music. But they weren’t doing it any more. They were making something else for someone else and we didn’t like it. We were entitled to our music, dammit! Where was it?
Here’s the cold hard reality that my friend and I and the rest of the Fogy Set simply have to accept. We had our time. That’s gone. It went the way of parachute pants and skinny ties.
But we still have our music! Plenty of it. We have an oeuvre of great music spanning from the Stones and the rise of Led Zep to the death of Kurt Cobain–maybe even a smattering of songs before and after that. It’s a great collection. Some of it my daughter even likes!
Some of us still have and treasure our vinyl. Our cassettes have long since demagnetized, but our CDs are still good.
Unfortunately, in most cases, the record stores are gone. That’s a source of loss and disappointment for us. But all is not lost. The kids with their musicthesedays have apps for that. For just a small investment we can have access to pretty much every song ever made and we can put together our Fogy Playlist, close our eyes and lose ourselves in memories of Members Only Jackets, jumping our Huffy’s, and the soundtracks that went with chasing the ice-cream man.
And if you are a member of the Fogy Set, maybe…just maybe…you can open your mind a bit and tune in to some Hozier or even some Arctic Monkeys. Music these days isn’t so bad. It’s just not made for us…
…and that’s okay.
- The guy I was conversing with was actually a bit older than me, so he had a larger vinyl collection than I did. His was the declining age of great album cover art!
- Boom boxes were soon replaced with Walkmans. I’m sure the Fogys of my time were thrilled. The Walkman meant I was blowing out my own eardrums, not every eardrum in the neighborhood.
A fun read. I have a 10- and. 13- year old and I, too, hear new music. I must admit Ihave a hard time with the auto tune vocals.
Your second footnote, tho, reminded me of an in-class discussion of whether the Walkman represented progress or repressive sublimation. The book being discussed was “One Dimensional Man!”
Thank you. I have a few posts lined up but they are all deep and serious. It’s been a rough week so I figured I’d do something light.
I’d love to say that I intended the Marcuse reference the whole time, but I fear the point just wandered into my mind as I was reflecting on my youth and writing. “Hey! …wait a minute!” 😀
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“Metallica is Classic Rock? Really? When did that happen?”
I was driving home from work listening to the “oldies” station. In my adult life, it changed from my grandfathers music (Sinatra, Big Band, Elvis, Dean Martin, et al) to my fathers music (my music lol. Dylan, Byrds, Animals, Beatles, Stones), to the in-betwixt stage of Billy Joel and Springsteen. It then went back to oldies and it was Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, etc. The great stuff. Mostly Motown. Then one day, I almost jumped out of the car. I don’t like musicthesedays, even when I was a lot younger. Here was Michael Jackson on the oldies station. No. They didn’t rename, rebrand, or have some kinda special segment. It was michael Jackson singing his little heart out about love. It took me to the end of the song to realize “oh wait, that was Jackson 5. Not exactly oldies, but at least it wasn’t Thriller!”
The next day? “like a Virgin” and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”.
Didn’t listen to the radio for a week in silent protest. Put it back on. It was my good ol’ oldies. The set was so weird I almost smashed the car in front of me and ended up pulling over for my brain to scream. Ok, it would have been the best damned concert in the history of time, but they were not all oldies.
Elvis, Lionel Ritchie, Beatles, Buddy Holly, Metallica, Bob Seeger and then Billy Jean. Commercial break is how I got the rest of the way home. Stayed in my car for the next set. Nirvana, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, chubby Checker, Ben E King and the Drifters, Backstreet Boys.
Honestly don’t know what came next. Just went inside the house. I didn’t like BSB when they were a thing. I certainly didn’t want them to taint this amazing show I had in my head as the music was playing. My ex heard Sonny and Cher on there too. Crazy world.
But that’s all good music. I am adamant that very little good music came out of most of the ‘90s or any of the 00’s forward.