Seriously, you’ve heard this “little ditty bout Jack and Diane” about 33,000 times over the course of your life. You’re still punching that song up on the jukebox?
I work part time at a bar/music venue in the cultural hub of Omaha, Nebraska known as Benson. It’s home to Saddle Creek Records, 1% Productions, and more art organizations than you could shake a thai stick at. Some nights I’m bar backing. Other nights I’m what the boss likes to call security and what the patrons like to call “the non-threatening skinny guy in a Security t-shirt”. The bar backing gig pays nearly triple what the security one does and has a third of the hassle. Unfortunately for the value of my Friday and Saturday nights, I haven’t bar backed in almost a month. So my precious weekend nights are spent meandering around a smoky establishment either breaking up one fight over the course of five hours or making sure that the hippies are wearing their shoes. Needless to say, there’s a lot of time to reflect on the observations I’m forced to make.
One particular theme that I’ve noticed forever finally pleads for explanation. How is it that guys, who have grown up listening to what would now be considered “classic rock” radio, are still dialing up Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” or any other classic rock standards? How is the auto mechanic from down the street still getting off work, after all these years of listening to these songs on the radio, and coming into his neighborhood establishment, slapping down a five spot for a drink, and using the change to blast “Sweet Home Alabama”?
I’ve been alive for twenty eight years now, which is about as long as some of these songs have been in existence, and I’ve been capable of musical appreciation for, probably, the last fifteen or so. I’ve heard these songs a great number of times, far fewer than those who grew up with these “hits” however, and I’m sick of them! How are the people who first bought ZZ Top’s Eliminator on vinyl not? I know “Legs” is a profound observation on the male libido and its constant intrusion into the equal treatment of women but c’mon.
If a guy, who hasn’t had nearly as much exposure to these songs as those who grew up with them have, is already tired of hearing them, how are you classic rock dinosaurs still spinning the same old songs? No one is playing “Achilles Last Stand” or some other obscure track from a legendary band at their local pub either, that would more than acceptable. No, the original rockers are all guzzling down PBR to “Good Times Bad Times”.
My favorite album of all time is Pink Floyd’s The Wall. It changed my life, much like it did so many others, blah blah blah. The Wall was in heavy rotation throughout the summer of ’93. It was the anthem of my adolescence and, while I would still drift off toward other albums like Rubberneck and a live Van Halen bootleg that I stole from my friend Bruce (who stole it from his uncle), I returned to Roger Waters’ tortured opus daily.
Guess how many times I’ve listened to it since.
Zero. It’s the most highly regarded album in my collection, responsible for altering my views of the world, and I still can’t go back and listen to it, not because it reminds me of my tortured youth but because I WORE IT THE FUCK OUT! There’s nothing left to enjoy! I’ve sucked that album completely dry and retired it to my own personal Hall of Fame.
Another great example of albums that I’ll most likely never listen to again is Pearl Jam’s Ten. Though not as highly considered amongst my many favorite albums, it still received its fair share of spins. So many that, like The Wall, it’s basically been retired. It doesn’t hold a place on the coveted mantle of my Hall of Fame but it’s a great album that had its time. I moved on and let that tired dog finally stop running.
Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power
Maxinquaye by Tricky
Metallica’s Black Album
The first two Portishead albums
Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral
All of these were integral to my adolescence and equally irrelevant to me today. I never listen to them. I’m not going to say I’ve found something better since them but, as I grow older, so do my tastes and needs for something contemporary. Which is why, again, I can’t understand the guy who rocks out to Back in Black like it was released yesterday. Has this man been forsaken by the advancement of space and time? Is he trapped in 1980? If so he is joined by thousands and something must be done. Mistakes must be acknowledged and a rescue team must be deployed. If not, then someone has to explain to me how millions of Rolling Stones fans checked their inquisitiveness at the gates of 1972. How do people who indulge their youthful years with creative exploration just decide to settle on the same music for the rest of their lives?
“What’s this? Radiohead? No thank you. I’m just fine here with Rush for the rest of my forty years on this planet.”
I know this all must sound very naive coming from a man of only twenty eight years old. But c’mon, my tastes have already evolved five times as much as George Thorogood’s primary fan base. Don’t tell me I’m still going to be listening to Alice In Chains twenty years after Facelift was first released.