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Generations think differently, or do they?

At a recent social gathering I was discussing the issue of musical tastes with a gent aged 28.

In the middle of our conversation – out of interest, having no idea of what answer he might give and alert to the possibility that it might be a combo or artiste of which I had never heard – I asked him to identify his all-time favourite band/musician.

He replied that, way out in front for him, was the British progressive-rock band Pink Floyd.

This prompted a further, lively not to say passionate, tributary of discourse for those present largely because it allowed me to extemporise upon one of my pet themes, that of musical taste as it applies to each individual and their vintage – or, if you like, their stage along life’s journey.

I told of some years ago being asked to supply details of my musical likes for a survey that takes place about every five years. Some time later, after taking part in my second of these, and indeed to a degree of surprise, I had come to appreciate [and Rust readers should here make allowance for my lack of intelligence, musical taste and indeed willingness to keep an open mind!] that in effect my musical tastes had become set in concrete in about 1985 and had remained there ever since.

The truth is that I gave up listening to ‘the latest’ (contemporary) music on the radio and elsewhere nearly 35 years ago now. These days, by choice, I rarely play CDs on my hi-fi and only hear contemporary music by accident, e.g. when I go to my health club and they play some out over the loudspeakers in the gymnasium. Some of it is pleasant enough but I am no longer in a mode when it moves me enough to want to buy – or download, even if I found out how to do this – it when I get back home.

I added at this point that I was fascinated that my companion had said his favourite band was Pink Floyd – why had he not chosen a ‘current’ band or artiste?

He replied it was because he’d always liked Pink Floyd’s music from the moment he’d first heard some.

This allowed me to pitch in with another of my pet subjects – my theory that (in bucket chemistry terms) popular music is vitally important to human beings only as they are growing up. Let’s take it for this purpose that we’re talking about the ages from three to thirty-three. After that, interest in ‘the latest’ music gradually and inevitably declines until the dial indicator points to zero.

That explained why in particular I liked the music of the 1960s and 1970s and my tastes were stuck there. I hastened to add that this wasn’t because the music of ‘my’ era was necessarily any better in terms of musicality or quality than that of any other. My interests in popular music had been established when they were – and that was that. As time moved on, my interests would not.

This explained why each successive generation liked different types of music.

It so happens that I still regularly read a range of popular monthly music magazines – and thereby could be said to be reasonably well-informed upon ‘the latest’ in thinking pop/rock.

However, the unvarnished truth is that [and I use these names only as ‘for instance’ examples], whilst I have followed the careers of bands like Radiohead, Muse, The Chemical Brothers and others over the course of the  past twenty years or so I can honestly state that I have never knowingly heard a single note of any song ever produced by any of them.

My companion begged to differ and I don’t mind admitting that his line of argument gave me a little surge of inner satisfaction and pride because he maintained it didn’t matter what era a song came from, the only issue was whether it was any good. Personally, in his opinion, the music of my youth was better than the music of today (his youth).

Here I lobbed in an anecdote from my own family past. About fifteen years ago, having gone out for an evening meal with my son – with whom I was having a fraught and somewhat fractious relationship at the time – I tried to steer our conversation away from more immediate and troublesome topics by chucking out a question of the type that by training every lawyer (not that I am one) will tell you should never be asked, viz. one to which you do not know the answer in advance.

“Who is your favourite band/artiste?” I heard myself asking.

Without hesitation the son and heir, aged about nineteen at the time, responded “The Kinks”.

It was at that moment that for the first time in my (or indeed his) life that I felt he and I had something in common, or – to be more accurate – at least the beginnings of a chance that one day we might reach the sunny uplands of a joyous mutual understanding and acceptance.

I bring all this up today because it was roughly about the same time as my offspring nominated The Kinks as his favourite band that he also told me of his theory that one day, in the not too distant future, vehicular transport as we know it would no longer exist.

Instead we would all be travelling about to whichever destination we chose by means of ‘one person-sized’ light aircraft, rather (as I understood his explanation) like futuristic versions of a powered hang glider.

At the time he told me this I dismissed his idea as nothing more than another symptom of how his warped and crackpot mind operated.

Then  I spotted this article by Cheyenne MacDonald overnight on the website of the – DAILY MAIL




About Michael Stuart

After university, Michael spent twelve years working for MELODY MAKER before going freelance. He claims to keep doing it because it is all he knows. More Posts