I was born in January of 1958 which classifies me, by most definitions, as a late baby boomer. I’m not a big fan of labels, but I recognize the human need to categorize and so I accept, even embrace the baby boomer badge. Like every generation, we did a lot of things that we can take pride in. But it would be foolish not to recognize that there are a lot of things we could have done better. Music, I’m happy to say, is something we did quite well.
Though not a musician (by lack of talent, not by lack of desire), I have a deep appreciation for good music which began in my early teens. My album collection started with Simon and Garfunkel and the Beatles; and soon grew to include Elton John, Billy Joel, Harry Nilsson, Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, Queen, and many others of the mainstream artists of the day. Like all of us in that generation, I was totally dependent on the radio as my source for music. I listened eagerly to the latest offerings from my favorites, and always kept an eye (ear?) out for the new artist as well; always listening for something new, something fun and unique.
This thirst for new music continued through early adulthood. But I found it start to diminish when my life began to transition into fatherhood. From about the mid-eighties, I began to settle into my established favorites: Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, R.E.M., listening to them and the classic rockers over and over again (BTW, I still love all those guys). At best I was a casual observer of any new music; at worst, I was completely disinterested.
As my children grew into their early teens, I was pleased to discover that my love of music was passed on to all four of my children. And they, like their father began to show more than a passing interest in music. To my surprise, they were all quite accepting of the music that I listened to both currently and the early artists of my generation.
As their music appreciation grew, they were naturally exposed more and more to the music of their generation. This I was prepared for: of course they want to listen to the same music that their friends listen to. What I wasn’t prepared for was having that music played on my stereo.
At first I was resistant to this new stuff. It just wasn’t what I was used to. And groups called Deathcab for Cutie, the Killers, Snow Patrol and the Flaming Lips. I mean, really? Little by little, I began to lift the lid just a bit and allow that some of it to trickle in; I mean SOME of it was just OK. As the trickle began to grow to a steady current, I rediscovered that thirst for good, new music; and when the current became a blast from firehose, I got proactive about it. I mean, I’ve actually checked Vampire Weekend’s website to see when their new album might be coming out (no time soon, it turns out).
I believe that the artists of our generation discovered new paths down which music could travel. Those paths have branched out in ways too many to count. Don’t you want to see where at least some of them lead? So here I am, extending an invitation to you – my fellow baby boomers – to come along with me and explore this brave new world. I’ll be your guide, letting you know which paths are safe to walk down, which require a bit more risk, and which you probably would rather remain untraveled.