Of course, there's really a chance that when it comes to all these aging observations, that I am completely wrong. I blame enlightenment.
I played a show Saturday night. I'd never seen Vester Frey (the artist who played after me) before, but he was great. He focused on old timey country and blues, even playing a prohibition-era song or two.
It was cool, but I was mostly surprised that someone who appeared to be in his late twenties yet played songs from the 1930s did not appear to be an anachronism. There was in fact a decent amount of what could be called retro in the evening, yet none of it seemed out of place.
Why is that? When I was growing up, I was seen by some as a bit of a weirdo because I liked a lot of sixties and seventies artists. But for my situation to really be comparable, I'd have to have been listening to music from the 1890s when in high school. But I've long known 'the kids' are more apt to listen to old music than I when I was their age, dad-gummit. I've known plenty of undergraduates who knew more about Iron Maiden than I, and when I lived across from an undergrad hell apartment complex, I frequently heard them pulling out of their parking lot while blasting "Feels Like the First Time" or its ilk. I even once had a student tell me no good music had been made since The Beatles had broken up.
What's going on here? Don't get me wrong, because it's nice to see the kids show some sense of historical memory. But this historical musical awareness doesn't extend to history or any other cultural forms. Why retro music? I was discussing this with a friend at the show, and he suggested it was because kids now have more access to older culture via the internet. This has some possibilities, I argued, but when in high school, I had plenty of access to 1950s and 1960s music yet never started a Bill Haley cover band.
It's great that we can access more music from the past, but I suspect that we embrace old music is, I feel, not just that experiencing it is not just a matter of technology leading to increasing availability. Maybe people are actually becoming less time and genre-bound. Maybe, I argued to my friend, it was instead people of my generation who were too bound to fitting into categories. Maybe that means we are slowly becoming less culturally bound and more aware.
However, we stopped our conversation because we were way too close to having an old geezer "back in my day" moment. There are, after all, limits to enlightenment.