Friday, September 23, 2005

The times they aren't a-changing

An article published on Slate today points out how much of the focus on Bob Dylan’s career tends to fall on the ‘60s, to the neglect of music he’s created since then. Author David Greenberg uses Martin Scorsese’s documentary, No Direction Home, and Dylan’s own memoir, Chronicles Vol. 1, as two recent examples of historical myopia.

Greenberg argues that's because:

"Scholarship and popular commentary alike are shaped by the baby boomers who lived through the period and have never quite transcended their own youthful enthusiasms. As Rick Perlstein noted in Lingua Franca several years ago, the preponderance of boomers in the historical profession—and, he might have added, in the culture overall—has made it hard for younger voices to gain a hearing for ideas that argue with the prevailing, familiar tale of the decade: Rebellious student youth challenges the conformity of establishment liberalism."

In other words, boomers in the ‘60s were at that point in their lives where the music was everything, man. Much like bands such as Nirvana and The Black Crowes defined much of my high school and early university years, the music of the ‘60s informed the dreams, philosophy and culture of boomers at the time. The difference is boomers are now in a position of great influence in North America, not to mention they’re one huge demographic.

All the talk of Bob Dylan also reminded me of a conversation between my wife and I earlier this week. So much of the music from the ‘60s has persevered for so many years – which bands from our generation will our kids listen to?

One can only surmise, but it’s a lot of fun. Will they dig out REM’s Automatic for the People and covet it the way I did my dad’s vinyl copy of Janis Joplin’s Pearl? Could Pearl Jam’s Ten one day be the equivalent of Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde?

Or maybe they'll just break their father's heart and latch onto Spice World.


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