An argument young people can't win
As you get older you begin to understand that there are several things that younger generations enjoy that just weren’t around when you were their age. Or, I must admit, things have just gotten better.
For example, when I was a kid, we played Atari home video games. Today’s youth gets to enjoy the Playstation 4. I used to have a collection of more than 200 albums that still take up two shelves at my parents house. The same shelf area could probably hold about 1,000 (if not more) CDs today. Or, if you have an MP#, you could just have two empty shelves.
However, when it comes to music, saving shelf space is perhaps the only thing that has improved. It definitely isn’t the quality of the music. Our generation wins that one hands down. I used to think that I was simply getting older and was beginning to think the way my parents did when I began bringing KISS albums into the house.
I was wrong. Our music was better. Our bands made music the old fashioned way.
They played it.
Now there is some excellent music being made these days. I found that out when I interviewed Christian Mader, who plays with the Lafayette-based band Brass Bed, this past week. Their most recent album has gotten some excellent reviews recently, including being named the number one album (can we still use that word?) of 2013 by a website called Buzz and Howl. Their band beat out several other, better known acts for the top honor. Has anyone ever heard of this David Bowie guy?
I listened to some of it yesterday prior to interviewing Christian and it sounded just as advertised. In short, these guys are good.
When Christian was talking to me on Thursday, he said that the recent reviews they have received would look good on the resume of a “struggling band.”
Which begs the question: “Why are these guys struggling, when novelty acts such as Justin Bieber and Britney Spears are the one’s who are featured on the MTV music awards?”
Those two don’t have an ounce of creative talent between them insofar as I can tell. Sure, they both have great voices and are good dancers. But how many songs have they actually written? How many instruments have they mastered? Can they tell the difference between the notes A and B? Can they actually read a sheet of music?
I think the answer to the above questions in their respective orders are: None. None. No. No.
Now, insofar as them being nothing more than people with nice voices, I was wondering how that would compare with the crooners of a different time in music history. The guys my parents used to listen to — people like Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin - who used to leave the girls screaming much the same way as this Bieber kid.
There is a huge difference.
Sinatra would stand on a stage by himself and dazzle people with his near-perfect voice. The Bieber kid requires 50 (give or take) dancers behind him to stroke his ego.
And this is coming from a guy who never bought a Sinatra album in his life.
I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy the golden era of the true arena concerts. I’ve seen Stevie Nicks sing “Landslide.” I’ve seen Robert Plant perform “Kashmir.” I’ve seen James Taylor sing “Fire and Rain.” I’ve seen Mick Jagger and Keith “I’m a miracle of modern medicine” Richards performing “Angie.” And I’ve seen several other bands such as Van Halen (with David Lee Roth, not Sammy Hagar), The Cure and U2 whose names are forever engraved in music history.
How many people under the age of 30 out there can say that?
Now there were pop performers (sorry, I can’t call them artists) who made their money during this time, too. Do you remember the names Debbie Gibson and Tiffani? I couldn’t either. I had to Google to find them.
When I saw The Rolling Stones during their Steel Wheels tour in New Orleans — which was one of the first of their umpteenth “farewell tours” — I recall thinking at the time how nice it would have been to see them when they were much younger and in their prime. However, I’ve grown more tired of reading about whether or not Britney Spears is wearing her underwear than I am about one of the greatest bands that ever played.
Now maybe there is a band out there that I am missing entirely. In fact, there surely is. But why are there no acts coming to mind at the moment? Can anyone name the last time a band toured (and by this I mean a band that didn’t have dancers onstage) when tickets were sold out after only 30 minutes.
I remember having a friend sleep outside overnight to get tickets to U2’s Joshua Tree Tour. This was U2 when they were the hottest thing on the music scene. He arrived at Raccoon Records (remember that place?) at around 7 p.m. the night before tickets went on sale. He slept there overnight. I can’t tell you how frustrated we were when he was still unable to get tickets.
Luckily, my sister was at LSU at the time and had a connection with the people who worked at the Assembly Center. Their show that Thanksgiving night in 1987 was unforgettable. In fact, when thinking about everything U2 has put out since The Joshua Tree, they probably should’ve stopped touring right then.
So in 2030, when The Rolling Stones are in The Superdome on their 47th farewell tour, when Mick is onstage with a walker and Keith is playing guitar with an IV in his arm, my bald, chubby self will be right there on the front row holding up a lighter. Maybe they will even have a “not-quite-as-old” band called Brass Bed opening for them. However, I’ll probably be too old to sleep out overnight to get tickets. I’ll have to get my great grandchild to do that for me.
I do love listening to my music. In fact, if it wasn’t for the playlist on my computer I’d probably never get the dishes or laundry done at my house. But one thing I’ve noticed is that of the 300 plus songs on there, not one of them was recorded within the last 10 years.
So keep on daydreaming Beliebers. When it comes to taste in music, the Atari generation wins hands down.
Until next week.
Howell Dennis is a native of Lafayette, La. He attended the University of Texas at Arlington where he graduated in journalism and public relations.