Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Sound of a Generation

(For more of my thoughts listen below)

I recently listened to NPR's All Songs Considered podcast "The Sound of a Generation". It is a really great discussion and some of the comments have stayed with me. I have been thinking about the music I used to listen to when growing up and a lot of it seems to have been omitted from their discussion.

According to their blog:

Every generation has its own soundtrack. The Silent Generation (people born in the '20s and '30s) had big band and swing. Baby Boomers (born in the '40s and '50s) had rock and soul. Generation X (born in the '60s and '70s) had grunge and hip-hop. There's plenty of overlap, of course, and these are incredibly broad distinctions that don't take a lot of other genres into consideration. But it's probably fair to say that these were the most defining moments in music for each generation.

Big-band jazz and swing was the sound of a nation celebrating itself during and after the War. What's now called classic rock was the perfect soundtrack for a rebellion, while the mopey angst of grunge captured the, well, mopey angst of disillusioned teens and twentysomethings coming off the Reagan years.

Why is Gen X defined by Grunge and Hip Hop? What about New Wave? That seems to be the first music we as a generation in the 80's could call our own. Depeche Mode, The Cure, Erasure . . . Was they not huge bands? They impacted TONS of today's artists. Nirvana, as called out in the podcast didn't break big until 1992. And there was alot more going on in the 80s besides the break out of Hip/Hop and Rap.

I can totally remember the first time I heard Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me by The Cure. It was like something out of a movie where my girlfriend put on the tape and I flipped through the liner notes while we tried to absorb all the sounds and lyrics. And by the time they got to Disintegration they were AMAZING!

Erasure's The Innocents also had a huge effect on me. I performed in a dance show as a sophomore in high school where half of the songs were from that album. They had tons of good stuff before that too. Anyone remember the live Two Ring Circus album? And how about Depeche Mode's Violator album? Influences from these artists and other like can still be heard in many indie rock and indie pop artists today.

And there were alot of other big artists that don't fall into the "New Wave" category but I'm not quite sure where they fit. What about U2 and R.E.M.?

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