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March 30, 2012


I've been back lurking on ObWi for a while, after a long absence, but thought I'd like to throw out a random question for the US and non-US among you. There are a fair number of people at the moment in the UK arguing for it to adopt a model of the secular state, akin to the US. I wanted to ask a bit more about how in practice that worked, and whether people thought it increased or decreased tensions. I'm comparing it to the UK's situation: an official state church, but also laws against religious discrimination, high levels of atheism, and a considerable chunk of cultural Christianity. (Especially in England, there are a lot of people who never go to church, but the church they don't go to is the Church of England one).

I think a lot of what defines generations is what kind of music they grew up listening to. If you listened to (and at least felt like you should like) the same music as everybody in your peer group, you felt like you belonged. And that definitely defined you relative to what your parents' generation listened to. (My parents were Big Band; my siblings were all Rock and Roll or Folk.) If you have kids, you can either decry "that awful excuse for music that they listen to," or try to appreciate it so that you feel young like them.

But note that the desire to remain young seems to be a relatively recent one. If you grew up before the 1950s, being old meant being wise and having high status. If you came of age in the 1960s, suddenly anyone older than you was not high status -- "don't trust anyone over 30". And that shift meant that suddenly, instead of trying to seem older than you were, you were likely to try and seem younger than you were.

nice to see you magistra.

It's really difficult to say because local culture takes over quite a bit. Here in South Mississippi, Christianity manifests itself in a way quite different from other parts of the country. Also, that 'cultural Christianity' probably dictates that the UK government has to pay for upkeep on the properties and culturally significant locations because the base of Christians, even if they were to actually tithe, would not cover it.

...so the way to bait our hook is to make us feel like we are trendy, keeping up with the young-uns.

Am I understanding you correctly in thinking you mean to suggest that the inclusion of Extreme's "More than Words" in the greatest-ballads list is the hook that is supposed to make your (our?) generation feel all hip and with it? Or was Maroon 5 the hook?

The Extreme thing doesn't really make sense to me, except maybe for tying the early 80's to the early 90's. But that still doesn't really cut it AFAICT.

I agree with the overall point - though I'm trying to be crotchety in an effort to me more age-appropriate, in spite of my desire to be 25 (or 18?) forever.

I'm of the impression that there are a number of folks here are in that same target demographic, so if you are, defend us (or not), and if you aren't, make fun of us mercilessly.

The unduly harsh implication here is that ObWingers are either LJ's relatively youthful age or younger.

As someone who is in the very late third quarter, the only target demographics I fulfill are Lipitor and Viagra. Not that I, of all people, would ever need Viagra. Hell no, not a chance. I'm a machine. Broccoli.

wj, very true. It's always a bit striking to me, cause in Japan, getting old tends to manifest itself quite differently. Sure, there are folks who try stay young, but they are not the norm. In fact, there are a lot of older folks who take up some traditional Japanese art in their later years, which raises some interesting problems, given that these traditional arts often have an implicit age based hierarchy, so it can be really challenging to integrate older people into these hierarchies.

And hairshirt, I was just listening to this and watching all the big hair and the Extreme tune comes on. Doing the wiki thing, it came out in 1990, which seems stretching it for "Ultimate Rock Ballads, a collection of the greatest singers and most powerful rock ballads of the '70s and '80s."

I do think this chase for youth misses out on the best thing about getting old, which is telling young people to get the hell off your yard.

I grew up with my formative musical years spanning the later 60's and the early 70's. During that time my favorite bands were Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, Black Sabbath, The James Gang, Santana, Uriah Heep, Humble Pie, Kool and the Gang, Simon and Garfunkel,Sly and the Family Stone, Frank Zappa and the Grateful Dead.

Then I moved to Southern California solipsism, Gram Parsons, Jackson Browne, the Eagles, Dan Fogelberg, England Dan and John Ford Coley edging into John Prine, Poco and The Flying Burrito Brothers.

Then spent the rest of the 70's listening to Willie, Waylon, Leon Russell, Emmy Lou Harris, Rita Coolidge and Jerry Jeff Walker, although it's kind of hard to recall all the details.

And Kris Kristofferson is the best song writer ever. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young did the best live album ever, 4-Way Street.

The day the music died was when the first disco song hit number one, and I was suddenly the old guy in my early thirties.

So now I can't seem to make a playlist I like ANYONE else will listen to.

The kids just don't get it and I'm right, not old, despite my Touch of Grey.

Magistra, Wales has no established church. (The church I don't go to is the Anglican Church in Wales.) Scotland has what looks like an official church, but I believe that too is not established.

I doubt disestablishing the C of E would make much difference to anything, honestly.

McT, if Time-Life can slide a ballad from the 90's into "the most powerful rock ballads of the '70s and '80s", I'm sure we can get you into our demographic.

ccdg, choice rant. A hair before my time, but a fine vintage.

Looking at this:

If you listened to (and at least felt like you should like) the same music as everybody in your peer group, you felt like you belonged.

and this:

If you have kids, you can either decry "that awful excuse for music that they listen to," or try to appreciate it so that you feel young like them.

It seems there's at least one special case, one that I would say I fall into - the unrepentant, long-time head-banger. Having always disdained much of the music many of my peers listened to, even when I was much younger, and continuing to enjoy new music that is not very popular, though also enjoyed by a small subset of much younger people, there is a belonging that defies age.

When you go to a more underground metal show, or even a classic metal show (e.g. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest), there are always people in their teens through people into their fifities (mostly guys). The kids like (at least some of) the old stuff and the old-timers like (at least some of) the new stuff.

Metal, as such, was still somewhat new when I was young, so it wasn't always that way, because it hadn't been around long enough for people to have grown up with it. Just about everyone at an Iron Maiden concert in the mid-Eighties was under thirty. But it was always sort of an outsider thing, and it seems the older outsiders haven't left, and the younger outsiders continue to join in.

And if I criticize the music my kids listen to, it's mostly for reasons opposite those for which my parents would have criticized my music - it's not loud enough, it's not fast enough, it's too pretty or sweet or mamby-pamby.

What I find is that the music the kids listen to today is way too similar to what was on the radio when I was a teenager. It's just not that different. The last great revolution was the coming of hip-hop, and that started when I was a kid.

Lately, the big thing is new stuff that sounds like Sixties Motown, which was slightly before my time but still all over the old folks' stations.

About magistra's question: People sometimes say that the level of religious fervor in the US exists because we have no established church. But I think these things are very path-dependent. France has stronger separation of church and state than the US does, and it's got nothing like our evangelical religious right.

I would say I fall into - the unrepentant, long-time head-banger. Having always disdained much of the music many of my peers listened to,

HSH, I have a suspicion (based on minimal to nonexistant data) that ObWi has a disproportionate number of people like us. I prefer (self-servingly) to see it as a willingness to think for ourselves. An interest in things for theri own sake, not merely because they are popular with those around us.

Which, in fact, is why I play the radio in the car whenever I'm driving alone, and never when someone is with me. I just don't know anyone else who has the same musical taste that I do. Guess that's why I flip channels all the time: nobody's radio station quite fits either. ;-)

I grew up with my formative musical years....

That's a mighty fine coupla lists CCDG.

I was born in 1956, but I have two older sisters, and my mother was the oldest of her family and I had uncles who are not that much older than my oldest sister.

So I was kinda weaned on rat-pack era pop stuff via my uncles, and late 50's / early 60's pre-British-invasion R&B via my big sister's American Bandstand obsession.

"The Monkey Time", by Major Lance. Stuff like that. I still love that tune.

But when I plugged into my own non-family peer group, it was all very late 60's and 70's rock stuff. Cream, Traffic, Van, Jimi, Allmans.

I kinda checked out of pop music around the mid-80's. The last bands I think I was really excited about were folks like X, or the Psychedelic Furs. Early REM.

Grunge registered a bit. I listen to some hip-hop, but I'm really a tourist in that world.

So at some point the music I related to as a generational marker kind of wore off.

The way encroaching age registers with me are the increasing number of things about which, when I say "the next time I...", it occurs to me that that may not happen.

That, and all the people I love who are dead now.

the only target demographics I fulfill are Lipitor and Viagra.

Make mine an Advil. Or three.

I'm 42 years old, and still manage to find new music to listen to, although not much of it is what younger people are listening to. (At least not the stuff that drives the Billboard charts.) A lot of the bands are reprising genres that were popular when I was in high school and college (e.g. New Wave, postpunk and shoegaze), but some of it is genuinely newer sounding stuff, like Sleigh Bells or St. Vincent or Best Coast or MGMT. And I still love a lot of classic rock and pop, too. I try not to get pinned down.

like Sixties Motown, which was slightly before my time but still all over the old folks' stations.

Ageism raises its ugly head.

Actually I find that's a great way to introduce older or more staid listeners to newer bands, by finding points of comparison that make sense. Like, "Oh, you like Cheap Trick and ELO and The Beatles? You'll probably enjoy New Pornographers?" Or, "If you're a prog fan, you might enjoy MGMT." etc, etc

Phil, a music you think we should listen to guest post would be a fine thing. Actually, that offer goes out to wj, hsh and any other regular. Send it over to libjpn at gmail, and I'll put it up. Music hath charms to soothe the savage blog.

You'll probably enjoy New Pornographers?


McT, is it really ageism to refer to a station which advertises itself as the "True Oldies Channel" as "the old folks' station"? Seems like a case could be made that it's merely accepting the station's view of itself.

Between NP shows and solo shows I've seen Neko like five times in the last four years. She puts on an amazing show no matter what she's doing. Last time I saw the NPs at the House of Blues in Cleveland, she talked from the stage about what a crappy venue it was. Love her.

LJ, I'll give it some thought!

Seems like a case could be made that it's merely accepting the station's view of itself.

Perhaps I should have inserted a smiley face. I was kidding. I am old. Very.

All these posts by so-called "old" people and no mention of Sinatra, Crosby, Como, Martin, Merman.....or were they already old by the time the 50's rolled around?

For shame. ;)

For shame. ;)

Sorry, BP, there I was feeling bad about my age . . .

It did say open thread so I’m just stopping by to say hi. No politics or contemporary events or anything else. Just “Hello ObWi – I’ve missed you”.

Okay, for those of us who are closer to lj's age...

What's kind of weird is thinking back to when I was in high school and MTV was new, seeing videos by bands like the Who (Eminence Front got lots of play) and how they seemed so old (which they sort of were compared to bands like the Cure or U2). But they were younger then than I am now by more than half a decade. And now when I see them the way they looked back then, they look pretty damned young, and it's hard to fathom what made think they were so old, even though I was in my early teens at the time.

And now bands like Primus and Tool and Clutch have been around for more than 20 years and are composed of middle-aged guys. You know, the bands I started listening to after I was done college...

One thing about ageism that's different from racism or sexism or a number of other isms is that it's the only one you'll definitely be on any given side of if you live long enough, in the sense that someone or other will think you're too young or too old at some point, if not that you'll necessarily think those things about others.

Hi, OCSteve. Did you enjoy this year's non-winter here in the Middle Atlantic region?

HSH – GW? Not gonna go there. Just sayin’ Hello. (But - I did especially enjoy this winter…)

No, that was a purely innocent, face-value, apolitical question. In fact, it took me a while to figure out what you were asking me because it was so not on my mind. (And I'm more of a CC guy terminology-wise these days, I guess, though I might have picked up on AGW right away.)

One thing about ageism that's different from racism or sexism or a number of other isms is that it's the only one you'll definitely be on any given side of if you live long enough, in the sense that someone or other will think you're too young or too old at some point, if not that you'll necessarily think those things about others.

There's a lot of whippersnappery on this thread. I'm heading home for something soft for dinner, like a martini.

I'll bet we're all wippersnappers compared to this gymnast (at least chronologically).


I'm old remember being really irritated that Manfred Mann got a hit out of Blinded by the Light while no one was buying Greetings from Asbury Park.

And Springsteen rocked the Gahden Monday night at 62....the new 40, with old and new music.

I saw Rod Stewart(he's 67) in October, so I guess I keep going to see these guys so I can feel young, to lj's point.

Of course that whippersnapper Reznor(46) just keeps doing new and better stuff. Like the soundtrack for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (I remember when he was playing around Cleveland as a youngster.)

The thing that reminds me most that I'm getting old is the number of those stories I can tell about "back then", that my kids groan about hearing again when I find someone neww to tell them to.

Seeing Zappa and Clapton and Stills and all the bands at the Volunteer Jams, James Brown at his club, and all the stories that go with those experiences.

I am unlikely to really get into any new bands because I just don't go see them live. I am not going to catch them in the small venue before they pop big, or see them opening after their first release.

That limits the intimacy of my experience and relationship with the music. I believe that makes all the difference for me.

HSH (and McTx), you're only as old as you feel you are. Obviously that gymnast doesn't accept the theory that she should just pack it in at her age.

Personally, I never quite fit the mould. When I was in college, I frequently felt like the only adult in the room. A decade later, I was accustomed to being the "new kid" at work. To the point that I still somehow think of myself that way. And probably still will this summer, as I pick up my Medicare card. Some things just stick.... Including being out of step.

I got it, McKinney.

Part of the joke on my part was that I'm older now than those "old folks" were then.

The first album I ever actually bought (I was a little older than kids usually are when they start doing this) was Talking Heads' late-ish album Little Creatures, on cassette, about 26 years ago. At that time, The Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go?" was 22 years old, and seemed to me like an artifact from time immemorial, albeit an excellent one.

Like, CCDG, if you were big into the SoCal/Asylum Records stuff, and dug Rita Coolidge and Linda Ronstadt and suchlike, you might enjoy Jenny Lewis:

Silver Lining - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVtSSCzASR0

Rise Up With Fists - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ftVH-R8rJQ

I Never - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=483ISyyey50

Meant to add, at work today we were discussing the movie Back To The Future, and the fact that, when Marty McFly plays "Johnny B. Goode" at the dance, to him, the song was 27 years old. (1985/1958) If that movie were made today, the equivalent would be, like . . . a-ha's "Take On Me" or Madonna's "Into The Groove." But popular culture has so flattened out that those songs don't sound NEARLY as dated to today's teens as Chuck Berry did in 1985. There are bands still working in a-ha's genre, and Madonna has a hit album out now. Anyone doing Chuck Berry songs in 1985 would have been seen as hopelessly retro and square.

Well, this is an open thread. So even though it seems self-absorbed to mention it, especially since I don't feel as much like a commentariat regular as I used to Back In The Day due to my comment output's marked reduction in both quantity and quality...

...I'll note that even this lesser level of participation shall be going down to "little or none", as I'm deploying fairly soon here. FWIW.

I promise that upon my return I shall resume reading and contributing productively, in so far as I've ever been capable, anyway. And I won't even change my nom de blog again!

I can't say that popular music has every really been a defining thing for me, either in how I self-identify or view others. This may have something to do with my being more given to listening to music divorced of any cultural context - I don't remember the last time I saw a live performance by anyone I'd listen to, nor do I really listen to anything that gets acknowledged by the media... not that I have much of any exposure to the more popular media outlets since I avoid TV and radio fanatically. All this does make me a bit adrift from the 3-D people I spend time with on a day-to-day basis, though. Can't deny that. The Internet is a blessing and a curse as far as cultural escapism goes.

envy, stay safe and send up a flare from time to time.

I'm with envy, not feeling like pop music is that central to who I am. But, I have to say walking into a Bartell's in Seattle in the very late '70s and hearing an elevator-music version of Light My Fire made me feel old!

envy, I didn't see your previous posts; be safe!

HSH - Yes \m/

44 and mostly listen to metal from the early 90s through today. Truth be told, though, all my favorite extreme metal bands have a thing for 70s Prog and that turns all the music I listen to into something akin to comfort food with a bad case of 'roid rage.

Not much use for nostalgia tours where bands play the old favorites unless it's a current band that's doing it between regular album releases as part of some anniversary celebration.

Hello OCSteve!

magistra's question is such a big one that I think a whole post followed by a long thread of comments is needed to do it justice

Envy--be careful. Take care of yourself.

Now about music...when I was a teenager back in the sixty-seven to seventy-one period I was very much into music but not into musicians. i didn't have a favorite Beatle. I had no posters on my walls. I really didn't have much interest in the people who made the music.

I listened to the Dead, of course, and the Stones. Jefferson Airplane. I didn't like really noisy music.

later on I move to Emmjylou Harris, Gram Parsons,...Willie Nelson

I'm poretty eclectic now: Tom Waits, Ry Cooder. My most recent download to my Zune was Dwight Yaokim singing "Carmelita" with Flaco Jimenez. I have rediscoverd the Stones after all these years and, oddly, become a fan of Keith Richards. It's weird after all these years of having no interest in musicians to suddenly develop curiousity about one.


Thanks. I think Silver Lining has a Judy Collins kind of feel (or 10000 maniacs, I couldn't decide) and I added Rise Up with Fists to my "other Good Stuff" playlist which is where Rita is.


Did you catch Keith and Willie together?

Was there anything past WW2 worth listening to? ;-)
If I want something 'new' I look for some composers too obscure to show up even in the standard musical dictionaries. Like that Russian Jew from Siberia who went to China and saved the peking opera from Mao by keeping it alive in secret during the cultural revolution.

I promise that upon my return I shall resume reading and contributing productively, in so far as I've ever been capable, anyway. And I won't even change my nom de blog again!

Looking forward to your return, envy. You'll be missed. Stay safe.

Of course music is what gets me to post something here for the first time in ages (I still lurk, I swear).

I had to mention that A-ha were still around as of last year. I live in Norway and saw them in concert last year, though they say that will be their last tour.

Much like Phil (I am also 42...the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything, I am.) I keep up with current stuff, though much of what I listen to is indy or electronica these days. My kids keep me up to date on the latest from today's charts, though I do don my old man hat and decry current pop music as annoying. Though, I did that 20 years ago, so maybe some things haven't changed.

I would totally participate in a music suggestion thread. I'm usually the one recommending things and making playlists for everyone I know, so it would be fun to that here.

On chronological relativity, Nirvana's Nevermind will turn 21 years old this year. When it came out, that's how old Emerson, Lake and Palmer's eponymous debut album was.

Godspeed, envy. I hope wherever it is you're going doesn't register too high on the suck-o-meter.

Envy--keep your head down. You'll be missed. Please check in as often as you can and come back safely. Thanks for doing what you're doing. Particularly these days.

On the heels of saying adios to Envy, it really is self absorbed to announce my new demographic. Last night, the wife and I were informed that, come early November, we will be grandparents. Our first grandchild. We are elated.

Congrats Mck. Godspeed envy.

Does that mean a trip to New Jersey, McKinney? Or is it another child bearing offspring?

Does that mean a trip to New Jersey, McKinney?

Same ones, except they now live in Texas. However, I am aggressively looking for a chance to get that way. I have an angle and will update when something breaks. I'm currently swamped and unable to travel.

Well, alright. Congratulations, anyway, I guess.... ;)

Yes, oe of mt desert island songs is willie ans keith singing "We had it all."

Congrats McKinney! Spoil them rotten!

Spoil them rotten!

Thanks, Ugh. My wife is hitting the baby stores at this very moment.

My favorite meaningless historical fact: Nevermind was released on the day Dr. Seuss died.

(They Might Be Giants' least favorite historical fact was that Mink Car came out on September 11, 2001. But the coincidence did inspire a charity cover album recently.)

When I was learning American history in junior high school, the assassination of John F. Kennedy (on the day before Doctor Who premiered) seemed like a dry, distant fact from history. It took me a long time to realize that for most adults of the time, it was still something they thought of as a recent memory, as were the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement. The disintegration of the USSR was longer ago now than the JFK assassination was then.

objects in the rear view mirror may be nearer (or further) than they appear.

My grandfather was born in 1878. Whenever I ponder that it scrambles my head. Just two generations back from me, but the man lived in another whole world than I do.

Not a musical thing, just a time thing.

envy, save travels to you, be well and we will see you on the flipside.

McK, mazel tov!!

russell, I know what you are talking about. I think of my Grandmother: born in 1880, and she lived to see men walk on the moon.

Any time I feel like there has been a lot of change in my lifetime, I just think about what she saw change in hers. And yet her generation didn't get nearly as worked up over the changes as we see the currenty one getting.

If we're announcing grandchildren here, I'm happy to mention another one of mine coming toward the end of June, the first offspring of the redoubtable Anarch, whom some of you may remember from back before he got a Real Job and had to stop wasting so much time in the blogosphere!

Congrats to Anarch! And to you, too, Dr. Ngo.

Was there anything past WW2 worth listening to?

Well, Ella Fitzgerald.
And Sarah Vaughn.
And Aretha.

And some of that bebop stuff was pretty crazy, man. I can still dig it.

Did you folks ever play "stranded on a desert island, can only have one CD, what is it?"

For my cohort and five years after, the most common reply is The White Album.

Did you folks ever play "stranded on a desert island, can only have one CD, what is it?"


I don't think I can do that.

It would have to be an .mp3 CD :-)

I was surprised to learn that Vera Lynn is still alive and well (although not singing anymore at age 95). My taste is clearly at least one (rather two) generations backward.

stranded on a desert island, can only have one CD

Time to be glad I can burn my own CD with a cross-section of what I like. ;-)

When I was a boy, in the early 1990's, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' house, where the most interesting thing to do was to read. On there bookshelves, there was a number of novels, most of which I was forbidden to read, and a number of political pamphlets from the 1970's. And a very large number of 1970's Reader's Digests, Finnish edition.

Consequently, I spent a lot of time in my childhood reading 1970's American foreign policy analyses written for foreign audiences, Finnish moderately right-wing political pamphlets and civil defence instructions for the coming nuclear war. Although I was but ten when the Soviet Union disintegrated, I see myself having a number of distinctly cold-war ways of thinking.

The appropriate tune here, I think is Springsteen's "Glory Days."

I basically stopped caring about "new" music after college, or maybe a few years after graduation. Anyway, about a decade ago.

I found music a bit late. Born in '76. Got into music in the late 80s. Buddy of mine came over with a Motley Crue tape. ;) My wife often looks at me like an alien because I'm utterly ignorant of 80s music before about '87.

I ended up liking "classic rock" a lot. CCR, etc. Aerosmith (but they sorta span eras). Oh, I liked the 80s stuff too: GnR, Bon Jovi (oh yes, Bon Jovi, I admit it)...
then in the 90s I got into Phish (oh boy, now I've done it). That's without discussing the gansta rap phase in high school. *cough* I never really got into Nirvana and the like (now lumped into "alternative" I believe).

I am gleefully unhip. Perhaps it's a reaction to having tried so damned hard to be cool or at least not-uncool for so long (and mostly failing), and then discovering that life is freaking good regardless of my coolness factor.

Maybe I will care more when I'm older. When my daughter is older.

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