Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

To follow up on DougJ’s generational musings last night let me share a story with you. A few years ago I was worrying over my figure and when I expressed concern to my wife she said, “Chubby? No. You’re not chubby. I mean, you wouldn’t call Bing Crosby chubby, would you?” I still puzzle over this.  Not too long after that we were listening to something or other by Crosby and my wife was telling me  about this soporific’s profound popularity. It was seriously like Beatlemania. Sarah observed that Crosby was emblematic of the war generation. Play some Bing and you’re right there spiritually.

For the boomers when you play “Paint it Black” I fully expect to see helicopters flying over the jungle. “Magic Carpet Ride” will always be accompanied by hippies cavorting naked in some sylvan setting.

“But what music is emblematic of your generation?” she asked. What will be the documentarian’s shorthand for Generation Xers? My first impulse was to say The Pixies but she rejected that as being too artsy and underground. She’s probably right. They are not universally known. I thought about it some more and concluded, for better or worse, it’s probably U2. Or maybe Run DMC? Michael Jackson?

What do you think? What about you in-betweeners who are too old for MTV but too young for the Beatles. Is it disco? And if there are any millenniums out there (this is what may dad calls millennials) what is the one song or band that will be the shorthand for your period?

And after you’ve sorted that out, go ahead and see if you can dig a little deeper for the fund that’s split between all eventual Democratic nominees in House districts currently held by Republicans.

Goal Thermometer

191 replies
  1. 1
    hitless says:

    The Replacements

    Sure, you could argue they aren’t well enough known…but I think that just makes them more appropriate.

  2. 2
    Paul T says:

    No, when I hear Paint It Black I think about 1966, when I was 13. Paint It Black was already an oldie by the 1971 war protests. And millions of radio listeners would think of those times, not “where they were when a 1987 movie about Vietnam came out.”

    Not that it isn’t a popular song, but…..

  3. 3
    Tim C. says:

    How small a chunks can you compartmentalize this into? For me, being newly adult in the early 90s was a kind of real calm before the storm. The cold war freshly ended, a Democrat in the white house, the dawn of the internet promising to remake everything into a high-tech paradise. So the music I remember from then is pretty.. well… sadly vapid. But I never really cared either. I might be the wrong person to answer this, but Ace of Base? The Proclaimers? Nirvana? Pearl Jam? I don’t know if there’s a good answer.

  4. 4
    Aimai says:

    @Paul T: fortunate son or WAR.

  5. 5
    gene108 says:

    The problem with Gen-X music is there were sharp cultural divisions associated with what genre you chose to listen to.

    There was cross over appeal, when I was graduating high school in 1992, but for a lot of people there was not.

    You liked rap music or you liked heavy metal or you like alternative bands, like The Pixies, or you like pop music like Debbie Gibson and Paula Abdul.

    There just was not one unifying super group like the Beatles or style, like Motown, that defined music for most people.

  6. 6
    Sonoran says:

    I’m an in-between and for me it’s anything by Elton John or Billy Joel.

  7. 7
    Ryan G says:

    For the first millenials in the early 80s the big thing when they were coming of age would have been Nirvana. But the last millenials hadn’t yet been born, so that wouldn’t work so well. Hmm… probably Britney Spears. She was kind of in the middle of the millenial generation but stuck around to the end.

  8. 8
    patroclus says:

    @gene108: I haven’t met many Gen Xers who dislike Leonard Cohen’s Alleluia – although they do differ on whether Jeff Buckley or Cohen or k.d. lang did it the best.

  9. 9
    trollhattan says:

    If it turns out to be disco you have my profound sympathies.

    –Dad

  10. 10
    Johnnybuck says:

    Tom Petty “Refugee”

  11. 11
    Firebert says:

    Beastie Boys.

  12. 12
    cain says:

    Rage Against the Machine?

  13. 13
    Jonny Scrum-half says:

    Nirvana?

  14. 14
    Buckeye says:

    I graduated HS in 1984, and was quite the article/magazine clipper. So looking at that collection, which I’m currently scanning, it would be Duran Duran (and other British New Wave), Van Halen, U2, Megadeth, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, Soundgarden (and grunge). And Public Enemy (wasn’t so much an NWA fan).

  15. 15
    Bobby Thomson says:

    What do you mean “too old for MTV?” We are the only generation who actually watched music videos! And, yeah, after the 70s music became much more stratified. You would get a fistfight trying to pick one sound. Just don’t saddle us with U2. They turned to shit after War.

  16. 16
    Bailey says:

    Gen X will probably always be associated with “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

  17. 17
    donnah says:

    I was a young woman when MTV lit up the music scene, so I went from an adoring Elton John fan to a girl who loved pop and alternative and then settled in with REM and other groups whom I felt connected to. There is no single band or even movement that I could use to define my generation.

    Radical Face is my fave band now.

  18. 18
    NotMax says:

    As an accompaniment to life in general, most other choices are less keenly apt than The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down.

    One reason Crosby became such a hit on early radio was that the range and timbre of his voice was close to an ideal match to being unaffected by the limitations of the technology of microphones and reproduction at the time.

  19. 19
    boatboy_srq says:

    Frankie. “Relax”. Loud, proud, in-your-face just because the olders were so cool about their acid and their weed but couldn’t see that their “free love” covered more than the cis world and that kink might actually be cool.

    Also because there was a fugly pandemic robbing the up-and-coming generation of a significant number of us and nobody in power seemed to care: they were too busy with Grenada and crack and Just Say No.

  20. 20
    Brachiator says:

    Did everyone see the story which mined music data and concluded that the music you hear as a teen imprints your view of music for the rest of your life?

    Consider, for example, the song “Creep,” by Radiohead. This is the 164th most popular song among men who are now 38 years old. But it is not in the top 300 for the cohort born 10 years earlier or 10 years later.

    Note that the men who most like “Creep” now were roughly 14 when the song came out in 1993. In fact, this is a consistent pattern….

    It turns out that the “Creep” situation is pretty much universal. Songs that came out decades earlier are now, on average, most popular among men who were 14 when they were first released. The most important period for men in forming their adult tastes were the ages 13 to 16.

    What about women? On average, their favorite songs came out when they were 13. The most important period for women were the ages 11 to 14.

    BTW, Bing Crosby was huge in the 1930s. He was a skinny crooner, like Sinatra in the 40s.

    Crosby also had a good ear for jazz and was a natural for that new medium, radio.

    Link for music study

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/10/opinion/sunday/favorite-songs.html

  21. 21
    Annamal says:

    @Bailey: Yup Nirvana is pretty emblematic, also Greenday and Will Smith (not as a muscian just as a general figure).

    Some people are slicing the generational pie even finer these days and a few people are throwing around the term Xennial aka the people who grew up with both MTV and the internet (in its chatroom/message board/usenet/starting web days).

  22. 22
    oatler. says:

    My Herb Alpert wig is starting to look pretty hip now.

  23. 23
    Davebo says:

    IT. IS. NEVER. DISCO!

    The SD card in the stereo on my boat has over 14k songs. One of them is by Abba. Yet if I go random song it seems there a 20% chance it comes up.

    Not right!

  24. 24
    Juice Box says:

    The Boss. I had just turned 15 when he made both the covers of Time and Newsweek in the same week.

  25. 25
    debbie says:

    My mom was one of those shrieking bobby soxers, but for me it was I Want to Take You Higher.

  26. 26
    Mark Lass says:

    Also too, der Bingle was of the first singers to have to figure out how to sing into a microphone instead of belting it out to the room.

  27. 27
    JaneSays says:

    I’m smack dab in the middle of Gen-x (born 1974), and Nirvana is probably the quintessential band of my cohort. The whole grunge scene, really. On the hip-hop side, Public Enemy, Snoop Dogg, and Dr. Dre come to mind. Pretty much whatever was big in the early-to-mid 1990s.

  28. 28
    Brachiator says:

    For the moderately avant garde among people I knew, it would probably be various incarnations of George Clinton’s bands, Parliament and Funkadelic. For poseurs, it would be John Coltrane, who a lot of people acknowledged, but never listened to.

    Two songs that stand out for me personally would be Eddie Harris and Les McCann’s blistering version of “Compared to What” and Marvin Gaye’s “Make Me Wanna Holler.”

  29. 29
    raven says:

    Monster by Steppenwolf is what I think of when I hear that bullshit

    The spirit was freedom and justice
    And its keepers seemed generous and kind
    Its leaders were supposed to serve the country
    But now they won’t pay it no mind
    Cause the people grew fat and got lazy
    Now their vote is a meaningless joke
    They babble about law and order
    But it’s all just an echo of what they’ve been told
    Yeah, there’s a monster on the loose
    It’s got our heads into the noose
    And it just sits there watchin’

  30. 30
    Suzanne says:

    Not sure if I count in this—born in ’80, graduated in ’98—but I would have to say Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sublime.

  31. 31
  32. 32
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    For this white suburban boy, class of ’85: Springsteen, U2, REM and Prince. I had a friend who was convinced Purple Rain was the greatest movie ever made. He was given to intense enthusiasm.

    I’m still hung up on this chubby Bing Crosby thing. He was a beanpole with big ears, wasn’t he? Also it reminds me of an interview I read years ago of Bob Hope, well into his 80s, maybe his 90th birthday, and he kept talking about Crosby, he didn’t fear death, believed in the afterlife, and he was looking forward to seeing “Bing” again. About a year ago a bio of Hope came out and the author maintained that Crosby didn’t have much use for Hope outside of movie sets, and Hope always resented it. Just struck that the old right wing hack was one weird dude.

  33. 33
    JaneSays says:

    @Ryan G: I guess it depends on what we define as “coming-of-age” – a millennial born in 1980, which would make them pretty much the oldest person in that generation, would have been only 10 or 11 years old when Nevermind released, and only 13 or 14 years old when Kurt Cobain committed suicide. I was 16 when Nevermind released, and 17 when Smells Like Teen Spirit truly became the anthem of grunge – absolutely what I would consider my “coming-of-age” years. And I’m definitely not a Millennial.

    I think Nirvana and pretty much anything that was at its peak prior to 1995 is much more associated with Gen X than Millennials. I generally think of one’s “coming-of-age” years as being between 16-22.

  34. 34
    Ceci n est pas mon nym says:

    @Brachiator: This for me is in the category of “so intuitively obvious that I don’t even understand why somebody needed to study it”. If we didn’t think that we imprinted on the music of our teenage years, what is it we thought?

    By the way, it works for music other than popular music on the radio. I grew up in a household with a lot of classical music, so I’ve heard a lot of it and it’s kind of a constant background of my entire childhood. But the few performances or pieces that I really sat up and took notice of as a teenager definitely became instant favorites. For example, I was about 14 when I first heard Beethoven’s “Kreuzer” Violin Sonata, and I was just astonished. I will stop whatever I’m doing when I happen to hear it, and when I meet a violinist I will often try to talk them into doing it with me.

    For that matter, it probably works on books and movies too. Look at all the schlubs who imprinted on Ayn Rand at about 13-14 and are now Speakers of the House. On the other hand, I thought she was pretty cool at about that age, and I’d outgrown her by 18 or so.

  35. 35
    cleek says:

    my generation… ummm. graduated from an all-white small-town HS in 88. so…

    Guns N Roses?

    i wish it was REM. but nobody in my HS knew REM (or U2, or The Cure, or New Order, Talking Heads etc).

    Nirvana didn’t happen until i was in college.

  36. 36
    Suzanne says:

    @Annamal:

    Some people are slicing the generational pie even finer these days and a few people are throwing around the term Xennial aka the people who grew up with both MTV and the internet (in its chatroom/message board/usenet/starting web days).

    I fall into this category. I often don’t really feel like my cohort fits either in the X or Millennial descriptions very well. I have heard the term “Oregon Trail Generation”, as in the computer game. I relate very strongly to that.

    The older Xers could be my parents, and the youngest Millennials are not much older than Spawn the Elder. I don’t feel like I relate very well to either.

  37. 37
    Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth) says:

    @Jonny Scrum-half: @Bailey:

    FTW!

    I think most people on the older side of the generation might want to say 99 Luftballoons, but the people in Nena were Boomers (I think- when was the German baby boom?). 2/3 of the Beastie Boys were ass-end Boomers. Nirvana was us, born in ’65 or later. “I feel stupid and contagious” nails the self-loathing/self-deprecation with which we were cursed/blessed.

  38. 38
    NotMax says:

    @Ceci n est pas mon nym

    when I meet a violinist I will often try to talk them into doing it with me

    Phrasing!

    :)

  39. 39
    AkaDad says:

    My friends and I were into Heavy Metal. \m/ From Aerosmith to ZZ Top.

  40. 40
    JaneSays says:

    @Annamal: I might qualify as an Xennial – I definitely grew up with MTV, and the internet started to take off right at the end of my high school years. I got my first email address as a college freshman in 1993.

  41. 41
    joax says:

    I’m a child of the 60’s and a musician. I try to stay current, mainly because of the technology and how it is changing music. Plus, it is fun and important to see the themes emerging. Like The Chainsmokers ” Sick Boy” which I would highly recommend all about narcissism and how America sees itself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eACohWVwTOc.

    Or Dua Lipa’s “IDGAF) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mgfe5tIwOj0. The young musicians out there have built upon the past and are really amazing. Like French phenom DOMI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEjqQ17RUIs or Corey Henry and Snarky Puppy, easily one of the most amazing keyboard solos evah. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_XJ_s5IsQc. I guess all I’m saying is, that we all like the music from our pasts, but hearing/seeing what is currently happening will really inspire you and let you know that the future is bright… plus it has a good beat and is very danceable ;-)

    Also, living in Oaxaca where we just experienced a 7.4 earthquake really makes one live in the present. Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on.

  42. 42
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Born ’71, graduated high school in NJ in ’88. The trendiest things during HS were probably Beastie Boys, U2, and Bon Jovi. My friend group liked the former two, despised the latter. But a lot of older acts were hanging on too. We were super into Bob Marley, Bowie, and The Who.

  43. 43
    JaneSays says:

    Nevermind, I’m apparently not an Xennial (1977-1985), just slightly too old. But I’m in the younger half of Gen X.

  44. 44
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @cleek: Somehow I forgot the G n R domination of everything. Yes, that, all over. REM was niche for us too. Sting/Police more our speed in early to mid HS.

  45. 45
    Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth) says:

    @Suzanne:

    Gen X has an easily defined beginning- 1965, when the birth rates dropped below those of 1941 (the Baby Boom started in 1946, when the birth rates rose above the 1941 rates, and ’64 was the last year before they dropped below). The end of Gen X is usually seen as being ’82 or ’83.

  46. 46
    Suzanne says:

    Something I said landed me in moderation hell. Sorry.

  47. 47
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth): A lot depends on whether by “this or that generation’s music” you mean what that generation listened to, or what musicians that were part of that generation wrote and performed.

    If it’s the latter, I amend my “Relax” vote to JJ’s “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” Great noodly FSM but our generation was a selfishly instant-gratification-focused bunch.

  48. 48
    JaneSays says:

    @Ceci n est pas mon nym: Interesting. I don’t doubt the findings, but I really feel like I found my music late in high school and early in college (17-20), rather than late in middle school and early in high school (13-16). I identify a lot more with Pearl Jam, who took off when I was just leaving high school, than Def Leppard, who were really big when I was just entering high school.

  49. 49
    trollhattan says:

    My rap-listening post-millennial kid is developing a fondness for The Kinks. Know hope!

  50. 50
    Brachiator says:

    @Ceci n est pas mon nym:

    This for me is in the category of “so intuitively obvious that I don’t even understand why somebody needed to study it”.

    It’s the confirmation that makes it fun.

    If we didn’t think that we imprinted on the music of our teenage years, what is it we thought?

    Some people give a lot of weight to the music that they discover during their college years.

  51. 51
    JaneSays says:

    If we’re defining the first year of the Millennial Generation as 1982, I have a hard time seeing how Nirvana would be characterized as a Millennial band, given that the very oldest Millennials would have only been 9 years old when Smells Like Teen Spirit was released, and no more than 12 years old when Cobain committed suicide.

  52. 52
    eclare says:

    High school class of 86, Purple Rain came out my junior year and pushed most everything aside. Although there was a very vocal Rush vs U2 argument. Never got into Nirvana, grunge, after my time.

  53. 53
    Suzanne says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth): I have seen definitions of Millennials as starting in 1980, too. So I fall into that ill-defined space.

    I don’t feel wholly like an Xer. Nirvana got big my last year of elementary school and Cobain had committed suicide before I started high school. I had a home computer for all of my schooling years and internet access when I was a teenager and used it to get up to all of the expected hijinks. 9/11 happened my senior year of college. And I have Baby Boomer parents, which is supposedly one of the defining features of the Millennials. But I don’t wholly fit into that cultural milieu, either, especially the whole highly-parented-and-supervised trope.

  54. 54
    cain says:

    @donnah:

    I was a young woman when MTV lit up the music scene, so I went from an adoring Elton John fan to a girl who loved pop and alternative and then settled in with REM and other groups whom I felt connected to. There is no single band or even movement that I could use to define my generation.

    That was what was awesome about it. The 80s were timeless because millenial lyft/uber drivers are totally into the 80s. Young kids are totally into the 80s. My nephews are lip synching to Michael Jackson hits and dancing to it. They think it is all totally cool. It was an uncontrolled barrage of music of all styles. Then of course the record companies tried to turn into enclaves.. It kind of sucked. I blame rap. ;)

  55. 55
    JaneSays says:

    @Brachiator: Technically, the first two years of college for many (most) people are still part of your teen years, assuming we consider 18 and 19 year olds teenagers.

  56. 56
    NotMax says:

    As a certified, card-carrying old, find too much of contemporary pop music turbid. Notable exceptions being The Horrors and Fleshquartet.

  57. 57
    WereBear says:

    Back when the music industry had a stranglehold on top 40, the only music you heard was what you could get on the local radio. Choice has exploded now. Songs are more personal than ever.

  58. 58
    JaneSays says:

    @Suzanne: You’re either a very young Xer or a very old Millennial.

  59. 59
    Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth) says:

    @boatboy_srq:

    I think it’s the music your generation made, not that which it grew up on.

    I see people often write that the music you listened to in high school is the type of music you end up loving, I think that’s too late. For me and those with whom I grew up, it was the music of the ’70s, with its diverse Top 40 charts. But I can’t call that the music of Generation X, because the first of us in the generation started high school in the fall of ’79. It was music we grew up loving, but it just wasn’t ours- it wasn’t our voice.

  60. 60
    Dave says:

    I’m a millennial, and it’s Green Day or nothing. And it might be nothing! Mass media fragmented enough by 1990 or so that we all had separate cultures and no unifying anthem. I say Green Day because for a while there you could not escape them, between Time of Your Life and the American Idiot album.

  61. 61
    cain says:

    @eclare:

    High school class of 86, Purple Rain came out my junior year and pushed most everything aside. Although there was a very vocal Rush vs U2 argument. Never got into Nirvana, grunge, after my time.

    That’s wierd.. I would have thought that would be an argument in the 70s not the 80s. That said, Rush just recently announced their retirement. Their last tour was pretty damn awesome. We’ll never see their like again.

  62. 62
    justawriter says:

    Late boomer, sneaking up on sixty in a few years. If I would sum up my cohort in one song it would be YMCA … I cringe to see grandmas and grandpas squeeing when they play it halftime of basketball games and acting out the letters, if their arthritis lets them get their arms that high. Oh, and simultaneously pretending that whole gay subtext doesn’t exist.

  63. 63
    JaneSays says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth): Baby Boomers are a hard-to-define generation as well. Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are technically Boomers, but Joe Biden (not a Boomer) probably has a lot more in common culturally with people Clinton’s age than Obama does. Vietnam is often considered the defining event of the Baby Boom generation, but Barack Obama wasn’t even a teenager when the draft ended.

  64. 64

    @Dave: good call. The person above who said brittney was on to something too. But yeah, things were too fragmented and polarized by then—there was no one thing everybody listened to, just a handful of things everybody heard. Like Green Day.

    Smashing Pumpkins will always remind me of high school.

  65. 65
    Bailey says:

    @JaneSays:

    Baby Boomers are a hard-to-define generation as well. Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are technically Boomers, but Joe Biden (not a Boomer) probably has a lot more in common culturally with people Clinton’s age than Obama does.

    And I’d say that, his freakish optimism aside, Obama has culturally far more in common with Gen X and Millennials than he does Baby Boomers.

    I tend to consider Obama Gen X, because it is far too depressing to think the only other generational “leadership” we’ve put forward is Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz.

  66. 66
    Brachiator says:

    @WereBear:

    Back when the music industry had a stranglehold on top 40, the only music you heard was what you could get on the local radio.

    When do you think this was? By the 60s there were pirate radio stations in the US and UK, and by the mid to late 60s there were a number of FM stations that broke away from rigid playlists.

  67. 67
    Rex says:

    Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana. No other song comes even close. On the day his suicide was made public, a close friend who had helped me to more completely appreciate them, wrote on the message board on my dorm room door, “How fitting is it that the ‘spokesperson’ for our generation blew his head off with a shotgun today? Pretty sad, huh? Yeah, me too.”

  68. 68
    NotMax says:

    @Bailey

    FWIW, Bill Clinton was born in ’46; first wave of Boomerism.

  69. 69

    People keep coming and going as “the voice of the millennial generation.” Remember when it was Lena Dunham?

  70. 70
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Juice Box:
    I’m about your age but I didn’t discover Bruce until The River. The English music of my teen years was Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Yes, The Who, and the Stones (some of it due to an older cousin’s influence). The rock-oriented music snobs at my secondary school despised disco.

  71. 71
    Bailey says:

    @NotMax:

    FWIW, Bill Clinton was born in ’46; first wave of Boomerism.

    Yes, I know. And Obama was born in the tail end of Boomerism. But culturally he doesn’t fit–culturally he’s more Gen X when it comes to his tastes, his leadership style, etc.

  72. 72
    cain says:

    @Bailey:

    And I’d say that, his freakish optimism aside, Obama has culturally far more in common with Gen X and Millennials than he does Baby Boomers.

    He and Michelle probably have more in common musically wiht their kids than the music Sarah Palin listens to.

  73. 73
    MoxieM says:

    I was born during the Eisenhower admin (barely), although I remember the Kennedy assassination well-we lived in DC. In Jr. High, I was into John Mayall, Allman Bros., Cream, Traffic, etc. By High School, it was the Kinks, Velvets, and then by golly Roxy Music & Bowie ! (ran to Nini’s Corner to get the latest copy of NME, and CREAM was the music bible.) Saw the Real Kids and all the other great Boston punk/garage bands at the Rat–feet are still sticky– the NY Dolls in a dive in Saugus–and onward to the Pixies in small clubs (buffs nails with street cred), Throwing Muses and other 4AD bands. Belly. Breeders. whatever. Ended club life by taking my then-teen aged daughter to see Gogol Bordello…

    My mom was WWII generation, and the crooners (like Bing) made her heave. She liked Cab Calloway, Jelly Roll Morton, the Ink Spots, and Billie Holliday. (I wish I still had her 48 of Strange Fruit). And mostly classical.

    All of which goes to say: categories? Feh!!

  74. 74
    Brachiator says:

    @JaneSays:

    Technically, the first two years of college for many (most) people are still part of your teen years, assuming we consider 18 and 19 year olds teenagers.

    The study I linked sets ages 13 to 16 as the time of maximum musical influence for boys, and 11 to 14 as the age for girls. Well before college age.

    And for some people who cite college, its partly about age, but also about being exposed to new people and ideas.

    Personally, I attended more live concerts and went to more clubs when I was in college. I also made friends with people who had vastly different musical tastes. And some with similar tastes who were more into various bands and perfomers.

  75. 75
    Suzanne says:

    @Dave: Green Day and Sublime. Oh my God. They were everywhere in the late 90s–early 00s.

  76. 76
    Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth) says:

    @Suzanne:

    I don’t feel wholly like an Xer.

    Being born at the beginning of the generation, I feel a lot of Boomer pull at times. Oddly, though, it’s less an attachment to the Boomers born in the ’60s, but to those born in the mid-to-late ’50s. I’m certain that that’s because I have so many aunts, uncles and cousins who were born in that timeframe. They were the kids who grew up watching Dick Van Dyke, the Beverly Hillbillies, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Warner Brothers cartoons on TV…They were the kids who grew up idolizing the Mercury 7 astronauts, the kids to whom memories of JFK’s presidency as something magical not because it motivated them, but because they have these hazy memories of older people speaking so highly of Jack and Jackie.

    But then there’s the stuff that is hardcore Gen X: Sesame Street, The Electric company, School House Rock, Happy Days…Instead of JFK and MLK, jr., we grew up on Nixon, the Munich Olympics, the OPEC embargo, Reagan and his racist dog whistling. We were the first kids to figure out how to get into the cable box and set all the channels to MTV. We were the first kids with home console video games. We were, for the most part, the first kids to take computer programming classes in middle and high school. We were the kids whose parents were divorcing en masse, and we were the kids being institutionalized for behavioral problems that were really mostly shitty parenting problems. We grew up with Satanic Panic, Just Say No, M.A.D.D. and the Moral Majority was our childhood reality. Corner boys and drive-bys were us. Grunge and gangsta is us.

  77. 77
    Bailey says:

    @cain:

    He and Michelle probably have more in common musically wiht their kids than the music Sarah Palin listens to.

    It’s never occurred to me to wonder what music Sarah Palin listens to. I can’t imagine her listening to anything cultural. I can’t even envision her listening to Kid Rock.

    I think the Obama’s both keep their ears open and don’t get stuck in their time warp which a lot of people do. Having kids (at a relatively older age) that they’re dialed into helps. I’m pretty musically open myself and will listen to anything from Big Band Swing and Classical to Hip Hop, even if my most basic inclinations are rock / alt-rock / pop. But I also think that’s a symptom of being Gen X because you had to search around across a splintered media landscape to find music and not just rely on whatever’s on the radio.

  78. 78
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:

    @Ceci n est pas mon nym:

    A fellow classical music fan! For me it was the Mendelssohn violin concerto in E and Grieg’s piano concerto. Curiously, I now find much piano music just too busy… too much noodling about on the keyboard.

  79. 79
    Bailey says:

    @Brachiator:

    The study I linked sets ages 13 to 16 as the time of maximum musical influence for boys, and 11 to 14 as the age for girls. Well before college age.

    And for some people who cite college, its partly about age, but also about being exposed to new people and ideas.

    Personally, I attended more live concerts and went to more clubs when I was in college. I also made friends with people who had vastly different musical tastes. And some with similar tastes who were more into various bands and perfomers.

    I’ve seen various studies (that I’m too lazy to dig up) that say adults stop listening to new music when they are 35 and just settle in with whatever it is they’ve grown up with.

  80. 80
    cokane says:

    ya, the answer has to include michael jackson

  81. 81
    ljdramone says:

    I belong to the Blank Generation.

  82. 82
    Betty Cracker says:

    The Clash. ETA, or maybe The Talking Heads.

  83. 83
  84. 84
    Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth) says:

    @JaneSays:

    Baby Boomers are a hard-to-define generation as well.

    No and yes.

    No because it was defined from the beginning as having birth rates that rose back to and above the 1941 birth rates.

    Yes because they’re divided culturally in some very definite ways, like Vietnam and the draft, or the fact that some of them were born after the JFK assassination and after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of ’64. Half of them were 14 or younger when Woodstock and Altamont were held.

  85. 85
  86. 86
    Brachiator says:

    @Bailey:

    I’ve seen various studies (that I’m too lazy to dig up) that say adults stop listening to new music when they are 35 and just settle in with whatever it is they’ve grown up with.

    Makes sense. Also, most adults probably don’t have the time to listen to a lot of new music.

    And of course, the younger generation naturally erects fences to keep old farts out of their time of musical discovery.

  87. 87
    PhoenixRising says:

    We still haven’t found what we’re looking for.
    Here we are now, entertain us.
    We think we’re gonna start a new tribe.

    Also this is the whitest thing I have ever typed into this site in my Xer life.

    Black kids at my middle/high school would say:
    Billie Jean is not my lover
    The roof is on fire*
    Rappers’ delight

    Our age was the dawn of rap displacing soul/Motown.

    *The Onion sendup of this song is the only moment in which my sister (22 months older) and I have ever experienced a generation gap with our spouses (both exactly 7 years older than we are): They didn’t understand why it was funny.

  88. 88
    Yutsano says:

    @West of the Rockies (been a while): Want to kill any love of piano concertos you might have? Get a music degree. Seriously. When you have to go to recital after recital of nothing but obscure piano concertos played with uninspiring countenance, it REALLY bugs you when it’s 3/4 of classical radio.

    And I’m a kuchka nerd. Anything eastern European is my jam. Especially Dvorak.

  89. 89
    donnah says:

    I’m sixty next month, so my musical lifespan has been rich with stuff from the sixties like the Stones and the Beatles, and great rock from the seventies, techno pop and new age stuff from the eighties, and then a mishmash of alternative and indie stuff now.

    My son was a DJ at Ohio U ten years or so ago, and his time slot was eighties music, so it all came back for me. I did see some great concerts in my day, like John Denver, Rod Stewart, Elton John, Led Zep and Adam Ant. Crazy!

  90. 90
    Matt McIrvin says:

    Bailey is right; the riff from Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” immediately started playing in my head when I read the question.

    …BUT, that’s not the “too old for MTV” crowd. The GenXers I’m thinking of were exactly the right age for MTV. Nirvana was they got into when they were slightly older and a bit pissed off.

    So in that case, Michael Jackson is also a correct answer.

  91. 91
    Adria McDowell says:

    Class of 1997 here- the answer is anything from Nirvana, Alanis Morrissette, Tupac, Biggie, to Wu-Tang clan. I listen to literally every genre, though. I know I’m not the only one my age who does, either.

  92. 92
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Brachiator: I was pretty much out of the radio-pop-music loop from my early twenties on. I’m far more familiar with what was playing on Top 40 radio from about 2013-2016, because of my daughter. But now I’m not again, because she’s more likely to be watching some YouTube video than listening to the radio.

  93. 93
    piratedan says:

    as an ass-end boomer, I’d have to pick Blondie’s Heart of Glass, crossing over between New Wave and Disco …. although if you’re looking for a band that seem to symbolize the era, transcending genre’s whose songs everyone knew but perhaps were not everyone’s favorite band, I would suggest ELO.

  94. 94
    efgoldman says:

    So what’s this, three navel-gazing posts in two days.
    There was no good music before or after you, no matter when you were born or how old you are.
    My parents (b. 1915 and 1917) thought Elvis was an abomination, not to mention the popular novelty songs of my middle school and high school years (Purple People Eater, Monster Mash, Itsy Bitsy Teeny Tiny….) On the rare occasions that I got to watch American Bandstand, if mom was home, she didn’t make me turn it iff, but she chastised me.
    So it was later with Tipper Gore and song lyrics, then rap….
    Navel… navel… navel….

  95. 95
    Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth) says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Spot on. I was a junior in high school when MTV popped up on our cable system, a few months after they rolled The Buggles for the first time. Two or three videos an hour from Journey and The Police. April Wine. Tenpole Tudor. SAXON!* Filling time with lava flows, collapsing buildings and Apollo launches.

    *S/He who is unfamiliar with Denim and Leather has not truly lived.

  96. 96
    satby says:

    @raven: that was a great song. Wish someone would record it with better acoustics. It’s as meaningful today as it was then.

  97. 97
    Mike J says:

    What do you think? What about you in-betweeners who are too old for MTV but too young for the Beatles. Is it disco?

    We got MTV my senoir year of high school, so I’m on the edge of too old. Never listened to disco.

    Do you have those memories that are nothing but five seconds of a song playing and you doing some trivial everyday task? In the summer between HS and college, I heard REM played on the local AOR radio station while I was driving. Not on college radio, not on community radio, but right out where everyone could hear it they were playing Pretty Persuasion. It was a bright sunny day and there was little traffic and finally the rest of the world was getting to hear something other than Stairway to Heaven.

  98. 98
    doughnutman says:

    Its Beck. Loser was the anthem for gen x, children of Reagan

  99. 99
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    I was listening to Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Adam Ant and Clannad. I know I was weird.

  100. 100
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth): We didn’t have cable; I had to satisfy myself with “Friday Night Videos” on NBC.

  101. 101
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Brachiator: Well, for me 11-13 would have been The Beatles, but that was in the 70s.

    I dunno…I think back to when I was 11 and what I was listening to for pleasure outside The Beatles, and it was medieval music. I guess from there, a step to Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd wasn’t that surprising.

  102. 102
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Duran Duran may have been the most quintessentially Eighties band that ever Eightiesed.

  103. 103
    Waynski says:

    Born in 67 and if forced to pick one, I think Nirvana is a no-brainer. They blew it all wide open. But I also agree (both siderism!) with many of the mentions and I would include the Violent Femmes on the list if no one else has. I think for us, because college radio started playing new music that wasn’t on MTV or local radio and people started recording cassette tapes and then CDs, there is no one band/act/genre that can define X-ers and I think that will be true for all successive generations, sans cassette tapes and CDs. All digital now.

  104. 104
    realbtl says:

    Maybe because I have been performing with my 82 yo buddy on fiddle we keep getting pulled into 30s-50s sorta pop music only stripped down to a jazz/blues electric guitar viola vocal mish-mash. Music I grew up listening to- b. 1948

  105. 105
    Matt McIrvin says:

    Personally I was a huge fan of Talking Heads, and jumped on being obsessed with They Might Be Giants when they popped up at the end of the decade. But I regarded my own tastes as peculiar.

    Also, my whole late-1980s college crowd was fond of “classic rock”, which at the time meant album rock from about 1967-1979. So we spent a lot of time actually listening to boomer music, or a subset thereof, and thinking it was better than our generation’s music.

  106. 106
    RobertDSC-iPad Mini says:

    Metallica has kept me going since 1986. Graduated high school in 1993.

  107. 107
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    I remember there was a big Doors revival in the early 80s. Did that happen or was it just my cohort discovering the Doors ?

  108. 108
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I think of that as part of the whole “classic rock” thing.

  109. 109
    Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth) says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Glad I didn’t have to rely on that. Kids still had Friday night post-game/post-dance parties, with alcohol flowing, while I was in high school. It had to be a stupid crazy party for the cops to show up.

    I sped by it earlier, but early in my senior year the parents thought my sister and I were watching too much MTV, so they rigged it so that MTV was scrambled. I’m at school the next day, telling some friends about it when one of them says, “I know how to fix that.” He gives me a very short talk-through of the process. I got home, took the bottom off the slider box, found the little contact wheel that correlated to channel 22 (which was where MTV was found on our system) and tweeted it until MTV came back on.

    But I didn’t stop there. I adjusted the contact for every other channel on the slider to MTV, too. When we heard the garage door open, the tv went off, record player on, and sis and I buried our noses in reading material. Dad gets home 15 minutes later, we eat, mom goes to turn on the news…It could have ended horribly. Mom calls dad in, he slides the channel changer…They both started cracking up. They told us if we could use our brains to do that, MTV must not be causing any atrophy.

  110. 110

    @Matt McIrvin: This is true, but my favourite of their songs (“Ordinary World”) was early ’90s.

    Mid-80s birth and I think the answer might have to be Radiohead. I can’t think of anything else that sums up how messed up a world we’re inheriting.

    Might type more later.

  111. 111
    Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth) says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Yeah, there was a Morrison biography that kicked off that Doors revival.

  112. 112
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: It was a thing. At least, it was a thing in Detroit. And surely I’m not the only one who remembers the TIME Magazine cover from roughly that era featuring a huge photo of shirtless Jim Morrison with the caption (ISTR) that ran:

    “He’s hot.
    He’s sexy.
    He’s dead.”

    Hmm…which could be the jacket blurb for almost any mid-90s-to-now vampire romance novel. Coincidence?

    @Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth): Yeah, it was. I think that photo I referred to was the cover photo used for the bio.

  113. 113
    trollhattan says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth):
    Hilarious, and well played. :-)

  114. 114
    Waynski says:

    @MoxieM:

    Saw the Real Kids and all the other great Boston punk/garage bands at the Rat

    Did you see La Peste? The Neighborhoods? I grew up in suburban NY, but those bands were popular in my crowd. Again, CDs, cassettes, college radio. They made they’re way down the I-95 corridor. Also loved G-Love and the Special Sauce from Philly, but that was about ten or more years later. And as long as I’m throwing spaghetti at the wall, the first two Echo and the Bunnyman albums were awesome.

  115. 115
    trollhattan says:

    @Miss Bianca:
    Think it was Rolling Stone, but yeah that happened.

  116. 116
    JWR says:

    @raven:

    Monster by Steppenwolf

    Fricken’ oh yeah!

    (I think I’m at the tail end of the Boomer generation.)

  117. 117
    cleek says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:
    totally happened. possibly in part due to the Morrison biography that came out in 1980.

    but long before i read that, “The Doors” was the first adult album i ever wanted. when i was 10 or so (1980) i played my dad’s copy when he wasn’t home. he bought me my own copy (and a record player) so i wouldn’t break his stuff.

  118. 118
    Miss Bianca says:

    @trollhattan: Oh, yeah, you’re probably right. That might have been a bit too edgy for TIME, come to think of it.

  119. 119
    Tenar Arha says:

    @gene108: I agree, 1980’s were definitely atomized music fandoms. Maybe closest you can come to universal would be Michael Jackson, but there’s still a divide between fans of him vs. Prince. (Personal experience when Michael Jackson died was talking to a cousin-in-law: I mentioned I don’t own any Michael Jackson albums, but I own Prince albums. My cousin, exactly the opposite).

    IIRC it was the 1990’s where there started to be a crossover appeal of headbaging rock, punk/alternative, funk/dance & rap. Ex. the lineups of Lalapalooza ‘94 & Woodstock ‘94.

    ETA *albums

  120. 120
    Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth) says:

    @cleek:

    Definitely the Danny Sugerman bio.

  121. 121
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:

    @Yutsano:

    I announced classical music for a time in the 80s for an NPR affiliate… I did get tired of the piano stuff after a time. Wasn’t a music major though.

  122. 122
    DanR2 says:

    No Gen-Xers claiming Madonna?

  123. 123
    DanR2 says:

    Or Whitney Houston?

  124. 124
    Rusty says:

    Most of the discussion seems guy oriented. Graduated high school in 1984, and from the experience of spending hours on buses with the girls cross country and track team (small school, the guys team traveled with them to save money), that the definitive music experience in high school was the Go-Go’s on a cassette blasting out of a boom box.

  125. 125
    Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth) says:

    @DanR2:

    Not me. She’s not a Gen Xer. Neither is Lauper. Fiona Apple? There’s Generation X.

  126. 126
    StringOnAStick says:

    @Brachiator: Well, growing up in western Colorado in the 1970’s there was no pirate radio, just stulifying top 40, C&W, and the “adult” easy listening channel. Very late at night I could pick up a mega station from San Francisco but it was not cutting edge stuff. I recall permanently ending my relationship with the top 40 station after it gave me an earworm by the Archies. I may have lived in desert flyover country but that was the last straw as far as manufactured pop pablum goes. We did hava an excellent independent music store and the owner had great recommendations.

  127. 127
    cleek says:

    if i think about what it was that i heard constantly at the college parties i went to (88-93), it would be:

    Bust A Move
    Groove Is In The Heart
    Closer To Fine (Indigo Girls)
    Hard To Handle (Black Crowes)

    also, for some reason, the Dead’s “Bertha”

  128. 128
    cleek says:

    @Rusty:
    our track bus was mostly Licensed To Ill and Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits

  129. 129
    NCSteve says:

    @Juice Box: Yeah. it’s Springsteen. It was always Springsteen. His best album was in the 70’s, but if you don’t want to go with Michael, it’s Springsteen.

  130. 130
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    Proud Disco Diva here. Kc and the Sunshine Band. Syvleste, Chic, Heatwave. All outgrowths of the earlier stuff by the Funk Crowd ike Parliament and even some EWF. Disco. A happy interlude between the more angsty music of both the early 70’s and the post 80 Reagan era. Not ashamed to admit I was a fan of the stuff. At least it was danceable. While I could listen now to some 90’s rap, back then it just reminded me of the decay of my neighborhood.
    Born in 1956, and the ninth of 10 with the oldest being born in 1937, I grew up listening to just about everything from doo-wop to Funk to Michael Jackson to reggae. My music files reflect that variety.

  131. 131
    JR says:

    even though I never really got into them my generational touchstones will always be Nirvana, Biggie, Tupac.

  132. 132
    Bailey says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth):

    Not me. She’s not a Gen Xer. Neither is Lauper. Fiona Apple? There’s Generation X.

    Yes, this thread has devolved a bit from “who is the defining voice/sound of a generation” (which reflects an era, tone, and it’s politics) to “what did people listen to?” (Which is, by nature, wide – ranging.)

    For Gen X, the difference in Madonna/Cindy Lauper is not that we didn’t listen to them. We did, of course, but mostly as children. (Those of us in the middle of Gen X, at least.) But as music that actually spoke to us and as critical music listeners, Fiona Apple (or even Alanis Morrisette) is a far better example.

    For Gen X, when Michael Jackson died, it was because our childhood died, but not that because he was the voice of our generation.

  133. 133
    Miss Bianca says:

    @CarolDuhart2: glad to hear the shout-out/love for disco. I remember back when I was a white suburban teen in the Detroit suburbs that the most popular songs on the radio in the summer of 1980 were the Rolling Stones’s “Beast of Burden” and Donna Summer’s version of “Macarthur Park.” Same AM station… and we still had the Motown legacy at work in addition to newer influences like Chic and Parliament Funkadelic…

    …but the polarization was starting. I remember the white rock and roll DJs starting the “Disco sucks!” campaign, and if the racism behind it escaped me then, it sure doesn’t now.

  134. 134
    Haroldo says:

    I’m 65. Listened to a lot of stuff via clear channel AM: WLAC for blues, r&b, soul, gospel; WBZ for ‘underground’ rock; WHAM for jazz (Mr./Mz. Brachiator, you ain’t lived until you’ve been woken out of a slumber by “Ladies and Gentlemen. Roy Haynes on drums” at 2 in the morning. cf. Coltrane, ‘Live at Newport, 1963,’ tho’ I think it was originally on a different record.) Dunno if any of those stations save WBZ are still going concerns. I miss at least the semblance of kinda widely shared social touchstones.

  135. 135
    Brachiator says:

    @StringOnAStick:

    Well, growing up in western Colorado in the 1970’s there was no pirate radio, just stulifying top 40, C&W, and the “adult” easy listening channel.

    I recognize that I was fortunate to grow up in Southern California and go to college on the East Coast. But I was also lucky to have relatives who had substantial record collections. Key to my love of music was being able to listen to a lot of 50s 78rpm records. Little Richard’s Lucille was one of the first records I ever played and fell in love with. This fleshed out the Top 40 stuff playing on the radio.

  136. 136
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @cleek: The sociopathic football player who lived across the hall from me had this tape that was one-half of “Licensed To Ill” followed by “Carry On, My Wayward Son” by Kansas. He’d play it at like 6:30 in the morning and then complain that people were making noise when he was trying to sleep in the middle of the afternoon. It probably made me unreasonably averse to the Beastie Boys.

  137. 137
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Miss Bianca: Racism AND homophobia!

  138. 138
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    At age 11-13? That would have been Don’t Fear the Reaper and Godzilla and Bohemian Rhapsody and The Streak.

  139. 139
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Racism AND homophobia!

    Two! Two social diseases for the price of one!

  140. 140
    Johnnybuck says:

    I always felt like Springsteen, Blondie, Joe Jackson, the Cars, Tom Petty, Prince, and the Pretenders were the first wave of GenX because they seemed to pave the way for where the music was going to go. I feel like U2 and REM, the Replacements and the Beastie Boys are the middle with Guns n Roses closing it out.

  141. 141
    raven says:

    @Matt McIrvin: “Carry On, My Wayward Son” was the ending song in the film “Heroes” with Sally Field, Harrison Ford, and Henry Winkler about a Nam vet looking for an old buddy to start a worm farm. Winkler has a flashback at the end and the song is the background. When they released the movie on VHS they had to change the song because of copyright and, IMHO, it ruined the movie.

  142. 142
    Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth) says:

    @Bailey:

    For Gen X, when Michael Jackson died, it was because our childhood died, but not that because he was the voice of our generation.

    Yeah, this.

    I remember watching the cartoon Jackson 5ive at 8AM on Saturdays on ABC (which other network could carry it?) in ’71-’72, spinning his singles on the record player throughout the decade, roller skating to songs from Off the Wall late in the decade…I got sick of him in the midst of the Thriller domination, but, yeah, a bit of my childhood did die with him.

    I think I’m going to take it harder, though, when Stevie Wonder dies. His songs so remind me of little details throughout my childhood, on the playground, in the car, at the lake…Songs In the Key of Life was the soundtrack for bus rides back home, late in the winter afternoon orange and blue after basketball practice in ’76 and ’77, the bus driver pumping the volume as we sang along with I Wish…

  143. 143
    raven says:

    @CarolDuhart2: Disco sucks.

  144. 144
    MoxieM says:

    @Waynski: Oh yes indeed. There’s a great little CD (har) called Massholes put together by an old friend of mine & local music journo, I’d imagine you can find it somewhere out there in MP3 land. It has a rare version of the Cars (70s! if you weren’t into hair bands or Detroit v.2) You’re All I’ve Got (Tonight); Nervous Eaters; Jojo of course, in the Modern Lovers incarnation; Human Sexual Response (who just played a reunion gig, fyi); Willy Alexander; The Lyres–how could I forget the Lyres?? and DMZ before them…
    et cetera. If you were alive and in Boston in the 70s. ahem.

  145. 145
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @Miss Bianca: I also think the hate for disco was that for a certain Boomer demographic, it wasn’t serious enough with enough social criticism. Disco refused to take itself seriously, and by definition was seen as a distraction from agitating for social change.

  146. 146
  147. 147
    Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth) says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    It probably made me unreasonably averse to the Beastie Boys.

    I’ve got fond memories of that album, but when I gave it a listen a few years ago, I realized how…Not very good they were at the time. I’ve got no problem with the lyrics- they were going for juvenile and they brought it- nor with the beats or the sampling. My problem is that they were rapping in plain old 4/4 time and barely mixing it up at all.

    Don’t get me wrong, I really do like them, but the next album, Paul’s Boutique, is a fucking hip-hop masterpiece. Only two other groups I can think of- Erik B. and Rakim and De La Soul- ever measured up as far as sampling goes.

  148. 148
    Brachiator says:

    @CarolDuhart2:

    I also think the hate for disco was that for a certain Boomer demographic, it wasn’t serious enough with enough social criticism.

    Disco was dance music. Most of the people I knew who hated it could not shake their butts even if their lives depended on it. And the music they preferred was often just loud and empty.

  149. 149
    cain says:

    I liked Nirvana, but I hated alt-rock. I was 22, and I already felt abandoned. Just listening to irish music or something.. so I stopped listening to radio by 22.

    I think thanks to Spotify and Google Music, I’ve been listening to all kinds of neat music. Sometimes I find myself in a rut and start looking for other music. Cheap live music for 10 bucks, and I listen to all kinds of stuff.

    I was in Boulder a couple of weeks ago, and guess what they were playing at the local college dance bars? Fucking 90s music, basically whatever the hell I was listening to in college that was a very surreal experience rocking out to the same damn music with kids less than half my age. The only difference is that I’m a much better dancer haha :-)

  150. 150
    TheFlipPsyD says:

    Hi — very long time lurker, but wanted to chime in that One of the songs that captures the mood and Millard of growing up in the 80s would be Land of Confusion by Genesis. I was born in 71, so that puts me firmly in Gen X. However my two older brothers would be considered Boomers and my parents were silent generation. I remember the oil crisis, the hostage crisis, and growing up with the end of the cold war. The cynicism and skepticism of the world and the future came early.

    My other thought is Live Aid as being representative of generation X.

  151. 151
    TheFlipPsyD says:

    Hi — very long time lurker, but wanted to chime in that One of the songs that captures the mood and milleau of growing up in the 80s would be Land of Confusion by Genesis. I was born in 71, so that puts me firmly in Gen X. However my two older brothers would be considered Boomers and my parents were silent generation. I remember the oil crisis, the hostage crisis, and growing up with the end of the cold war. The cynicism and skepticism of the world and the future came early.

    My other thought is Live Aid as being representative of generation X.

  152. 152
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (may or may not be a myth): Stevie Wonder is the track of my whole life. I was 4 when Fingertips (part 1) came out, then came My Cherie Amour, With a Child’s Heart, Signed Sealed, Delivered, Uptight, I Was Made to Love Her, and so many more. (You made me look up his discography-whoah!)

  153. 153
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    I was just wondering, if the hate for disco was that it finally integrated the clubs? I don’t recall a lot of white and black people dancing together, let alone to the same music, in the previous decade. And of course, most psychedelic music wasn’t danceable in any tempo, and stadium rock wasn’t either. So no interracial dancing was even possible, let alone dancing at all. But disco didn’t care about any of that. It had fans on both sides, and musicians on both sides too.

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    laura says:

    I have two regrets in life:
    1. I passed on $25 tickets to the last waltz because my friends mom wouldn’t let her go and I didn’t want to go alone at 17 on Thanksgiving.
    2. I was too chicken to call in sick at my glamorous grocery bagger job and go with the brothers to see the Sex Pistols at the final show at Winterland. So life changing that they up and moved to LA to become roadies -and still are to this day. Currently on a second go round with GnR.
    There was such an abundance of music and song and shows, that I’d be hard pressed to id THE song. Someday I’ll have to go back and lay out all my show tickets in chron order -and I’ve kept every single one since the first -Boz Scaggs at the California theatre in Santa Rosa 1974.

  155. 155
    NoraLenderbee says:

    Billy Joel and The Eagles take me right back to high school (class of ’80). I’m not one bit nostalgic.

  156. 156
    raven says:

    @CarolDuhart2: It’s a buck dancers choice my friend and you can take my advice. . .

  157. 157
    geg6 says:

    For me? Born 1958, Generation Jones. “I Wanna Be Sedated” by the Ramones. It blew my mind. I turned into a punk that very day.

  158. 158
    raven says:

    @laura: My sister had tickets to see Hendrix and she and her friends dropped acid and ended up riding bikes in the country! I have Jorma tix in 2 weeks!

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    Bobby Thomson says:

    @CarolDuhart2: simpler than that. A lot of the hate for disco was because most of the artists were black.

  160. 160
    raven says:

    @Bobby Thomson: Oh bullshit.

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    J R in WV says:

    No love for Boy George??????? ;-)

    I kid. Born in 1950, graduated HS in 1968, drafted but enlisted in the Navy in ’70, finally graduated college in ’84 (after learning how to farm with a horse – HARD work) where I listened to music with fellow students who were 15 years younger than I was.

    In high school went to many classical performances, participated in band concerts where we played classical music transcribed for wind instruments, saw Ramsey Clark, played in a 3 piece piano jazz group in cocktail lounges. Still love Miles Davis, Janis Joplin, BB King and Buddy Guy, Russian piano concertos, Dr. Ralph Stanley, Doc Watson, really obscure old time string band music, which is played a lot around here.

    So I’m kind of lost in all those categories. Not too much Rap/Hiphop, not much Disco or Opera, but lots of others, Tony Bennett with k d lang ! That guy is pushing 90 and still kills if you care at all for the big band style.

    Oh, oh! Almost forgot Pink Floyd, aka Fink Ployd, One More Brick In the Wall“We don’t need no edycation, we don’t need no thought control! That played continuously at the student bar in the Union basement back in 1980-84. Have seen the Ployd live twice, Rupp arena at U Ky in Lexington and at the football stadium in Columbus at OSU. Both times with with friends that invited me, second time with Wife who had to work at the time of the KY show. Amazing gifted band even without Watters.

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    laura says:

    @raven: will he be doing accoustic, electric or a mixed set? He’s gone deep Christian in the last few years as well, so, just sayin’.
    The spouse got a Jorma/KFC style ‘finger pickin’good shirt at his last Jorma show and is still keen for the Hot Tuna. I’ll look forward to your debrief after the show.
    Our last show was the Flesheaters at a club that holds 400ish. LA punks who woke up one day looking like their dads. Steve Berlin, John Doe and dj Bonebrake of X, Dave Alvin, and Chris H.

  163. 163
    James E. Powell says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Duran Duran. Absolutely one of the most popular of the 80s, along with the related project Power Station. But its one of those bands that it seems people would just prefer to pretend never existed.

    Similarly, The Police, after selling about 100 million records, have been reduced to two or three songs in the classic rock rotation.

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    raven says:

    @laura: It’s just him I think. Last time we saw him and Jack it was acoustic and I don’t recall and religiousy stuff. He does have a long list of don’ts on his website.

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    @CarolDuhart2: also disco was really popular with *whispers* homosexuals

  166. 166
    James E. Powell says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    I remember the white rock and roll DJs starting the “Disco sucks!” campaign, and if the racism behind it escaped me then, it sure doesn’t now.

    And homophobia. Can’t leave that out.

  167. 167
    raven says:

    @laura:

    when Jorma was learning how to do it, many of the originators of traditional blues fingerstyle were still alive and performing: Mississippi John Hurt, Lonnie Johnson, and, Jorma’s hero, the Reverend Gary Davis.

    “I got to see the Reverend play a number of times, both in New York and in California” says Jorma. “He was utterly individual—I’d say one of the most significant musicians of the 20th century.” The Reverend’s very personal technique—he used only the thumb and middle finger of his right hand to pluck the strings—resulted in a unique, bouncy sound that many have sought to emulate. Jorma is a master at summoning the Reverend’s sound from his own guitar, and, over the years, he has recorded a number of the Reverend’s songs, including “I Am the Light of This World,” “I’ll Be Alright,” and “There’s a Table Sitting in Heaven.” These songs are a staple of his live sets, and audience favorites.

    I always liked his “I see the light”.

  168. 168
    J R in WV says:

    @raven:

    My only real exposure to Disco was when I was back in Home town, with farmer friend, painting my Grandma’s big old farm house. A friend from HS band, and co worker at two jobs before we moved away from Home town, attractive former majorette and brillant person with multiple languages and Doctoral degrees, revealed to us that she liked to dance to Disco.

    So two big burly guys in clean but obviously work clothes took gorgeous blond lady out dancing between days painting. Oh, to be young enough to do that once more! She worked both of us into the ground. On the plus side, no one bothered us at all. A good time was had by all.

    To me disco is only good if you have a date who can dance and enjoys it, and doesn’t care too much that you’re going to bob in time to the music and step back and forth while you watch them. That’s the extent of my dancing ability…

    But even I know that Hall and Oats were white guys, along with the cast of Dance Fever or whatever the name of the archetypical Danc movie was.

  169. 169
    beergoggles says:

    NWA, Nirvana, Hole. So generally songs about sex and violence, voluntarily or not.

  170. 170
    Rex says:

    @TheFlipPsyD: Agreed on both counts. Might as well throw Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” in with Land of Confusion.

  171. 171
    Bailey says:

    @TheFlipPsyD:

    My other thought is Live Aid as being representative of generation X.

    Not at all. Live Aid was in 1985; most Gen X were adolescents then. Live Aid was performed almost entirely by Boomer artists.

    HORDE Fest and Lolapalooza are Gen X.

  172. 172
    Dan says:

    Tom Petty Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp

  173. 173
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @CarolDuhart2: Weirdly, though, “Stayin’ Alive”, maybe the most iconic disco hit ever, is sort of a social criticism song.

  174. 174
    Big Jim Slade says:

    Sunday Bloody Sunday.
    London Calling…
    Billie Jean or Thriller
    Hungry Like The Wolf
    Burnin’ Down the House.

  175. 175
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Bailey: It’s that distinction again of the music that was the soundtrack to our adolescence, as opposed to the music actually made by us. Most of the artists we associate with Boomer culture were pre-Boomers born during World War II, people my parents’ age.

  176. 176
    Bailey says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    It’s that distinction again of the music that was the soundtrack to our adolescence, as opposed to the music actually made by us. Most of the artists we associate with Boomer culture were pre-Boomers born during World War II, people my parents’ age.

    True. All of the Beatles and all of the Rolling Stones are actually of the “Silent Generation.”

    Regardless, I wouldn’t consider Live Aid to be a either a highlight or a particularly defining moment of Gen X either as audience or performers.

  177. 177
    thaflax says:

    Generation X=Nirvana; you see this shorthand a lot already. (Pixies weren’t that well-known at the time and it’s only through Pitchfork’s belated/revisionist version of music history that we think of them as a major band; U2 [and R.E.M., another plausible choice] are more precursors to Generation X than part of it.)

  178. 178
    Rex says:

    @Bailey: I associate Live Aid and We Are the World with my first adolescent realization that 1) most of these guys are dinosaurs and, 2) they’re appallingly self-laudatory and completely full of shit. I think that’s a defining part of Gen X, no? Less than 10 years later, we were being hawked $50 flannels as part of the “alternative” movement, confirming our worst suspicions.

    Bill Hicks predates Gen X by a few years but his commentary is also very much of the era.

  179. 179
    Luthe says:

    As someone on the older end of the Millennial scale (born in ’84), I tend to divide Millennials into “grew up with the Internet” and “grew up on the Internet.” With the first group, the graphs of their age and the fastest available Internet speed are roughly congruent; the second group barely remembers dial-up and thinks high-speed Internet, wi-fi, and cell phones are like air: they have always existed and are barely remarkable.

    As for music, I’m not sure what song will be associated with my cohort, but I can tell you my taste in music expanded greatly when I went to college and got access to peer-to-peer sharing. The biggest influence on Millennial music tastes were Napster and iTunes.

  180. 180
    Bailey says:

    @Rex:

    I associate Live Aid and We Are the World with my first adolescent realization that 1) most of these guys are dinosaurs and, 2) they’re appallingly self-laudatory and completely full of shit. I think that’s a defining part of Gen X, no? Less than 10 years later, we were being hawked $50 flannels as part of the “alternative” movement, confirming our worst suspicions.

    Bill Hicks predates Gen X by a few years but his commentary is also very much of the era.

    I think it’s fair to say there are artists / people born of a certain generation that speak for or are closely affiliated with the next. I would count Bill Hicks in that, because of his particular message. Ditto Jon Stewart; technically a late Boomer but direct appeal to Gen X who loved him first.

    If you look at Live Aid / We Are the World THAT way, then if I squint sideways, I can see it. I just don’t see them as representing the generation–more like representing what the generation isn’t. (And I say that liking or even loving many of the artists that participated in WATW.) Just as an overall message it was….indulgent.

  181. 181
    TheFlipPsyD says:

    I think I was speaking of Live Aid closer to the way Rex was looking at it.also, I think the music that most affected me as an adolescent was not by my fellow gen xers, but rather the music I listened to in my teen years. Also Live Aid represented I think the end of a period of time when collective action was fading out. There was no significant couple give action in the nineties and early 2000s. Probably not until occupy wall street. In the early 90s you had the million man and the tension after oJ Simpson. And yes the economy got better toward the end of the decade but when I graduated college in 93 the job market really was bad.

  182. 182
    Mike G says:

    @thaflax:

    Class of 85, Nirvana didn’t go big until after I graduated college so I don’t consider them symbolic. If I had to pick a few I’d go with Michael Jackson, U2, Prince and The Police. (The Police get bonus points because they split before they became tedious or weird). Live Aid (as distinct from the insipid We Are the World) the seminal concert event.

    Pop music is mostly people in their twenties making music for a predominantly teenage audience, so the artists themselves are typically a decade or so older than many of their fans.

  183. 183
    Daddio7 says:

    @Ceci n est pas mon nym: I did not read Atlas Shruggeduntil 2010 when I was 58 and had been sitting home for two years disabled. Top ten best books ever for me. I had to stand up from my chair a cheer twice while reading John Galt’s speech. Every high school senior should have to study that speech and then attack or defend it. For 25 years I did own my own business and was drafted into the US military. Personally I listened to a lot of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple.

  184. 184
    RSA says:

    @Bailey:

    And I’d say that, his freakish optimism aside, Obama has culturally far more in common with Gen X and Millennials than he does Baby Boomers.

    I’m a couple of years younger than Obama but still at the tail end of the Boomers, and for me this is very accurate. Most Boomer touchstones are music from the past for me. For what it’s worth, I remember some of the music at a freshman college mixer: the Clash, REM, and a lot of New Wave bands (some of which I still like a lot, of course).

  185. 185
  186. 186
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Bailey: I felt like Obama was the first, so far the only, President whose mental processes and attitudes really felt understandable to me. And I think part of that was generational.

    People keep disparaging “who you’d like to have a beer with” as a criterion, but Obama is by far the President I’d most like to have a beer with. Certainly not GWB, who was the one who kept getting the phrase even though he supposedly didn’t drink beer any more.

    …Well, if you could resurrect Lincoln he’d probably be a fascinating one to have a few drinks and shoot the shit with. Maybe him. I do think I could empathize with him.

  187. 187
    Jamey says:

    @Bailey: Yeah, it’s our “Satisfaction” or “My Generation.” No escaping it.

  188. 188
    Jamey says:

    @Mike G: They had an album called “Synchronicity” that had two songs called “Synchronicity.” They split BECAUSE Sting got tedious and weird.

  189. 189
    gorram says:

    Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing is for later Gen X
    Pixies’ Where Is My Mind is for very late Gen X or very early Millennials
    Semisonic’s Closing Time is for early-to-mid Millennials

    TLC’s No Scrubs is in the mix there too, between the last two, but I think it was sadly less omnipresent of a moment in US culture.

  190. 190
    gorram says:

    Maaaaybe sub in Nirvana for the Pixies, your mileage will vary, etc etc etc

  191. 191
    Gustopher says:

    Oh, come on, has no one figured this out?

    It’s Weird Al. How could it be anyone other than Weird Al?

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