Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Steven Hyden, Twilight of the Gods: A Journey to the End of Classic Rock (Dey Street Books, 2018)

Occasionally we have moments of clarity, times when something in our environment reaches out and whacks us in the head and we wonder why we didn’t notice it before because it was so obvious.

I had one such moment of clarity some time ago as I went about running errands on a typical Saturday morning. A stop at Walgreen’s to pick up a prescription: I briefly tune into the background music — hey, that’s Queen — and for a moment I’m transported back to 1976. Off to the grocery store, where Styx greets me. A quick stop into a fast food restaurant. You guessed it: my dining experience is accompanied by tunes from the 1970s and 1980s.

It’s been this way for a long time. It’s like I’m moving through life in a bubble in which music that was popular during my young adulthood is continually cycling. This didn’t happen with my parents’ music, as good as some of it is in retrospect. No, this must have something to do with demographics, the economic power of my bulging boomer generation. Play our music, and we’ll more readily open our wallets. For younger folks, it’s enough to fuel an “OK Boomer” response. But, if you’re an entrepreneur with potential customers in the Boomer generation, you may want to think about incorporating some classic 70’s rock into your marketing (just don’t do it without consulting a knowledgeable IP lawyer before you do). 

Let’s face it: without the memories, some of this stuff just isn’t that great, as Steven Hyden observes in his Twilight of the Gods. In a nutshell, Wikipedia informs us, this new elevator music comprises “commercially successful songs by white male acts from the Anglosphere, expressing values of Romanticism, self-aggrandizement, and politically undemanding ideologies.” Yup, that’s pretty much it. And I suspect it will be with us until my generation’s buying power dwindles away.

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