A lot of baby boomers tend to think of the ‘60s as their formative years. During that tumultuous decade, my suburban neighborhood teemed with kids. When we weren't in school, our days were filled with freeze tag and football, hide-and-seek and snow forts. As I once told my son, "I wasn't a child of the ‘60s, I was a child in the ‘60s."
So, despite my boomer status, I am in most ways a product of the 1970s. The ‘70s coincided with my teenage years, when my horizons expanded beyond the neighborhood and I became aware of the world at large.
The culture that I absorbed, the things that eventually helped to define the person I became, and the parts of life that were most important to me all were birthed in that decade. Most of those things are memories now, but one critical component of that time — the music! — is still very much with us. And that, I have discovered, is not necessarily a good thing.
Turn on the radio and it's like the ‘70s never went away. I'm more likely to hear the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" or Eric Clapton's "Layla" than I am to hear something recorded in this century.
I loved the Doors, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and so forth. My tastes, then as now, were eclectic. I could listen to Deep Purple one day and Linda Ronstadt the next. Supertramp or the Clash. Punk, progressive, blues, good old rock ‘n' roll. With the exception of disco, I listened to it all. And still have to.
"Black Magic Woman" lost its magic when I heard it for the ten-thousandth time. I click off when Lynyrd Skynyrd comes on. For the most part, I am in the minority on this when it comes to my peers. Ask someone what the best album to come out in the past year was and it's bound to be a band from yesteryear that's still recording. That's fine, a lot of artists are still making solid music. But what about the new bands, the young guns? Why not be interested in them as well?
Admittedly, I lost track of things for a while. In the ‘80s, I was busy raising a family and didn't have time for anything, let alone sitting around listening to tunes. I understand that by and large, I didn't miss much. Hair bands and techno. Flock of Seagulls? No thanks, though a metaphor does come to mind.
As my sons came of age in the ‘90s, I began to be exposed once again to the sounds of the day. Groups like Green Day and Dave Matthews Band. I discovered there was more out there than just the previous sound track of my life.
A lot of it was good, but the scene itself had changed. We had CDs instead of vinyl albums.
Then, MP3 players and other portable devices debuted. Once music became entwined with the personal computer and the Internet, the whole game changed. The music available to the masses and how it's accessed is a whole different ball game. I think that has a lot to do with my generation being out of touch.
Fortunately, I have offspring to keep me in the loop. They make recommendations, telling me who they think I would like. I make sure to read reviews and check out CDs from the library. Once in a while, I even turn on the radio. It's a shame I generally hear songs I've been listening to for 40 years now. There are a lot of great young bands and artists out there. You just have to make the effort.
Lori L. DuVall, who lives in Amherst, is tired of hearing music from the 1970s, so she is branching out on the advice of her children.