I've been feeling oddly nostalgic about high school lately. Which is weird considering that I don't believe those were the best years of my life and I tend to come down on the "If those were the best years of your life, then you need a new life." side of the fence.
But, I've been doing this thing where I completely eschew new music and only listen to the gems that we screamed out the window of my '82 Bick SkyHawk in 1995. And, no, that is not a typo. The U fell out of my BUICK and so I drove a Bick. Like the lighters but with a K. It was funny when I was 15.
I've been watching Dazed and Confused over and over again. I've even gone so far as to get online and re-watch all 7 episodes of My So-Called Life, the shortest run TV show in history to still be referred to over ten years later.
The other day the intern in my office (21 years old) and I were talking about music. My Pandora was playing Pearl Jam. She mentioned that she hates Pearl Jam. Now, I was always more of a Nirvana kind of girl and while Pearl Jam was definitely on my radar, they were no where in my top ten. But, come on, Pearl Jam.
"How do you hate Pearl Jam if you love grunge?" I should insert here that I was totally weirded out by this conversation anyway because she was talking about loving grunge the way I talked about loving Led Zeplin. I am not this girl's mother and that is just not fair.
"Well, okay, I don't know much of their music, but I hate 'Jeremy's Spoken.'" Herm. Shall I correct her and tell her the name of the song is just "Jeremy" or ignore that completely?
"Well, 'Jeremy' was arguably the song that made them a phenomena. It was pretty big and it's a pretty good song. Why do you hate 'Jeremy'?" There, don't correct, just say it a bunch. Good compromise.
"Well, okay, I mostly hate the video. Have you seen the video?" Have I seen the video? Do you even know what 120 Minutes is, baby?
"There's a kid. Like a high school kid. And he brings and gun to school and kills himself. I just think it's kinda in bad taste."
So, I spent the next 20 minutes explaining that number 1: it was pre-Columbine, so it wasn't quite the bad taste issue it is today. And more importantly number 2: back, way back, in the stone age of the '90's, bands sang about real stuff. Stuff that was happening, stuff that mattered. It was just how it was and if someone hadn't done a song about school shootings in all the minor ones that led up to Columbine it would have been weird. Because it mattered.
I was upset. Justifying my generation. Explaining (like every generation before me) why mine is better than yours. I pointed to early U2 that was about war and religion and hatred and stupidity. And new U2 which is about... Well, to tell you the truth, I can't listen to them anymore because it's just not the same so I don't know what it's about, except not war and religion and hatred and stupidity. And yes, Bono rocks. But he does it in his private life now and not on his albums. And I can't help but think that sucks, even if he's getting more done this way.
And maybe I'm wrong. Maybe music isn't about real life but escaping. Maybe Fergie's onto something with her made up words and "Hey look at my butt!" But I still look at all her craptacular music and then look at that one song by the Black Eyed Peas that was about something and wonder if that was a fluke or if there is somewhere a member of the band going, "C'mon guys. Another dance hit?!?"
It feels to me that we were more real than this generation. And I don't know how to put it better than that. I know that everyone feels like that, by the way, so I'm nothing special. In fact, one of my friends, a 50 year old Deadhead with a daughter my age, doesn't get my generation at all. "Let's all conform to the same nonconformity," she says, "Let's walk around in our flannel shirts and our torn jeans and pretend we aren't all trying desperately to be the same as everyone else." And, I can see her point. I can see how we were all just followers, claiming to hate followers.
But at least we were claiming. At least we were trying. To be different, to be real, to care about things and change things and hate the status quo. We rebelled. Even if we all did it together in weird socially-approved ways. This generation, with its pop music and no underground, its preppy chic clothes and perfect hair, its SUV's filling the high school parking lot and movies making fun of movies. This generation isn't even trying.
Except maybe they are. Maybe they're rebelling against my generation and our dirty, uncombed hair and untucked shirts and torn jeans. Our out of tune singers mumbling to off-kilter guitar licks. Our underground being bigger than the aboveground. The clunkier the car, the cooler attitude and watching Trainspotting in the "artsy" theatre.
I wonder if this is how the hippies felt about disco.