Music News

The newer generations' love of classic rock shows a lack of imagination

There's a disease spreading through our generation of twenty- and thirty-year-olds, a malady we inherited from our parents that's rendering us culturally stagnant. It's sapping our identity. Perhaps, most tragically, we are welcoming this plague into our homes, cars and iPods — even our karaoke parties. This cancer is called classic rock, and it needs to be stopped.

Back when your folks were young, do you think they were listening to their dad's Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller records? Hell no. They were forging their individualism through their Janis Joplin and their Beatles, their Bob Dylan and their Rolling Stones. As they grew up, they still liked to party, picking up AC/DC and Rush LPs, maybe a little Electric Light Orchestra when they got high on the weekends.

But hippie, prog and arena rock somehow still dominate the guitar-based/non-country airwaves all these years later. According to recent figures from Inside Radio, a New Hampshire-based trade publication, there are 485 classic-rock stations in the country, more than any other strain (modern, alternative, etc.) of rock and roll. Meanwhile, the top-grossing concert acts of 2008 were dominated by moldy old-timers like Billy Joel, the Eagles and Neil Diamond.

And the fault lies with the lazy listeners. As our baby-boomer parents head into retirement, we're taking over as the dominant consumers of media, and we're listening to the same crap they did.

This sad story speaks of a lack of imagination among our generation. Don't get me wrong: Anyone without a working knowledge of Blonde on Blonde and Rumours is missing out. But the 1,500th listen to "Start Me Up" really should involve some crying. Think of it this way: Probably every person sharing your wi-fi connection at the coffee shop right now knows the lyrics to "You Shook Me All Night Long," but how many of them can sing along to a single song by My Morning Jacket, TV on the Radio, Of Montreal, Wolf Parade, Neko Case or any of the other best rock artists of our era?

There are plenty of places to find cutting-edge music — and often for free. Members of the so-called Internet age have no excuse for listening to classic rock other than sheer apathy. Shelling out $100 for Neil Young tickets is making us broke, and meanwhile, compelling local bands are playing down the street for the cost of a pint of Fat Tire.

This is generational warfare, and we're losing, people. So let's fight back. Turn off the Jethro Tull. Walk out of dinner parties where the hosts put Heart on the stereo. Bolt at the mere mention of foxy ladies. Huey Lewis be damned, let's drive a stake through the heart of classic rock and roll until it is no longer beating. Stop kickin' down the cobblestones, and for God's sake, stop feeling groovy.