Meme of the Day: Trying to Forget Your Generation (Part 1)

“Anyone unlucky enough not to have been aged between 14 and 30 during 1966-67 will never know the excitement of those years in popular culture.”
– Ian MacDonald, Revolution in the Head (quoted here)

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“I thought, ‘If I don’t write this book, who is going to write this book?’ Who’s going to put something out there that puts the lie to the assumption of the older generation of rock critic[s]: Greil Marcus, or Christgau? I took it easy on Christgau because at least he was in the game reviewing records. But I think that whole generation’s assumption was, ‘Well this is a nice underground play pen that these kids have.'”
– Joe Carducci, Perfect Sound Forever interview

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“Generations suck, as does anybody who believes in, belongs to, defines, compares, nicknames, inspires, or speaks for them. Generational essentialism is as dumb now as it was in the ‘60s, and if the word ‘twenty-something’ appears once in this poll, I’m going to start calling up rock critics and playing ‘Season of the Witch’ into their answering machine.”
– Rob Sheffield, 1993 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll (Village Voice)

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“That the Election of Bill Clinton coincides with the erosion of Bruce Springsteen’s mass appeal underscores just how far our political culture lags behind that of our pop music. The Clinton-Gore victory is supposed to signal, finally, the assumption of power by the baby boom generation. But in pop, boomer culture is already waning into obsolescence.”
– Derek Richardson, 1992 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll

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“Baby freaks who enjoy the music of the Fleet Foxes and Devendra Banhart, grow their own tomatoes, rock woolly beards and retreat to the desert for vision quests don’t feel the need to rebel against their elders at all. Such a warm embrace of their legacy may not be something the golden children of the 1960s expected, but I’m sure they’re happy for the dissolution of that generational divide.”
– Ann Powers, “Who Cares About ‘My Generation’ Anymore?

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“I’ve often argued that boomers’ arrogant claim to own youth culture made it hard for subsequent generations to create a culture of their own. Even though I am a boomer myself, I found this problematic. What Ann is suggesting (and it’s nothing my own kids haven’t tried to explain to me) is that today’s generation finds value in connecting to ‘their elders’ … they don’t feel the need to rebel [against their elders]. Which, if true, and I have a suspicion she’s onto something, means that what boomers ‘own’ isn’t youth culture, but rather the adolescent need to rebel. That need, which so many of us never abandon, is what identifies boomers as a generation that refuses to grow up.”
– Steven Rubio, “woodstock, or, b-legit meets daryl hall

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“When will the ‘70s critics hang it up? And the ’80s generation – re: Cosloy and Albini and the rest of their angry young fanzine-bred ilk – are really no better. I swear they like music just because it’s bad, or offensive, or noisy, or outrageous/racist/sexist. That’s pathetic.”
– Tim Sommer, 1986 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll

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“When Tim says the ’70s critics should bow out, my response is, ‘I guess I don’t have to worry – I’m a ’60s critic.’ I don’t know who he’s talking about when he said that – I really don’t. There’s another thing, too, to get obnoxious about it for a moment. People will stop reading me and Bob and Dave and people of that ilk – if that is an ilk – when other people come along with better ideas, a more intriguing writing style, more stamina, and more commitment to the subject matter. There’s nothing surprising about that.”
– Greil Marcus, 1986 Nerve interview

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“And pop music’s not just an adolescent concern any more, although it’s still dominated by adolescent discourse. It also has maturity and respect, an adult dimension, even if it tends to be on the periphery of white rock ‘n’ roll, in country music and blues. Its body is larger and its concerns substantially more adult than conventional rock ‘n’ roll mythology allows.”
– Dave Marsh, June 7, 1987 (Toronto Star interview)

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“…I despise most of the people from my generation, because they didn’t re-invest in the culture that had thrust them into prominence. Morley, Parsons, Burchill. They didn’t put anything back.”
– Jon Savage, The Vague Interview, 1988

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“Nobody else in my generation was paying any attention to [popular music]… Do you remember Dig magazine? That was fantastic. I remember in one issue they had a whole spread about haircuts, the different kinds of haircuts. My friends would come to visit me and I could talk to their kids about Dig magazine, which their parents wouldn’t let them have in the house; they had to hide it out in the garage. I used to feel real foolish, ‘cause here I was, all grown up, with kids of my own, and what the hell’s the matter with me?”
– Ralph Gleason, 1973 (“Two Critics – Gleason and Marcus) (pub. Unknown)

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2 thoughts on “Meme of the Day: Trying to Forget Your Generation (Part 1)

  1. I dunno if this relates that directly to your topic, but when I was looking through my stored emails tonight, I ran across this one, which I sent to The Nation back on June 17. (It was never published, of course.)

    To wit: “When I open my June 22 issue of The Nation, the table of contents promises me a ‘Back Talk’ interview with ‘Graham Parker,’ and I think, ‘Wow! One of my very favorite musicians, that sharp-tongued Anglo-American singer-songwriter of “Passion Is No Ordinary Word,” among so many other gems. But why now?!? The 30th anniversary of his landmark Squeezing Out Sparks album, or his reliably leftist politics?’
    But when I turn to the interview, it’s not THE Graham Parker, but rather a younger man sporting the same name, and sharing some postmodern expertise on computer spam, of all things. I proceed to read the ostensible G.P.’s comments about spammers’ use of all sorts of literary and pop culture terms in their subject lines, to entice the recipient into reading their actual pitch for a fake Rolex watch or . . . ‘Waitaminute! I’ve just been spammed by that misleading subject line in the table of contents! Was it all some ironic hipster trick to show how spam does its deed?!? I can just imagine the real Graham Parker’s sarcasm if he hears about this . . . ‘

    Yrs. for the evolution,
    Richard Riegel”

    This latter-day G.P. is a hipster BEYOND irony if he uses that handle without any acknowledgment at all that there’s a more famous & valuable Graham Parker still out there. This would be analagous to someone calling himself “Bruce Springsteen” and going around the country lecturing about Chevrolet Camaro intake manifolds w/o any nod to the fact that a rather major musician was already using that handle.

    I see on Google that this supposed G.P. lives in irony-beyond-ironies BROOKLYN! Shoulda known! Bah OMFUG!

    Yr. grumpy boomster,
    Are Riegel

  2. Keep on grumpin’, Richard. Love the idea of the Nation pulling out all the stops to celebrate the 30th anniversary of S.O.S.!

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