It’s a graying one-liner now: If you remember the 60s, you probably weren’t there. You may substitute any seminal event from the era — Woodstock, Stonewall, Monterey, Kent State, Chicago — but the point is what it is and you get it or don’t.
I was there but I don’t bother defending the era from its detractors, unless, of course, they were there too and then I buy them drinks and watch them delaminate while I mock and jeer them. Some of us flower children grew thorns over our tumors . The only joints we deal with now are arthritic.
However, one thing I’m sure of is, our music was better than what came before it and what has come afterwards.
And now? Well, something has always irked me between the back beat and the front man, and maybe this is it:
[A]fter a computer analysis of 3 decades of hit songs, Dr. [Nathan] DeWall and other psychologists report finding what they were looking for: a statistically significant trend toward narcissism and hostility in popular music. As they hypothesized, the words “I” and “me” appear more frequently along with anger-related words, while there’s been a corresponding decline in “we” and “us” and the expression of positive emotions.
“Late adolescents and college students love themselves more today than ever before,” Dr. DeWall, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky, says. His study covered song lyrics from 1980 to 2007 and controlled for genre to prevent the results from being skewed by the growing popularity of, say, rap and hip-hop….
… During this period, there have also been reports of higher levels of loneliness and depression — which may be no coincidence, according to the authors of the song-lyrics study. These researchers…. note that narcissism has been linked to heightened anger and problems maintaining relationships. Their song-lyrics analysis shows a decline in words related to social connections and positive emotions (like “love” or “sweet”) and an increase in words related to anger and antisocial behavior (like “hate” or “kill”). — NYTimes
Look: I liked the 80s, and I love the music that defines it. The 80s were beri beri good to me — I fell in love, got married, left my home town for the first time ever to relocate here in the nation’s dicktip, bought a house, made some money…..all to the tune of Dire Straits, Madness, Tears For Fears, and Echo and the Bunnymen. And many many more. Fun stuff.
But by the end of the decade I detected a distinct change in the tone and ambiance of popular music, not quite as radical as what happened when the 60s morphed into the horrid, disco-heavy 70s, or when the grease washed away from the 50s to allow the 60s to bloom, but clearly audible. And maybe these slippered academics have put their finger on it. Suddenly, it was all about nobodies all into themselves. It became the un-60s.
Well, of course it did. The whole point of a generation’s music is to say Fuck You to their parents’ values, pleasures, and pastimes. Even without kids of my own I’m a candidate for rejection and scorn. Hey, bring it on. That’s certainly what we did in 1964. Were we so cold and dismissive? All You Need Is Love? I don’t remember, but I think not.
Anyway, it’s just another study and another line of thought. Read it and comment, kiddies. Kindly state your age, though.
Meanwhile, let’s all party together. If you pick the music, I’ll promise not to sneer.