Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Musical Generation Gap

When I was growing up my dad loved the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and wore out a set of 8 track tapes that provided an endless loop of their "hits". He's since moved on to Zamfir (?) and really bad country western cowboy songs along with an occassional classical recording.

My parents put all of us kids into piano lessons. Of course, this provided some introduction to classical numbers. My father's interest was that we learn how to play church hymns and he was always wanting our piano teacher to add them to our selections. I was a less than enthusiastic student and had little interest in practice except when I'd get an occassional rock song that I really enjoyed playing. I'd make great progress and really practice on modern songs that I liked and then my progress would stall as soon as my assigned piece reverted to something I found boring.

My mother probably had the most influence on my musical tastes growing up. She'd listen to what I now think of as pop country on the radio. But she didn't listen to rock or mainstream pop music. Once she bought a new stereo for the family and the store threw in a couple of free albums with the deal. She chose a couple of big band records that I really liked. I always liked the music she listened to and still do. Unfortunately, my father seems to control their stereo because I don't perceive any of her influence on the music that is playing when I visit.

My musical tastes have evolved over time and now they can at best be labeled as eclectic. In high school I was introduced to AC/DC when "Back in Black" became a huge hit. I hated it at the time because it just sounded like a lot of screaming and noise. It definitely clashed with the music I'd been raised on. Then I made some friends at church that were members of the Columbia Records club. They regularly bought new albums and got me signed up so I could get free introductory albums for myself and they got free albums for referring me. This opened up a whole new musical world for me and I remained a member through high school, college, and young adulthood.

My initial purchases were guided by my friends. I bought a bunch of AC/DC, Rush, Def Leppard, Van Halen, Styx, Journey, Queen, Scorpions, and other rock groups and the music really meshed with the my angry, rebellious, independent teenage psyche. But I also earned their disdain by purchasing things like Stevie Wonder. The club sent me an album each month so I was kept in the mainstream of popular music.

Over time I got bored with the rock and pop scene and started to explore. I changed my subscription so that I started receiving classical selections. In Minnesota I'd listen to public radio and their music reviews introduced me to classical composers such as Gorecki that I'd have otherwise never have listened to. I'd check classical CDs out of the library and really learned to love the musical genius of Beethoven and Bach.

While I served a Mormon mission in Bolivia I learned to enjoy Spanish music. Later I learned to love the rhythms and lilt of Brazilian music with the samba influence and the beautiful sing song words.

My love affair with music has continued to this day and I continue to explore all of the genres. But the most interesting thing to me is that my sons and I like to listen to the same music. We independently "discovered" Fort Minor and were simultaneously listening to the same album without knowing it. If I find something new, I'll tell my son and he'll download it and usually like it and vice versa. Obviously we don't like everything the other likes, but there is a very large overlap. This leads me to wonder if the generation raised in the 60s and 70s is experiencing a musical generation like I had with my parents or if the music of that era is more similar to the music of today or if we are just more open to exploring different musical genres. Or am I just wierd?

Napster and MP3 players has made this much easier since for a fixed fee we can download all the music we want and if we don't like it we just delete it. No buyer's remorse for us. Just complete freedom to explore an incredibly diverse library of music.

1 comment:

La said...

I have tickets to see Def Leppard next month. I'm working on making my hair big.