I remember how excited I was when Santa Claus brought me my very own “boom box”, complete with cassette player. In the years to come much of my allowance was spent on cassette tapes but the real revelation that first day was how many different stations there were, how much of a variety of music was now available to me. When we were in the car my father controlled the dial. That Christmas morning, sometime around 1979 I’m guessing, was quite possibly the first time that I had heard a song recorded that decade.
I try and be conscious of the music that I play when the kids are riding with me. The teenager hates country but won’t complain about most everything else. The little just wants something that she can sing along with. Actual knowledge of the lyrics or what they might mean is completely unnecessary.
I’m conscious, but like my father before me believe that my car = my tunes. Also like him, more often than not that means classic rock.
It’s a station that I was reluctant to embrace, a denial about the songs of my youth fitting that description. Classic rock means The Kinks, The Who, The Animals. It means Led Zeppelin, one of Kayla’s favorite bands, and The Rolling Stones, a band that Alaina can often be heard singing around the house.
I was OK with ZZ Top, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, artists that had success in the ’70s and carried that over into the ’80s and beyond. U2 and Journey seemed to be pushing it, but I could be reasonable. Motorhead, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, fine. When “Sweet Child O’ Mine” from Gun’s and Roses started getting regular airplay I called for the firing of the programming director. There obviously had been a terrible mistake about that being an old enough song to qualify. Nobody replied.
It took some time, but eventually I got over it. The music of my youth was now “classic.” It was bound to happen.
Today marked a crossing of lines, another e-mail to the station forthcoming. Today I heard “3 AM”, a song from Matchbox Twenty’s debut album. It was released in 1996, four years after I graduated high school.
I understand the math, recognize how many years ago that was. It’s the implications I have a problem with, the precedent being set. This is no longer the music of my childhood, not even of my teenage years. This song came out when I was a legitimate ( somewhat ) adult. Does this mean that Pearl Jam is now classic rock? Nirvana, Green Day, Rage Against The Machine?
That just can’t be right.