Rap means aging baby boomers now welcome onset of deafness.

December 14, 2009

My parents’ generation was horrified.

Accustomed to the low-key, silky-smooth crooning of the likes of Sinatra, Como, Bennett and King Cole, rock’n’roll’s jarring birth surely sounded like a bulldozer running over every cat in the world. While on fire. And exploding.

The Beatles. The Rolling Stones. The Who. The Animals. Elvis. Jimi. Janis. The Lizard King. It must have seemed like an alien invasion, come to destroy a civilization based on post-war conformity.

It was a sea change and one in which I was an active participant, if only because that’s what was blaring out of my tinny transistor radio. I picked strawberries for spending money through seven summers and, even today, when I hear a song from that era, I’m  instantly transported back to a time when I crawled on my knees through the dirt, disturbing slumbering snakes and nesting birds in pursuit of the rich, red sweetness of a full-breasted berry.

I stopped listening to the radio when disco arrived. Hated that shit then. Still do. I bought The Mother of My Children a Disco Sucks T-shirt as a Christmas present one year, so I like to think I helped kill that particular evil.

Even after disco did finally skulk away — the final coffin nail, apparently, being that oldies suddenly wanted to learn all those Saturday Night Fever moves, thus destroying disco’s exclusivity — my radio remained silent. I grew my hair to music circa 1964-71. Aural wizardry, all of it. Music released since then? Meh.

Other than some Springsteen or Petty, you’d be hard-pressed to find any post-’70s songs on my iPod. I’m a baby boomer and, for us, it may only be rock’n’roll but we like it.

Except, during those years when I wasn’t paying attention, rock mutated. Punk rock. Sex rock. Grunge. Metal. Heavy metal. Modern rock. And now I see references to something called noise rock.

What is noise rock, you ask? I have no flippin’ idea. But, personally, that’s the label I’d apply to all those goth freaks who, quite literally, scream — about death and destruction and dismemberment.

We once had a neighbor whose son fronted just such a travesty of a band. It was actually frightening to hear him practising because I was never quite sure if he was singing or gargling battery acid. Or had caught his pink bits in a wood chipper. I was pleased to finally move away.

I started thinking about music after reading a story on a wonderful new website called Review 2 A Kill (review2akill.com). The site is the brainchild of a group of talented and enthusiastic people, including my daughter, Brooke (missteenussr.com), and her husband, Nuv. (My son, Koleman, also contributes — yes, as a matter of fact we are a talented family).

While reading Nuv’s music column about rap — yet another music genre that has me contemplating ripping out my eardrums and beating them with a burning stick — it occurred to me that I knew absolutely nothing about any of the artists he mentioned, nor had I heard a single one of their recorded offerings.

This is partly a result of losing touch with today’s music but also because, if I hated disco, I despise rap, what with the never-ending whine of its woe-is-me-the-white-man-done-done-me-wrong lyrics and grade-school rhyming.

But perhaps the main reason I have such an intense dislike for rap is because it doesn’t speak to my generation.

And then it hit me, like a Stratocaster between the eyes: at some point while having children, assuming a mortgage, losing our hair and desperately attempting to squirrel away a retirement fund, we baby boomers ceased to be a Wild Thing. A Street Fighting Man. The Walrus. We no longer were born to be wild nor Born To Run.

We had, for all intents and purposes, become our parents.

The Who may have sung about being able to see for miles and miles, but I did not see that one coming. Bummer.


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