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May 23, 2008

Transgenerational rock (OR: Why isn’t rock dead yet?)

Our local public radio station, WBUR, just ran a piece about corporate execs who are in rock bands. (It includes a mention of my friend Jon Cahill, who by day is a graphic designer, and who designed the splendid cover for my non-splendid children’s novel, but who at night plays in The Limitations.)

It makes me wonder. My parents’ music sounded old-fashioned to me when I was a kid. I don’t think my generation’s music — The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Dylan, and Simon & Garfunkel, to list some prototypes — sounds nearly as old fashioned to our kids. Sure, there was something sui generis about the Beatles, but Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman (more prototypes) also made remarkable and complex music, although it took me until my late forties to recognize that.

Why has my generation’s music stood up so well? Why doesn’t it sound as old-fashioned to our kids as the theme music for the Our Gang series?

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