Friday Fives – decade style

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What were 5 great things about the 1970s?

Rock was king.  More importantly, it was still being invented.  Everything we see now, and have seen in the last 30 years, is simply derivative of what was accomplished in the 60s and the 70s.

We got rid of Nixon, ended Vietnam, and I was born.  Is that 5 things?  Math isn’t exactly my jam.  Let’s go ahead and pull the number 5 out of all of these.

What were 5 great things about the 1980s?

Music was fun.  We were able to lose the seriousness and make music that didn’t have to be high art.  In the art world, when this happened, it was a revolution.  For centuries, art had to have a reason to exist.  It was to represent or celebrate something.  Maybe it was propaganda.  Throughout history, art was rarely done ‘because it looks nice’.  No serious artist would dare say ‘there is no point to this whatsoever.  It’s just fun and silly.’  Even Picasso would not say that, though we certainly do now.  Take a look at Guernica.  That was a VERY heavy statement on war.  Books have been written about it, and classes taught.

To me, this was rock in the 60s and 70s.  it was self serious critical expression.  Sure, there was pointless fun in rock earlier.  Just look at Mungo Jerry’s silly masterpiece ‘in the summer time’.  These guys were not exactly trying to unseat a monarchy, but this was a rarity that early.  To me, the 80s embodied this ‘fuck it.  It’s a catchy melody.  That is a good enough reason to release it’

In the summertime when the weather is hot
You can stretch right up and touch the sky
When the weather’s fine
You got women, you got women on your mind
Have a drink, have a drive
Go out and see what you can find

If her daddy’s rich take her out for a meal
If her daddy’s poor just do what you feel

What were 5 great things about the 1990s?

As you can see, I only want to talk about music here.  It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.

There was a side effect of the ‘fun’ part of the 80s.  There was the game change of us listening to music (up until the 80s) and watching the music (Mtv).  Because we consumed music primarily by watching it, style trumped substance.  In the 80s, being beautiful was at least half the battle to being a successful musician.  I think the 90s represented a backlash.  Don’t worry, we were (and still are) plenty shallow.  BUT… outfits and cinematography didn’t dictate the times.  There is a name for this great sea change in art, but I don’t remember it.  Art Nouveu, or was it Art Deco?  I don’t know, man.  I’m a rock scholar, not an art one.

For some reason, we changed the name of and ‘heavy metal’ to ‘alternative’.  To me, it’s the exact same music.  Angry dudes, cool riffs, lots of distortion.  In fact, they are so so interchangeable that they only way we can look back and differentiate ‘heavy metal’ and ‘alternative’ was if there was hair spray involved.  If your hair went up, it was ‘heavy metal’.  If it didn’t, it was ‘alternative’.  So, now we call that first era ‘hair metal’.

What were 5 great things about the 2000s?

Musically?  I think it has been all ‘rinse and repeat’ for the last 30 years.  Why?  Am I saying ‘there is no good music anymore’ because I am stuck listening to the same shit I was listening to in high school (which is pretty true)?  NO.  I don’t mean on ANY level to dismiss music that followed.  I am absolutely not saying ‘nothing good has come out since the 70s’.  I am saying (as a musician) there are 8 chords.  That’s it.  You can only do so much with 8 chords that has’t been done before.

What were 5 great things about the 2010s?

I think the great sea change here is the collapse of the record industry.  That, couple with the wide open internet, meant our music was no longer handed to us.  For the last 50 years, we all listened to the same music.  Know why?  Your market had 3 TV stations and 3 rock stations (at best).  Like TV, you were kinda forced fed content.  At my age, of course you remember ‘Different Strokes.  Everyone watched it.  You had no choice.

Now…you have to go out and find what you like.  It is great, on so many levels.  However, for someone lazy and stuck in my ways like me… it is also tougher.  I know positively there is amazing music being made.  I just don’t have the energy to chase it down.  Another aspect of that is I am a bit of an elitist when it comes to live performances.  I except a band to be better live than in studio.  I expect a band to play a different setlist from night to night.  Point being, I am most turned on to new bands live.  Last year, for example, I went to see Umphrey’s McGhee.   They were fine.  They opener, though, rocked my dick off.  They are called ‘The Record Company’, and I can’t remember the last time I was that impressed, or had that much fun, seeing live music.

I also want to point out that no matter how much fun I had seeing them that night, no one was having as much fun as their singer.  Bonus, it was a perfect summer evening at Red Rocks.

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