Those Gap ads. They make me think about the power of music, and feeling ever so out of it. But I'm over it. And you can find out who all those singers are if you read this.
Something humbling has struck me while I bounce around in the demographic bubble of boomers. It’s the issue around staying aware of music. What’s hot. What’s out. What’s hopelessly over, and what is suddenly retro-cool.
I suppose all of us went through that stage where our parents said, “How can you listen to that stuff? You call that music?”
Probably we hung onto the idea that only we knew what was really good listening for a long, long time. Except that a couple three things happened.
- We started saying, “How can you listen to that stuff? You call that music?”
- We noticed that Classic Rock stations were playing stuff we didn’t listen to as kids. The new oldies were way newer than our oldies.
- We kept getting shocked at the ages of some musicians. How could they be that old? Or that dead?
Because I taught high school for many (many) years, it was required that I stay ahead of this stuff. You don’t want a whole class of students giving you that eye roll, when you say you’ve never heard of Extra Phlegm or Shadow Bogus.
Meanwhile, one of my former students is now the drummer for The Eagles...something that warms my heart, his being so much younger than the originals, and all.
Oooooh, whoooo, witchy woe-man........
Excuse me. Got a little carried away.
I had a perfectly good reason for not paying attention to rap music. Everything was spelled weird. Lots of ZZZZZZ and numbers instead of letters.
Right up until the end of my high school teaching days I could always find a few kids who liked some of the people I did: Talking Heads, Tom Waits, Keb Mo. I bumped into five of my students at a Bonnie Raitt concert one time. We were all surprised to see each other.
I realize I’m hopelessly out of it. Pathetic, end stage geezerosity when it comes to music.
- First of all I cannot tell the difference between Britney Spears and Christina Aguillera. They look alike to me. That must mean something.
- Secondly, I watched the fabulous America: A Tribute to Heroes which was organized within a week’s time and shown September 21 on over a dozen networks and 8,000 radio stations. Commercial free, no introductions for the acts, great! But there were also no liner notes at the bottom of the screen saying who was performing.
Springsteen? Of course. Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Neil Young, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, The Dixie Chicks, Sting. No problem. But the wonderful Alicia Keyes? I had no clue. I called the daughter of a friend in Maryland and said, “Autumn. Who IS that?”
Didn’t know Pearl Jam when I saw them. Heard of them. But that doesn’t mean a thing.
I felt a bit more settled as Willie Nelson ended the whole thing with a sing along, but the Seeds of Being Out of It were germinating.
A few years ago Gap did a wonderful magazine concept for about a year, using black and white photos of famous folks in khakis. James Dean, Andy Warhol, lots of writers. I laminated and posted them all over my classroom with big print bios, so that the students would know who these people were.
So, here it is, the holiday season, and the folks at the Gap are tormenting me. Some very talented people in nice looking sweaters are singing, “Give a little bit. Give a little bit of your love to me.” I know that song. Supertramp did it. You know Supertramp...sort of a one hit album called Breakfast in America? But I didn’t know some of the singers. They sound good though. I wanted to know more.
You can find the information at Gap.com, but I can save you some time, and make a recommendation as well.
In the ads you see: India Arie, Johnny Rzeznik, Sheryl Crow, Shaggy (the one who looks especially so) Macy Gray—a great young soul singer—Liz Phair, Alanis Morissette, Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes, Seal (the very attractive black man in the gray turtle-neck) Dwight Yoakam (in the hat) AND.....Robbie Robertson.
He’s the guy I want to mention, if you don’t know his stuff. With all the music you can listen to on the web, hunt down a sexy piece of his from the eponymouslys titled album: Robbie Robertson. Pour a class of wine, sit back, lower the lighting, and listen to that gravely voice moan
“Somewhere Down the Crazy River.” And realize he’s one of the original members of The Band. You remember them, right? Music from Big Pink that backed Bob Dylan?
Now, that’s music.
Go ahead, kids. Roll your eyes and say, “What. Ever.” I don’t care now.