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Here’s a piece by data analyst Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, whose 2017 book “Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are” was quite good.

The Songs That Bind

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz FEB. 10, 2018

… Consider, for example, the song “Creep,” by Radiohead. This is the 164th most popular song among men who are now 38 years old. But it is not in the top 300 for the cohort born 10 years earlier or 10 years later.

Note that the men who most like “Creep” now were roughly 14 when the song came out in 1993. In fact, this is a consistent pattern.

I did a similar analysis with every song that topped the Billboard charts from 1960 to 2000. In particular, I measured how old their biggest fans today were when these songs first came out.

It turns out that the “Creep” situation is pretty much universal. Songs that came out decades earlier are now, on average, most popular among men who were 14 when they were first released. The most important period for men in forming their adult tastes were the ages 13 to 16.

What about women? On average, their favorite songs came out when they were 13. The most important period for women were the ages 11 to 14.

Okay, but I suspect it’s a little misleading to state that the songs that you like best came out when you are 13 or 14, in that you didn’t necessarily always really like them yet when you were 13 or 14. For example, maybe you didn’t hear the song on the radio when you were 14 because you didn’t listen to a cool station, but when you got to college your roommate had the album, which had been out for four years.

Or maybe you bought the band’s super-popular 4th album when you were 17 and worked your way back to their much better 2nd album by the time you were 19.

It’s a slightly different question to ask “How old were you when your favorite songs were released?” vs. “How old were you when your favorite songs became your favorite songs?”

I can’t really think of a way to test this second question except by asking people with absurdly good memories when they first heard certain songs.

Another question is what’s the oldest age at which a song becomes a favorite for you.

Radiohead’s “Creep,” which came out when I was in my mid-30s, was among the very latest songs to make my top 100 or so.

Here’s a wonderful monologue by the late Patrice O’Neal on why white people like “Creep” so much.

Similarly, novelist John Updike (1932-2009) wrote an article about his love affair with pop music, from about age 11 to 36, with the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” in 1968 being the last pop song to matter to him emotionally.

On the other hand, a lot of people have mild favorites from their 40s associated with their kids or some major life event. For example, here’s John McCain’s list of his favorite songs from when he ran for President in 2008. Most of his picks are songs by male singers from the 1940s to 1960s, but McCain’s #1 and #3 are by Abba in the early-mid 1970s. (I would bet that the Abba songs were his new wife’s favorites when he got out of the POW camp.)

 
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  1. anon • Disclaimer says:

    I seem to recall you being a fan of The Cure. Did I imagine that? I don’t think I did, because it seemed so surprising at the time. But I guess it sort of makes sense, because you would be in your early-to-mid twenties when most of their hits came out.

    I’d have to make a list of my favorite songs to really think about it, but I’d guess that the age I first heard most of them would be either when I was in college, or the last few years. Some of them are songs I heard in my childhood, like Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out”.

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  2. It’s a slightly different question to ask “How old were you when your favorite songs were released?” vs. “How old were you when your favorite songs became your favorite songs?”

    But the point isn’t how old you were when… It is, rather, what is it about songs from the times you lived in when you were 14 that appeals to you so much?

    I am often now finding out I like songs from that time that I paid no attention to then. Something about the style that must stick with you…

    Example: Breaking Bad’s final episode ends with Baby Blue by Badfinger. I don’t remember even hearing it until I saw that episode. I hated the name Badfinger when it was a band, and I never paid any attention to their music. Now Baby Blue and Day After Day are two of my new favorites, at least for now — and they were released when my adolescence was right around the corner.

    Similar experience with the music of the band America last year.

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    • Replies: @anon
    I am often now finding out I like songs from that time that I paid no attention to then. Something about the style that must stick with you…

    I think there's definitely something to this. When I first got satellite radio, I found that I really liked a lot of sort of obscure songs that came out when I was a kid that I had never even heard before. Like lots of 80s British ska. It just wasn't popular enough in America at the time to reach my town's rinky-dink little radio stations.

    Similar experience with the music of the band America last year.

    I really like "A Horse With No Name", and I don't care who knows it. I was actually fourteen when I first heard it, so I guess that fits.
    , @Antlitz Grollheim
    Thanks for reminding me of Badfinger, what a beautiful song Day After Day is. Maybe if I was 14 in the 70s or 80s that rule would have applied, the early 2000s was a cultural wasteland. I never understood Gen X nostalgia for the 90s either, and now that that "alternative" West Coast ennui and broad-mindedness has metastasized into corporate dogma, their edginess seems ridiculous in retrospect.
    , @Almost Missouri
    I notice that 21st century movies and big budget TV shows often feature a re-up of some song from the 1960s-1980s that the audience is already familiar with as transistor radio/background music from back in the day. Hearing such a familiar song in a clean, clear remastered/remixed version in Dolby-Surround-THX-5.1-whatever-stereo has revivifying effect, making what was formerly just part of the background noise of a misspent youth suddenly seems interesting, deep and articulated.
    , @Ganderson
    Cool thread. I’ve often had that “wow, that’s a good song” moment. “Bus Stop” by the Hollies comes to mind- got a lot of air play in, what, 68? Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it- but heard it the other day and thought, hmmm, what a well crafted tune. It reminds me of caddying, cuz that’s whatI was doing at the time.
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  3. anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    It’s a slightly different question to ask “How old were you when your favorite songs were released?” vs. “How old were you when your favorite songs became your favorite songs?”
     
    But the point isn't how old you were when... It is, rather, what is it about songs from the times you lived in when you were 14 that appeals to you so much?

    I am often now finding out I like songs from that time that I paid no attention to then. Something about the style that must stick with you...

    Example: Breaking Bad's final episode ends with Baby Blue by Badfinger. I don't remember even hearing it until I saw that episode. I hated the name Badfinger when it was a band, and I never paid any attention to their music. Now Baby Blue and Day After Day are two of my new favorites, at least for now -- and they were released when my adolescence was right around the corner.

    Similar experience with the music of the band America last year.

    I am often now finding out I like songs from that time that I paid no attention to then. Something about the style that must stick with you…

    I think there’s definitely something to this. When I first got satellite radio, I found that I really liked a lot of sort of obscure songs that came out when I was a kid that I had never even heard before. Like lots of 80s British ska. It just wasn’t popular enough in America at the time to reach my town’s rinky-dink little radio stations.

    Similar experience with the music of the band America last year.

    I really like “A Horse With No Name”, and I don’t care who knows it. I was actually fourteen when I first heard it, so I guess that fits.

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  4. And, same singer for an older song. More fun than the original, which I liked.

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  5. @Buzz Mohawk

    It’s a slightly different question to ask “How old were you when your favorite songs were released?” vs. “How old were you when your favorite songs became your favorite songs?”
     
    But the point isn't how old you were when... It is, rather, what is it about songs from the times you lived in when you were 14 that appeals to you so much?

    I am often now finding out I like songs from that time that I paid no attention to then. Something about the style that must stick with you...

    Example: Breaking Bad's final episode ends with Baby Blue by Badfinger. I don't remember even hearing it until I saw that episode. I hated the name Badfinger when it was a band, and I never paid any attention to their music. Now Baby Blue and Day After Day are two of my new favorites, at least for now -- and they were released when my adolescence was right around the corner.

    Similar experience with the music of the band America last year.

    Thanks for reminding me of Badfinger, what a beautiful song Day After Day is. Maybe if I was 14 in the 70s or 80s that rule would have applied, the early 2000s was a cultural wasteland. I never understood Gen X nostalgia for the 90s either, and now that that “alternative” West Coast ennui and broad-mindedness has metastasized into corporate dogma, their edginess seems ridiculous in retrospect.

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    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
    Day after Day was produced by George Harrison.
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  6. I don’t know, but I was 15 when I got my first Rusty Trombone.

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    • Replies: @Autochthon
    Waaamp. Wammp.
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  7. Steve, how do you feel about the Air That I Breathe? Either the more popular Hollies version, which came out in ’74, or the version by Albert Hammond of It Never Rains in Southern California fame, which came out in ’72. I ask because it’s basically the exact same song as Creep, besides the lyrics.

    In fact, I believe Radiohead was successfully sued, and now Albert Hammond and some other guy share official writing credit with the band.

    I was 10 years-old when Creep came out, and though I enjoy it, I like the Hollies’ version better. I remember my mother listening to the Hollies as a kid, but that was more the Bus Stop era. I don’t remember really being into the Air That I Breathe until my 20s.

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    • Replies: @guest
    I was just made aware of the existence of a song called Get Free by Lana Del Rey, which also takes off from the Air That I Breathe. Or perhaps takes off from Creep, which in turn took off from the Air That I Breathe.

    Is each succeeding generation doomed to repeat the Air That I Breathe? Or perhaps some Ur-Air That I Breathe predating Hammond's version.
    , @Steve Sailer
    I remember that the "The Air That I Breathe" was a pretty astonishing song on mid-1970s radio. I have this vague recollection of hearing it on AM radio in the car going hiking with my dad right about the same time as hearing "Bohemian Rhapsody" for the first time on a Best of the Year End program. But the Hollies' Air That I Breathe was from 1974 (Albert Hammond debuted it in 1972) and Bohemian Rhapsody was from 1975. You probably have to be John Updike to keep straight in your head when you first heard a song.
    , @the one they call Desanex
    Radiohead didn’t only steal the song from Albert Hammond, they may have stolen the title “Creep” from Stone Temple Pilots (the STP song “Creep”[“I’m half the man I used to be”—remember that one?] came out in 1992, the Radiohead in 1993.)

    This reminds me that the New York Dolls had a song on their first album called “Frankenstein (Orig.).” The “Orig.” was because, even though Edgar Winter’s instrumental hit “Frankenstein” was released before the Dolls’ album (both 1973), the Dolls’ song (an entirely different tune) had been a popular number in their live shows for a while, and the Dolls felt that Edgar stole their title.

    , @ScarletNumber

    In fact, I believe Radiohead was successfully sued, and now Albert Hammond and some other guy share official writing credit with the band.
     
    Why do you say "I believe" as if you can't look it up in about 15 seconds?
    , @Jim Don Bob
    The Air That I Breathe by the Hollies is good but their better songs are Bus Stop, Long Cool Woman, On a Carousel, and Carrie Anne. He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother continues to blow dead dogs more than 40 years later.
    , @Anonymous
    Air That I Breathe has long been one of my favorite songs, since I was a kid.
    , @pyrrhus
    Air That I Breathe is good stuff. As far as I recall, all my favorite songs came out between the ages of 18 and 28, so I must be out of synch. Or maybe it's just that the decade between 1965 and 1975 had the best pop music in American history....
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  8. The previous thread sheds some light on this. The age of puberty would be the big setting point for this and the reason why girls have an earlier age then boys.

    Both CCR and S&G, though of the previous generation, were what I discovered at puberty. Metallica as well, along with techno. That kind of set the stage for my tastes as I got older. Post puberty music for men is a change. What sounds harsh and loud to the pre-pubescent ear becomes something the post pubescent ear can really dig. You learn to appreciate more aggression and heaviness. But I didn’t find it dampening my enthusiasm for stuff like the Beatles and Queen.

    When you get older you also gain an appreciation for a good singer. But these days you can go back and mine what was good. Music always becomes stale, it just differs at the rate it does so. There is nothing intrinsically significant about the year an album was created other than style. If you want a great music experience you have to keep searching So these days it is a lot easier to find great music from the ages. I don’t listen to much pre-1960 unless it is classical tbh though. Except the Bioshock soundtrack.

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  9. How old was I when I heard my favorite rock / pop
    songs? 12- 22. Suppose that’s a pretty standard answer. Notable exceptions are The Beatles (didn’t get into them until well into my 30s) and Amy Winehouse, who released Back In Black when I was in my 30s.

    However, I didn’t really start to appreciate classical music (Chopin and Beethoven among my favorites) until I got into my 40s. I guess part of this is because I started playing piano well into my adult years and playing classical music created an understanding and appreciation of it.

    But, I do think there is something about your brain as you mature that allows you to appreciate more complex tastes. Love single malt whisky now; back when I loved Cream and Jimi Hendrix, nothing tasted bettter than Yuengling…

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  10. Probably relevant to note the rise of Vaporwave and other deliberate nostalgia-mining of analog and 8-bit aesthetics, for a time when people weren’t even alive in some cases. People know that culture should be life-affirming in the back of their minds, and if they’re born into a world lacking it they project it onto a substitute.

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  11. I don’t know if I ever had a favorite song, but I had a favorite band for a few decades from when I first heard them at 17. They blocked me on Twitter during the #BlackLivesMatter nonsense and I don’t think I’ve listened to one of their songs since.

    When I was 14 I think the only records I owned were by Led Zeppelin and Def Leppard. If you didn’t listen to college radio in the ’80s in the New York area, the new rock you heard was mainly hair metal, and the rest of the time classic rock dominated.

    I listen to mostly new music now, which is pretty easy to find on YouTube now. Here’s an example: “Cocoon” by the Welsh band Catfish and the Bottlemen — rockers who sound like they’ve spent some time listening to their dads’ music collections (they quote a bit of Bruce at the end of this live version of their original song).

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    • Replies: @BenKenobi
    If I had to pinpoint my youth it would be this song. Yeah it was a specific time and place in southern Ontario. We were riding a beautiful wave. With the right eyes you can climb the Niagara escarpment and look north-west, and see the place where the wave finally broke, and rolled back.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZ9KfKx8PmM
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  12. Obligatory:

    Lifelong Love Affair With Music Ends At Age 35

    CLEVELAND, OH—Sam Powers’ lifelong passion for music ended this past weekend, when the 35-year-old camera-store assistant manager realized that he no longer derives pleasure from listening to and acquiring new music …

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    • Replies: @guest
    The important word there is "new." Popular new music isn't usually made for adults. Though there's that sliver of Adult Contemporary, which occasionally puts my mother more "in the know," like when Josh Groban or Susan Boyle have hit albums.

    Most new music for adults is crap, to a degree that surpasses the crapiness of kiddie music. But even if it were superior, there's not much of it. And the serious version of it, High Art Music, isn't fit for human ears.

    Imagine we had high culture, and Mozart, Beethoven and the rest were still pumping out the hits. 35 year-olds wouldn't have to drop out of the scene from fatigue.

    'Course, that kind of music isn't for everyone. Though unlike we've been taught by lying modernists, art music at least used to be written in a popular style.

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  13. @Dave Pinsen
    I don't know if I ever had a favorite song, but I had a favorite band for a few decades from when I first heard them at 17. They blocked me on Twitter during the #BlackLivesMatter nonsense and I don't think I've listened to one of their songs since.

    When I was 14 I think the only records I owned were by Led Zeppelin and Def Leppard. If you didn't listen to college radio in the '80s in the New York area, the new rock you heard was mainly hair metal, and the rest of the time classic rock dominated.

    I listen to mostly new music now, which is pretty easy to find on YouTube now. Here's an example: "Cocoon" by the Welsh band Catfish and the Bottlemen -- rockers who sound like they've spent some time listening to their dads' music collections (they quote a bit of Bruce at the end of this live version of their original song).

    https://youtu.be/SvaHwBPdJsw

    If I had to pinpoint my youth it would be this song. Yeah it was a specific time and place in southern Ontario. We were riding a beautiful wave. With the right eyes you can climb the Niagara escarpment and look north-west, and see the place where the wave finally broke, and rolled back.

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  14. anon • Disclaimer says:

    14 sounds about right to me. I was born in early ’81 and late middle school is when I awakened to young adult music. I think this may be a generational thing.

    Keep in mind, for the MTV generation, youngish kids got the exposure to new music–be it from MTV or radio stations that were by then thoroughly mainstream. It wasn’t some niche underground scene.

    Baby Boomer parents would buy their kids CDs (i.e. they weren’t overly prude and headphones/Discmans were a thing). Kids around school would wear t-shirts of the bands. And I remember, specifically, by freshman year some (boys, at least) were going to rock concerts in groups, unchaperoned.

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  15. I don’t know about my favorite song, because I don’t know what it is. Though I do have a number of candidates. But 14 was when I discovered my favorite band: Van Halen. And the type of music I was into at that time still feels like home to me.

    However, I wonder if we shouldn’t be wary of talking in terms of songs in general when really we’re talking about pop music. Because I can’t imagine life without Schubert’s Serenade, for instance, but I didn’t really get into classical music until I was an adult.

    Rock music is made primarily for kids, let’s be honest, and that’s been the dominant form of popular music for 60 years. No surprise that most people living, who think of that kind of music when they hear the word “song,” will sentimental stick with what they liked as a kid. I assume 13-14 instead of 5 because 5 year-olds have bad taste. Why 13 instead of 18? I dunno. 18 year-olds have their minds on other stuff.

    If you so happen to be a fan of musical genres friendlier to adults, like folk, jazz, musicals, classical, etc., I imagine the Rule of 13-14 is at least less stringent. Country, for instance, which has the same roots as rock, and actually is one of the roots of rock, nevertheless is relative more adult. No rock song can convey whistfulness or guilt or regret like a country song. Those are adult sentiments.

    Adults hearing a Rodgers and Hart or Cole Porter song would have a lot more to chew on than with Katy Perry, if you know what I mean.

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    • Replies: @Anonym
    If you so happen to be a fan of musical genres friendlier to adults, like folk, jazz, musicals, classical, etc., I imagine the Rule of 13-14 is at least less stringent. Country, for instance, which has the same roots as rock, and actually is one of the roots of rock, nevertheless is relative more adult. No rock song can convey whistfulness or guilt or regret like a country song. Those are adult sentiments.

    I think you've nailed it there. Not only adult, the country I've listened to (not a lot of it) is not just about adult feelings but seriously middle-aged feelings. The best bands tend to find a way of writing about whatever it is they want to write about, so you can get some fairly deep and thoughtful stuff even in rock music. But as a general rule, you're right. Music compels emotion, and the type of music lends itself to compelling subsets of emotional experience.

    Ronnie James Dio talks about why Metal naturally leads to dark subject matter, and that it is the nature of the music, the minor chords and the like. The discussion leads in from a question at 3:15 and is discussed a while later.

    https://youtu.be/U8Ln5GW-3as

    That being said, the exception that proves the rule is likely Helloween, the originators of Power Metal who have a lot of happy, upbeat tunes.

    https://youtu.be/E268jKfnJd8

    Still, as a group of teens or early twenty year olds they had a mature take on time passing. We are all going to die eventually so leave nothing on the table.
    , @Michelle
    The song "It's Been Awhile", by Stained, does a beautiful job of conveying regret and guilt.
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  16. I listen to a lot of classical music which I never heard until my thirties, but obviously “came out” decades or even centuries before I was born. I also listen to a lot of newer albums and songs by some of my earlier favorites. (Mostly metal bands.) Then there’s the case of bands in styles similar to the ones I liked as a teenager, which I started to listen to in my thirties. I don’t think my favorite songs came out when I was 14. Nor that I heard any of them at the time.

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  17. The most popular music is is hip hop and is created by People of Colour

    That tells you something right there

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    • Replies: @al gore rhythms
    It certainly does.
    , @Old Palo Altan
    Yes it does: that there is a Rising Tide of Colour Against White World Supremacy, and that it must be stopped dead in its tracks.
    , @Mr. Anon

    The most popular music is is hip hop and is created by People of Colour

    That tells you something right there
     
    Yes, that people of color like sh*t, I guess.

    By the way, TD, you never told us you are from the UK. Or, rather, that you are a foreign invader residing in the UK.
    , @Pat Boyle
    People get emotional about music. So I have to be cautious when addressing the music preferences of the commenter who writes under the rubric of "Tiny Duck". Mr. Duck likes rap.

    I remember when I was young and I hung around with a lot of musicians. I once casually said that the recorder was not a 'real' musical instrument. I had recently helped some friends by conducting the fourth Brandenburg Concerto (the one with all the recorders).

    As we used to say - "He came out of his tree". That means he sputtered emotionally. But of course he was into classical music not rap. Had he liked black music he might have shot or stabbed me.

    A few years ago there was a fad of playing Mozart to your infant as a way of raising his or her IQ. Alas that doesn't actually work but it may very well be that listening to rap (the music of People of Color) may very well lower your IQ. More research is needed.
    , @SunBakedSuburb
    There are plenty of wits in the Sailer comments section, but you are the wittiest and the Whitest.
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  18. @guest
    Steve, how do you feel about the Air That I Breathe? Either the more popular Hollies version, which came out in '74, or the version by Albert Hammond of It Never Rains in Southern California fame, which came out in '72. I ask because it's basically the exact same song as Creep, besides the lyrics.

    In fact, I believe Radiohead was successfully sued, and now Albert Hammond and some other guy share official writing credit with the band.

    I was 10 years-old when Creep came out, and though I enjoy it, I like the Hollies' version better. I remember my mother listening to the Hollies as a kid, but that was more the Bus Stop era. I don't remember really being into the Air That I Breathe until my 20s.

    I was just made aware of the existence of a song called Get Free by Lana Del Rey, which also takes off from the Air That I Breathe. Or perhaps takes off from Creep, which in turn took off from the Air That I Breathe.

    Is each succeeding generation doomed to repeat the Air That I Breathe? Or perhaps some Ur-Air That I Breathe predating Hammond’s version.

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    • LOL: Autochthon
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  19. @Jenner Ickham Errican
    Obligatory:

    Lifelong Love Affair With Music Ends At Age 35

    CLEVELAND, OH—Sam Powers' lifelong passion for music ended this past weekend, when the 35-year-old camera-store assistant manager realized that he no longer derives pleasure from listening to and acquiring new music …
     

    The important word there is “new.” Popular new music isn’t usually made for adults. Though there’s that sliver of Adult Contemporary, which occasionally puts my mother more “in the know,” like when Josh Groban or Susan Boyle have hit albums.

    Most new music for adults is crap, to a degree that surpasses the crapiness of kiddie music. But even if it were superior, there’s not much of it. And the serious version of it, High Art Music, isn’t fit for human ears.

    Imagine we had high culture, and Mozart, Beethoven and the rest were still pumping out the hits. 35 year-olds wouldn’t have to drop out of the scene from fatigue.

    ‘Course, that kind of music isn’t for everyone. Though unlike we’ve been taught by lying modernists, art music at least used to be written in a popular style.

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    • Replies: @SteveO

    Imagine we had high culture, and Mozart, Beethoven and the rest were still pumping out the hits. 35 year-olds wouldn’t have to drop out of the scene from fatigue.
     
    You don't have to go back that far. Until the triumph of the youth culture, large chunks of popular music were aimed at the entire population. Sure, there were songs that appealed mainly to teenagers, but look at the Hit Parade for any year before 1955, and you'll see many songs that were enjoyed by people of all ages. They still can be, thanks to Youtube, and they are GREAT! There are more good songs from the hit list for any year between 1937 and 1954 than there have been in the entire last decade.

    Even in the early RnR years, you had still had universal-appeal songs like "Stranger on the Shore," by Mr Acker Bilk.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jzx664u5DA

    (How do you embed videos in a comment?)

    This was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May 1962. The Hot 100, mind you, not the Easy Listening chart. It was followed by "I Can't Stop Loving You" by Ray Charles. These were not songs limited to teenage appeal. Dave Brubeck's Take Five was a hit the previous year, too. Everybody knew these songs, just like everybody knew The Twist, because there were so few outlets for listening.

    It's part of the destructive fragmentation of our culture that popular music is so niche-oriented, a trend that predates the internet or even FM radio. It all started with rock-and-roll, and, like society in general, has been on a downhill course since then.

    There are good songs from post-Beatles era, of course, but it's really worth learning to appreciate the greatness of American popular music in its midcentury heyday.

    OT tangent, but there is general celebration of the fact that our news is no longer filtered through a few (usually liberal) outlets. But I wonder how often people stop to consider that the heyday of American power, cohesive culture and rising middle-class living standards was accompanied by, and maybe made possible by, the fact that we all listened to, watched and read basically the same things and took our social models from the same places.
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  20. The following three things coincide at early adolescence:

    1) Brain growth is coming to completion, but…

    2) … Frontal lobe maturity and impulse control are in early stages, while…

    3) … Sexual development is skyrocketing!

    Sounds like the perfect time to become emotionally imprinted by something that is simultaneously sensual and abstract, like music.

    Read More
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  21. @guest
    Steve, how do you feel about the Air That I Breathe? Either the more popular Hollies version, which came out in '74, or the version by Albert Hammond of It Never Rains in Southern California fame, which came out in '72. I ask because it's basically the exact same song as Creep, besides the lyrics.

    In fact, I believe Radiohead was successfully sued, and now Albert Hammond and some other guy share official writing credit with the band.

    I was 10 years-old when Creep came out, and though I enjoy it, I like the Hollies' version better. I remember my mother listening to the Hollies as a kid, but that was more the Bus Stop era. I don't remember really being into the Air That I Breathe until my 20s.

    I remember that the “The Air That I Breathe” was a pretty astonishing song on mid-1970s radio. I have this vague recollection of hearing it on AM radio in the car going hiking with my dad right about the same time as hearing “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the first time on a Best of the Year End program. But the Hollies’ Air That I Breathe was from 1974 (Albert Hammond debuted it in 1972) and Bohemian Rhapsody was from 1975. You probably have to be John Updike to keep straight in your head when you first heard a song.

    Read More
    • Replies: @wren
    Lana Del Rey is a young family member's favorite singer.

    https://youtu.be/oaXFc4Zb78s

    , @Anonym
    Do you really have a favorite song Steve? Or a top 10? I find I have so many songs I have listened to and enjoyed that it is hard to pinpoint any one. And those have been listened to until my brain disengages from them quickly, unless there has been a long time between listens. Tool explains it well metaphorically.

    https://youtu.be/q-H3yLtrHPo

    One of my favorites but 46&2 is probably better and Third Eye is an amazing trip of a song. Are they better or worse than Bohemian Rhapsody? I think it depends on what mood I'm in as to which I would prefer to listen to.

    At the moment I am listening to Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift for You album. Here is Darlene Love's Marshmallow World, as an example, from 1963. Is it my favorite song of all time? No. But the album is very, very good. Brian Wilson rated it as his all-time favorite. One could easily imagine any given song from it being used in a Scorsese period film.

    https://youtu.be/OROUPOzb-r0
    , @Anonymous
    Just read your piece from 2008. Although our failings are many, we your commenters from 2018 are smarter on the average than they were then, and I offer this observation with my compliments. Certainly can't say that of the Internet as a whole.
    , @PiltdownMan
    I remember thinking, when I first heard The Air That I Breathe that it sounded vaguely like the Mamas and the Papas from ten years earlier. It really stood out, in terms of its sound, in the mid 1970s. Sort of hearkened back to 1965 but was modern and refreshed, too.
    , @ben tillman
    That's one of those songs/albums that I somehow overlooked for decades before getting smacked in the face by them in my 30's or 40's. The Air That I Breathe gets a lot of play in my back yard/pool.
    , @Jonathan Mason

    I remember that the “The Air That I Breathe” was a pretty astonishing song on mid-1970s radio.
     
    Reading this, I was not familiar with that song, so I looked it up on Youtube and of course the song was familiar to me, but I had never paid it any attention, which brings me to the point that there is nothing worse than other people's favorite music.

    I have thousands of tracks, mostly jazz, some blues, some Spanish language, some Haitian kreyol music, some rock, some Christmas carols, some classical on my computer and at any one time I have no desire to listen to 90% of it, even though it was all carefully selected by me at some time in the last 20 years, so what is the chance of wanting to hear something that someone else wants to play?

    The intro and melody to The Air That I Breathe did however remind me of this:


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sI66hcu9fIs
    , @Pat Boyle
    I have no idea what the song "The Air that I Breathe" is or who sang it. That's simply because after I was out of the Army, I decided to take charge of my own life. I guess I had a crisis in self directedness (if there is such a thing).

    I found it was unacceptable to me personally that the choices as to the music I heard were made by some anonymous schmoo disk jockey who pushed tunes on the radio for payola. I decided to listen to the music I thought best. By that time I was pretty sure that I would only live once so I had better pay attention lest I miss some of the good stuff - and there wasn't a whole lot of good stuff in the Top 40. I made my own music plans for life. I started with Bach and Mozart.

    I stopped listening to the radio, at least for music. That's why in spite of being a formidable player of 'Trivial Pursuit' in most categories, I miss all the questions on pop music. I don't recognize anything after the Beatles.

    It saddens me to think that you Steve Sailer, with that giant brain of yours, have it all clogged up with such musical dross.
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  22. @Steve Sailer
    I remember that the "The Air That I Breathe" was a pretty astonishing song on mid-1970s radio. I have this vague recollection of hearing it on AM radio in the car going hiking with my dad right about the same time as hearing "Bohemian Rhapsody" for the first time on a Best of the Year End program. But the Hollies' Air That I Breathe was from 1974 (Albert Hammond debuted it in 1972) and Bohemian Rhapsody was from 1975. You probably have to be John Updike to keep straight in your head when you first heard a song.

    Lana Del Rey is a young family member’s favorite singer.

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  23. The “Notable Guests” section has a couple of hilarious favourite records choices by classical women:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Island_Discs

    Read More
    • Replies: @Cortes
    Forgot to add the quote:
    “[12] One of the most remarked broadcasts was Elisabeth Schwarzkopf's 1958 selection of seven of her own recordings.[13][14] This record was subsequently beaten by British pianist Dame Moura Lympany on her second appearance on the programme on 28 July 1979 when all eight of her selections were of her own recordings.”
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  24. @Cortes
    The “Notable Guests” section has a couple of hilarious favourite records choices by classical women:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Island_Discs

    Forgot to add the quote:
    “[12] One of the most remarked broadcasts was Elisabeth Schwarzkopf’s 1958 selection of seven of her own recordings.[13][14] This record was subsequently beaten by British pianist Dame Moura Lympany on her second appearance on the programme on 28 July 1979 when all eight of her selections were of her own recordings.”

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  25. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Can’t help but notice that it’s considered hip to name a book “Everybody Lies” nowadays, in our “non-judgmental” age. I speak as someone (glad I’m anon) who’s been through the ringer with people who really think lying is okay, and even couples’ therapists who agree. Was an eye-opening experience, to say the least.

    Yes, I’m well aware that’s not what the book or the title are about. But what I mean is that deliberate, conscious, damaging lies are not considered particularly reprehensible anymore. So long as you’re not caught. And when you are caught, the effective defense is “everybody does it.”

    It may not be popular to observe this, but I perceive it to be another minor triumph of a certain kind of tribalism. It starts there but thanks to the MSM it ends up pervading the entire society. If you differ, you’re some kind of Victorian prude. “But people lied in Victorian times too!” Please spare me.

    Read More
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Anonymous wrote:

    Yes, I’m well aware that’s not what the book or the title are about. But what I mean is that deliberate, conscious, damaging lies are not considered particularly reprehensible anymore.
     
    I'm inclined to think this is a bigger -- much bigger -- problem than immigration, the federal budget, foreign meddling in our elections, and all the rest.

    Forty years ago, I read an interview with the Nobel laureate in economics, Friedrich Hayek. Hayek leaned towards moral relativism, and the interviewer asked if Hayek could not think of any moral rules that needed to be universal among human societies. Hayek replied that he was not sure that any society that accepted systematic, routine lying could long survive.

    I'm less of a moral relativist than Hayek, but I think his reply may have some relevance for us today.
    , @SteveO

    But what I mean is that deliberate, conscious, damaging lies are not considered particularly reprehensible anymore.
     
    I agree with your comment, but, ironically, we also live in times that claim to value truth and openness above all things. One is not supposed to have secrets even from one's best friend, let alone one's spouse. Even in social settings,"Victorian" hypocrisy and the polite lie are not merely derided, as they were a generation ago. They are vilified, excoriated as tools of oppression of the usual groups by the usual group(s). It goes without saying that anonymity on the internet is the root all evil, or so the nice girls and boys think.

    In such a climate, perhaps it's not surprising that lying is condoned. After all, if you're not supposed to have any secrets, lying is inevitable because we all have secrets.
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  26. I suspect a lot has to do with how immersed a person is is in youth culture during his own adolescence.

    I was so nerdy that I paid almost no attention to youth culture, despite the fact that my adolescence was basically the 1960s. The rather strange result is that many of my favorite songs from the ’60s — Yesterday, Up Up and Away, Spanish Flea, Girl from Ipanema, King of the Road, Goin’ Out of My Head, Downtown — were songs my junior-high choir director chose for the choir to perform! (Yes, for some reason we had an unusually “hip” choir director, though he considered himself a conservative Catholic.)

    The result was that I was blissfully ignorant of most tunes by the Stones, the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, The Mamas and the Papas, and even most of Lennon and McCartney.

    On the other hand, when, years later, I heard more tunes by those groups, the ones I liked seemed to fit in with the style imprinted on me by our junior-high choir director.

    It would be interesting to know if kids who are highly focused on classical music during adolescence end up liking long-term the styles of classical music they experienced as kids.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anon7
    I had a similar experience. My adolescence was in the late 1960’s but I never bought albums or spent much time listening to popular music. Except, that is, for June-August. My family belonged to a small club by a local lake, and it took about thirty minutes to drive there. My mom listened to Top 40 radio stations.

    As a result, if it didn’t play on the Top 40 during those months - I never heard of it, which leaves me with big holes in my experience of music. When I went to college, I didn’t listen to any popular music. The only albums I thought were worth buying were classical.

    But Steve is right, though, because the songs I liked best or remembered most were from Sgt Pepper or Magical Mystery Tour. You’re right, too: I was introduced to the Magical Mystery Tour album by my music appreciation teacher when I was 13. She was a classical music enthusiast, as you might guess, but she worshiped The Beatles and insisted that they would stay famous like Mozart. Time will tell.
    , @Old Palo Altan
    My musical interests have been exclusively classical since I reached the age of reason; six or seven in other words.
    My discoveries were Vivaldi, Haydn, Handel, Brahms, Wagner; roughly in that order. Then everything else followed as a matter of course.
    Are these still my leading lights? They are, and that is indeed a remarkable fact, almost a troubling one, if it is not merely evidence of the power of nostalgia.
    I cannot tell even myself what my favourite song was, because I never listened to anything of the sort which excites the nostalgia of so many of you. I do have a favourite piece of light music though: Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson, written in 1948, the year of my birth. Remarkably the only version I knew, and the only one which impresses me now, is that conducted by Anderson himself in 1950. The reason is that I heard it then, and can actually see myself bobbing to it with infantile enthusiasm. It is by far my earliest memory, and, I think, more or less proves the profound importance of music in the development of our emotional and imaginative lives. Thus the need for discipline in its creation and control of its dissemination, the opposite of today's wilful anarchy.
    , @Whoever

    It would be interesting to know if kids who are highly focused on classical music during adolescence end up liking long-term the styles of classical music they experienced as kids.
     
    On of my earliest memories is sitting at the piano beside my mother on a windy, sunny afternoon as she helped me play Ma mère l'Oye. Maybe I was ... four ... ?
    Throughout my youth, I was intensely focused on learning to play the piano well, with side efforts into the violin, so I really didn't pay much attention to popular music until I was starting to assert my independence in the last two years of high school. Then I ran wild. In so many ways. Entering the popular music world was like plunging head first into an emotional kaleidoscope. I was overwhelmed. As attuned as I was to an intense musical sensibility, it just blew me away.
    Today, although I certainly enjoy popular songs, "real" music is still to me "classical," and my favorite composers remain Ravel, Debussy, Elgar, and in general the Impressionist-era composers. I also like third-wave Romantic composers such as Sibelius and Grieg, as well as Holst and Williams. For a more contemporary composer, I like Arvo Pärt. But my main man is Maurice, now and forever.
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  27. @Steve Sailer
    I remember that the "The Air That I Breathe" was a pretty astonishing song on mid-1970s radio. I have this vague recollection of hearing it on AM radio in the car going hiking with my dad right about the same time as hearing "Bohemian Rhapsody" for the first time on a Best of the Year End program. But the Hollies' Air That I Breathe was from 1974 (Albert Hammond debuted it in 1972) and Bohemian Rhapsody was from 1975. You probably have to be John Updike to keep straight in your head when you first heard a song.

    Do you really have a favorite song Steve? Or a top 10? I find I have so many songs I have listened to and enjoyed that it is hard to pinpoint any one. And those have been listened to until my brain disengages from them quickly, unless there has been a long time between listens. Tool explains it well metaphorically.

    One of my favorites but 46&2 is probably better and Third Eye is an amazing trip of a song. Are they better or worse than Bohemian Rhapsody? I think it depends on what mood I’m in as to which I would prefer to listen to.

    At the moment I am listening to Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You album. Here is Darlene Love’s Marshmallow World, as an example, from 1963. Is it my favorite song of all time? No. But the album is very, very good. Brian Wilson rated it as his all-time favorite. One could easily imagine any given song from it being used in a Scorsese period film.

    Read More
    • Replies: @gunner29

    At the moment I am listening to Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You album. Here is Darlene Love’s Marshmallow World, as an example, from 1963. Is it my favorite song of all time? No. But the album is very, very good. Brian Wilson rated it as his all-time favorite. One could easily imagine any given song from it being used in a Scorsese period film.
     
    THE Scorsese film song is Gimme Shelter. There was even an op-ed last week where some womyn was bitching about GS as being the go-to bit of music when you want a dark and threatening sound. Being written in 1968, there was a good reason for it being that way.

    That 12 years '64 to '76 was the high point for rock. Then disco hit....

    That's my favorite song, 17 when I first heard it; Keith Richard's opening riff is probably the most recognizable bit of music that any Boomer would recognize.

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  28. I discovered “Yes” in my 20′s, introduced to it by a dude in the church band. But I have a soft spot for “Disco Inferno”.

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  29. @Anonymous
    Can't help but notice that it's considered hip to name a book “Everybody Lies” nowadays, in our "non-judgmental" age. I speak as someone (glad I'm anon) who's been through the ringer with people who really think lying is okay, and even couples' therapists who agree. Was an eye-opening experience, to say the least.

    Yes, I'm well aware that's not what the book or the title are about. But what I mean is that deliberate, conscious, damaging lies are not considered particularly reprehensible anymore. So long as you're not caught. And when you are caught, the effective defense is "everybody does it."

    It may not be popular to observe this, but I perceive it to be another minor triumph of a certain kind of tribalism. It starts there but thanks to the MSM it ends up pervading the entire society. If you differ, you're some kind of Victorian prude. "But people lied in Victorian times too!" Please spare me.

    Anonymous wrote:

    Yes, I’m well aware that’s not what the book or the title are about. But what I mean is that deliberate, conscious, damaging lies are not considered particularly reprehensible anymore.

    I’m inclined to think this is a bigger — much bigger — problem than immigration, the federal budget, foreign meddling in our elections, and all the rest.

    Forty years ago, I read an interview with the Nobel laureate in economics, Friedrich Hayek. Hayek leaned towards moral relativism, and the interviewer asked if Hayek could not think of any moral rules that needed to be universal among human societies. Hayek replied that he was not sure that any society that accepted systematic, routine lying could long survive.

    I’m less of a moral relativist than Hayek, but I think his reply may have some relevance for us today.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonym
    Forty years ago, I read an interview with the Nobel laureate in economics, Friedrich Hayek. Hayek leaned towards moral relativism, and the interviewer asked if Hayek could not think of any moral rules that needed to be universal among human societies. Hayek replied that he was not sure that any society that accepted systematic, routine lying could long survive.

    Arabs have their own niche. Are they to be emulated? Doubtful.

    Honest people like honesty. Dishonest people understand dishonest people and like honesty in their marks. Honesty works well when you have border enforcement to keep the dishonest out and an education system not designed to prevent you forming quick judgments against dishonest groups.
    , @Anonymous
    Thanks for your observations. Yes I'm quite familiar with Mr Hayek, as I daresay most of us are. After I typed that little screed, though, I got to thinking: my own perspective is the undoubted result of upbringing by preposterously strict (WASP) parents. This is generalizing with a broad brush, but in adolescence and afterward, I encountered many Jewish friends and classmates, coworkers, etc. who were clearly brought up quite differently.

    Bear with me now, for you (dear reader) may not know where I'm going with this. My Jewish friends seemed to have a lot more freedom than I did--in terms of behavior, in terms of entitlement, yes, but also in terms of possibilities. Later I saw them with their own children, who seemed so undisciplined to me. And now I'm talking of 'good liberal' types in NY and DC. But here's the rub: they were letting their kids discover their own limits. Allowing them the freedom to make their own mistakes and learn from them organically. Respecting them as people already.

    And in the end I think those kids grew up healthier (mentally) than I did. I never felt loved by my parents, and I don't think my siblings did either. But boy were we disciplined. This feeds into a stereotype of 'white' parenting that many Jews hold, and (in my case at least) it was accurate. Alternating neglect and abuse (we kids sought out the neglect as far as possible). And my parents were intelligent, educated people.

    The point about lying? Obviously we all pay lip service at least to the ideal of honesty, but it's worth noting that we come at the topic from different directions. In my own case, am I obsessively honest because it's a point of honor (as I tell myself) or because I was severely punished as a young boy for relatively trivial transgressions? You grow up fearful under such a regime, and fairly disabled when it comes to daring.

    And no one ever achieved greatness without daring.

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  30. I’ve picked up a considerable list of favourites that span several decades. I can see where the researcher is going, but it’s probably thin gruel to support some rationale for moving target demos in marketing.

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  31. @Steve Sailer
    I remember that the "The Air That I Breathe" was a pretty astonishing song on mid-1970s radio. I have this vague recollection of hearing it on AM radio in the car going hiking with my dad right about the same time as hearing "Bohemian Rhapsody" for the first time on a Best of the Year End program. But the Hollies' Air That I Breathe was from 1974 (Albert Hammond debuted it in 1972) and Bohemian Rhapsody was from 1975. You probably have to be John Updike to keep straight in your head when you first heard a song.

    Just read your piece from 2008. Although our failings are many, we your commenters from 2018 are smarter on the average than they were then, and I offer this observation with my compliments. Certainly can’t say that of the Internet as a whole.

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  32. “McCain’s #1 and #3 are by Abba in the early-mid 1970s. (I would bet that the Abba songs were his new wife’s favorites when he got out of the POW camp.)”

    You reminded me of the POW part of SERE training … Maybe his neocon captors played ABBA on a loop as part of his post-war political conditioning. I still occasionally sing Napalm Sticks to Kids.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anon
    Bizarrely, Putin has claimed Abba is his favorite group as well. I dunno about these guys.
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  33. @PhysicistDave
    Anonymous wrote:

    Yes, I’m well aware that’s not what the book or the title are about. But what I mean is that deliberate, conscious, damaging lies are not considered particularly reprehensible anymore.
     
    I'm inclined to think this is a bigger -- much bigger -- problem than immigration, the federal budget, foreign meddling in our elections, and all the rest.

    Forty years ago, I read an interview with the Nobel laureate in economics, Friedrich Hayek. Hayek leaned towards moral relativism, and the interviewer asked if Hayek could not think of any moral rules that needed to be universal among human societies. Hayek replied that he was not sure that any society that accepted systematic, routine lying could long survive.

    I'm less of a moral relativist than Hayek, but I think his reply may have some relevance for us today.

    Forty years ago, I read an interview with the Nobel laureate in economics, Friedrich Hayek. Hayek leaned towards moral relativism, and the interviewer asked if Hayek could not think of any moral rules that needed to be universal among human societies. Hayek replied that he was not sure that any society that accepted systematic, routine lying could long survive.

    Arabs have their own niche. Are they to be emulated? Doubtful.

    Honest people like honesty. Dishonest people understand dishonest people and like honesty in their marks. Honesty works well when you have border enforcement to keep the dishonest out and an education system not designed to prevent you forming quick judgments against dishonest groups.

    Read More
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  34. @guest
    Steve, how do you feel about the Air That I Breathe? Either the more popular Hollies version, which came out in '74, or the version by Albert Hammond of It Never Rains in Southern California fame, which came out in '72. I ask because it's basically the exact same song as Creep, besides the lyrics.

    In fact, I believe Radiohead was successfully sued, and now Albert Hammond and some other guy share official writing credit with the band.

    I was 10 years-old when Creep came out, and though I enjoy it, I like the Hollies' version better. I remember my mother listening to the Hollies as a kid, but that was more the Bus Stop era. I don't remember really being into the Air That I Breathe until my 20s.

    Radiohead didn’t only steal the song from Albert Hammond, they may have stolen the title “Creep” from Stone Temple Pilots (the STP song “Creep”[“I’m half the man I used to be”—remember that one?] came out in 1992, the Radiohead in 1993.)

    This reminds me that the New York Dolls had a song on their first album called “Frankenstein (Orig.).” The “Orig.” was because, even though Edgar Winter’s instrumental hit “Frankenstein” was released before the Dolls’ album (both 1973), the Dolls’ song (an entirely different tune) had been a popular number in their live shows for a while, and the Dolls felt that Edgar stole their title.

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  35. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @PhysicistDave
    Anonymous wrote:

    Yes, I’m well aware that’s not what the book or the title are about. But what I mean is that deliberate, conscious, damaging lies are not considered particularly reprehensible anymore.
     
    I'm inclined to think this is a bigger -- much bigger -- problem than immigration, the federal budget, foreign meddling in our elections, and all the rest.

    Forty years ago, I read an interview with the Nobel laureate in economics, Friedrich Hayek. Hayek leaned towards moral relativism, and the interviewer asked if Hayek could not think of any moral rules that needed to be universal among human societies. Hayek replied that he was not sure that any society that accepted systematic, routine lying could long survive.

    I'm less of a moral relativist than Hayek, but I think his reply may have some relevance for us today.

    Thanks for your observations. Yes I’m quite familiar with Mr Hayek, as I daresay most of us are. After I typed that little screed, though, I got to thinking: my own perspective is the undoubted result of upbringing by preposterously strict (WASP) parents. This is generalizing with a broad brush, but in adolescence and afterward, I encountered many Jewish friends and classmates, coworkers, etc. who were clearly brought up quite differently.

    Bear with me now, for you (dear reader) may not know where I’m going with this. My Jewish friends seemed to have a lot more freedom than I did–in terms of behavior, in terms of entitlement, yes, but also in terms of possibilities. Later I saw them with their own children, who seemed so undisciplined to me. And now I’m talking of ‘good liberal’ types in NY and DC. But here’s the rub: they were letting their kids discover their own limits. Allowing them the freedom to make their own mistakes and learn from them organically. Respecting them as people already.

    And in the end I think those kids grew up healthier (mentally) than I did. I never felt loved by my parents, and I don’t think my siblings did either. But boy were we disciplined. This feeds into a stereotype of ‘white’ parenting that many Jews hold, and (in my case at least) it was accurate. Alternating neglect and abuse (we kids sought out the neglect as far as possible). And my parents were intelligent, educated people.

    The point about lying? Obviously we all pay lip service at least to the ideal of honesty, but it’s worth noting that we come at the topic from different directions. In my own case, am I obsessively honest because it’s a point of honor (as I tell myself) or because I was severely punished as a young boy for relatively trivial transgressions? You grow up fearful under such a regime, and fairly disabled when it comes to daring.

    And no one ever achieved greatness without daring.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonym
    Honesty is very useful in business and in life as it builds trust. Trust builds repeat business. Repeat business is usually where most of the money is.

    Even if you never build or run a business in your life, it also works like that with employees. Employers love honesty in employees because they need to not have to worry what the employee is doing. Mistakes are tolerable if they are owned up to, but mistakes swept under the rug with dishonesty take a lot of diagnostic time and tend to compound.

    I think you can be very daring even when you are honest. It does make it hard to pull "through deception thou shalt wage war" type stuff though, I'll admit. Though in any war situation sneakiness is required. How you treat POWs and the like is where the honesty comes in.
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  36. A lot of my favourite songs (“Sara”, “Once in a Lifetime”, “Ashes to Ashes”) were released in my early childhood – but I only truly gained an appreciation of them in my 20s/30s.

    I’ve interest in new music – I suppose that’s as inevitable as crow’s feet in middle age – although Radiohead’s “Daydreaming”, released last year, probably makes my top 100.

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  37. @Buzz Mohawk

    It’s a slightly different question to ask “How old were you when your favorite songs were released?” vs. “How old were you when your favorite songs became your favorite songs?”
     
    But the point isn't how old you were when... It is, rather, what is it about songs from the times you lived in when you were 14 that appeals to you so much?

    I am often now finding out I like songs from that time that I paid no attention to then. Something about the style that must stick with you...

    Example: Breaking Bad's final episode ends with Baby Blue by Badfinger. I don't remember even hearing it until I saw that episode. I hated the name Badfinger when it was a band, and I never paid any attention to their music. Now Baby Blue and Day After Day are two of my new favorites, at least for now -- and they were released when my adolescence was right around the corner.

    Similar experience with the music of the band America last year.

    I notice that 21st century movies and big budget TV shows often feature a re-up of some song from the 1960s-1980s that the audience is already familiar with as transistor radio/background music from back in the day. Hearing such a familiar song in a clean, clear remastered/remixed version in Dolby-Surround-THX-5.1-whatever-stereo has revivifying effect, making what was formerly just part of the background noise of a misspent youth suddenly seems interesting, deep and articulated.

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    • Replies: @JeremiahJohnbalaya
    I noticed a large number of remakes of classical (rock mostly?) songs in ads played during the Super Bowl.
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  38. Interesting theory and in my case it checks out. Although not my favorite song, when I hear the clangy guitar at the start of “It’s a Shame” by The Spinners I feel a sense of elation that no other song evokes. I always assumed it was because it came out at a time in my life when I was most happy. And yes I was 14 when it was released in 1970.

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  39. 13 is an awesome age. I’m sure the average man remembers that time in his life with a lot of nostalgia. So sure he’s going to like the music that brings back memories of when he was young and life was fun.

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    • Replies: @SoCal Philosopher
    I think I was about 13 when that Bran Van 3000 song came out. I just clicked on it now, heard a few seconds, and was wracked by an incredibly painful nostalgia. I felt the hot air of the summer in Dayton, Ohio, and felt so incredibly free. What's odd is that at 13 I was far from free, but the song so effectively transported me to the past that I could look on to my 13-year old self through my 42-year old eyes and realize how blissful that time was for me.
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  40. In fact, my data analysis couldn’t explain where I got most of my musical taste. O.K., maybe I caught the Springsteen bug because I grew up in New Jersey. But why my obsession with Bob Dylan? Or Leonard Cohen? Or Paul Simon? Most songs I listen to came out well before I was born.

    3/4 of those guys are Jewish guys who sang their own songs. Springsteen is supposedly not Jewish but with the name you’d think it. Maybe Stephens-Davidowitz will fall out of love with Born to Run now. ;)

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  41. Yeah, I first heard the songs that would become my favorites when I was in the 17-25 age range. Before that I wasn’t exposed to cool stuff, and had poor taste anyway. The songs tended to be a few years old at that point, giving them the air of hidden or forgotten gems, and ones associated with a treasured but receding childhood era.

    That’s just anecdotal, but this example is typical of the credulousness towards the data that made me give up on SSD’s book early on.

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  42. If I were to really take the time to make a serious list of my favorite songs, I’m sure 90% of them would have been released when I was between my early teens to early 20s.

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  43. Kinks, Jefferson Airplane (White Rabbit/Greasy Heart era), Who, Small Faces were 13 year old loves, but the music that’s stayed with me most is from discovering folk and classical around 17/18/19, when my college peers were listening to Yes, Neil Young and James Taylor.

    But I was a late developer, so maybe 17/18 WAS my 13/14.

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  44. @guest
    I don't know about my favorite song, because I don't know what it is. Though I do have a number of candidates. But 14 was when I discovered my favorite band: Van Halen. And the type of music I was into at that time still feels like home to me.

    However, I wonder if we shouldn't be wary of talking in terms of songs in general when really we're talking about pop music. Because I can't imagine life without Schubert's Serenade, for instance, but I didn't really get into classical music until I was an adult.

    Rock music is made primarily for kids, let's be honest, and that's been the dominant form of popular music for 60 years. No surprise that most people living, who think of that kind of music when they hear the word "song," will sentimental stick with what they liked as a kid. I assume 13-14 instead of 5 because 5 year-olds have bad taste. Why 13 instead of 18? I dunno. 18 year-olds have their minds on other stuff.

    If you so happen to be a fan of musical genres friendlier to adults, like folk, jazz, musicals, classical, etc., I imagine the Rule of 13-14 is at least less stringent. Country, for instance, which has the same roots as rock, and actually is one of the roots of rock, nevertheless is relative more adult. No rock song can convey whistfulness or guilt or regret like a country song. Those are adult sentiments.

    Adults hearing a Rodgers and Hart or Cole Porter song would have a lot more to chew on than with Katy Perry, if you know what I mean.

    If you so happen to be a fan of musical genres friendlier to adults, like folk, jazz, musicals, classical, etc., I imagine the Rule of 13-14 is at least less stringent. Country, for instance, which has the same roots as rock, and actually is one of the roots of rock, nevertheless is relative more adult. No rock song can convey whistfulness or guilt or regret like a country song. Those are adult sentiments.

    I think you’ve nailed it there. Not only adult, the country I’ve listened to (not a lot of it) is not just about adult feelings but seriously middle-aged feelings. The best bands tend to find a way of writing about whatever it is they want to write about, so you can get some fairly deep and thoughtful stuff even in rock music. But as a general rule, you’re right. Music compels emotion, and the type of music lends itself to compelling subsets of emotional experience.

    Ronnie James Dio talks about why Metal naturally leads to dark subject matter, and that it is the nature of the music, the minor chords and the like. The discussion leads in from a question at 3:15 and is discussed a while later.

    That being said, the exception that proves the rule is likely Helloween, the originators of Power Metal who have a lot of happy, upbeat tunes.

    Still, as a group of teens or early twenty year olds they had a mature take on time passing. We are all going to die eventually so leave nothing on the table.

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  45. My sentimental favorite record still has to be the first one I ever owned: Revolver by the Beatles.

    I was in first grade when my sisters bought it for me. They were teenagers, and I lived the Sixties through them. Consequently, I have more affinity for the music of that era than many of my peers. (I also get along with women really well.)

    When I was only six years old, I had such good taste that I owned and enjoyed what has come to be regarded as the best Beatles album, and therefore perhaps the greatest album of all time.

    Please ignore the fact that the only song I cared about then was “Yellow Submarine.” I played it over-and-over on our family’s Fisher console stereo and got really good at lifting the needle and setting it back down in the right groove.

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    • Replies: @ziel
    "Revolver", a great album indeed, was oddly overlooked in the States when it came out in late summer 1966. There was a lot of competition on the radio that year and the Beatles kind of fell back a bit in the spotlight - but also the U.S. Revolver was gutted by Capitol Records, missing three good songs. To regain the spotlight the following year, which was even more competitive and even more filled with distractions, the Beatles had to pull off something truly momentous, which of course they did.
    , @Ganderson
    My first album was The Beatles VI. Got it as a gift when I was sick in the hospital between 7th and 8th grades. Revolver is great! Revolver, Rubber Soul and Yesterday and Today (which contained the songs from the British releases of Rubber Soul and Revolver) are really all the Beatles one needs. And while I thought it great upon first release, St. Pepper sounds overproduced and precious today. I feel the same about the White Album, although like Sgt Pepper I loved it at first. BTW- I believe there's a lot of good stuff on those later records, but Revolver, Rubber Soul and Yesterday and Today were the top of the world, ma!

    A couple years later I was doing a report for English 10 on the History of Rock and Roll. The name Grateful Dead came up again and again. I had no idea who they really were- but figured that they must be cool. I bought Axomoxoa and was entranced, particularly by St. Stephen and China Cat Sunflower. Then, I found out that they were playing at the Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis! I went, and have been hooked ever since!

    Also songs can become imprinted later, too. Barbara H. by Fountains of Wayne will always remind me of driving around Western Mass to my oldest son's HS lacrosse games.

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  46. I’m over 50 y/o and still only listen to classic rock, from mostly, say, 1970 – ’78 (before disco and Saturday Night Fever). And also like some ’80s pop. I barely know any songs that came out after about 1990 when I was in my mid-20s.

    Occasionally, I’ll text a line from a classic rock song to a couple of long-time friends and they’ll text me back the succeeding line.

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  47. @JohnnyWalker123
    13 is an awesome age. I'm sure the average man remembers that time in his life with a lot of nostalgia. So sure he's going to like the music that brings back memories of when he was young and life was fun.

    I think I was about 13 when that Bran Van 3000 song came out. I just clicked on it now, heard a few seconds, and was wracked by an incredibly painful nostalgia. I felt the hot air of the summer in Dayton, Ohio, and felt so incredibly free. What’s odd is that at 13 I was far from free, but the song so effectively transported me to the past that I could look on to my 13-year old self through my 42-year old eyes and realize how blissful that time was for me.

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    • Replies: @al gore rhythms
    I'm the same age as you, yet my memories of that song are from my mid twenties. I don't think it existed when we were 13.
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  48. @Buzz Mohawk
    My sentimental favorite record still has to be the first one I ever owned: Revolver by the Beatles.

    I was in first grade when my sisters bought it for me. They were teenagers, and I lived the Sixties through them. Consequently, I have more affinity for the music of that era than many of my peers. (I also get along with women really well.)

    When I was only six years old, I had such good taste that I owned and enjoyed what has come to be regarded as the best Beatles album, and therefore perhaps the greatest album of all time.

    Please ignore the fact that the only song I cared about then was "Yellow Submarine." I played it over-and-over on our family's Fisher console stereo and got really good at lifting the needle and setting it back down in the right groove.
    https://devonrecordclub.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/beatles-revolver1.jpg
    http://i.ebayimg.com/images/i/200904901486-0-1/s-l1000.jpg

    “Revolver”, a great album indeed, was oddly overlooked in the States when it came out in late summer 1966. There was a lot of competition on the radio that year and the Beatles kind of fell back a bit in the spotlight – but also the U.S. Revolver was gutted by Capitol Records, missing three good songs. To regain the spotlight the following year, which was even more competitive and even more filled with distractions, the Beatles had to pull off something truly momentous, which of course they did.

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  49. @Buzz Mohawk

    It’s a slightly different question to ask “How old were you when your favorite songs were released?” vs. “How old were you when your favorite songs became your favorite songs?”
     
    But the point isn't how old you were when... It is, rather, what is it about songs from the times you lived in when you were 14 that appeals to you so much?

    I am often now finding out I like songs from that time that I paid no attention to then. Something about the style that must stick with you...

    Example: Breaking Bad's final episode ends with Baby Blue by Badfinger. I don't remember even hearing it until I saw that episode. I hated the name Badfinger when it was a band, and I never paid any attention to their music. Now Baby Blue and Day After Day are two of my new favorites, at least for now -- and they were released when my adolescence was right around the corner.

    Similar experience with the music of the band America last year.

    Cool thread. I’ve often had that “wow, that’s a good song” moment. “Bus Stop” by the Hollies comes to mind- got a lot of air play in, what, 68? Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it- but heard it the other day and thought, hmmm, what a well crafted tune. It reminds me of caddying, cuz that’s whatI was doing at the time.

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    • Replies: @Malcolm X-Lax
    I had a similar moment many years ago with Carrie Anne.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgA4-bLcoN8

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  50. Steve’s bit about the age at which you discover something mattering more than the year it was actually released rings true for me. It wasn’t until I discovered Nirvana that I understood how enjoyable music could be, and at that point Cobain had been dead for years. From there I just went backward in time to the punk that give rise to them, until eventually aging & mellowing out into having a preference for instrumental music. The first necessary step was to get my own radio, but after discovering filesharing (the only way I could listen to real punk) and later Pandora, there was no real need to listen to anything contemporary any more if I didn’t want to.

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  51. A lot depends on the state of technology when you were a certain age, and on one’s exposure to musical genres at certain ages.

    The first “pop” song I ever remember was my mother singing a song called “Hi Lili, Hi Lo” which was from a 1952 movie called Lili.

    At that time the only media we had was an old valve radio in the kitchen, so I am sure my mother had learned the song there.

    In 1959, when I was 8 years old, South Pacific was a massive hit movie and soundtrack album and although I did not see the movie until decades later and we did not have the album at home, it seems like the songs were in the air that summer and I knew the lyrics to several of them, like Nothing Like A Dame, and Bali Ha’i and Younger Than Springtime–and I still like those songs.

    Somewhere along the line I also developed favorites from other musicals by Rogers and Hammerstein, such as Oh, What A Beautiful Morning, June Is Bustin’ Out All Over and You’ll Never Walk Alone. The last soccer was later to become a huge anthem sung by the masses at soccer games.

    In the early 1960′s small batter powered transistor radios became ubiquitous, allowing teens to have their own music and listen to radio in bed at night. At this time dedicated pop music stations also became available in the UK with pirate stations operating offshore added to Radio Luxembourg, and then a little later the BBC’s Radio One.

    Two of my favorite songs of the era were Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass doing This Guy’s In Love With You and Richard Harris’s bombastic version of McArthur Park (1967) in which a cake is left out in the rain.

    After 1972, when I was 21, I hardly listened to popular music for many years, although I did like Mull of Kintyre, a huge hit for Paul McCartney in 1977, one of the few hit records to feature bagpipes.

    However I later became interested in jazz and as a result developed numerous new favorite songs in middle age. Perhaps my most favorite song is Got You Under My Skin, recorded by numerous artists as well as Sinatra. This 1936 Cole Porter song is though by some to be about heroin addiction. Just about everyone who ever recorded music has done the song, but I kind of like the Gloria Gaynor version (1976). I became aware of the song when I was in my 40′s.

    Another favorite of mine is the Spanish version of Yo viviré (I Will Survive) by Celia Cruz which I never heard until I was in my 50′s.

    Somewhere along the line in my 50′s I also fell in love with Artie Shaw’s great hits like Stardust, Begin The Beguine, and Frenesi. Any Old Time which Shaw recorded with Billie Holiday is good too, but was not a hit. Also another Shaw song called The First Two Weeks in July.

    I also love the song Perfidia by Mexican composer Alberto Dominguez (1939). There are many versions in both English and Spanish, but the Helen Forrest version with Benny Goodman is a phenomenal arrangement and will do it for me. I would give the Nat King Cole version a miss.

    But possible my favorite of all time is Jammin’ by the ineffable Bob Marley which I first heard when I was about 26. It’s just good. Many of his other songs are also sublime. Here he is performing not long before his death in 1980 when I was 29.

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    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Jonathan Mason wrote:

    In 1959, when I was 8 years old, South Pacific was a massive hit movie and soundtrack album and although I did not see the movie until decades later and we did not have the album at home, it seems like the songs were in the air that summer and I knew the lyrics to several of them, like Nothing Like A Dame, and Bali Ha’i and Younger Than Springtime–and I still like those songs.

    Somewhere along the line I also developed favorites from other musicals by Rogers and Hammerstein, such as Oh, What A Beautiful Morning, June Is Bustin’ Out All Over and You’ll Never Walk Alone. The last soccer was later to become a huge anthem sung by the masses at soccer games.
     
    I'm about three years younger than you.

    You and I grew up during the golden age of Broadway musicals:from Oklahoma! to Music Man to Camelot to Cabaret. It's hard to communicate to younger people the impact Broadway musicals had on American culture in the quarter century after WW II.

    (I'm not denigrating more recent musicals such as Phantom of the Opera or Les Miz, both of which are great musicals, or, for that matter, the Disney animated musicals of the last thirty years, but there just has not been the explosion of great, popular, and influential musicals in the last several decades that occurred starting with Oklahoma!, which appeared in 1943.)

    Part of what is going on here, I think, is just exhaustion of possibilities: who wants to write a fugue nowadays when you know your composition will be compared to J. S. Bach? And, who wants to write a musical when you know it will be compared to Lerner and Lowe or Rodgers and Hammerstein? (Fortunately, a few people are gutsy enough to give it a try.)

    Jonathan also wrote:

    A lot depends on the state of technology when you were a certain age...
     
    Yeah, but our parents' generation did have record players (playing "78s"!). And, back during the ragtime era, there was a booming business in sheet music, though the recordings were very primitive (I happen to know some scholars of the ragtime era -- this seems to be a growing discipline).

    So, yeah, technology matters, but Americans were quite innovative in spreading pop music even before the transistor radio (yes, I do remember my first transistor radio, though being a nerd, I was more interested in how it worked than in what I could listen to).

    Dave
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  52. This article made me think about the music I was hearing when I was 14, in 1972, and reminded me that, by and large, I hated and was disappointed by a lot of the stuff that was charting that year and being played on the radio. Perhaps this was because, looking back, that was the first year of the transition from the great hits of the rock era, which lasted roughly from 1967 to 1971, to the mid-1970s era of easy listening music.

    I looked up the Billboard charts for 1972. Except for #17, Neil Young’sHeart of Gold” and #24, The Hollies, “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” I can see why it all sounded like rubbish to the 14-year-old that I was, in retrospect.

    The previous year, 1971 had been the year the albumWho’s Next was released and that The Stones’ Brown Sugar charted, for example. The more mellow stuff of 1972 was maudlin, by comparison, to a teenage male.

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    • Replies: @E. Rekshun
    Here's a young Neil Young playing Old Man and Heart of Gold to a small crowd in 1971. Very, very nice!


    https://youtu.be/Ycit4OwYPNg?list=PLH_krMl6Fi881Fg3u0xozKQ9MJcWAPzEK&t=3
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  53. Steve,

    maybe, just spitballing here, but maybe the answer has something to do with the brain?

    And the different ages for boy/girl may have something to do with hormones?

    And that these hormones, affecting the brain, are what triggers the developing brain at that point to fixate and remember songs?

    And that capacity has been useful throughout human history, and may even have been selected, in some Darwinian sense, through storytelling?

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  54. I also wonder if age matter less for people who have older siblings with a strong interest in popular music. I have two older brothers, who are 10 and 7 years older than me. Both had a strong interest in popular music, and my memory of songs from the radio and records that they brought home is pretty much continuous from circa age 4 to age 13, the period from 1962 to 1971. So, there are lots of favorites from the time of Elvis after his army stint all the way to 1971, the year a great many classic rock albums were released.

    Older siblings can affect your teenage tastes a lot, or be even formative.

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    • Agree: E. Rekshun
    • Replies: @Jonathan Mason
    Interesting. As I wrote above, I stopped listening to pop music in 1972, so perhaps there was a change in the quality of the music at that time, and suddenly it all seemed very uninteresting.

    1972 was the year of Chuck Berry and I Want You To Play With My Ding-a-ling and Rocket Man by Elton John.

    Around that time John was asked what he would be doing when he turned 40. He laughed and said he didn't know, but he sure as hell would not be touring and playing Rocket Man. Here we are almost 50 years later, and he still is!
    , @3g4me
    @33 PiltdownMan: "Older siblings can affect your teenage tastes a lot, or be even formative."

    I strongly agree. Like commenter Physicist Dave, I wasn't strongly immersed in the popular culture of my youth. I didn't listen to the radio as constant background noise, and I wasn't intimately familiar with all the top 40 songs. However, my older brother listened to an astonishing variety of rock, and our several years' older cousin (who had me listen to the Beatles "When I Saw Her Standing There" on his radio when I was little and adoring) pushed him ahead a few more years (first introduced him/us to Cream). My brother used to use the Swann Catalogue and we would play Ghost using band names on family road trips.

    Additionally my father's lifelong love for classical music meant I grew up listening to symphonies and operas, and for my mother's pleasure there were '60s musicals, and I was exposed to it all. So I don't really have a favorite song or two - I have specific memories that are pinned to when I recall first hearing a particular song, even if I never listened to that band or song on my own ("Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog" in 7th grade gym class, "Surrender" by Cheap Trick my junior year of college.). As a matter of fact, after a lifetime of forced listening to others' music of choice, I prefer NONE. I used to make the 7- 8 hour drive to and from college in blessed silence, never use the car radio to this day, and even now the only time I actively listen to music is when I work out. For that I now have all of my older son's European metal to choose from, my favorites of which are Volbeat and Sabaton.

    I suppose the older songs I listen to most (also on my old and trusty mp3 player for the gym) are "Victoria" by the Kinks , "Back in the USSR" by the Beatles, and "Call Me" by Blondie.
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  55. @Steve Sailer
    I remember that the "The Air That I Breathe" was a pretty astonishing song on mid-1970s radio. I have this vague recollection of hearing it on AM radio in the car going hiking with my dad right about the same time as hearing "Bohemian Rhapsody" for the first time on a Best of the Year End program. But the Hollies' Air That I Breathe was from 1974 (Albert Hammond debuted it in 1972) and Bohemian Rhapsody was from 1975. You probably have to be John Updike to keep straight in your head when you first heard a song.

    I remember thinking, when I first heard The Air That I Breathe that it sounded vaguely like the Mamas and the Papas from ten years earlier. It really stood out, in terms of its sound, in the mid 1970s. Sort of hearkened back to 1965 but was modern and refreshed, too.

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  56. @PiltdownMan
    I also wonder if age matter less for people who have older siblings with a strong interest in popular music. I have two older brothers, who are 10 and 7 years older than me. Both had a strong interest in popular music, and my memory of songs from the radio and records that they brought home is pretty much continuous from circa age 4 to age 13, the period from 1962 to 1971. So, there are lots of favorites from the time of Elvis after his army stint all the way to 1971, the year a great many classic rock albums were released.

    Older siblings can affect your teenage tastes a lot, or be even formative.

    Interesting. As I wrote above, I stopped listening to pop music in 1972, so perhaps there was a change in the quality of the music at that time, and suddenly it all seemed very uninteresting.

    1972 was the year of Chuck Berry and I Want You To Play With My Ding-a-ling and Rocket Man by Elton John.

    Around that time John was asked what he would be doing when he turned 40. He laughed and said he didn’t know, but he sure as hell would not be touring and playing Rocket Man. Here we are almost 50 years later, and he still is!

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    • Replies: @Ganderson
    Elton's best record, IMHO is 11/17/70- recorded in studio in front of an audience with just Elton, Nigel Olsson and Dee Murray. Spare production values- great stuff.
    , @AndrewR
    I swear to god, this blog has got to have the oldest median age of any blog on the internet. Every other day I see a new person talk about their vivid memories from 40 or 50 years ago. It's quite striking.

    I assume that in 1972 you were younger than I am now (33), but I have never stopped listening to pop music. Of course, most pop music is garbage but, obviously, most music is garbage, regardless of genre or popularity. To "not listen to pop music" is to cut oneself off from hearing a lot of good music.
    , @Daniel Williams

    [Elton] John was asked what he would be doing when he turned 40. He laughed and said he didn’t know, but he sure as hell would not be touring and playing Rocket Man.
     
    Betcha John Lennon's predictions about what would happen when he turned forty were even less accurate, haw haw haw.
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  57. @Buzz Mohawk
    My sentimental favorite record still has to be the first one I ever owned: Revolver by the Beatles.

    I was in first grade when my sisters bought it for me. They were teenagers, and I lived the Sixties through them. Consequently, I have more affinity for the music of that era than many of my peers. (I also get along with women really well.)

    When I was only six years old, I had such good taste that I owned and enjoyed what has come to be regarded as the best Beatles album, and therefore perhaps the greatest album of all time.

    Please ignore the fact that the only song I cared about then was "Yellow Submarine." I played it over-and-over on our family's Fisher console stereo and got really good at lifting the needle and setting it back down in the right groove.
    https://devonrecordclub.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/beatles-revolver1.jpg
    http://i.ebayimg.com/images/i/200904901486-0-1/s-l1000.jpg

    My first album was The Beatles VI. Got it as a gift when I was sick in the hospital between 7th and 8th grades. Revolver is great! Revolver, Rubber Soul and Yesterday and Today (which contained the songs from the British releases of Rubber Soul and Revolver) are really all the Beatles one needs. And while I thought it great upon first release, St. Pepper sounds overproduced and precious today. I feel the same about the White Album, although like Sgt Pepper I loved it at first. BTW- I believe there’s a lot of good stuff on those later records, but Revolver, Rubber Soul and Yesterday and Today were the top of the world, ma!

    A couple years later I was doing a report for English 10 on the History of Rock and Roll. The name Grateful Dead came up again and again. I had no idea who they really were- but figured that they must be cool. I bought Axomoxoa and was entranced, particularly by St. Stephen and China Cat Sunflower. Then, I found out that they were playing at the Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis! I went, and have been hooked ever since!

    Also songs can become imprinted later, too. Barbara H. by Fountains of Wayne will always remind me of driving around Western Mass to my oldest son’s HS lacrosse games.

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    • Replies: @Saint Louis
    You probably know already, but FoW has a western Massachusetts connection. One of the founding members went to Williams College and lives in Northampton.
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  58. @Jonathan Mason
    Interesting. As I wrote above, I stopped listening to pop music in 1972, so perhaps there was a change in the quality of the music at that time, and suddenly it all seemed very uninteresting.

    1972 was the year of Chuck Berry and I Want You To Play With My Ding-a-ling and Rocket Man by Elton John.

    Around that time John was asked what he would be doing when he turned 40. He laughed and said he didn't know, but he sure as hell would not be touring and playing Rocket Man. Here we are almost 50 years later, and he still is!

    Elton’s best record, IMHO is 11/17/70- recorded in studio in front of an audience with just Elton, Nigel Olsson and Dee Murray. Spare production values- great stuff.

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    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
    Strictly speaking that should be 17-11-70.
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  59. Where’s Achmed? I figure this thread is a natural for him.

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  60. On the other hand, a lot of people have mild favorites from their 40s associated with their kids or some major life event. For example, here’s John McCain’s list of his favorite songs from when he ran for President in 2008. Most of his picks are songs by male singers from the 1940s to 1960s, but McCain’s #1 and #3 are by Abba in the early-mid 1970s. (I would bet that the Abba songs were his new wife’s favorites when he got out of the POW camp.)

    At the age of 11 or 12, I walked out of a store with my first tow albums. One was Abba’s Arrival. Dancing Queen is a great song, but it might not even be the best song on hat album.

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  61. @Steve Sailer
    I remember that the "The Air That I Breathe" was a pretty astonishing song on mid-1970s radio. I have this vague recollection of hearing it on AM radio in the car going hiking with my dad right about the same time as hearing "Bohemian Rhapsody" for the first time on a Best of the Year End program. But the Hollies' Air That I Breathe was from 1974 (Albert Hammond debuted it in 1972) and Bohemian Rhapsody was from 1975. You probably have to be John Updike to keep straight in your head when you first heard a song.

    That’s one of those songs/albums that I somehow overlooked for decades before getting smacked in the face by them in my 30′s or 40′s. The Air That I Breathe gets a lot of play in my back yard/pool.

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  62. “The Air that I Breathe” and the thousands of others like it are unlistenable at my age. Sentiments like “all I need is the air that I breathe just to love you” are intended to inspire young swains.

    Any swoony love interest is now decades in my past, and my love song tastes have shifted to more complex and intellectual (adult?) songs like “My Funny Valentine” or songs of the pre-rock Sinatra oevre.

    Had I married at age 20-30, when my wife and I would have been buying albums, listening to the radio, and nightclubbing, I expect things would be different. Whenever I would hear “our song” (or others like it) she would be transmogrified into the girl I met decades ago and I would again taste the passion I felt when we met.

    There are sound memories (just as there are scent memories) with the capacity to transport one to an earlier time, place, mood, emotion and person. Early in life one can be imprinted with a song the way a duckling can be imprinted with a mother.

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    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
    "“The Air that I Breathe” and the thousands of others like it are unlistenable at my age. "

    It was unlistenable when I was 17, too. Too slow and without the OTT-ness that rescues "MacArthur Park". If I wanted young swain music there was Jefferson Airplane's Today, still IMHO the most lovely love song.

    Music these days is just a soundtrack, not real excitement. My daughter listens to the Smiths and my son plays old Dylan numbers on guitar - which is as if I spent my early 20s listening to stuff like this (I did actually buy this record in 1975!).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGaHalL7AXY
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  63. My favorite songs change all the time. I guess I can’t speak for everyone, but I can only listen to a song a few dozen times at most before I get kinda bored with it. I think “what are all the songs that have been your favorite songs at any point throughout your life” is a much better question than “what are your favorite songs”

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  64. One thing you may want to think about is a sort of generational reverb in popularity when kids hear the songs their parents fell in love with at 14. These songs then become attached to the kids’ memories of the parents and so forth and so on. I think that explains a lot of the current attachment by Millenials and whatever comes after them to bands like Badfinger.

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  65. Creep is not a very good song. Its just something white people say they like because they are supposed to. Kind of like Nirvana, even though pearl jam and Gnr and metallica were much better bands.

    Im 37, i agree with you that most people discover their favorite songs latter in life than 13. I didnt really know what music was until i was 18, truthfully. Thats why kids all listen to that corporate rap and pop nonsense.

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  66. @Jonathan Mason
    Interesting. As I wrote above, I stopped listening to pop music in 1972, so perhaps there was a change in the quality of the music at that time, and suddenly it all seemed very uninteresting.

    1972 was the year of Chuck Berry and I Want You To Play With My Ding-a-ling and Rocket Man by Elton John.

    Around that time John was asked what he would be doing when he turned 40. He laughed and said he didn't know, but he sure as hell would not be touring and playing Rocket Man. Here we are almost 50 years later, and he still is!

    I swear to god, this blog has got to have the oldest median age of any blog on the internet. Every other day I see a new person talk about their vivid memories from 40 or 50 years ago. It’s quite striking.

    I assume that in 1972 you were younger than I am now (33), but I have never stopped listening to pop music. Of course, most pop music is garbage but, obviously, most music is garbage, regardless of genre or popularity. To “not listen to pop music” is to cut oneself off from hearing a lot of good music.

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    • Replies: @Brutusale
    Hey, I'm pushing 60, and these are the tunes that played on my earbuds at the gym last night. Classical doesn't quite do the job when you're doing squats:

    2112 (Live)-Rush
    Cold Shot and Voodoo Chile-Stevie Ray Vaughn
    The Pot-Tool
    Terminal Street and Live In the Air Age-Be Bop Deluxe
    Judith-A Perfect Circle
    Soothsayer (Live)-Buckethead
    Various Metallica and G 'n R tunes, can't remember which ones.

    It makes leg night go a little easier.

    I think I have maybe five songs produced in this century. Metal/hard rock is currently, maybe permanently, moribund.
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  67. @Steve Sailer
    I remember that the "The Air That I Breathe" was a pretty astonishing song on mid-1970s radio. I have this vague recollection of hearing it on AM radio in the car going hiking with my dad right about the same time as hearing "Bohemian Rhapsody" for the first time on a Best of the Year End program. But the Hollies' Air That I Breathe was from 1974 (Albert Hammond debuted it in 1972) and Bohemian Rhapsody was from 1975. You probably have to be John Updike to keep straight in your head when you first heard a song.

    I remember that the “The Air That I Breathe” was a pretty astonishing song on mid-1970s radio.

    Reading this, I was not familiar with that song, so I looked it up on Youtube and of course the song was familiar to me, but I had never paid it any attention, which brings me to the point that there is nothing worse than other people’s favorite music.

    I have thousands of tracks, mostly jazz, some blues, some Spanish language, some Haitian kreyol music, some rock, some Christmas carols, some classical on my computer and at any one time I have no desire to listen to 90% of it, even though it was all carefully selected by me at some time in the last 20 years, so what is the chance of wanting to hear something that someone else wants to play?

    The intro and melody to The Air That I Breathe did however remind me of this:

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  68. @PhysicistDave
    I suspect a lot has to do with how immersed a person is is in youth culture during his own adolescence.

    I was so nerdy that I paid almost no attention to youth culture, despite the fact that my adolescence was basically the 1960s. The rather strange result is that many of my favorite songs from the '60s -- Yesterday, Up Up and Away, Spanish Flea, Girl from Ipanema, King of the Road, Goin' Out of My Head, Downtown -- were songs my junior-high choir director chose for the choir to perform! (Yes, for some reason we had an unusually "hip" choir director, though he considered himself a conservative Catholic.)

    The result was that I was blissfully ignorant of most tunes by the Stones, the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, The Mamas and the Papas, and even most of Lennon and McCartney.

    On the other hand, when, years later, I heard more tunes by those groups, the ones I liked seemed to fit in with the style imprinted on me by our junior-high choir director.

    It would be interesting to know if kids who are highly focused on classical music during adolescence end up liking long-term the styles of classical music they experienced as kids.

    I had a similar experience. My adolescence was in the late 1960’s but I never bought albums or spent much time listening to popular music. Except, that is, for June-August. My family belonged to a small club by a local lake, and it took about thirty minutes to drive there. My mom listened to Top 40 radio stations.

    As a result, if it didn’t play on the Top 40 during those months – I never heard of it, which leaves me with big holes in my experience of music. When I went to college, I didn’t listen to any popular music. The only albums I thought were worth buying were classical.

    But Steve is right, though, because the songs I liked best or remembered most were from Sgt Pepper or Magical Mystery Tour. You’re right, too: I was introduced to the Magical Mystery Tour album by my music appreciation teacher when I was 13. She was a classical music enthusiast, as you might guess, but she worshiped The Beatles and insisted that they would stay famous like Mozart. Time will tell.

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  69. @Jonathan Mason
    Interesting. As I wrote above, I stopped listening to pop music in 1972, so perhaps there was a change in the quality of the music at that time, and suddenly it all seemed very uninteresting.

    1972 was the year of Chuck Berry and I Want You To Play With My Ding-a-ling and Rocket Man by Elton John.

    Around that time John was asked what he would be doing when he turned 40. He laughed and said he didn't know, but he sure as hell would not be touring and playing Rocket Man. Here we are almost 50 years later, and he still is!

    [Elton] John was asked what he would be doing when he turned 40. He laughed and said he didn’t know, but he sure as hell would not be touring and playing Rocket Man.

    Betcha John Lennon’s predictions about what would happen when he turned forty were even less accurate, haw haw haw.

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  70. I’m not entirely clear on what a “favorite song” is. A song that you really liked at the time you first heard it, or one that you still like to play or hear decades later? Or a song that you don’t seek out, but which fills you with heavy nostalgia if you happen to hear it again years later?

    I tend to agree that, in my own case, the ages 13-15 were when I most bonded with the pop and rock tunes then coming out (1963-1965, i.e. the British Invasion and Phil Spector’s wall of sound girl groups and let’s not forget Motown). But it was also an era of Top 40 radio, where if you listened to radio much at all, you got the same songs drummed into you over and over. Petula Clark’s “Downtown” is a case in point. Pure British pop, but somehow to my adolescent imagination, it really did describe some mythical place “Downtown”

    “Things will be great when you’re downtown
    No finer place for sure, downtown
    Everything’s waiting for you…”

    I’m still waiting to find that downtown where “things will be great”. It remains elusive.

    1965 was pretty much the peak of a certain kind of polished music industry Pop, as soon after, it became increasingly common for rock groups to write their own material, musically brag about the psychoactive drugs they were taking, and get into long self-indulgent guitar and drum solos. Jimi Hendrix may have been brilliant when he exploded on the music scene, but I have little desire to seek his music out and hear it again. Same goes for Cream or Big Brother and the Holding Co. By contrast, Dusty Springfield seems timeless.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    "I’m not entirely clear on what a “favorite song” is."

    It has something to do with what Stephens-Davidowitz can measure off Spotify data, but I'm vague on what he's measuring. But it seems pretty valid: e.g., Oh Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison ranks in the top 100 songs for each cohort of women from about 40 or 50 to 80, while the other songs he breaks out don't reach the top 100 for any age group. Obviously, Oh Pretty Woman is a more famous song than the others, with a famous movie named after it.

    , @E. Rekshun
    Petula Clark’s “Downtown” is a case in point. Pure British pop, but somehow to my adolescent imagination, it really did describe some mythical place “Downtown”



    https://youtu.be/fzUICBMQBNU
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  71. You’re right, again, Steve (I’ll bet) about the McCain wife comment. In my early thirties I had a girlfriend in her early twenties who was obsessed with Van Halen, Adam Ant and Huey Louis, so I know their stuff, too.

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  72. I still routinely hear songs that join the canon of my favorites. Sometimes they’re newer tunes, sometimes older ones that I’ve heard for the first time. I didn’t hear “Born To Lose” by Johnny Thunders until a few months ago but it’s definitely a fave.

    If I were to plot my top one hundred songs on a graph by year I first heard them, I bet there’d be a big cluster around thirteen or fourteen.

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    • Replies: @Jay Fink
    I discovered "Born To Lose" on Pandora about a year or two ago and it instantly became one of my favorites. Growing up on the West coast I was unfamiliar with East coast punk. Listening to it now it holds up better than other punk, it is more melodic.
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  73. Do people who grew up listening to rap have favorite songs? Is there someone out there whose hair stood up when he heard that Ludacris song about “move bitch, get out the way” for the first time?

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  74. I was 14 in 2005, and I remember hating most all of the popular music of the time. It was a weird time where it seemed the two main types of popular music were very black, baggy jeans hip hop and clean-recorded boy-band punk.

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  75. I just got rid of almost all my old CDs and cassettes from my youth. I find the lyrics too revolting to enjoy them anymore.

    Most of the stuff I enjoy now I did not listen to as a youth, or it didn’t exist then.

    I recently finished reading the Hindu epic “Mahabharata”, and the song lyric “All I need is the air that I breath” reminds me of Hindu ascetics who practice extreme austerities to gain celestial powers. They frequently “live only on air”. I believe there was quite a bit of interest in the West in Hindu stuff in the 1970s. I wonder if this lyric was inspired by that.

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  76. I think George Orwell got it right about popular songs, although he was writing about poetry in the context of Kipling:


    But what is the peculiarity of a good bad poem? A good bad poem is a graceful
    monument to the obvious. It records in memorable form–for verse is a
    mnemonic device, among other things–some emotion which very nearly
    every human being can share.


    The merit of a poem like ‘When all the world
    is young, lad’ is that, however sentimental it may be, its sentiment is
    ‘true’ sentiment in the sense that you are bound to find yourself
    thinking the thought it expresses sooner or later; and then, if you
    happen to know the poem, it will come back into your mind and seem better
    than it did before. Such poems are a kind of rhyming proverb, and it is a
    fact that definitely popular poetry is usually gnomic or sententious.

    So there you have it:

    I Did It My Way
    I Wanna Hold Your Hand
    The Sound of Music
    Yesterday
    Nine To Five
    She’s Gone
    Isn’t She Lovely?
    Baby, One More Time
    I Will Survive
    This Land Is Your Land
    You’ll Never Walk Alone
    Rehab
    The Way We Were
    You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

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    • Replies: @Laugh Track

    So there you have it:

    I Did It My Way
    I Wanna Hold Your Hand
    The Sound of Music
    Yesterday
    Nine To Five
    She’s Gone
    Isn’t She Lovely?
    Baby, One More Time
    I Will Survive
    This Land Is Your Land
    You’ll Never Walk Alone
    Rehab
    The Way We Were
    You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling
     
    Those Were the Days
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  77. @guest
    Steve, how do you feel about the Air That I Breathe? Either the more popular Hollies version, which came out in '74, or the version by Albert Hammond of It Never Rains in Southern California fame, which came out in '72. I ask because it's basically the exact same song as Creep, besides the lyrics.

    In fact, I believe Radiohead was successfully sued, and now Albert Hammond and some other guy share official writing credit with the band.

    I was 10 years-old when Creep came out, and though I enjoy it, I like the Hollies' version better. I remember my mother listening to the Hollies as a kid, but that was more the Bus Stop era. I don't remember really being into the Air That I Breathe until my 20s.

    In fact, I believe Radiohead was successfully sued, and now Albert Hammond and some other guy share official writing credit with the band.

    Why do you say “I believe” as if you can’t look it up in about 15 seconds?

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    • Replies: @guest
    Because I'm not writing a research paper, and don't bother to look up everything I post about.

    Why do you care?
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  78. The movie “Drive” (2011) has added a good deal of popularity to a soundtrack. I think the “retrowave” music wing birth of popularity is related to the Drive soundtrack. I doubt retrowave will see any radio play at all, though.

    “Hackers” in 1995 had such a popular soundtrack that they kept putting out more soundtrack CDs, including CDs with songs that didn’t appear at all in the movie. They didn’t have any songs from the movie left.

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    • Replies: @Seth Largo
    The retrowave thing is great. I have no theory about its rise, other than the general phenomenon of people digging the culture they kinda sorta remember as little kids.

    The funny thing is that, for all its blatant new wave aesthetic---one of the whitest pop culture aesthetics in existence, second only to punk rock---the New Retro Wave label was started and is still run by a black guy! As expected, though, he seems more Michael Jordan and less Collin Kap about it.
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  79. Lorne Michaels says that everyone’s favorite season of SNL was when they were 16. That’s because they are old enough to stay up late and appreciate the humor but not old enough to go out and do anything.

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  80. @Antlitz Grollheim
    Thanks for reminding me of Badfinger, what a beautiful song Day After Day is. Maybe if I was 14 in the 70s or 80s that rule would have applied, the early 2000s was a cultural wasteland. I never understood Gen X nostalgia for the 90s either, and now that that "alternative" West Coast ennui and broad-mindedness has metastasized into corporate dogma, their edginess seems ridiculous in retrospect.

    Day after Day was produced by George Harrison.

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    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk

    Day after Day was produced by George Harrison.
     
    Yes, and he played slide guitar on it. George is another example of a musician I appreciate more now. He got overshadowed by Lennon and McCartney as he developed.

    McCartney in particular got on his own roll and forgot for a while that there was other talent that maybe just possibly had something to do with the greatness of the whole enterprise.

    By the time of Abby Road, George was quite possibly making the best songs, i.e. "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun."

    Besides, he was at Long Beach taking pictures of Formula One racing in the streets when I was there, so he wins the cool points.

    , @Antlitz Grollheim
    Very interesting. He seemed to have mastered that super-clean 70s classic rock sound that made the Traveling Wilbury's so great.
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  81. Guns N Roses blew up with “Welcome to the Jungle” in the fall of my 14th year.

    Working on our Harleys in our mid 40’s, my friend and I will always put GnR on the garage radio.

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  82. @Tiny Duck
    The most popular music is is hip hop and is created by People of Colour



    That tells you something right there

    It certainly does.

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  83. This doesn’t hold for me. I listened to 80s stuff like Depeche Mode when I was a teenager during that era. I now listen to classic or classic-sounding metal, from the early 70s until recent bands or releases from classic bands (Judas Priest has a new album releasing less than a month). I didn’t even start listening to heavy metal until I was in my 30s.

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    • Replies: @E. Rekshun
    Judas Priest has a new album releasing less than a month)

    Judas Priest was my first concert - Boston Garden 1980 - then of course wore the concert t-shirt to school the next day. Passed that shirt on to my younger brother after a year or so and he mimicked my taste in music.


    @71: Huey Louis

    1986, also at the Boston Garden, and just out of college.
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  84. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    My favorite songs were ones I only heard once I got into college, because that was my first exposure to underground rock via college radio. I kept adding to my favorite music pile throughout my twenties, although I am fond of what I heard in my grade school years because that was before disco hit in 1976. Commercial radio was great before disco, but it went rapidly downhill afterwards, and thereafter it produced only the occasional good song.

    I quit listening to underground radio around 1994 or so, because even underground rock started to suck by that time. Commercial radio picked up a bit in the early 2000s with some good Nu Metal singles, but by around 2007 or so had died again. I confirmed the latter impression just recently by listening to a playlist of all the #1 indie songs from 2000-2015, and the first half consisted of songs I knew and thought reasonably good, but the second half consisted of songs I mostly didn’t know and which sucked mightily upon giving them an honest listen.

    By around 2007, “Indie” music had begun to take on the tiresome qualities of more mainstream music and started sounding like the crap that had made me quit listening to commercial radio in the first place. I’m sure there’s good music out there, but I’ve made it a project to dig through recent indie music for the last two years or so, and I’m only coming across the occasional good song. Just to give an example, I’ve gone through more than 200 pages over at the Electrical Audio forums (which mentions practically every noteworthy band who’s every recorded or played a gig in the US) patiently listening to music by every new band I’ve never heard of, and I’m finding very little good stuff worth mentioning.

    It’s not a plunge in demographics producing less talent. It’s the fact that young people today have to go straight into the workforce to make a career, and they aren’t stopping to form an indie band in their late teens or twenties like previously generations did. Previous generations could do this and still make enough money to get by. But with Youtube, Soundcloud, etc., putting out an avalanche of bad and indifferent music, and free downloading of songs for which artists do not get paid, it is very hard for new talent to build an audience and make a living from it because there’s so much competition for hearing time. There isn’t anywhere near enough high-quality musicial sorting where it can be found by listeners and do some good for these bands.

    I’ve been making playlists of older indie artists, and these lists have begun to rise to the top of Youtube’s search results because other people who compile lists for the same bands have terrible taste in putting these things together. I feel like I have to do it just to let these ignorant yo-yos hear what a decent composition is supposed to sound like.

    The problem with bands putting out their own stuff is that they have no reason to develop a good quality detector. Although I hate commercial music, old-time record producers did have some sense about quality, and they’d make you repeat a performance until you got a good take, and sometimes their arrangements did improve a song. Producers tried to make sure you maintained a certain quality level throughout an LP, because they were trying to produce professional-caliber work for a record label.

    It used to be that I could find underground bands who would produce about 3 albums full of A+ songs throughout their career. Nowadays, I can’t seem to find recent indie musicians who have produced more than 4-5 total B+ songs in their entire career. Many of the musicians are not rising to a higher standard by challenging themselves. They are growing up listening to so much bad commercial music that they don’t think they need to push themselves too hard.

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  85. So you are saying, you hear your favorite songs just about when you start wanting to have sex. In retrospect that seems obvious.

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  86. I’m presently 47. My favorite song is B MASHINA, off Laibach’s 2003 album W.A.T., which I first heard when I bought the album in either 2004 or ’05, at age 34.

    Prior to that, my favorite was song was probably FRANKENSTEIN by the The Edgar Winter Group (which came out in 1973, but which I first heard in either 1984 or ’85, at the age of 14). I probably didn’t consider it my favorite song until the late 1980s, however.

    Prior to that, probably WAR PIGS from Black Sabbath’s 1971 album, PARANOID. Which I first heard in 1983,* shortly after my 13th birthday.

    *I specifically recall the occasion, somewhat oddly.

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  87. @Tiny Duck
    The most popular music is is hip hop and is created by People of Colour



    That tells you something right there

    Yes it does: that there is a Rising Tide of Colour Against White World Supremacy, and that it must be stopped dead in its tracks.

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  88. Perhaps a more revealing question to put is: which is your favorite pop performer/group/artist? My bet is that the answers would correlate very closely and be consistent with the findings from “which is your favorite song,” in that most people’s favorite act would be the one that was their favorite at ages 13-14.

    My co-boomer friends and acquaintances are still rigidly enamored of their 1960′s favorite songs and acts.

    Like commenter Jonathan Mason, who has said he’s the same age as me, I stopped listening at age twenty-one to pop music in 1972. Its offerings suddenly no longer held appeal for me – especially the output from the rash of early 70′s singer-songwriters such as James Taylor, Carole King, Carly Simon (to this day Taylor grates on my last nerve). For years afterward I was stuck with my 60′s faves (Stones, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, The Moody Blues, Janis Joplin), yet I also explored (I play guitar and blow a workmanlike blues harp) bluegrass and country music along with a coterie of guitar-picking friends who were also into bluegrass/country.

    Having never before cared for it, in my forties I came to love Classical music, except its latter-day composers such as Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, John Adams, &c. I particularly adore Chopin, and also have a real soft spot for plainchant and polyphonic vocal song.

    One quirk is that in my mid-1960′s teen years I came to love the music of the Glenn Miller Orchestra and The Andrews Sisters, and I still love their work today. In my forties I also gained a fresh appreciation for American Golden Age standards – many of the songs and performers which I and many other boomers had pooh-poohed as old fuddy-duddies, “squares, or “straights” (as opposed to “freaks”) while in our teens and in college; songs such as Perry Como’s “Catch A Falling Star” and Hoagy Carmichael’s gorgeous melodies became newly beloved along with much, for one example among many, of Jo Stafford’s material.

    The one genre that has ever held nearly no appeal to me is modern jazz, which, except for a very few of its offerings, jazz either makes my eyes glaze over or irritates the hell out of me. This ought to be filed under the heading of de gustibus non est disputandum.

    What’s odd about this topic is that I recall my parents’ Depression/WWII generation never being as obsessed with pop music or celebrity trivia as later generations became and remain. I never heard members of my parents’ generation amassing cinema, musical or pop culture trivia, or arguing the merits of artists or songs, or “influences,” in the ways in which boomers and subsequent generations obsess about pop/celeb trivialities. Sure, that Depression/WWII generation liked and enjoyed the music of their youth, but they didn’t ravenously devour or jaw obsessively about its trivia. Part of the reason for that is, I think, the Depression/WWII media technology wasn’t as pervasive as media technology became from the 1950′s onward – people of that earlier generation were simply not marinated nonstop in pop culture in the way that later generations became immersed 24×7 in mass media output. Another reason is that far fewer of the Depression/WWII generation attended college, and were thus not exposed to the later burgeoning of film and pop culture courses.

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    • Replies: @Ganderson
    Auntie- went to college in the 70s and loved the big bands- also Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys- not a common thing for an upper midwestern kid.
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  89. @Tiny Duck
    The most popular music is is hip hop and is created by People of Colour



    That tells you something right there

    The most popular music is is hip hop and is created by People of Colour

    That tells you something right there

    Yes, that people of color like sh*t, I guess.

    By the way, TD, you never told us you are from the UK. Or, rather, that you are a foreign invader residing in the UK.

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  90. I am odd amongst humans in that I am still discovering and enjoying new music. My parents were teenagers when they had me and they listened to the Animals, the Stones and the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, etc. I liked the harder rock when I was a little girl. I still do. I fell asleep listening to rap music on YouTube a few months ago. A song came on that woke me up in more ways than one. Go Flex, by Post Malone. It just hit me deep inside. I have always dated younger guys because older guys are often very stubbornly set in their tastes for music and films. I get new music from Austin City Limits and Tiny Desk Concerts, which are predictably good. Soundtracks are also great for picking up newer stuff. Closing credit songs will usually make me stay in a theater until the last note ends. Blackhawk Down and Once Were Warriors are 2 soundtracks that I have been listening to over and over for years and years. I love Nine Inch Nails because of the movie, Seven. When I was 15 I saw Bob Marley on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and it blew my mind. A shot heard round the world, really.

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  91. First, I draw a distinction between a song and the recordings of various renditions of that song. My favorite songs, in the abstract, are probably “Danny Boy” (which I hated, as a young child, but came to appreciate, as an adult, and to love, as a middle-aged man) and “Lush Life” (which forever amazes me that it was allegedly written, at least in the main, when Billy Strayhorn was a 17-year-old high schooler in Pittsburgh!). High on that list is “It Was a Very Good Year”– and, as it has come to pass, that has been my favorite popular recording, for decades now, in the form of Frank Sinatra’s 1965 version, from the album “September of My Years” (which also has been my favorite original album, for decades now). From the time I first heard it, probably just before my ninth birthday, it had been my favorite Sinatra record; it took a couple of decades, or more, for it to become my favorite single recording.

    I was the eighth of nine children, so I grew up, from before I can recall, listening to WLS and WCFL, inter alia, in nearby Chicago, courtesy of my older siblings, along with whatever 45s they were buying and playing on our phonograph at home. My first favorite recording that I recognized as such, at the time, was “Venus in Blue Jeans” (1962) by Jimmy Clanton, when I was five or six years old. To this day, I prefer the popular music of the 1960s, and especially that of the mid-1960s, to that of the 1970s and the 1980s. I was 13 and change when the 1960s ended, which was about the time that I started buying an occasional LP– but almost all of my early purchases were of older Beatles albums!

    My favorite popular music is basically divided, now, between the popular music of my youth and the Great American Songbook, as interpreted by crooners like Sinatra and chanteuses like Ella Fitzgerald. I essentially changed the direction of my listening preferences when I stopped listening to Top 40 radio, in 1990, and then belatedly started collecting CDs, as opposed to LPs, in 1994, as the result of a broken turntable. The switch did not lessen my regard for the pop music of my youth, but it did end my interest in new popular music. This post is the first time that I have ever heard of the existence of that Radiohead song– by a group of whose existence I have long been aware, but whose music I do not recall ever hearing!?!

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  92. @guest
    I don't know about my favorite song, because I don't know what it is. Though I do have a number of candidates. But 14 was when I discovered my favorite band: Van Halen. And the type of music I was into at that time still feels like home to me.

    However, I wonder if we shouldn't be wary of talking in terms of songs in general when really we're talking about pop music. Because I can't imagine life without Schubert's Serenade, for instance, but I didn't really get into classical music until I was an adult.

    Rock music is made primarily for kids, let's be honest, and that's been the dominant form of popular music for 60 years. No surprise that most people living, who think of that kind of music when they hear the word "song," will sentimental stick with what they liked as a kid. I assume 13-14 instead of 5 because 5 year-olds have bad taste. Why 13 instead of 18? I dunno. 18 year-olds have their minds on other stuff.

    If you so happen to be a fan of musical genres friendlier to adults, like folk, jazz, musicals, classical, etc., I imagine the Rule of 13-14 is at least less stringent. Country, for instance, which has the same roots as rock, and actually is one of the roots of rock, nevertheless is relative more adult. No rock song can convey whistfulness or guilt or regret like a country song. Those are adult sentiments.

    Adults hearing a Rodgers and Hart or Cole Porter song would have a lot more to chew on than with Katy Perry, if you know what I mean.

    The song “It’s Been Awhile”, by Stained, does a beautiful job of conveying regret and guilt.

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  93. @Tiny Duck
    The most popular music is is hip hop and is created by People of Colour



    That tells you something right there

    People get emotional about music. So I have to be cautious when addressing the music preferences of the commenter who writes under the rubric of “Tiny Duck”. Mr. Duck likes rap.

    I remember when I was young and I hung around with a lot of musicians. I once casually said that the recorder was not a ‘real’ musical instrument. I had recently helped some friends by conducting the fourth Brandenburg Concerto (the one with all the recorders).

    As we used to say – “He came out of his tree”. That means he sputtered emotionally. But of course he was into classical music not rap. Had he liked black music he might have shot or stabbed me.

    A few years ago there was a fad of playing Mozart to your infant as a way of raising his or her IQ. Alas that doesn’t actually work but it may very well be that listening to rap (the music of People of Color) may very well lower your IQ. More research is needed.

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    • Replies: @Anon
    The recorder is indeed a real instrument. You just haven't heard any good players:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVWWSd9F_KU
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  94. @Anonymous
    I don't know, but I was 15 when I got my first Rusty Trombone.

    Waaamp. Wammp.

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  95. I was branded a nerd in junior high/high school and really resented living under my parent’s restrictive thumbs during my teenage years so would rather forget the entire lame era of 70s music. It was probably good as far as classic rock goes but I’m not a guy so was never into that genre, and mainstream popular music was pretty garbage as far as I remember. I lived in backwoods upstate NY so didn’t have access to the burgeoning punk and alternative until I went to college. Once I discovered that, I had my jam and haven’t deviated much since then. The music of the late 80s – early 90s, starting in college and after, when I was young and single, bring back good memories, so I have a lot of fondness for that era – Madonna, B52s, Prince, George Michael, The Cure, The Call, INXS, Talking Heads, Billy Idol, New Order, Depeche Mode, R.E.M., Billy Squier, U2, Simple Minds, just to name a few. I’m always amused when big party hits from my college years are literal dentist office/elevator music now. These days I prefer listening to new music – alternative, dance, EDM, and pop – rather than the “oldies” of my twenties. As Steve has written before, music hasn’t changed that much since the early 90s so it’s easy to stay current, at least in alternative/EDM stuff. I can’t stand most newer hip hop/rap, a lot of it is ugly/not clever, like the current mega hit, Gucci Gang. I do like some older rap, like old Eminem or songs like Gangster’s Paradise, but I have to be in an angry mood to really enjoy it.

    My mom used to blast opera to get us out of bed and she was always playing classical so I hate opera but do like some classical. However, I need a beat while at the gym or cleaning the house so I don’t listen to it much other than at Christmas.

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  96. 35 (late developer)

    And I pray
    Oh my God do I pray
    I pray every single day
    For a revolution.

    Read more: 4 Non Blondes – What’s Up Lyrics | MetroLyrics

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  97. @PiltdownMan
    I also wonder if age matter less for people who have older siblings with a strong interest in popular music. I have two older brothers, who are 10 and 7 years older than me. Both had a strong interest in popular music, and my memory of songs from the radio and records that they brought home is pretty much continuous from circa age 4 to age 13, the period from 1962 to 1971. So, there are lots of favorites from the time of Elvis after his army stint all the way to 1971, the year a great many classic rock albums were released.

    Older siblings can affect your teenage tastes a lot, or be even formative.

    @33 PiltdownMan: “Older siblings can affect your teenage tastes a lot, or be even formative.”

    I strongly agree. Like commenter Physicist Dave, I wasn’t strongly immersed in the popular culture of my youth. I didn’t listen to the radio as constant background noise, and I wasn’t intimately familiar with all the top 40 songs. However, my older brother listened to an astonishing variety of rock, and our several years’ older cousin (who had me listen to the Beatles “When I Saw Her Standing There” on his radio when I was little and adoring) pushed him ahead a few more years (first introduced him/us to Cream). My brother used to use the Swann Catalogue and we would play Ghost using band names on family road trips.

    Additionally my father’s lifelong love for classical music meant I grew up listening to symphonies and operas, and for my mother’s pleasure there were ’60s musicals, and I was exposed to it all. So I don’t really have a favorite song or two – I have specific memories that are pinned to when I recall first hearing a particular song, even if I never listened to that band or song on my own (“Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog” in 7th grade gym class, “Surrender” by Cheap Trick my junior year of college.). As a matter of fact, after a lifetime of forced listening to others’ music of choice, I prefer NONE. I used to make the 7- 8 hour drive to and from college in blessed silence, never use the car radio to this day, and even now the only time I actively listen to music is when I work out. For that I now have all of my older son’s European metal to choose from, my favorites of which are Volbeat and Sabaton.

    I suppose the older songs I listen to most (also on my old and trusty mp3 player for the gym) are “Victoria” by the Kinks , “Back in the USSR” by the Beatles, and “Call Me” by Blondie.

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    • Replies: @Autochthon
    It's true siblings' effects are marked (perhaps lost on Steve, an only child), especially brothers' (men are better at music than women, and accordingly males have better taste).

    I discovered an older brother's copy of Fly By Night (a cassette, and even then an old album already in the late eighties, I guess) and was ever after ruined for the schlock which doubtless otherwise enraptures most teenagers. Then, too, the first album I bought was a copy of 5150 on cassette from a flea market my dad took me too, even before discovering Fly By Night, so I was discerning even then, if I say so myself. In contrast, another, different older brother (who later turned me onto The Cure!) was in adolescence very enamored of True Blue – probably more because he'd been mesmerised by Madonna Ciccione's cicciones bouncing around on eMpTyVee than because of her melodic arrangements or vocal range. I was spared that snare because I'd already discovered the good stuff before puberty.

    My point: it's all very complicated and reflects each individual's circumstances (like so much in life), so there is probably no grand, elegant, and insightful answer to how and why and when these pecadilloes take root in all people.

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  98. @PhysicistDave
    I suspect a lot has to do with how immersed a person is is in youth culture during his own adolescence.

    I was so nerdy that I paid almost no attention to youth culture, despite the fact that my adolescence was basically the 1960s. The rather strange result is that many of my favorite songs from the '60s -- Yesterday, Up Up and Away, Spanish Flea, Girl from Ipanema, King of the Road, Goin' Out of My Head, Downtown -- were songs my junior-high choir director chose for the choir to perform! (Yes, for some reason we had an unusually "hip" choir director, though he considered himself a conservative Catholic.)

    The result was that I was blissfully ignorant of most tunes by the Stones, the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, The Mamas and the Papas, and even most of Lennon and McCartney.

    On the other hand, when, years later, I heard more tunes by those groups, the ones I liked seemed to fit in with the style imprinted on me by our junior-high choir director.

    It would be interesting to know if kids who are highly focused on classical music during adolescence end up liking long-term the styles of classical music they experienced as kids.

    My musical interests have been exclusively classical since I reached the age of reason; six or seven in other words.
    My discoveries were Vivaldi, Haydn, Handel, Brahms, Wagner; roughly in that order. Then everything else followed as a matter of course.
    Are these still my leading lights? They are, and that is indeed a remarkable fact, almost a troubling one, if it is not merely evidence of the power of nostalgia.
    I cannot tell even myself what my favourite song was, because I never listened to anything of the sort which excites the nostalgia of so many of you. I do have a favourite piece of light music though: Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson, written in 1948, the year of my birth. Remarkably the only version I knew, and the only one which impresses me now, is that conducted by Anderson himself in 1950. The reason is that I heard it then, and can actually see myself bobbing to it with infantile enthusiasm. It is by far my earliest memory, and, I think, more or less proves the profound importance of music in the development of our emotional and imaginative lives. Thus the need for discipline in its creation and control of its dissemination, the opposite of today’s wilful anarchy.

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  99. I suspect that I’m fairly typical that I first really got into music around the age of 13-15, but isn’t this the age that children are really just getting into the world around them in general, separate from their parents? Books, music, movies, TV shows; discovering our romantic interests; in other words, growing up.

    That said, although I was 13 in 1975, most of what I listen to on a daily basis is from the 1966-1973 time period or is heavily influenced by the rock and electric blues of that time period. Example: my favorite new band of the late 1990s through the 2000s is undoubtedly the White Stripes, but Jack White was and is primarily influenced by…electric blues and rock from the mid-60s through the early ’70s. But, I didn’t hear most of that classic rock and blues stuff until I was in my late teens and early twenties. No radio station I had access to in my teens played anything by, say, Traffic; I daresay that never heard a Traffic song until I was maybe 23 – and they instantly became one of my top five favorite bands of all time (and I’ve seen Steve Winwood in concert four times). Conversely, I heard Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones regularly in my teens, and to this day, I like a few of each band’s songs but roundly despise the vast majority of each’s oeuvre.

    Oh, and rap can DIAF…

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  100. I like “Creep” but I dislike the lyrics “I want a perfect body”. In fact those lyrics made me realize I like baby boomers better than my Generation X. I appreciated that boomer men weren’t self conscious of their bodies.

    I was a teenager in the 80s and with the exception of some of the alternative/new wave that came out in that period I think it was the worst decade for music ever. Everything was too over produced. Overall I prefer boomer music from the 70s. Yet even if I prefer music older than typical for someone my age I actually keep us with and enjoy some current music as well.

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  101. I don’t think this works for me. I like some things I heard/listened to around “that time” (Radiohead, but also Zeppelin even if it came out a long time before) of high school/early college.

    But my favorite songs are mostly either more recent alternative/etc. that I listened to in grad school, or (mostly) much much older work, Sinatra in the 50s, etc. But I suspect the results for the average person vs. people who Listen To A Lot Of Music are not going to be very similar.

    I have no idea how to count something like Bach here, also, where “favorite song” seems like a lame way to describe the relationship.

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  102. @38 Jonathan Mason: “I have thousands of tracks, mostly jazz, some blues, some Spanish language, some Haitian kreyol music, some rock, some Christmas carols, some classical on my computer and at any one time I have no desire to listen to 90% of it, even though it was all carefully selected by me at some time in the last 20 years, so what is the chance of wanting to hear something that someone else wants to play?”

    Excellent point. My “selection” wouldn’t include any jazz, although my husband’s would. I much prefer early Renaissance music to most symphonies (who can ever get enough of listening to a lute and Crumhorn, after all?), and Cole Porter (far superior to Gershwin) songs sung by Ella Fitzgerald. I still rarely listen to anything by choice. There’s just too much noise in the world.

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    • Replies: @Jonathan Mason

    Excellent point. My “selection” wouldn’t include any jazz, although my husband’s would. I much prefer early Renaissance music to most symphonies (who can ever get enough of listening to a lute and Crumhorn, after all?), and Cole Porter (far superior to Gershwin) songs sung by Ella Fitzgerald.
     
    I would include Ella Fitzgerald sings Cole Porter firmly in the category of jazz, and nearly all of my thousands of jazz tracks are vocal and instrumental versions of hit songs of the thirties and forties, plus tunes from musicals and movies, both in big band and small band renditions. At one time Artie Shaw even had a harpsichord in his small band.

    Shaw was very interesting. He was a clarinet virtuoso and big band leader who had a string of monster hits. He was married 8 times including Lana Turner and Ava Gardner.

    However he wanted to progress musically and his fans just wanted to hear his hits, so he quit cold turkey and lived into his nineties, but never picked up his clarinet again for the last 60 years of his life.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K764er7D20s
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  103. @guest
    Steve, how do you feel about the Air That I Breathe? Either the more popular Hollies version, which came out in '74, or the version by Albert Hammond of It Never Rains in Southern California fame, which came out in '72. I ask because it's basically the exact same song as Creep, besides the lyrics.

    In fact, I believe Radiohead was successfully sued, and now Albert Hammond and some other guy share official writing credit with the band.

    I was 10 years-old when Creep came out, and though I enjoy it, I like the Hollies' version better. I remember my mother listening to the Hollies as a kid, but that was more the Bus Stop era. I don't remember really being into the Air That I Breathe until my 20s.

    The Air That I Breathe by the Hollies is good but their better songs are Bus Stop, Long Cool Woman, On a Carousel, and Carrie Anne. He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother continues to blow dead dogs more than 40 years later.

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  104. @Steve Sailer
    I remember that the "The Air That I Breathe" was a pretty astonishing song on mid-1970s radio. I have this vague recollection of hearing it on AM radio in the car going hiking with my dad right about the same time as hearing "Bohemian Rhapsody" for the first time on a Best of the Year End program. But the Hollies' Air That I Breathe was from 1974 (Albert Hammond debuted it in 1972) and Bohemian Rhapsody was from 1975. You probably have to be John Updike to keep straight in your head when you first heard a song.

    I have no idea what the song “The Air that I Breathe” is or who sang it. That’s simply because after I was out of the Army, I decided to take charge of my own life. I guess I had a crisis in self directedness (if there is such a thing).

    I found it was unacceptable to me personally that the choices as to the music I heard were made by some anonymous schmoo disk jockey who pushed tunes on the radio for payola. I decided to listen to the music I thought best. By that time I was pretty sure that I would only live once so I had better pay attention lest I miss some of the good stuff – and there wasn’t a whole lot of good stuff in the Top 40. I made my own music plans for life. I started with Bach and Mozart.

    I stopped listening to the radio, at least for music. That’s why in spite of being a formidable player of ‘Trivial Pursuit’ in most categories, I miss all the questions on pop music. I don’t recognize anything after the Beatles.

    It saddens me to think that you Steve Sailer, with that giant brain of yours, have it all clogged up with such musical dross.

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    • Replies: @Kylie
    I did something similar, though later in life. I kept hearing gorgeous songs in movies that invariably turned out to be by Schubert. I started listening to his Lieder and that was a beginning and an ending for me.

    I quite like "The Air That I Breathe". It's a pretty tune, nice harmonies and the chorus has a long melodic line not unlike those Schubert favored.
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  105. For the last three quarters of a century or so, youth (at least in America) has believed it needs it’s own unique life soundtrack. This kind of started with the late big band era and continued pretty much until today. Young and old are expected to be separated along musical lines, though I don’t believe it was intentional at first.

    Of course, rock music was very long lived, and young people sometimes tried to resurrect musical rebellions of the past (like in the early 1970′s with ’50′s music, then later on, with proto-SJW’s and late ’60′s music) but young impressionable people of the last 50 years have largely been sold on the idea that every generation needs it’s own musical identity. This idea was promoted by the pop music industry, though some segments of the industry tried to resist it initially. Interesting that rap music is much older now than rock music was when I was a kid.

    I think that 13 years old is about right for becoming obsessed with music, and defining tastes. That put me in the early 1970′s, and I remember becoming infatuated with the songs of CCR in a way that I hadn’t been before. Earlier than that, I probably understood how great the Beach Boys and the Beatles were, but their music was too ubiquitous to be very alluring to me at the time. CCR had a unique sound – at least on AM radio – different than anyone else in rock music who tried incorporate roots music into popular songs. They were able to make it into something that approached a genuine musical synthesis rather than a pointless hodge podge, like the profoundly overrated Grateful Dead or the very good but not quite believable Byrds.

    ….For example, maybe you didn’t hear the song on the radio when you were 14 because you didn’t listen to a cool station, but when you got to college your roommate had the album, which had been out for four years.

    At some point in rock and roll, the idea of “a favorite song” was replaced with the idea of “a favorite band” probably in part because of the album format. Somewhere along the way, it became less cool to have a favorite body of music made up of different songs from different artists than having a band that you were a disciple of. That idea never really made sense to me, at least in the context of popular music, which is why I said I “liked the songs of CCR.” At some point, I probably got one of their albums and thought, wow some of this stuff is kind of mediocre. I’ve felt way about almost all bands that released singles I liked.

    I later developed an interest in playing bluegrass music and listening to classical music as the years went by, but I’d visit friends from high school when we were in our 30′s, and they were still buying Ted Nugent albums. I was always found it kind of interesting that they didn’t see music as a journey. The musical rebels of their youth eventually turned into reliable standbys.

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    • Replies: @Kylie
    John Fogerty was a good songwriter. When I'm in the mood for pop music, I'll listen to CCR. Their stuff has held up extremely well.

    I used to think the Grateful Dead were overrated despite being good musicians. But I finally read some of their lyrics and realized they were actually trying to say something worthwhile. The hype surrounding them has done their critical reputation no good.

    I am also far from where I started musically but know many middle-aged people who are not. Incredibly, instead of realizing they're wallowing in nostalgia, they seem to think they're on trend.
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  106. @Laugh Track
    I'm not entirely clear on what a "favorite song" is. A song that you really liked at the time you first heard it, or one that you still like to play or hear decades later? Or a song that you don't seek out, but which fills you with heavy nostalgia if you happen to hear it again years later?

    I tend to agree that, in my own case, the ages 13-15 were when I most bonded with the pop and rock tunes then coming out (1963-1965, i.e. the British Invasion and Phil Spector's wall of sound girl groups and let's not forget Motown). But it was also an era of Top 40 radio, where if you listened to radio much at all, you got the same songs drummed into you over and over. Petula Clark's "Downtown" is a case in point. Pure British pop, but somehow to my adolescent imagination, it really did describe some mythical place "Downtown"

    "Things will be great when you're downtown
    No finer place for sure, downtown
    Everything's waiting for you..."

    I'm still waiting to find that downtown where "things will be great". It remains elusive.

    1965 was pretty much the peak of a certain kind of polished music industry Pop, as soon after, it became increasingly common for rock groups to write their own material, musically brag about the psychoactive drugs they were taking, and get into long self-indulgent guitar and drum solos. Jimi Hendrix may have been brilliant when he exploded on the music scene, but I have little desire to seek his music out and hear it again. Same goes for Cream or Big Brother and the Holding Co. By contrast, Dusty Springfield seems timeless.

    “I’m not entirely clear on what a “favorite song” is.”

    It has something to do with what Stephens-Davidowitz can measure off Spotify data, but I’m vague on what he’s measuring. But it seems pretty valid: e.g., Oh Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison ranks in the top 100 songs for each cohort of women from about 40 or 50 to 80, while the other songs he breaks out don’t reach the top 100 for any age group. Obviously, Oh Pretty Woman is a more famous song than the others, with a famous movie named after it.

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  107. @3g4me
    @38 Jonathan Mason: "I have thousands of tracks, mostly jazz, some blues, some Spanish language, some Haitian kreyol music, some rock, some Christmas carols, some classical on my computer and at any one time I have no desire to listen to 90% of it, even though it was all carefully selected by me at some time in the last 20 years, so what is the chance of wanting to hear something that someone else wants to play?"

    Excellent point. My "selection" wouldn't include any jazz, although my husband's would. I much prefer early Renaissance music to most symphonies (who can ever get enough of listening to a lute and Crumhorn, after all?), and Cole Porter (far superior to Gershwin) songs sung by Ella Fitzgerald. I still rarely listen to anything by choice. There's just too much noise in the world.

    Excellent point. My “selection” wouldn’t include any jazz, although my husband’s would. I much prefer early Renaissance music to most symphonies (who can ever get enough of listening to a lute and Crumhorn, after all?), and Cole Porter (far superior to Gershwin) songs sung by Ella Fitzgerald.

    I would include Ella Fitzgerald sings Cole Porter firmly in the category of jazz, and nearly all of my thousands of jazz tracks are vocal and instrumental versions of hit songs of the thirties and forties, plus tunes from musicals and movies, both in big band and small band renditions. At one time Artie Shaw even had a harpsichord in his small band.

    Shaw was very interesting. He was a clarinet virtuoso and big band leader who had a string of monster hits. He was married 8 times including Lana Turner and Ava Gardner.

    However he wanted to progress musically and his fans just wanted to hear his hits, so he quit cold turkey and lived into his nineties, but never picked up his clarinet again for the last 60 years of his life.

    Read More
    • Replies: @the one they call Desanex
    Artie Shaw was a great fan and collector of the work of my favorite artist, Robert Williams, and he (Shaw) appeared in the great documentary film Robert Williams: Mr. Bitchin’:
    https://vimeo.com/9529672
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  108. I’ve been saying this whenever it comes up in conversation: among friends, on iSteve or elsewhere on the internet, etc. To accurately guess someone’s age, don’t go by appearances. Ask him or her the three or four year period when popular music reached its zenith. Subtract about a decade and a half from the middle of that range, and you have an approximate birth year. This study refines slightly my informal hunch, but essentially supports it.

    I’ve heard persuasive arguments that artists and/or bands ( most saliently, Bruce + E Street, or U2) that have emerged post ’60s are the GOATs of music. But you’ll never convince me. The Beatles hit the American beachhead when I was eleven. And I was an early adopter. One of the first 45′s I bought was She Loves You b/w I’ll Get You on Swan Records in or about October, 1963. Three to five months before the Ed Sullivan show. Before it made the Top Forty, let alone the Top Five. And their peak, for me, was 65 to 66. Help, Rubber Soul, Revolver. No band since then, or to come, no matter what they put out, can surpass them in my mind. It’s called imprinting. Like with ducks.

    Anyway, apropos of Steve’s point, I also loved 60′s Motown and girl group stuff. But my favorite song of that genre is one I didn’t hear until the ’90s, decades after its release.

    Read More
    • Replies: @I, Libertine
    and this was it (at 1:40)

    , @Anonym
    And their peak, for me, was 65 to 66. Help, Rubber Soul, Revolver. No band since then, or to come, no matter what they put out, can surpass them in my mind. It’s called imprinting. Like with ducks.

    That came out well before I was born but the Beatles were godlike irrespective of birth year. It's like with classical, Beethoven/Mozart are deservedly recognized as the best even though it's been a long long time since they have passed on.

    I like to appreciate and select the best from time and space in music, literature (though have less time for that these days), ideas and whatever suits basically. Classics are classics for a reason - they are the best from a given time and location (likely amongst a lot of crap that gets forgotten). This is fairly unusual though. Most people tend to be rooted in the place and their era, or whatever the $CURRENT_YEAR is. A lot of commonly held ideas have been wrong throughout history, so there is no reason AFAICT to hold that the current ones are right.

    I think it has been this way of looking at things which has been a key to being fairly resistant to PC.
    , @Brutusale
    I'm a late Boomer whose tastes didn't fossilize in 1970 like so many of the current 65-75-year olds of my acquaintance.

    The Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks, Beach Boys, etc. were the first in. They set the bar for that generation. There were some great songwriters (Lennon & McCartney) and some great players (Hendrix, Entwistle, etc.). There are now, too, and there have been for years, but for that particular generational cohort there has never been and never will be anyone who could play guitar as well as Hendrix, the bass as well as Entwistle, the drums as well as Ginger Baker! Until they're dead or old enough for senility to drive them out of the media, we'll never have any peace!

    In an earlier thread, someone mocked the members of Limp Bizket, and I pointed out that their guitarist, Wes Borland, is excellent and well-respected in the music industry. Guys like Borland, not comfortable in a band as you would expect of a true creative, does it mostly on his own, like a gentleman that was introduced to a lot of you in an old thread, Buckethead.

    How good is Buckethead?

    "I tried out that Buckethead guy. I met with him and asked him to work with me, but only if he got rid of the fucking bucket. So I came back a bit later, and he's wearing this green fucking Martian's-hat thing! I said, 'Look, just be yourself.' He told me his name was Brian, so I said that's what I'd call him. He says, 'No one calls me Brian except my mother.' So I said, 'Pretend I'm your mum, then!' I haven't even got out of the room and I'm already playing fucking mind games with the guy. What happens if one day he's gone and there's a note saying, 'I've been beamed up'? Don't get me wrong, he's a great player. He plays like a motherfucker."[30]
    Ozzy Osbourne, Revolver
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  109. Prior to about a decade ago, i would have said my favorite song was either Stairway to Heaven (came out before my birth) or Beethoven’s Sixth (somewhat before that). These days, it might be something like an early 70s version of Bertha, or maybe Uncle John’s Band.

    As much as i try to listen to more classical music, my favorite genre is classic rock, which was an integral part of my formative high school years. Most of my favorite songs came out either before i was born, or well before the age of 14.

    Many of my friends gravitated to hiphop by the mid 90′s, a phenomenon i blame entirely on their immigration to a certain capital city in the South that has a large af-am population. I loathe any hiphop, to include the entire (sub)culture, specifically anything after about Eric B and Rakim.

    A funny thing happened to me about a decade ago. I completely embraced (almost to obsession) that notorious rock/folk/blues band whose beginning predates my birth, constant touring lasted through my early adulthood, took a break after the death of the lead guitarist, and have more recently resurfaced in various incarnations. I went to a bunch of shows in the last 80s and early 90′s but never really converted to their music at the time. Over the years, i’ve discovered that more and more of my old friends and acquaintances have taken the same journey. There’s definitely some kind f underlying phenomen at work.

    Read More
    • Replies: @RationalExpressions
    Same as JJ. First it was discovering the Archive. So many concerts recorded well. Then a journey that’s now going on two decades of closely listening to hidden gems, either there or on YT. Once one gets past the caricature, it becomes apparent that Garcia was maybe the quintessential American musician of the last half of 20th century. It’s not apparent from albums, but search for best versions of certain songs, especially from 1972 to 1977, listen to them closely on headphones. There are a lot of people who first are amazed at the quality, then addicted. One must separate the wheat from the chaff, but there’s a virtually limitless supply of tunes that touch some emotional part of me and others.
    I attended maybe a dozen concerts in the 80s, but had no idea until this century the quality and quantity of live music Garcia produced, mainly in his 30s, before his decline. Many people judge him as some might Elvis - knowing only the overweight, self-indulgent cartoon character at the end, never realizing the genius that was once there.
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  110. @I, Libertine
    I've been saying this whenever it comes up in conversation: among friends, on iSteve or elsewhere on the internet, etc. To accurately guess someone's age, don't go by appearances. Ask him or her the three or four year period when popular music reached its zenith. Subtract about a decade and a half from the middle of that range, and you have an approximate birth year. This study refines slightly my informal hunch, but essentially supports it.

    I've heard persuasive arguments that artists and/or bands ( most saliently, Bruce + E Street, or U2) that have emerged post '60s are the GOATs of music. But you'll never convince me. The Beatles hit the American beachhead when I was eleven. And I was an early adopter. One of the first 45's I bought was She Loves You b/w I'll Get You on Swan Records in or about October, 1963. Three to five months before the Ed Sullivan show. Before it made the Top Forty, let alone the Top Five. And their peak, for me, was 65 to 66. Help, Rubber Soul, Revolver. No band since then, or to come, no matter what they put out, can surpass them in my mind. It's called imprinting. Like with ducks.

    Anyway, apropos of Steve's point, I also loved 60's Motown and girl group stuff. But my favorite song of that genre is one I didn't hear until the '90s, decades after its release.

    and this was it (at 1:40)

    Read More
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  111. Kind of disagree with the premise of this post.

    My take is there is a kind of long lasting trend for music popularity to have spiked in the early 70′s.

    What I’m trying to say is that memorable songs, that you hear here and there, get played in movies – and that somehow everyone has heard “Hey I know that song,” has a kind of bellcurve nature.

    The peak is somewhere in the early 70′s. The farther you get from that peak the less… staying power or propensity for a song to become part of the national consciousness, at least long term.

    Look ten years from now I expect Old Man and Heart of Gold by Neil Young to be played as much as they are now on radio, or whatever takes its place exactly.

    There are more videos by these same folks with them having elementary school students. Tried to find one with the tykes to a playlist like above, but couldn’t find one. But I can tell you that in general they knew AC/DC, Beatles, Queen songs enough to know the word a lot of the time.

    I don’t think it is some long lasting baby boomer thing carrying their music along and forcing everyone to listen to it. Most of the college students above and certainly the elementary school kids are too young to have boomer parents.

    Personally I think it is a kind of Oswald Spengler. thing. American music shot its wad in the 70′s. Sure, now and then a new song comes along that becomes a long lasting anthem. But the further you get from the peak in the early 70′s, the less likely that happens.

    Think it will be a long time before the creative spirits do something similar to that period again.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    There was a revolution in musical styles in the mid-1960s toward "rock" (as opposed to rock 'n' roll), and the early 1970s were when the new dominant style matured.
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  112. I remember Earth Angel from when I was twelve (on 78 rpm) and still like it in a nostalgic kind of way. Paul Simon’s Graceland is a favorite, which came out when I was 44 (and he was too — has there been another pop singer whose best work came out when he was that old?).

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Sinatra's peak began at age 38 in 1953 when he took control of the recording process and lasted into his 50s.

    I saw Paul Simon in concert a couple of years before Graceland, and he was kind of endearingly self-deprecating about being a washed-up nostalgia act at that point.

    But he still had a lot up his sleeve career-wise.

    It became a thing after that for producers to revive the careers of 1960s stars like Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and Carlos Santana by finding them a catchy song and bringing in a lot of talent to help them record it in the current style. But Simon's Graceland revival was more his own decisionmaking.

    , @ScarletNumber
    Well Paul Simon stole Graceland, so don't give him too much credit.
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  113. @JeremiahJohnbalaya
    Prior to about a decade ago, i would have said my favorite song was either Stairway to Heaven (came out before my birth) or Beethoven's Sixth (somewhat before that). These days, it might be something like an early 70s version of Bertha, or maybe Uncle John's Band.

    As much as i try to listen to more classical music, my favorite genre is classic rock, which was an integral part of my formative high school years. Most of my favorite songs came out either before i was born, or well before the age of 14.

    Many of my friends gravitated to hiphop by the mid 90's, a phenomenon i blame entirely on their immigration to a certain capital city in the South that has a large af-am population. I loathe any hiphop, to include the entire (sub)culture, specifically anything after about Eric B and Rakim.

    A funny thing happened to me about a decade ago. I completely embraced (almost to obsession) that notorious rock/folk/blues band whose beginning predates my birth, constant touring lasted through my early adulthood, took a break after the death of the lead guitarist, and have more recently resurfaced in various incarnations. I went to a bunch of shows in the last 80s and early 90's but never really converted to their music at the time. Over the years, i've discovered that more and more of my old friends and acquaintances have taken the same journey. There's definitely some kind f underlying phenomen at work.

    Same as JJ. First it was discovering the Archive. So many concerts recorded well. Then a journey that’s now going on two decades of closely listening to hidden gems, either there or on YT. Once one gets past the caricature, it becomes apparent that Garcia was maybe the quintessential American musician of the last half of 20th century. It’s not apparent from albums, but search for best versions of certain songs, especially from 1972 to 1977, listen to them closely on headphones. There are a lot of people who first are amazed at the quality, then addicted. One must separate the wheat from the chaff, but there’s a virtually limitless supply of tunes that touch some emotional part of me and others.
    I attended maybe a dozen concerts in the 80s, but had no idea until this century the quality and quantity of live music Garcia produced, mainly in his 30s, before his decline. Many people judge him as some might Elvis – knowing only the overweight, self-indulgent cartoon character at the end, never realizing the genius that was once there.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    For some reason, the Grateful Dead were dull studio musicians, so it's hard for people like me familiar only with their half-dozen best-known studio songs to understand the passion their live performances aroused. Their most famous studios songs are very nice and not at all polarizing.
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  114. At age 14, atmospheric music had the greatest impression and still does into my sixties.
    Moody Blues’ Nights in White Satin , A Whiter Shade Of Pale , Paul Simon’s American Tune. That slow descending chord pattern led me to Bach, my complete composer.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anon
    What discernible patterns...

    List of super-fav songs.

    (the year it became a fav, not necessarily the first time I heard it)

    Seekers - I'll Never Find Another You (2010)
    Seekers - Georgy Girl (1983)
    Stone Poneys - Different Drum(1985)
    Judy Collins - Both Sides Now(1990)
    Fleetwood - Gypsy (1985)
    Johnny Rivers - Poor Side of Town (1986)
    Jimmy Ruffin - Rainy Night in Georgia (1979)
    Dave Clark Five - Because (1983)
    Searchers - Needles and Pins (1984)
    Tammy Wynette - Divorce (2011)
    Walter Wanderley - So Nice (1983)
    Andy Williams - Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (2016)
    Mamas and Papas - I Saw Her Again Last Night (1985)
    Bruce Springsteen - The River/Jackson Cage/Bobby Jean/Dancing in theDark (1985)
    Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road (2003)
    Cars - Tonight She Comes / Drive / Round and Round (1986)
    Outfield - All the Love in the World (1986)
    Rihanna - Umbrella(2016)
    Lynyard Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama (1993)
    Grateful Dead - Box of Rain/ Ripple/ Sugar Magnolia / Brown Eyed Woman (1986)
    Dylan - Like a Rolling Stone (1982)
    Dylan - Visions of Johanna / Just Like a Woman/ One of Us Must Know (1983)
    Stevie Nicks - I Can't Wait (1985)
    Critters - Mr. Dieingly Sad (1990)
    Neil Diamond - Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon (1991)
    Billy Joel - Just the Way You Are (1977)
    Classics IV - Stormy / Traces (1982)
    Real McCoy - Another Night / Runaway (1996)
    Trf - Samui Yoru Dakara / Crazy Gonna Crazy (1997)
    Namie Amuro - Chase the Chance (1997)
    Priss and Replicants - Mad Machine / Twilight/ Chase the Dream (1995)
    Dalida - Parole Parole (2010)
    Hildegard Knef - Im achtzigsten Stockwerk / Insel meiner Angst/ Für mich, soll's rote Rosen regnen (2009)
    Edith Piaf - La vie en rose (1984)
    Gerry and Pacemakers - Ferry Across the Mersey / Don't Let the Sun catch you Crying (1982)
    Peter and Gordon - World Without Love / I go to Pieces (1982)
    Stones - Ruby Tuesday (1978)
    Beatles - Norwegian Wood (1980)
    DJ Encore - Point of No Return (2009)
    Cady Groves - Or Else / Life of a Pirate (2015)
    Sia - Chandelier (2017)
    Cold Play - Clocks / Scientist / In My Place / Rush of Blood to the Head (2003)
    Elton John - Tiny Dancer (2000 - Almost Famous done it)
    Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (2013 - American Hustle done it)
    Big Country - Tall Ships Go / Flame of the West (1990)
    U2 - Out of Control / New Years Day (1985)
    Buffalo Springfield - Flying on the Ground is Wrong / Sad Memory (1984)
    Byrds - I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better (1982)
    Byrds - She has a way / She don't care about time (2010)
    Fairport Convention - Fotheringay / Who Knows where the time goes (1986)
    Jefferson Airplane - She has funny cars (1986)
    Jefferson Starship - Miracles (1976)
    Tom - Is you is or is you aint my baby (1978)
    Rita Coolidge - We are all alone (2017)
    Teenage Idol - Ricky Nelson (1983)
    David and David - Welcome to the Boomtown (1986)
    Morrisey - First of the Gang to Die (2014)
    Tommy Edwards - It's All in the Game (1985)
    Zombies - Hung up on a Dream (2017)
    Cowsills - I love the Flower Girl (1984)
    Strawberry Alarm Clock - Incense and Peppermint (1984)
    Outsiders - Time Won't Let Me (1982)
    Rascals - How Can I Be Sure (1983)
    Guess Who - Undone / These Eyes / No Time (1982)
    Suzanne Vega - Luka (1987)
    Bourgeois Tagg - I don't mind at all (1987)
    Randy Newman - I love La (1986)
    Cat Stevens - Trouble (1985)
    Alan Parsons Project - Eye in the Sky / Don't Answer Me (1987)
    Genesis - Carpet Crawlers (2005)
    Genesis - Invisible Touch (1986)
    Aaron Neville - Tell it like it is (1984)
    Steeley Dan - Do it Again (1987)
    Bowie - Life on Mars/ Quicksand (1985)
    Chi-Lites - Have you seen her (1977)
    Four Tops - Reach Out I'll Be There (1981)
    REM - Don't go back to Rockville / Shaking Through (1985)
    Shelley Fabares - Johnny Angel (1985)
    Wham - Freedom (1985)
    Velvet Underground - Femme Fatale / I'll be Your Mirror (1983)
    Anna Vissi - just about anything (1997)

    and etc, etc, many more.

    Based on the pattern, Davidowitz would be mostly right. But I can't help feeling that I would have paid more attention to new music if the music culture didn't get so dumb. After all, one reason why I mostly looked back to older music in early 80s was the stuff was so lousy. Styx, Air Supply, Journey, and etc. And then, Bam around 83 or 84. Lots of exciting stuff.
    But most of the new acts were one-hit wonders or last hurrah of the greats: Police, Springsteen, Michael Jackson(who came nowhere near Thriller again), etc. And then, rise of hip hop and industry idols took something special about rock. And those who continued to work in personal vein had nothing new to say. Flock of Seagulls had a killer song with I Ran but soon faded.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIpfWORQWhU

    The internet made a difference. Almost all music I hear is from youtube, and now I can access songs I couldn't find in the past. I loved Zombie songs but it was very hard to find their albums. But they are on youtube, and Oracles and Odyssey is like what Beach Boys SMILE could have been had he not lost it. One great thing about Youtube is it allows you to sample bunch of songs that you otherwise wouldn't want to pay for. When people bought records, they wanted to be sure if the music would be worth their money. They were reluctant to take a chance unless they could be really sure. But no such worries with all those 'illegal' uploads on Youtube.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goDxhJl1UJE&t=1124s
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  115. @Sunbeam
    Kind of disagree with the premise of this post.

    My take is there is a kind of long lasting trend for music popularity to have spiked in the early 70's.

    What I'm trying to say is that memorable songs, that you hear here and there, get played in movies - and that somehow everyone has heard "Hey I know that song," has a kind of bellcurve nature.

    The peak is somewhere in the early 70's. The farther you get from that peak the less... staying power or propensity for a song to become part of the national consciousness, at least long term.

    Look ten years from now I expect Old Man and Heart of Gold by Neil Young to be played as much as they are now on radio, or whatever takes its place exactly.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ag13srbSzZI

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_VKCpmJ7b8

    There are more videos by these same folks with them having elementary school students. Tried to find one with the tykes to a playlist like above, but couldn't find one. But I can tell you that in general they knew AC/DC, Beatles, Queen songs enough to know the word a lot of the time.

    I don't think it is some long lasting baby boomer thing carrying their music along and forcing everyone to listen to it. Most of the college students above and certainly the elementary school kids are too young to have boomer parents.

    Personally I think it is a kind of Oswald Spengler. thing. American music shot its wad in the 70's. Sure, now and then a new song comes along that becomes a long lasting anthem. But the further you get from the peak in the early 70's, the less likely that happens.

    Think it will be a long time before the creative spirits do something similar to that period again.

    There was a revolution in musical styles in the mid-1960s toward “rock” (as opposed to rock ‘n’ roll), and the early 1970s were when the new dominant style matured.

    Read More
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  116. @Jonathan Mason

    Excellent point. My “selection” wouldn’t include any jazz, although my husband’s would. I much prefer early Renaissance music to most symphonies (who can ever get enough of listening to a lute and Crumhorn, after all?), and Cole Porter (far superior to Gershwin) songs sung by Ella Fitzgerald.
     
    I would include Ella Fitzgerald sings Cole Porter firmly in the category of jazz, and nearly all of my thousands of jazz tracks are vocal and instrumental versions of hit songs of the thirties and forties, plus tunes from musicals and movies, both in big band and small band renditions. At one time Artie Shaw even had a harpsichord in his small band.

    Shaw was very interesting. He was a clarinet virtuoso and big band leader who had a string of monster hits. He was married 8 times including Lana Turner and Ava Gardner.

    However he wanted to progress musically and his fans just wanted to hear his hits, so he quit cold turkey and lived into his nineties, but never picked up his clarinet again for the last 60 years of his life.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K764er7D20s

    Artie Shaw was a great fan and collector of the work of my favorite artist, Robert Williams, and he (Shaw) appeared in the great documentary film Robert Williams: Mr. Bitchin’:

    Read More
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  117. @RationalExpressions
    Same as JJ. First it was discovering the Archive. So many concerts recorded well. Then a journey that’s now going on two decades of closely listening to hidden gems, either there or on YT. Once one gets past the caricature, it becomes apparent that Garcia was maybe the quintessential American musician of the last half of 20th century. It’s not apparent from albums, but search for best versions of certain songs, especially from 1972 to 1977, listen to them closely on headphones. There are a lot of people who first are amazed at the quality, then addicted. One must separate the wheat from the chaff, but there’s a virtually limitless supply of tunes that touch some emotional part of me and others.
    I attended maybe a dozen concerts in the 80s, but had no idea until this century the quality and quantity of live music Garcia produced, mainly in his 30s, before his decline. Many people judge him as some might Elvis - knowing only the overweight, self-indulgent cartoon character at the end, never realizing the genius that was once there.

    For some reason, the Grateful Dead were dull studio musicians, so it’s hard for people like me familiar only with their half-dozen best-known studio songs to understand the passion their live performances aroused. Their most famous studios songs are very nice and not at all polarizing.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JeremiahJohnbalaya
    Zeppelin, the Stones, SRV, etc bring a more energetic, nostalgic feeling to me. It is much more about reliving my youth. The Dead bring a certain peaceful joy, which i realize might be subjective, but they are objectively good enough musicians, arguably great. Sober, i wouldn't use the word "transcendent" but i wouldn't disagree with someone who did. Meditative(***), maybe, as i can slap the headphones on at work and quickly relieve any stress or angst.

    And RationalExpressions is right; there is just a wealth of live stuff out there. Obviously there's a treasure trove of the original live shows; but there is also a health amount of this revival stuff that I mentioned: Phil Lesh and friends; Bob Weir and his Terrapin Studios stuff. Joined by awesome players like Warren Haynes and Jimmy Herring.

    They also rekindled my passion for guitar. Interesting chord progressions, simple classics, and the chicks dig it!

    (*** although i saw a headline recently where studies have found no stress-relief from meditation)
    , @Anonym
    For some reason, the Grateful Dead were dull studio musicians, so it’s hard for people like me familiar only with their half-dozen best-known studio songs to understand the passion their live performances aroused. Their most famous studios songs are very nice and not at all polarizing.

    You deserve a job in the State Department with that diplomatic response Steve. I think one has to have a very high blood THC level to appreciate TGD. Pink Floyd OTOH sounds just as good without the THC. Phish is the same basic phenomenon as TGD just for a younger audience.
    , @PiltdownMan
    Like Rational Expressions, I figured out the Grateful Dead just a couple of years ago, when an old college friend and I discovered that over two thousand of their concerts were recorded and are archived online and available for free downloads at bt.etree.org, an updated version of the old Deadhead tape-swapping sub-culture.

    This would not have been of any use to my friend and me, but for the existence of a ratings website, Heady Version which lists user ratings of the best Dead live performances, song by song.

    Neither my friend nor I had considered the Dead to be first-rank musicians from the rock era, despite having attended a couple of Dead concerts in 1981, and considered them to be of note largely for their role in the genesis of the San Francisco Sixties scene, and for the Deadhead sub-culture and the fan entourage that trailed along with them in their tours. Nevertheless, we determined to work our way through the best rated of their concert performances, sporadically, over a year or two. We listened to about three dozen versions of their dozen most popular songs.

    It was a revelation. The Dead, in their best concerts, easily rank alongside the seminal rock acts of their time for their musicianship. And no, the stereotype that they are best enjoyed and understood under the aegis of chemical influence is only that, a humorous stereotype. Their best 10 to 20 minute performances of their songs are far from self-indulgent, show great improvisational musical intelligence, and the lyrics to their songs are written to a very high standard.

    It took me 45 years or more to figure them out, but it is not surprising that it did. The barriers to appreciation are considerable.

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  118. @PhysicistDave
    I suspect a lot has to do with how immersed a person is is in youth culture during his own adolescence.

    I was so nerdy that I paid almost no attention to youth culture, despite the fact that my adolescence was basically the 1960s. The rather strange result is that many of my favorite songs from the '60s -- Yesterday, Up Up and Away, Spanish Flea, Girl from Ipanema, King of the Road, Goin' Out of My Head, Downtown -- were songs my junior-high choir director chose for the choir to perform! (Yes, for some reason we had an unusually "hip" choir director, though he considered himself a conservative Catholic.)

    The result was that I was blissfully ignorant of most tunes by the Stones, the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, The Mamas and the Papas, and even most of Lennon and McCartney.

    On the other hand, when, years later, I heard more tunes by those groups, the ones I liked seemed to fit in with the style imprinted on me by our junior-high choir director.

    It would be interesting to know if kids who are highly focused on classical music during adolescence end up liking long-term the styles of classical music they experienced as kids.

    It would be interesting to know if kids who are highly focused on classical music during adolescence end up liking long-term the styles of classical music they experienced as kids.

    On of my earliest memories is sitting at the piano beside my mother on a windy, sunny afternoon as she helped me play Ma mère l’Oye. Maybe I was … four … ?
    Throughout my youth, I was intensely focused on learning to play the piano well, with side efforts into the violin, so I really didn’t pay much attention to popular music until I was starting to assert my independence in the last two years of high school. Then I ran wild. In so many ways. Entering the popular music world was like plunging head first into an emotional kaleidoscope. I was overwhelmed. As attuned as I was to an intense musical sensibility, it just blew me away.
    Today, although I certainly enjoy popular songs, “real” music is still to me “classical,” and my favorite composers remain Ravel, Debussy, Elgar, and in general the Impressionist-era composers. I also like third-wave Romantic composers such as Sibelius and Grieg, as well as Holst and Williams. For a more contemporary composer, I like Arvo Pärt. But my main man is Maurice, now and forever.

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  119. @ScarletNumber

    In fact, I believe Radiohead was successfully sued, and now Albert Hammond and some other guy share official writing credit with the band.
     
    Why do you say "I believe" as if you can't look it up in about 15 seconds?

    Because I’m not writing a research paper, and don’t bother to look up everything I post about.

    Why do you care?

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    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
    If you have time to reply 21 times to this post alone, you have time to look up a basic fact.
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  120. @Tiny Duck
    The most popular music is is hip hop and is created by People of Colour



    That tells you something right there

    There are plenty of wits in the Sailer comments section, but you are the wittiest and the Whitest.

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    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
    Yes, we know it's a troll, that Duck, but it amuses us to reply in kind.
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  121. @PiltdownMan
    This article made me think about the music I was hearing when I was 14, in 1972, and reminded me that, by and large, I hated and was disappointed by a lot of the stuff that was charting that year and being played on the radio. Perhaps this was because, looking back, that was the first year of the transition from the great hits of the rock era, which lasted roughly from 1967 to 1971, to the mid-1970s era of easy listening music.

    I looked up the Billboard charts for 1972. Except for #17, Neil Young'sHeart of Gold" and #24, The Hollies, "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" I can see why it all sounded like rubbish to the 14-year-old that I was, in retrospect.

    The previous year, 1971 had been the year the albumWho's Next was released and that The Stones' Brown Sugar charted, for example. The more mellow stuff of 1972 was maudlin, by comparison, to a teenage male.

    Here’s a young Neil Young playing Old Man and Heart of Gold to a small crowd in 1971. Very, very nice!

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  122. @Laugh Track
    I'm not entirely clear on what a "favorite song" is. A song that you really liked at the time you first heard it, or one that you still like to play or hear decades later? Or a song that you don't seek out, but which fills you with heavy nostalgia if you happen to hear it again years later?

    I tend to agree that, in my own case, the ages 13-15 were when I most bonded with the pop and rock tunes then coming out (1963-1965, i.e. the British Invasion and Phil Spector's wall of sound girl groups and let's not forget Motown). But it was also an era of Top 40 radio, where if you listened to radio much at all, you got the same songs drummed into you over and over. Petula Clark's "Downtown" is a case in point. Pure British pop, but somehow to my adolescent imagination, it really did describe some mythical place "Downtown"

    "Things will be great when you're downtown
    No finer place for sure, downtown
    Everything's waiting for you..."

    I'm still waiting to find that downtown where "things will be great". It remains elusive.

    1965 was pretty much the peak of a certain kind of polished music industry Pop, as soon after, it became increasingly common for rock groups to write their own material, musically brag about the psychoactive drugs they were taking, and get into long self-indulgent guitar and drum solos. Jimi Hendrix may have been brilliant when he exploded on the music scene, but I have little desire to seek his music out and hear it again. Same goes for Cream or Big Brother and the Holding Co. By contrast, Dusty Springfield seems timeless.

    Petula Clark’s “Downtown” is a case in point. Pure British pop, but somehow to my adolescent imagination, it really did describe some mythical place “Downtown”

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    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    E. Rekshun wrote:

    Petula Clark’s “Downtown” is a case in point. Pure British pop, but somehow to my adolescent imagination, it really did describe some mythical place “Downtown”
     
    I remember going downtown before 1960, before the collapse of the central cities and the rise of the suburban malls.

    The song actually captures how we felt about "downtown" back then.
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  123. @Luke Lea
    I remember Earth Angel from when I was twelve (on 78 rpm) and still like it in a nostalgic kind of way. Paul Simon's Graceland is a favorite, which came out when I was 44 (and he was too -- has there been another pop singer whose best work came out when he was that old?).

    Sinatra’s peak began at age 38 in 1953 when he took control of the recording process and lasted into his 50s.

    I saw Paul Simon in concert a couple of years before Graceland, and he was kind of endearingly self-deprecating about being a washed-up nostalgia act at that point.

    But he still had a lot up his sleeve career-wise.

    It became a thing after that for producers to revive the careers of 1960s stars like Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and Carlos Santana by finding them a catchy song and bringing in a lot of talent to help them record it in the current style. But Simon’s Graceland revival was more his own decisionmaking.

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    • Replies: @C Norman
    “But Simon’s Graceland revival was more his own decisionmaking.”

    The decision to ripoff Los Lobos!
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  124. @KM32
    This doesn't hold for me. I listened to 80s stuff like Depeche Mode when I was a teenager during that era. I now listen to classic or classic-sounding metal, from the early 70s until recent bands or releases from classic bands (Judas Priest has a new album releasing less than a month). I didn't even start listening to heavy metal until I was in my 30s.

    Judas Priest has a new album releasing less than a month)

    Judas Priest was my first concert – Boston Garden 1980 – then of course wore the concert t-shirt to school the next day. Passed that shirt on to my younger brother after a year or so and he mimicked my taste in music.

    @71: Huey Louis

    1986, also at the Boston Garden, and just out of college.

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    • Replies: @Brutusale
    So many memories from my youth took place at the Gah-den. My first show there was Jethro Tull's Aqualung tour. The last on was summer of last year, Chic and Earth, Wind & Fire at the "new" Gah-den. A lot of memories in between.
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  125. @Pat Boyle
    I have no idea what the song "The Air that I Breathe" is or who sang it. That's simply because after I was out of the Army, I decided to take charge of my own life. I guess I had a crisis in self directedness (if there is such a thing).

    I found it was unacceptable to me personally that the choices as to the music I heard were made by some anonymous schmoo disk jockey who pushed tunes on the radio for payola. I decided to listen to the music I thought best. By that time I was pretty sure that I would only live once so I had better pay attention lest I miss some of the good stuff - and there wasn't a whole lot of good stuff in the Top 40. I made my own music plans for life. I started with Bach and Mozart.

    I stopped listening to the radio, at least for music. That's why in spite of being a formidable player of 'Trivial Pursuit' in most categories, I miss all the questions on pop music. I don't recognize anything after the Beatles.

    It saddens me to think that you Steve Sailer, with that giant brain of yours, have it all clogged up with such musical dross.

    I did something similar, though later in life. I kept hearing gorgeous songs in movies that invariably turned out to be by Schubert. I started listening to his Lieder and that was a beginning and an ending for me.

    I quite like “The Air That I Breathe”. It’s a pretty tune, nice harmonies and the chorus has a long melodic line not unlike those Schubert favored.

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  126. @Almost Missouri
    I notice that 21st century movies and big budget TV shows often feature a re-up of some song from the 1960s-1980s that the audience is already familiar with as transistor radio/background music from back in the day. Hearing such a familiar song in a clean, clear remastered/remixed version in Dolby-Surround-THX-5.1-whatever-stereo has revivifying effect, making what was formerly just part of the background noise of a misspent youth suddenly seems interesting, deep and articulated.

    I noticed a large number of remakes of classical (rock mostly?) songs in ads played during the Super Bowl.

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  127. Prince, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne and others perform “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at the 2004 Hall of Fame Inductions! Very, very good! Prince is a phenomenal guitarist!

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  128. @3g4me
    @33 PiltdownMan: "Older siblings can affect your teenage tastes a lot, or be even formative."

    I strongly agree. Like commenter Physicist Dave, I wasn't strongly immersed in the popular culture of my youth. I didn't listen to the radio as constant background noise, and I wasn't intimately familiar with all the top 40 songs. However, my older brother listened to an astonishing variety of rock, and our several years' older cousin (who had me listen to the Beatles "When I Saw Her Standing There" on his radio when I was little and adoring) pushed him ahead a few more years (first introduced him/us to Cream). My brother used to use the Swann Catalogue and we would play Ghost using band names on family road trips.

    Additionally my father's lifelong love for classical music meant I grew up listening to symphonies and operas, and for my mother's pleasure there were '60s musicals, and I was exposed to it all. So I don't really have a favorite song or two - I have specific memories that are pinned to when I recall first hearing a particular song, even if I never listened to that band or song on my own ("Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog" in 7th grade gym class, "Surrender" by Cheap Trick my junior year of college.). As a matter of fact, after a lifetime of forced listening to others' music of choice, I prefer NONE. I used to make the 7- 8 hour drive to and from college in blessed silence, never use the car radio to this day, and even now the only time I actively listen to music is when I work out. For that I now have all of my older son's European metal to choose from, my favorites of which are Volbeat and Sabaton.

    I suppose the older songs I listen to most (also on my old and trusty mp3 player for the gym) are "Victoria" by the Kinks , "Back in the USSR" by the Beatles, and "Call Me" by Blondie.

    It’s true siblings’ effects are marked (perhaps lost on Steve, an only child), especially brothers’ (men are better at music than women, and accordingly males have better taste).

    I discovered an older brother’s copy of Fly By Night (a cassette, and even then an old album already in the late eighties, I guess) and was ever after ruined for the schlock which doubtless otherwise enraptures most teenagers. Then, too, the first album I bought was a copy of 5150 on cassette from a flea market my dad took me too, even before discovering Fly By Night, so I was discerning even then, if I say so myself. In contrast, another, different older brother (who later turned me onto The Cure!) was in adolescence very enamored of True Blue – probably more because he’d been mesmerised by Madonna Ciccione’s cicciones bouncing around on eMpTyVee than because of her melodic arrangements or vocal range. I was spared that snare because I’d already discovered the good stuff before puberty.

    My point: it’s all very complicated and reflects each individual’s circumstances (like so much in life), so there is probably no grand, elegant, and insightful answer to how and why and when these pecadilloes take root in all people.

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    • Replies: @3g4me
    @128 Autochthon: "Then, too, the first album I bought was a copy of 5150 on cassette from a flea market my dad took me too, even before discovering Fly By Night, so I was discerning even then, if I say so myself."

    I loaned my older brother the money to buy his first Doors 45 - cannot remember the A song he was in love with but the B side was "Touch Me" - never became a hit but I liked it better than the A side.

    My father had the opportunity, in his work, to bring home free extra albums sent in by record companies. Although classical music was his life, he brought home the first James Taylor album (before he was famous) and the first Linda Rhonstadt album. I think my brother has both now, along with how many hundreds he kept after my father's death to augment his own collection.

    We had a haul of old 45s from my grandmother's attic which had belonged to my mother's younger siblings. I still remember listening to "Istanbul not Constantinople" and having no idea what they were talking about (I was perhaps 8 or 9). As I said, no real "favorite" song but various tunes elicit various memories, whether I liked the tune or not.

    Totally irrelevant, but I HATE Neil Young's whiny voice and tunes. Always have, even when I didn't know his name or fame.
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  129. @Steve Sailer
    Sinatra's peak began at age 38 in 1953 when he took control of the recording process and lasted into his 50s.

    I saw Paul Simon in concert a couple of years before Graceland, and he was kind of endearingly self-deprecating about being a washed-up nostalgia act at that point.

    But he still had a lot up his sleeve career-wise.

    It became a thing after that for producers to revive the careers of 1960s stars like Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and Carlos Santana by finding them a catchy song and bringing in a lot of talent to help them record it in the current style. But Simon's Graceland revival was more his own decisionmaking.

    “But Simon’s Graceland revival was more his own decisionmaking.”

    The decision to ripoff Los Lobos!

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Showed good taste on Simon's part.

    I can recall hearing around 1985 the opening guitar notes of a new song on the radio and thinking that Los Lobos was finally getting some airplay and then Paul Simon started singing. It turned out he'd hired Hidalgo and Rosas of Los Lobos to play for him.

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  130. I can back this up….I was a teenager in the mid to late 90s and the music from that era remains my favorite….

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  131. @J1234
    For the last three quarters of a century or so, youth (at least in America) has believed it needs it's own unique life soundtrack. This kind of started with the late big band era and continued pretty much until today. Young and old are expected to be separated along musical lines, though I don't believe it was intentional at first.

    Of course, rock music was very long lived, and young people sometimes tried to resurrect musical rebellions of the past (like in the early 1970's with '50's music, then later on, with proto-SJW's and late '60's music) but young impressionable people of the last 50 years have largely been sold on the idea that every generation needs it's own musical identity. This idea was promoted by the pop music industry, though some segments of the industry tried to resist it initially. Interesting that rap music is much older now than rock music was when I was a kid.

    I think that 13 years old is about right for becoming obsessed with music, and defining tastes. That put me in the early 1970's, and I remember becoming infatuated with the songs of CCR in a way that I hadn't been before. Earlier than that, I probably understood how great the Beach Boys and the Beatles were, but their music was too ubiquitous to be very alluring to me at the time. CCR had a unique sound - at least on AM radio - different than anyone else in rock music who tried incorporate roots music into popular songs. They were able to make it into something that approached a genuine musical synthesis rather than a pointless hodge podge, like the profoundly overrated Grateful Dead or the very good but not quite believable Byrds.


    ....For example, maybe you didn’t hear the song on the radio when you were 14 because you didn’t listen to a cool station, but when you got to college your roommate had the album, which had been out for four years.
     
    At some point in rock and roll, the idea of "a favorite song" was replaced with the idea of "a favorite band" probably in part because of the album format. Somewhere along the way, it became less cool to have a favorite body of music made up of different songs from different artists than having a band that you were a disciple of. That idea never really made sense to me, at least in the context of popular music, which is why I said I "liked the songs of CCR." At some point, I probably got one of their albums and thought, wow some of this stuff is kind of mediocre. I've felt way about almost all bands that released singles I liked.

    I later developed an interest in playing bluegrass music and listening to classical music as the years went by, but I'd visit friends from high school when we were in our 30's, and they were still buying Ted Nugent albums. I was always found it kind of interesting that they didn't see music as a journey. The musical rebels of their youth eventually turned into reliable standbys.

    John Fogerty was a good songwriter. When I’m in the mood for pop music, I’ll listen to CCR. Their stuff has held up extremely well.

    I used to think the Grateful Dead were overrated despite being good musicians. But I finally read some of their lyrics and realized they were actually trying to say something worthwhile. The hype surrounding them has done their critical reputation no good.

    I am also far from where I started musically but know many middle-aged people who are not. Incredibly, instead of realizing they’re wallowing in nostalgia, they seem to think they’re on trend.

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  132. I wonder if the ‘grumpy old guys’ meme is a function of people reaching the age where they finally shake off the emotional attachment to junior high school memories.

    I have the same experience-my memorable (though not necessarily favorite) songs are from the same 10-15 age (in my case, mid-late 70′s). That has held true for almost 40 years now.

    But just a few years ago, I was at an arcade in a tourist spot, and heard, literally, the same music I could have heard when I was 13 years old (it seems our culture has a similar ‘frozen in time’ aspect to it), and thought, as I wouldn’t have even 5 years earlier, how absurd it was for me to listening to the exact same music, in the exact same circumstance (arcade at a tourist beach, or in this case, a mountain town), 40 years later. And I realized I had been listening to the exact same music for those 35-40 years (radio stations catering to that exact era are basically endemic).

    And I don’t do it anymore. I now listen to dramatically different music (it happens to be alot of instrumental music-classical and jazz-though that’s not particularly important for the comment). And I’m sick of our culture. And I am a grumpy old man.

    joe

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  133. @Steve Sailer
    For some reason, the Grateful Dead were dull studio musicians, so it's hard for people like me familiar only with their half-dozen best-known studio songs to understand the passion their live performances aroused. Their most famous studios songs are very nice and not at all polarizing.

    Zeppelin, the Stones, SRV, etc bring a more energetic, nostalgic feeling to me. It is much more about reliving my youth. The Dead bring a certain peaceful joy, which i realize might be subjective, but they are objectively good enough musicians, arguably great. Sober, i wouldn’t use the word “transcendent” but i wouldn’t disagree with someone who did. Meditative(***), maybe, as i can slap the headphones on at work and quickly relieve any stress or angst.

    And RationalExpressions is right; there is just a wealth of live stuff out there. Obviously there’s a treasure trove of the original live shows; but there is also a health amount of this revival stuff that I mentioned: Phil Lesh and friends; Bob Weir and his Terrapin Studios stuff. Joined by awesome players like Warren Haynes and Jimmy Herring.

    They also rekindled my passion for guitar. Interesting chord progressions, simple classics, and the chicks dig it!

    (*** although i saw a headline recently where studies have found no stress-relief from meditation)

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  134. @C Norman
    “But Simon’s Graceland revival was more his own decisionmaking.”

    The decision to ripoff Los Lobos!

    Showed good taste on Simon’s part.

    I can recall hearing around 1985 the opening guitar notes of a new song on the radio and thinking that Los Lobos was finally getting some airplay and then Paul Simon started singing. It turned out he’d hired Hidalgo and Rosas of Los Lobos to play for him.

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    • Replies: @Malcolm X-Lax
    Hidalgo is a first-rate guitar player. Here he is along with Govt Mule playing Dear Mr Fantasy live.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqE24vfZdBI

    , @JeremiahJohnbalaya
    And then Simon didn't credit them for his release of some songs they wrote for/with him.
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  135. @Anonymous
    Thanks for your observations. Yes I'm quite familiar with Mr Hayek, as I daresay most of us are. After I typed that little screed, though, I got to thinking: my own perspective is the undoubted result of upbringing by preposterously strict (WASP) parents. This is generalizing with a broad brush, but in adolescence and afterward, I encountered many Jewish friends and classmates, coworkers, etc. who were clearly brought up quite differently.

    Bear with me now, for you (dear reader) may not know where I'm going with this. My Jewish friends seemed to have a lot more freedom than I did--in terms of behavior, in terms of entitlement, yes, but also in terms of possibilities. Later I saw them with their own children, who seemed so undisciplined to me. And now I'm talking of 'good liberal' types in NY and DC. But here's the rub: they were letting their kids discover their own limits. Allowing them the freedom to make their own mistakes and learn from them organically. Respecting them as people already.

    And in the end I think those kids grew up healthier (mentally) than I did. I never felt loved by my parents, and I don't think my siblings did either. But boy were we disciplined. This feeds into a stereotype of 'white' parenting that many Jews hold, and (in my case at least) it was accurate. Alternating neglect and abuse (we kids sought out the neglect as far as possible). And my parents were intelligent, educated people.

    The point about lying? Obviously we all pay lip service at least to the ideal of honesty, but it's worth noting that we come at the topic from different directions. In my own case, am I obsessively honest because it's a point of honor (as I tell myself) or because I was severely punished as a young boy for relatively trivial transgressions? You grow up fearful under such a regime, and fairly disabled when it comes to daring.

    And no one ever achieved greatness without daring.

    Honesty is very useful in business and in life as it builds trust. Trust builds repeat business. Repeat business is usually where most of the money is.

    Even if you never build or run a business in your life, it also works like that with employees. Employers love honesty in employees because they need to not have to worry what the employee is doing. Mistakes are tolerable if they are owned up to, but mistakes swept under the rug with dishonesty take a lot of diagnostic time and tend to compound.

    I think you can be very daring even when you are honest. It does make it hard to pull “through deception thou shalt wage war” type stuff though, I’ll admit. Though in any war situation sneakiness is required. How you treat POWs and the like is where the honesty comes in.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Good sound thinking. Thanks for your contributions in this thread.
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  136. @guest
    The important word there is "new." Popular new music isn't usually made for adults. Though there's that sliver of Adult Contemporary, which occasionally puts my mother more "in the know," like when Josh Groban or Susan Boyle have hit albums.

    Most new music for adults is crap, to a degree that surpasses the crapiness of kiddie music. But even if it were superior, there's not much of it. And the serious version of it, High Art Music, isn't fit for human ears.

    Imagine we had high culture, and Mozart, Beethoven and the rest were still pumping out the hits. 35 year-olds wouldn't have to drop out of the scene from fatigue.

    'Course, that kind of music isn't for everyone. Though unlike we've been taught by lying modernists, art music at least used to be written in a popular style.

    Imagine we had high culture, and Mozart, Beethoven and the rest were still pumping out the hits. 35 year-olds wouldn’t have to drop out of the scene from fatigue.

    You don’t have to go back that far. Until the triumph of the youth culture, large chunks of popular music were aimed at the entire population. Sure, there were songs that appealed mainly to teenagers, but look at the Hit Parade for any year before 1955, and you’ll see many songs that were enjoyed by people of all ages. They still can be, thanks to Youtube, and they are GREAT! There are more good songs from the hit list for any year between 1937 and 1954 than there have been in the entire last decade.

    Even in the early RnR years, you had still had universal-appeal songs like “Stranger on the Shore,” by Mr Acker Bilk.

    (How do you embed videos in a comment?)

    This was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May 1962. The Hot 100, mind you, not the Easy Listening chart. It was followed by “I Can’t Stop Loving You” by Ray Charles. These were not songs limited to teenage appeal. Dave Brubeck’s Take Five was a hit the previous year, too. Everybody knew these songs, just like everybody knew The Twist, because there were so few outlets for listening.

    It’s part of the destructive fragmentation of our culture that popular music is so niche-oriented, a trend that predates the internet or even FM radio. It all started with rock-and-roll, and, like society in general, has been on a downhill course since then.

    There are good songs from post-Beatles era, of course, but it’s really worth learning to appreciate the greatness of American popular music in its midcentury heyday.

    OT tangent, but there is general celebration of the fact that our news is no longer filtered through a few (usually liberal) outlets. But I wonder how often people stop to consider that the heyday of American power, cohesive culture and rising middle-class living standards was accompanied by, and maybe made possible by, the fact that we all listened to, watched and read basically the same things and took our social models from the same places.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Lots of hit songs on the radio in the mid-20th Century were written by middle-aged professional experts for Broadway and Hollywood. Lots of movies were greenlighted with a budget line item for hiring Harold Arlen / Johnny Mercer or Jimmy Van Heusen / Sammy Cahn to write a classic hit song for the movie that would also play on the radio.

    By the late 20th Century, however, that cultural capability seemed more or less lost. Occasionally it still happens. The Trolls cartoon movie a couple of years ago benefited from Justin Timberlake's hit song. But you'd have to be a brave executive in the movie business, outside of cartoon musicals, to stake a strategy on being able to commission hit songs.

    Can you imagine Disney deciding that what the next Star Wars movie needs is a really good song that will become a standard and commissioning a composing team to deliver one? They've got all the money in the world for this, but they don't have the confidence to do this anymore.

    , @Anonymous
    Good informative post. I always wondered about the mass appeal of all that music from before I was born!

    It’s part of the destructive fragmentation of our culture
     
    Your observations are doubtless accurate and yet: media fragmentation is also an effect of the internet, without which "alt" type dissenters such as many of us had no way of discovering we weren't alone, much less conversing with one another and comparing notes. Despite the constant assaults upon free speech by the usual suspects, I've a feeling (and a fear) that we're enjoying a golden age right now.
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  137. @Anonym
    Do you really have a favorite song Steve? Or a top 10? I find I have so many songs I have listened to and enjoyed that it is hard to pinpoint any one. And those have been listened to until my brain disengages from them quickly, unless there has been a long time between listens. Tool explains it well metaphorically.

    https://youtu.be/q-H3yLtrHPo

    One of my favorites but 46&2 is probably better and Third Eye is an amazing trip of a song. Are they better or worse than Bohemian Rhapsody? I think it depends on what mood I'm in as to which I would prefer to listen to.

    At the moment I am listening to Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift for You album. Here is Darlene Love's Marshmallow World, as an example, from 1963. Is it my favorite song of all time? No. But the album is very, very good. Brian Wilson rated it as his all-time favorite. One could easily imagine any given song from it being used in a Scorsese period film.

    https://youtu.be/OROUPOzb-r0

    At the moment I am listening to Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You album. Here is Darlene Love’s Marshmallow World, as an example, from 1963. Is it my favorite song of all time? No. But the album is very, very good. Brian Wilson rated it as his all-time favorite. One could easily imagine any given song from it being used in a Scorsese period film.

    THE Scorsese film song is Gimme Shelter. There was even an op-ed last week where some womyn was bitching about GS as being the go-to bit of music when you want a dark and threatening sound. Being written in 1968, there was a good reason for it being that way.

    That 12 years ’64 to ’76 was the high point for rock. Then disco hit….

    That’s my favorite song, 17 when I first heard it; Keith Richard’s opening riff is probably the most recognizable bit of music that any Boomer would recognize.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Was Scorsese a cameraman for the Woodstock documentary?
    , @Anonymous
    I only saw The Greatest Rock and Roll Band In The World ™ (and they were, and are) once, the 1989 Steel Wheels Tour, Bill Wyman's last. Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, where earlier Ted Nugent set a volume record that AFAIK still stands: he was interrupting milk production at a dairy 18 nautical miles ( as the crow flies) away.

    Earlier I had seen Hal Ashby's excellent Let's Spend The Night Together in the now defunct but acoustically superb Glenwood Theater (a cinema, and one of the last real CinemaScope houses with VOTT speakers and the legendary blower cooled 4CX250 powered Fairchild amps before THX standardized big movie sound) and figured I knew what a Stones gig was all about.

    When the curtain rolled back, showing the Stones at last, I found I was quite wrong.

    Half the experience at a Rolling Stones show is the Stones. The crowd reaction is the other half.
    As soon as that intro music plays and you hear the announcer, the crowd-a mixture of people from not quite WWII vet age to teens-is on their feet. No matter where you are seated, even an open air football stadium, the air pressure actually changes. You can feel this wave of humanity.

    Ashby and Scorsese did great work, but I still hold it as a tragedy that the one filmmaker who had actually seen that elephant, so to speak, never got the chance to film the spectacle. She was still working in her eighties, and Mick Jagger certainly knew her, since she had at his behest photographed his wedding to Bianca. I am speaking, of course, of Leni Riefenstahl.
    , @Sparkon

    Gimme Shelter...Keith Richard’s opening riff is probably the most recognizable bit of music that any Boomer would recognize.
     
    I dunno about that. It's a great opening, no doubt, but I suggest there are any number of very recognizable opening riffs from 50s, 60s, and 70s that might reasonably lay claim to that distinction, including a few others from the Stones themselves.

    I took a deep but not total plunge into my treasure trove of rock classics to haul out this representative but certainly not comprehensive sampler of choice nuggets with opening bars just about anyone alive then would instantly recognize as one of the signature tunes of the times:

    Satisfaction, I Want to Hold Your Hand, Day Tripper, Along Came Mary, Suite Judy Blue Eyes, Woodstock, Eight Miles High, Ballad of Easy Rider, 25 or 6 to 4, Make Me Smile, Long Train Runnin, Glad All Over, Rhiannon, Sherry, Reach Out I'll Be There, Quarter to Three, My Sweet Lord, Purple Haze, All Along the Watchtower, Tequila Sunrise, On Broadway, Sunshine Superman, No Particular Place to Go, Sultans of Swing, Dancing Queen, Time Passages, A Horse With No Name, Question, Night Moves, Tequila, Maybe Baby, Showdown, Don't Be Cruel, Let's Live For Today, No Time, Long Cool Woman in a Polka Dot Black Dress, Aqualung, Born to be Wild, Secret Agent Man, You Really Got Me, Dazed and Confused, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, I Heard it Through the Grapevine, I'm A Believer, The Story in Your Eyes, Ride My See Saw, Cinnamon Girl, Heart of Gold, Mother and Child Reunion, Sounds of Silence, Mrs. Robinson, Money, Paint It Black, American Woman, Black Magic Woman, Pretty Woman, My Girl, I'd Love to Change the World, Band on the Run, Misirlou, Green Tambourine, California Sun, California Dreaming, Summer Breeze, Crystal Blue Persuasion, Sweet Cherry Wine, Hush, I Feel the Earth Move, Bus Stop, Tobacco Road, Baby Hold On, We're An American Band, Happy Together, Gloria, Brown Eyed Girl, Having a Party, A Summer Song, Spirit in the Sky, Wildflower, It Never Rains in Southern California, Taking Care of Business, Time Won't Let Me, Runaway, For Your Love, Johnny B Goode, Louie Louie, Aquarius, Green Onions, Hey! Baby, Surfin USA, Pipeline, Suspicion, Out of Limits, Sugar Shack, Sweet Soul, Music, Tighten Up, Walk Right In, She's Not There, Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye, Then He Kissed Me, The Last Time...

    Go ahead, crank one of those. They were knockouts from the get go, instantly recognizable, and most retain their power. Old guys will remember many, young guys might give it a whirl.

    Disco was about going out dancing at nice clubs with flashing lights. Everybody got dressed up in some nice rags, bell bottoms & hip huggers, with no barefoot shirtless field hippies allowed, and for a relatively short time mid 70s, it was a high energy affair and a pretty good time.

    But no small number of guys for one reason or another could not or would not dance -- types prolly lured later into the mosh pits -- and eventually the gays took over any number of these Disco clubs, maybe because there weren't enough tough guys around to chase them out, or possibly because drunk queers were hitting on the wallflowers standing around, who weren't dancing, but came to look at the dames, flirt with the waitresses, or just to get tipsy enjoying the flashing lights, and all the high energy, while most of the real dancers were fully engaged out on the dance floor moving to "Born to Be Alive," or "Funkytown."

    Soon, for whatever reasons, the entire thing just seemed to fade away, especially after dumb-ass big meanie Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. In his day, he had been an accomplished pussy hound with some famous snatch on his belt, but as with a lot of conservatives, he didn't like to see anybody else having too much fun, even if they could afford expensive condoms, about which The Gipper was known to brag back in his heyday.

    Finally, let's not forget the fact that there was a lot of good music throughout the 70s that was not Disco at all, but by virtually any measure, the Bee Gees are right up there as one of the top groups of all time, so let me close this out back on the theme of memorable and instantly recognizable openings of big hits with these three from the BGs:

    Massachusetts, How Deep is Your Love, and Staying Alive...

    Now go listen.
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  138. @Ganderson
    Cool thread. I’ve often had that “wow, that’s a good song” moment. “Bus Stop” by the Hollies comes to mind- got a lot of air play in, what, 68? Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it- but heard it the other day and thought, hmmm, what a well crafted tune. It reminds me of caddying, cuz that’s whatI was doing at the time.

    I had a similar moment many years ago with Carrie Anne.

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  139. @Steve Sailer
    Showed good taste on Simon's part.

    I can recall hearing around 1985 the opening guitar notes of a new song on the radio and thinking that Los Lobos was finally getting some airplay and then Paul Simon started singing. It turned out he'd hired Hidalgo and Rosas of Los Lobos to play for him.

    Hidalgo is a first-rate guitar player. Here he is along with Govt Mule playing Dear Mr Fantasy live.

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  140. @SteveO

    Imagine we had high culture, and Mozart, Beethoven and the rest were still pumping out the hits. 35 year-olds wouldn’t have to drop out of the scene from fatigue.
     
    You don't have to go back that far. Until the triumph of the youth culture, large chunks of popular music were aimed at the entire population. Sure, there were songs that appealed mainly to teenagers, but look at the Hit Parade for any year before 1955, and you'll see many songs that were enjoyed by people of all ages. They still can be, thanks to Youtube, and they are GREAT! There are more good songs from the hit list for any year between 1937 and 1954 than there have been in the entire last decade.

    Even in the early RnR years, you had still had universal-appeal songs like "Stranger on the Shore," by Mr Acker Bilk.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jzx664u5DA

    (How do you embed videos in a comment?)

    This was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May 1962. The Hot 100, mind you, not the Easy Listening chart. It was followed by "I Can't Stop Loving You" by Ray Charles. These were not songs limited to teenage appeal. Dave Brubeck's Take Five was a hit the previous year, too. Everybody knew these songs, just like everybody knew The Twist, because there were so few outlets for listening.

    It's part of the destructive fragmentation of our culture that popular music is so niche-oriented, a trend that predates the internet or even FM radio. It all started with rock-and-roll, and, like society in general, has been on a downhill course since then.

    There are good songs from post-Beatles era, of course, but it's really worth learning to appreciate the greatness of American popular music in its midcentury heyday.

    OT tangent, but there is general celebration of the fact that our news is no longer filtered through a few (usually liberal) outlets. But I wonder how often people stop to consider that the heyday of American power, cohesive culture and rising middle-class living standards was accompanied by, and maybe made possible by, the fact that we all listened to, watched and read basically the same things and took our social models from the same places.

    Lots of hit songs on the radio in the mid-20th Century were written by middle-aged professional experts for Broadway and Hollywood. Lots of movies were greenlighted with a budget line item for hiring Harold Arlen / Johnny Mercer or Jimmy Van Heusen / Sammy Cahn to write a classic hit song for the movie that would also play on the radio.

    By the late 20th Century, however, that cultural capability seemed more or less lost. Occasionally it still happens. The Trolls cartoon movie a couple of years ago benefited from Justin Timberlake’s hit song. But you’d have to be a brave executive in the movie business, outside of cartoon musicals, to stake a strategy on being able to commission hit songs.

    Can you imagine Disney deciding that what the next Star Wars movie needs is a really good song that will become a standard and commissioning a composing team to deliver one? They’ve got all the money in the world for this, but they don’t have the confidence to do this anymore.

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    • Replies: @guest
    I find it exceedingly odd that movie studios and record companies don't "synergize" on putting pop songs in movies more often. Especially considering they probably all have the same parent companies.

    I have very clear memories from my childhood of movies that were more or less a series of music videos: Flashdance, Dirty Dancing, Purple Rain, Footlose, etc. But it doesn't have to be that ambitious. Every movie has end credits. That's where you put your "My Heart Will Go On."

    Just pick a single you have coming out soon and stick it in whatever movie it most vaguely fits. Free advertising.
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  141. @SunBakedSuburb
    There are plenty of wits in the Sailer comments section, but you are the wittiest and the Whitest.

    Yes, we know it’s a troll, that Duck, but it amuses us to reply in kind.

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  142. About John Updike, I recall from Rabbit, Run a scene in which Rabbit, mid-run, radio surfs through a kaleidoscope of music from his past and present. I thought it overlong and it didn’t have much meaning for me. But considering Updike and Rabbit Angstrom are around the sane age, it was probably very meaningful to the author.

    Novelists write about pop music a lot, or at least started to after a certain point. Probably that coincides with radio and the rise of the recording industry. I find that ones who came of age before rock and roll are much more likely to talk about lyrics in addition to the music. For instance, I was recently reading So Little Time by John P. Marquand, and in a flashback to pre-WWI times the protagonist’s older brother spoke almost entirely in mixed-up song lyrics.

    That has disappeared. Rap enthusiasts still memorize and recite lyrics, but that’s more to show off elocution skills–or lackthereof–than for the content.

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  143. @gunner29

    At the moment I am listening to Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You album. Here is Darlene Love’s Marshmallow World, as an example, from 1963. Is it my favorite song of all time? No. But the album is very, very good. Brian Wilson rated it as his all-time favorite. One could easily imagine any given song from it being used in a Scorsese period film.
     
    THE Scorsese film song is Gimme Shelter. There was even an op-ed last week where some womyn was bitching about GS as being the go-to bit of music when you want a dark and threatening sound. Being written in 1968, there was a good reason for it being that way.

    That 12 years '64 to '76 was the high point for rock. Then disco hit....

    That's my favorite song, 17 when I first heard it; Keith Richard's opening riff is probably the most recognizable bit of music that any Boomer would recognize.

    Was Scorsese a cameraman for the Woodstock documentary?

    Read More
    • Replies: @PiltdownMan
    He's listed as an assistant director and was one of the people who edited the footage. Perhaps serious Scorsese scholars might be able to spot which sequences he edited from the style of the cuts. Or they could just ask him.
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  144. Lowell George’s “Fat Man in the Bathtub” I heard for the first time when I was 19 years old. I heard Ry Cooder’s “Going to Brownsville” when I was 15. I heard David Lindley, John Hiatt and Todd Rundgren for the first time between those two mile posts. I continue to hear wonderful music from Frank Zappa as I mine through the back catalog. But all the good artists broke out in the 1970s.

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  145. @Big Bill
    "The Air that I Breathe" and the thousands of others like it are unlistenable at my age. Sentiments like "all I need is the air that I breathe just to love you" are intended to inspire young swains.

    Any swoony love interest is now decades in my past, and my love song tastes have shifted to more complex and intellectual (adult?) songs like "My Funny Valentine" or songs of the pre-rock Sinatra oevre.

    Had I married at age 20-30, when my wife and I would have been buying albums, listening to the radio, and nightclubbing, I expect things would be different. Whenever I would hear "our song" (or others like it) she would be transmogrified into the girl I met decades ago and I would again taste the passion I felt when we met.

    There are sound memories (just as there are scent memories) with the capacity to transport one to an earlier time, place, mood, emotion and person. Early in life one can be imprinted with a song the way a duckling can be imprinted with a mother.

    ““The Air that I Breathe” and the thousands of others like it are unlistenable at my age. “

    It was unlistenable when I was 17, too. Too slow and without the OTT-ness that rescues “MacArthur Park”. If I wanted young swain music there was Jefferson Airplane’s Today, still IMHO the most lovely love song.

    Music these days is just a soundtrack, not real excitement. My daughter listens to the Smiths and my son plays old Dylan numbers on guitar – which is as if I spent my early 20s listening to stuff like this (I did actually buy this record in 1975!).

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  146. @SoCal Philosopher
    I think I was about 13 when that Bran Van 3000 song came out. I just clicked on it now, heard a few seconds, and was wracked by an incredibly painful nostalgia. I felt the hot air of the summer in Dayton, Ohio, and felt so incredibly free. What's odd is that at 13 I was far from free, but the song so effectively transported me to the past that I could look on to my 13-year old self through my 42-year old eyes and realize how blissful that time was for me.

    I’m the same age as you, yet my memories of that song are from my mid twenties. I don’t think it existed when we were 13.

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    • Replies: @Saint Louis
    Exactly. I believe Drinkin' in LA came out in 1997. I was born in 1980 and clearly remember listening to the CD in my car while driving home from high school.

    Note that I was also 13 when Creep was released and have liked Radiohead ever since. I still think OK Computer (also from 1997) is the best album of the '90s.

    I don't think I could name a single favorite song, but I definitely have favorite bands, mostly from the mid-'90s to early '00s; Radiohead, Beck, Cake, The Strokes, Coldplay, Fountains of Wayne.

    I listened to a lot of psychedelic rock from the '60s to '70s in high school, too. E.g. I had every Jefferson Airplane album and most of The Doors' albums, but funny enough, the only '60s and '70s rock I still listen to regularly is The Who and some Led Zeppelin.

    The one album that most brings back memories of high school though is Sublime (1996).
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  147. @Steve Sailer
    Lots of hit songs on the radio in the mid-20th Century were written by middle-aged professional experts for Broadway and Hollywood. Lots of movies were greenlighted with a budget line item for hiring Harold Arlen / Johnny Mercer or Jimmy Van Heusen / Sammy Cahn to write a classic hit song for the movie that would also play on the radio.

    By the late 20th Century, however, that cultural capability seemed more or less lost. Occasionally it still happens. The Trolls cartoon movie a couple of years ago benefited from Justin Timberlake's hit song. But you'd have to be a brave executive in the movie business, outside of cartoon musicals, to stake a strategy on being able to commission hit songs.

    Can you imagine Disney deciding that what the next Star Wars movie needs is a really good song that will become a standard and commissioning a composing team to deliver one? They've got all the money in the world for this, but they don't have the confidence to do this anymore.

    I find it exceedingly odd that movie studios and record companies don’t “synergize” on putting pop songs in movies more often. Especially considering they probably all have the same parent companies.

    I have very clear memories from my childhood of movies that were more or less a series of music videos: Flashdance, Dirty Dancing, Purple Rain, Footlose, etc. But it doesn’t have to be that ambitious. Every movie has end credits. That’s where you put your “My Heart Will Go On.”

    Just pick a single you have coming out soon and stick it in whatever movie it most vaguely fits. Free advertising.

    Read More
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  148. @I, Libertine
    I've been saying this whenever it comes up in conversation: among friends, on iSteve or elsewhere on the internet, etc. To accurately guess someone's age, don't go by appearances. Ask him or her the three or four year period when popular music reached its zenith. Subtract about a decade and a half from the middle of that range, and you have an approximate birth year. This study refines slightly my informal hunch, but essentially supports it.

    I've heard persuasive arguments that artists and/or bands ( most saliently, Bruce + E Street, or U2) that have emerged post '60s are the GOATs of music. But you'll never convince me. The Beatles hit the American beachhead when I was eleven. And I was an early adopter. One of the first 45's I bought was She Loves You b/w I'll Get You on Swan Records in or about October, 1963. Three to five months before the Ed Sullivan show. Before it made the Top Forty, let alone the Top Five. And their peak, for me, was 65 to 66. Help, Rubber Soul, Revolver. No band since then, or to come, no matter what they put out, can surpass them in my mind. It's called imprinting. Like with ducks.

    Anyway, apropos of Steve's point, I also loved 60's Motown and girl group stuff. But my favorite song of that genre is one I didn't hear until the '90s, decades after its release.

    And their peak, for me, was 65 to 66. Help, Rubber Soul, Revolver. No band since then, or to come, no matter what they put out, can surpass them in my mind. It’s called imprinting. Like with ducks.

    That came out well before I was born but the Beatles were godlike irrespective of birth year. It’s like with classical, Beethoven/Mozart are deservedly recognized as the best even though it’s been a long long time since they have passed on.

    I like to appreciate and select the best from time and space in music, literature (though have less time for that these days), ideas and whatever suits basically. Classics are classics for a reason – they are the best from a given time and location (likely amongst a lot of crap that gets forgotten). This is fairly unusual though. Most people tend to be rooted in the place and their era, or whatever the $CURRENT_YEAR is. A lot of commonly held ideas have been wrong throughout history, so there is no reason AFAICT to hold that the current ones are right.

    I think it has been this way of looking at things which has been a key to being fairly resistant to PC.

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  149. @Daniel Williams
    I still routinely hear songs that join the canon of my favorites. Sometimes they're newer tunes, sometimes older ones that I've heard for the first time. I didn't hear "Born To Lose" by Johnny Thunders until a few months ago but it's definitely a fave.

    If I were to plot my top one hundred songs on a graph by year I first heard them, I bet there'd be a big cluster around thirteen or fourteen.

    I discovered “Born To Lose” on Pandora about a year or two ago and it instantly became one of my favorites. Growing up on the West coast I was unfamiliar with East coast punk. Listening to it now it holds up better than other punk, it is more melodic.

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  150. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    How Old Were You When you saw your favorite female beauty?

    From Jill de Vries and Patty McGuire to Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. I continue to be amazed.

    So it is with music. I continue to discover things special. I cannot even fathom why someone would think a song in the past would be something definitive, something favourite.

    From Genesis to Deadmau5, freak costumes, dazzing lights, and unexpected wonderful music. It will never end.

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    • Replies: @Kylie
    "How Old Were You When you saw your favorite female beauty?"

    I was 15. It was 1970 when I watched "Laura" for the first time. I've adored Gene Tierney ever since.
    , @guest
    Music differs from particular examples of feminine beauty. I could probably stare at a picture of Elizabeth Taylor or Vivien Leigh several times a day and enjoy myself, but I've never bothered.

    They're great and all, but beauty doesn't get into you like a good song. Unless you're in love, but that never lasts. Anyway who falls in love like that with celebrities? Besides weirdos.

    Also, interest in beautiful women isn't particularly a pubescent thing. That last a lifetime for most men. And our aesthetic sense is ingrained. It doesn't change with fashion, though the homos in charge of our culture try to change.

    , @Anonymous

    How Old Were You When you saw your favorite female beauty?
     
    I'd seen her in magazines, book covers, tabloid articles (my mother bought all the "goofy papers" each week at the supermarket, Enquirer, Star, Globe, ad nauseum) and whatnot and snippets on TV movie reruns, but exactly what she was never hit me.

    In 1999, I was not quite forty, and AMC put the old footage together and made an attemt to "finish the picture" up until the footage ran out:

    https://vimeo.com/96458690


    (FULL MOVIE) Something's Got To Give (1962). SGTG, Starring Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin. Also featuring Cyd Charisse, Wally Cox, John McGiver, and Phil Silvers. Directed by George Cukor. Sung by Frank Sinatra. 1:11

    Nick Arden's wife Ellen, aka Eve, is mistakenly presumed dead when survivors from a yachting accident testified that they watched her and a companion, Steven, aka Adam, disappear out in the ocean. However, Adam and Eve washed up on an island and survived for 5 years until they were finally rescued by a US Navy Submarine on patrol. But before Ellen returns, Nick Arden (Dean Martin) has her declared legally dead and then marries his second wife Bianca. Posing as a Swedish maid, Mrs. Tic, Ellen Arden (Marilyn Monroe) is reunited with her son Timmy and daughter Lita, and pet dog Tip. But how will the story work itself out in the end? Sadly, we will never know, because filming was abruptly ended by Marilyn's tragic death.
     
    At 35 (she turned 36 on the last day of filming completed) she had Phoebe Cates beat all to hell in that pool.

    I saw it on cable one night .
    Just what the world lost hit me like a tsunami, and since then.....
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  151. @Anonymous
    Can't help but notice that it's considered hip to name a book “Everybody Lies” nowadays, in our "non-judgmental" age. I speak as someone (glad I'm anon) who's been through the ringer with people who really think lying is okay, and even couples' therapists who agree. Was an eye-opening experience, to say the least.

    Yes, I'm well aware that's not what the book or the title are about. But what I mean is that deliberate, conscious, damaging lies are not considered particularly reprehensible anymore. So long as you're not caught. And when you are caught, the effective defense is "everybody does it."

    It may not be popular to observe this, but I perceive it to be another minor triumph of a certain kind of tribalism. It starts there but thanks to the MSM it ends up pervading the entire society. If you differ, you're some kind of Victorian prude. "But people lied in Victorian times too!" Please spare me.

    But what I mean is that deliberate, conscious, damaging lies are not considered particularly reprehensible anymore.

    I agree with your comment, but, ironically, we also live in times that claim to value truth and openness above all things. One is not supposed to have secrets even from one’s best friend, let alone one’s spouse. Even in social settings,”Victorian” hypocrisy and the polite lie are not merely derided, as they were a generation ago. They are vilified, excoriated as tools of oppression of the usual groups by the usual group(s). It goes without saying that anonymity on the internet is the root all evil, or so the nice girls and boys think.

    In such a climate, perhaps it’s not surprising that lying is condoned. After all, if you’re not supposed to have any secrets, lying is inevitable because we all have secrets.

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    • Agree: Jim Don Bob
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  152. there are a lot of reasons to be grumpy but

    almost 50 years ago when grace slick of the jefferson airplane and eve plumb of the brady bunch were at their 3 or 4 year peak of celebrity nobody would think they had much in common

    all these year later they are both accomplished painters — who would guess though , that the brady bunch ex-celebrity is a much better and more profound artist than the jefferson airplane singer

    i would have guessed eve plumb would be the better painter i always thought the brady bunch was more authentic than jefferson airplane — i was always relatively immune to that self-promoting “rock!” former-music-camp college-kid phony socialist reefer vibe – but if i had not bothered to try and find out about later developments i would not have known how good a painter Eve Plumb is (and to a lesser degree, how interesting a painter Grace Slick is)

    interestingly, as the 20th century recedes, the Catholic and Orthodox saints of the 20th century are turning out, overall, as their relationship to history becomes more clear, to be as interesting a set of people as the saints of the 19th century. Padre Pio and his miracles stack up against St John Vianney and his miracles, for example, and I could give other examples, as could most Christians my age.

    non-religious people have noted similar trends (i.e., certain things getting better in the midst of overall cultural decline) in very specific fields – American mid-price restaurants (better every decade since WWII), comic novels (peaked in the 50s, when Wodehouse, Waugh, Updike, Salinger, and others were at their peak), cigars, wines, the study of Latin as a living language and comparative literature at elite but not-famous schools, the study of classical methods of drawing and painting – again at elite but not famous schools of art – those things are improving even now —
    and there is a specialty of this blog, golf course architecture, which peaked, or started peaking, on the East Coast in the 1970s and the West Coast in the 1990s (although I have spent less than a thousand hours on golf courses in each of those decades and could be off by a decade or two), and locally roasted coffee and locally roasted beer – if the trends continue for another hundred years, lots of the USA will be almost at France level w/r/to food and golf and painting, reasons to be less grumpy.

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  153. @Steve Sailer
    For some reason, the Grateful Dead were dull studio musicians, so it's hard for people like me familiar only with their half-dozen best-known studio songs to understand the passion their live performances aroused. Their most famous studios songs are very nice and not at all polarizing.

    For some reason, the Grateful Dead were dull studio musicians, so it’s hard for people like me familiar only with their half-dozen best-known studio songs to understand the passion their live performances aroused. Their most famous studios songs are very nice and not at all polarizing.

    You deserve a job in the State Department with that diplomatic response Steve. I think one has to have a very high blood THC level to appreciate TGD. Pink Floyd OTOH sounds just as good without the THC. Phish is the same basic phenomenon as TGD just for a younger audience.

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  154. @Auntie Analogue
    Perhaps a more revealing question to put is: which is your favorite pop performer/group/artist? My bet is that the answers would correlate very closely and be consistent with the findings from "which is your favorite song," in that most people's favorite act would be the one that was their favorite at ages 13-14.

    My co-boomer friends and acquaintances are still rigidly enamored of their 1960's favorite songs and acts.

    Like commenter Jonathan Mason, who has said he's the same age as me, I stopped listening at age twenty-one to pop music in 1972. Its offerings suddenly no longer held appeal for me - especially the output from the rash of early 70's singer-songwriters such as James Taylor, Carole King, Carly Simon (to this day Taylor grates on my last nerve). For years afterward I was stuck with my 60's faves (Stones, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, The Moody Blues, Janis Joplin), yet I also explored (I play guitar and blow a workmanlike blues harp) bluegrass and country music along with a coterie of guitar-picking friends who were also into bluegrass/country.

    Having never before cared for it, in my forties I came to love Classical music, except its latter-day composers such as Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, John Adams, &c. I particularly adore Chopin, and also have a real soft spot for plainchant and polyphonic vocal song.

    One quirk is that in my mid-1960's teen years I came to love the music of the Glenn Miller Orchestra and The Andrews Sisters, and I still love their work today. In my forties I also gained a fresh appreciation for American Golden Age standards - many of the songs and performers which I and many other boomers had pooh-poohed as old fuddy-duddies, "squares, or "straights" (as opposed to "freaks") while in our teens and in college; songs such as Perry Como's "Catch A Falling Star" and Hoagy Carmichael's gorgeous melodies became newly beloved along with much, for one example among many, of Jo Stafford's material.

    The one genre that has ever held nearly no appeal to me is modern jazz, which, except for a very few of its offerings, jazz either makes my eyes glaze over or irritates the hell out of me. This ought to be filed under the heading of de gustibus non est disputandum.

    What's odd about this topic is that I recall my parents' Depression/WWII generation never being as obsessed with pop music or celebrity trivia as later generations became and remain. I never heard members of my parents' generation amassing cinema, musical or pop culture trivia, or arguing the merits of artists or songs, or "influences," in the ways in which boomers and subsequent generations obsess about pop/celeb trivialities. Sure, that Depression/WWII generation liked and enjoyed the music of their youth, but they didn't ravenously devour or jaw obsessively about its trivia. Part of the reason for that is, I think, the Depression/WWII media technology wasn't as pervasive as media technology became from the 1950's onward - people of that earlier generation were simply not marinated nonstop in pop culture in the way that later generations became immersed 24x7 in mass media output. Another reason is that far fewer of the Depression/WWII generation attended college, and were thus not exposed to the later burgeoning of film and pop culture courses.

    Auntie- went to college in the 70s and loved the big bands- also Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys- not a common thing for an upper midwestern kid.

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  155. That came out well before I was born but the Beatles were godlike irrespective of birth year.

    Yes, there are certain entities that are beyond the reach of criticism, because they are what they are and set the standard for what comes after.

    Examples: Bach, the Beatles, Elvis, the Bible, Miles Davis, mother’s cooking, Michelangelo, Monet, Picasso, Chaucer, George Washington, the Supreme Court, Shakespeare, Pele, gravity, Tesla, Hugh Hefner, Queen Elizabeth II. The Pope is also infallible, supposedly.

    Of course you CAN criticize Chaucer or Shakespeare or the Bible, but since they practically created the English language in its modern form, you are going to be kicking away the ladder on which you stand.

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    Balderdash. You certainly can criticize figures who set standards. In fact, they deserve all the more negative criticism for setting crappy or fraudulent standards, like Davis and Picasso.

    I find the notion that Chaucer, Shakespeare, and the King James Bible created modern English unpersuasive. They're convenient for scholars is all. The idea that to criticize them is to kick away your own footing is ridiculous. That may be so with a postmodernist or constructivist who uses logic to argue that there's no such thing as logic. But if I say modern English sucks in modern English, what's the issue? Doesn't make it untrue.
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  156. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Is there any rule to one’s fav songs?

    I dunno.

    In 1976, an older kid made a cassette tape of hit songs, and I loved many of the songs there: Car Wash, Seasons in the Sun, Undercover Angels, High School Dance, Only Sixteen(Dr. Hook), You Don’t Have to Be a Star, Play that Funky Music White Boy, Boogie Man, Do Run Run(Shaun Cassidy), Dancing Queen, Knowing Me Knowing You, etc. I still think many of them are fab songs.

    Andy Gibb’s ‘Love is Thicker the Water’ used to be my fav when I was around 9. Still like it.
    The hit songs back then: September by Earth Wind Fire, If You Leave Me Now by Chicago. Gerry Rafferty’s Baker’s Street was on all the time. Still a great fav. Two more songs from mid to late 70s that I love to this day: Time Passages and Year of the Cat by Al Stewart. In 77, my sister got Saturday Night Fever and that does have some real gems. Staying Alive, How Deep is Your Love, Night Fever, and More than a Woman are tremendous. Other good stuff too. Loved the movie too. About 13 yrs later, I saw SNF at a college showing and all the kids were cracking up. Yes, Disco was cheesy but did have its share of knockout songs. Sort of made a comeback in the 90s with rise of dance music. My sister also got Donna Summer’s album, her idol, but I didn’t care for that, even though Last Dance is a good song. “I will Survive” by some fat black woman was also a big hit. Other black acts I recall. Lional Richie as part of Commodores that was a class act, with songs like Three Times a Lady. And I love the Spinners version of the Four Top song: Working My Way Back. Gladys Knight and Pimps had a knockout song with Midnight Train to Georgia. We didn’t lots of albums back then and my dad usually bought classical music.. though he usually fell asleep when listening to them. One song that sticks in my mind is Cheesecake by Louis Armstrong. We didn’t buy that album. Some black family in the project for not paying the rent. So, all their stuff was dumped outside, and everyone in the building began to take stuff. I got away with Louis Armstrong album with cheesecake. My first impression of Jazz.

    Like most kids, I had no sense of music history. It’s the scene in SCHOOL OF ROCK where Jack Black mentions the Rock greats, and most kids are like ‘huh’? The current hits are all that mattered, and I recall liking some of them: Silly Love Song by Wings, Evil Woman by ELO, Come Sail Away by Styx, Heart of Glass by Blondie, couple of hits by Cheap Trick. Fly Like an Evil by Steve Miller Band was big. For a year or two, it was on the radio everywhere. And because Beatles, Beach Boys, and Stones were so big, even kids knew something about them. Impossible not to know Yesterday, Surfin USA, and Satisfaction.

    Grease was a very big thing as movie and music. Though the music was mostly snubbed by critics, it was pretty fun. I don’t much care for it now, but I can still have good time listening to Beauty School Dropout. (That pink hair on Pee Wee Herman’s sister would be considered a success today.)

    Another movie/album that I loved was HAIR. I’d never seen anything like that before. Later, I learned about the 60s, and the movie seemed sillier and stupider. But it’s still remarkable in many ways, and I’m still moved by the final scene. If there’s any song on the HAIR album I still love, it’s Frank Mills.

    Still, if I had to choose my fav songs from this period, it’d be Time Passages, Year of the Cat, Baker Street, Right Down the Line, and If You Leave Me Now.

    It was when I was in freshman yr in highschool that I got into rock music in a serious way, reading books and looking on history and buying Dylan, Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Van Morrison, Who, etc albums. And some Greek kid got me to appreciate Led Zeppelin more and later Bowie, Talking Heads, Grateful Dead, Zappa, etc. Pink Floyd was a big thing about Serious rock fans, but I got to appreciate Floyd only much later. Some time in junior yr in high school, my record player broke down, and my main interest shifted to cinema.

    Live long enough and the only thing that really matters if ‘like it or not’ than the rationales or justifications. And I can’t say there is no special rule that applies to what I like most. Cranberries ‘Linger’ , ‘Empty’, and ‘Disappointments’ are special, but I like their entire albums.

    Swing Out Sister’s Shapes and Patterns is, I think, an all-time classic. Surprising because SOS was never a major act.

    Some songs are special because they are associated with favorite movies. Like Cat Steven’s ‘If you want to be free’ and others from Harold and Maude. And S & G songs in The Graduate even though I’d like them regardless. And Everybody’s Talking from Midnight Cowboy. And the Scientist by Cold Play from Wicker Park. Cold Play, flaky but very talented. And Cooley High’s “It’s so hard to say goodbye” is a real heartfelt song, the kind we don’t hear much from current black music that is deranged. And ‘To Live and Die in La’ by Wang Chung.

    Lou Rawls’ You’ll Never Find is sensational. Love Engelbert Humperdinck’s Last Waltz, Cuando Cuando, and Man without Love.
    My 4th grade teacher used to turn on music in class, and Downtown by Petula Clark has always been one of my favs. The previous 4th grade teacher was, I think, maybe a fruit. I didn’t know such things back then, but the more I think about the way he dressed and acted, he was sort tooty. And he also used to play music in class and one that stayed with me is Mame by Louis Armstrong. Who else but a fruit would be listening to musical numbers in latter half of the 70s?
    Speaking of fruits, Pet Shop Boys are too fruity for me, BUT I’ve always loved the album Behavior.

    Songs that stay with me from 80s are ‘And We Danced’ by Hooters, ‘All the Love in the World’, ‘Your Love’ , and ‘Say It isn’t so’, by Outfield(a must underappreciated band), ‘Shame’ by Motels, ‘I just died in your arms tonight’ by Cutting Crew, ‘Every step of the way’ by John Waite, ‘Captain of the Heart’ by Double(but maybe more for the fabulous music video), ‘Boys of Summer’ and ‘end of the innocence’ by don henley, schmaltzy but effective ‘It’s just the way it is’ by Bruce Hornsby, etc.
    A few songs by the Cars, esp Drive and Tonight She Comes. For some reason, I just loved ‘Take me home tonight’ by Eddie Money. Love the video too though it’s pretty silly. With “I Can’t Wait”, Stevie Nicks became my main icon. Rather strange because the song and video represented everything I hated about 80s rock: the synthetic sounds and hyped up sensationalism of MTV, but somehow, the song and video took everything I hated and packaged them into one of my all-time favs. Another great song from that period: Invisible Touch by Genesis. And Wildest Dreams by Moody Blues. And Come Dancing by Kinks. And one of the oddest pop tunes, Come on Eileen. And the brilliant Our House by Madness.

    I didn’t care for XTC but ‘That’s really super supergirl’ is a super song. And I recall college rock critics love Cure the Singles and Robyn Hitchcock’s album. I bought both and came to like Boys Dont’ Cry and Charlotte Sometimes. As for Robyn Hitchcock, ‘airscape’ is a real nice song.

    From Twilight movies, I learned there are lots of good songs being written. But there’s something missing. Something really new. Good as it is , it’s rehashing of established styles.
    Sia is somewhat more special. Though I don’t care for her persona, she has a special way of phrasing her songs. ‘My Love’ and ‘Chandelier’ are remarkable.

    Sometimes, a song sticks with you for some odd reason or other. Promise by When in Rome. Now, this is a pretty good song but not a great song. But it’s the video that makes it so memorable. It begins with this guy with too much hair. And then it goes to a baldie. Then, the baldie puts on a cap as if he looks stupid next to the guy with hair. And then he’s without the cap as if to say, “yeah, I’m bald, so what?”

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  157. @guest
    Steve, how do you feel about the Air That I Breathe? Either the more popular Hollies version, which came out in '74, or the version by Albert Hammond of It Never Rains in Southern California fame, which came out in '72. I ask because it's basically the exact same song as Creep, besides the lyrics.

    In fact, I believe Radiohead was successfully sued, and now Albert Hammond and some other guy share official writing credit with the band.

    I was 10 years-old when Creep came out, and though I enjoy it, I like the Hollies' version better. I remember my mother listening to the Hollies as a kid, but that was more the Bus Stop era. I don't remember really being into the Air That I Breathe until my 20s.

    Air That I Breathe has long been one of my favorite songs, since I was a kid.

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  158. @boomstick
    The movie "Drive" (2011) has added a good deal of popularity to a soundtrack. I think the "retrowave" music wing birth of popularity is related to the Drive soundtrack. I doubt retrowave will see any radio play at all, though.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ij2MXsGRHu4

    "Hackers" in 1995 had such a popular soundtrack that they kept putting out more soundtrack CDs, including CDs with songs that didn't appear at all in the movie. They didn't have any songs from the movie left.

    The retrowave thing is great. I have no theory about its rise, other than the general phenomenon of people digging the culture they kinda sorta remember as little kids.

    The funny thing is that, for all its blatant new wave aesthetic—one of the whitest pop culture aesthetics in existence, second only to punk rock—the New Retro Wave label was started and is still run by a black guy! As expected, though, he seems more Michael Jordan and less Collin Kap about it.

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  159. @Jonathan Mason
    A lot depends on the state of technology when you were a certain age, and on one's exposure to musical genres at certain ages.

    The first "pop" song I ever remember was my mother singing a song called "Hi Lili, Hi Lo" which was from a 1952 movie called Lili.

    At that time the only media we had was an old valve radio in the kitchen, so I am sure my mother had learned the song there.

    In 1959, when I was 8 years old, South Pacific was a massive hit movie and soundtrack album and although I did not see the movie until decades later and we did not have the album at home, it seems like the songs were in the air that summer and I knew the lyrics to several of them, like Nothing Like A Dame, and Bali Ha'i and Younger Than Springtime--and I still like those songs.

    Somewhere along the line I also developed favorites from other musicals by Rogers and Hammerstein, such as Oh, What A Beautiful Morning, June Is Bustin' Out All Over and You'll Never Walk Alone. The last soccer was later to become a huge anthem sung by the masses at soccer games.

    In the early 1960's small batter powered transistor radios became ubiquitous, allowing teens to have their own music and listen to radio in bed at night. At this time dedicated pop music stations also became available in the UK with pirate stations operating offshore added to Radio Luxembourg, and then a little later the BBC's Radio One.

    Two of my favorite songs of the era were Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass doing This Guy's In Love With You and Richard Harris's bombastic version of McArthur Park (1967) in which a cake is left out in the rain.

    After 1972, when I was 21, I hardly listened to popular music for many years, although I did like Mull of Kintyre, a huge hit for Paul McCartney in 1977, one of the few hit records to feature bagpipes.

    However I later became interested in jazz and as a result developed numerous new favorite songs in middle age. Perhaps my most favorite song is Got You Under My Skin, recorded by numerous artists as well as Sinatra. This 1936 Cole Porter song is though by some to be about heroin addiction. Just about everyone who ever recorded music has done the song, but I kind of like the Gloria Gaynor version (1976). I became aware of the song when I was in my 40's.

    Another favorite of mine is the Spanish version of Yo viviré (I Will Survive) by Celia Cruz which I never heard until I was in my 50's.

    Somewhere along the line in my 50's I also fell in love with Artie Shaw's great hits like Stardust, Begin The Beguine, and Frenesi. Any Old Time which Shaw recorded with Billie Holiday is good too, but was not a hit. Also another Shaw song called The First Two Weeks in July.

    I also love the song Perfidia by Mexican composer Alberto Dominguez (1939). There are many versions in both English and Spanish, but the Helen Forrest version with Benny Goodman is a phenomenal arrangement and will do it for me. I would give the Nat King Cole version a miss.

    But possible my favorite of all time is Jammin' by the ineffable Bob Marley which I first heard when I was about 26. It's just good. Many of his other songs are also sublime. Here he is performing not long before his death in 1980 when I was 29.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9vPNE_nPwM

    Jonathan Mason wrote:

    In 1959, when I was 8 years old, South Pacific was a massive hit movie and soundtrack album and although I did not see the movie until decades later and we did not have the album at home, it seems like the songs were in the air that summer and I knew the lyrics to several of them, like Nothing Like A Dame, and Bali Ha’i and Younger Than Springtime–and I still like those songs.

    Somewhere along the line I also developed favorites from other musicals by Rogers and Hammerstein, such as Oh, What A Beautiful Morning, June Is Bustin’ Out All Over and You’ll Never Walk Alone. The last soccer was later to become a huge anthem sung by the masses at soccer games.

    I’m about three years younger than you.

    You and I grew up during the golden age of Broadway musicals:from Oklahoma! to Music Man to Camelot to Cabaret. It’s hard to communicate to younger people the impact Broadway musicals had on American culture in the quarter century after WW II.

    (I’m not denigrating more recent musicals such as Phantom of the Opera or Les Miz, both of which are great musicals, or, for that matter, the Disney animated musicals of the last thirty years, but there just has not been the explosion of great, popular, and influential musicals in the last several decades that occurred starting with Oklahoma!, which appeared in 1943.)

    Part of what is going on here, I think, is just exhaustion of possibilities: who wants to write a fugue nowadays when you know your composition will be compared to J. S. Bach? And, who wants to write a musical when you know it will be compared to Lerner and Lowe or Rodgers and Hammerstein? (Fortunately, a few people are gutsy enough to give it a try.)

    Jonathan also wrote:

    A lot depends on the state of technology when you were a certain age…

    Yeah, but our parents’ generation did have record players (playing “78s”!). And, back during the ragtime era, there was a booming business in sheet music, though the recordings were very primitive (I happen to know some scholars of the ragtime era — this seems to be a growing discipline).

    So, yeah, technology matters, but Americans were quite innovative in spreading pop music even before the transistor radio (yes, I do remember my first transistor radio, though being a nerd, I was more interested in how it worked than in what I could listen to).

    Dave

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    I remember my first transistor radio, too. I loved it!
    , @guest
    I"Part of what's going on here, I think, is just exhaustion of possibilities: who wants to write a fugue nowadays when you know your composition will be compared to J.S. Bach? And who wants to write a musical when you know it will be compared to Lerner and Lowe or Rodgers and Hammerstein?"

    You're looking at it from the perspective of individual artists or potential artists, but really it's a cultural collapse. Artists don't fall out of the sky with their own styles and genres and forms, you know. Those are built up over time. And they require different creators communicating with eachother and with a knowledgeable audience. Lack any of that, and most people don't feel like trying.

    Musical theater never exhausted its possibilities. I find the idea ridiculous. Perhaps the era from Showboat to the last big Rodgers and Hammerstein-y musical was over. I can see people tiring of that. But of course there were musicals before 1927. The Beggar's Opera is from like the 1720s. It's a highly durable form.

    Rock and roll hurt Broadway, because they never really got the hang of it, or wanted to. Despite Hair, Grease, Rent, and some others they failed. To be fair, you can make rock musicals, but musicals aren't made for rock. It doesn't come across within the form like it does on its own.

    However, just because rock made musicals lose ground doesn't mean they had to lose that much ground. In order to be viable, musicals didn't have to copy exactly what was most popular. They just had to stay in touch with the public's taste. Broadway set up this sort of genre-less Broadway style of music that people just didn't like the way they like Oklahoma!

    Andrew Lloyd Webber managed to keep the common touch, though he didn't stay current. In a way he went backwards, to an older operetta style. But people liked it. As they liked Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, and so on. Though Broadway couldn't dominate pop music with such fare, those plays were successful.

    Another big problem was subject matter, which really demonstrates how out of touch Broadway has become. It's been dominated by Jews and homos since forever, but for the longest time they catered to general American audiences. (Not without subversion, certainly.) Now they've gone wild. Endless AIDS plays. Endless stories of weirdos and alienation and homosexual awakenings. They're not making stories for us, but for themselves. Which is selfish.

    About Bach and fugues, as I'm sure you know Western music of the modern tonal era flourished for at least 250 years, roughly from Monteverdi to Wagner. (There was good stuff after Wagner, but he's where I place the beginning of the deadly rot.) No possibilities were exhausted. Bachs, Mozarts, and Beethovens had come and gone, with new geniuses always coming round the corner.

    Granted, what had become the favored outlet for creative expression, harmonic novelty, was becoming exhausted. Because there are really only so many ways to combine notes in odd ways to get a reaction out of people. But classical composers could have gone in for rhythmic variation or melodic variation, or really any other way to stand out besides harmony.

    I imagine there was something of an inferiority complex faced by the artists who trashed Western high culture around the turn of the 20th century. But that's not why they killed the golden goose. It would be an incredible coincidence if all the arts had been exhausted around the same time. But that's supposedly what happened in the latter part of the 19th century.

    Not only did they not want to be compared to Bach, they didn't want to be compared to Michelangelo or Shakespeare or Dostoyevsky, either. All at once. How strange.

    That was a failure of culture, not an exhaustion of the arts. When the culture of the High Middle Ages gave way to the Renaissance, they might have thought it was due to fatigue. In a way it could have been. But 500 years of greatness gushed forth. Then it stopped. I refuse to believe that's all there was. There's more in us, we're not doing it correctly, is all.

    , @guest
    "Americans were quite innovative in spreading pop music even before the transistor radio"

    True. The music of Stephen Foster was famous worldwide, and they only had sheet music and the old-fashioned hear-and-play method to spread it.
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  160. @E. Rekshun
    Petula Clark’s “Downtown” is a case in point. Pure British pop, but somehow to my adolescent imagination, it really did describe some mythical place “Downtown”



    https://youtu.be/fzUICBMQBNU

    E. Rekshun wrote:

    Petula Clark’s “Downtown” is a case in point. Pure British pop, but somehow to my adolescent imagination, it really did describe some mythical place “Downtown”

    I remember going downtown before 1960, before the collapse of the central cities and the rise of the suburban malls.

    The song actually captures how we felt about “downtown” back then.

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  161. @Steve Sailer
    Showed good taste on Simon's part.

    I can recall hearing around 1985 the opening guitar notes of a new song on the radio and thinking that Los Lobos was finally getting some airplay and then Paul Simon started singing. It turned out he'd hired Hidalgo and Rosas of Los Lobos to play for him.

    And then Simon didn’t credit them for his release of some songs they wrote for/with him.

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  162. I was ten when this one rocked my world:

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  163. @Anonymous
    How Old Were You When you saw your favorite female beauty?

    From Jill de Vries and Patty McGuire to Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. I continue to be amazed.

    So it is with music. I continue to discover things special. I cannot even fathom why someone would think a song in the past would be something definitive, something favourite.

    From Genesis to Deadmau5, freak costumes, dazzing lights, and unexpected wonderful music. It will never end.

    “How Old Were You When you saw your favorite female beauty?”

    I was 15. It was 1970 when I watched “Laura” for the first time. I’ve adored Gene Tierney ever since.

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    I was eleven or twelve and she was Ursula Andress in The Blue Max.

    URSULA ANDRESS THE BLUE MAX PHOTO OR POSTER


    The flying was pretty hot too.
    , @guest
    I was just watching Leave Her to Heaven, and Dragonwyck is a perennial favorite. Both of which feature her being wooed by Vincent Price, for some reason.
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  164. @The Alarmist

    "McCain’s #1 and #3 are by Abba in the early-mid 1970s. (I would bet that the Abba songs were his new wife’s favorites when he got out of the POW camp.)"
     
    You reminded me of the POW part of SERE training ... Maybe his neocon captors played ABBA on a loop as part of his post-war political conditioning. I still occasionally sing Napalm Sticks to Kids.

    Bizarrely, Putin has claimed Abba is his favorite group as well. I dunno about these guys.

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    I heard Putin is a big Beatles fan; Yesterday is his favourite song from them.
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  165. I would have been 14-15 years old. Don’t know what I saw in her now, but there must have been something about her that appealed to a youth like myself.

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    Her great pair of .............










    Shoes?
    , @Brutusale
    My brother, who's 16 months older, brought the full-length poster home one day. We instantly went from being boys to being men.

    She was joined a few years later by Farrah in the red tank suit. Carl Yastrzemski and Bobby Orr were happy to share the wall with them.
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  166. @PhysicistDave
    Jonathan Mason wrote:

    In 1959, when I was 8 years old, South Pacific was a massive hit movie and soundtrack album and although I did not see the movie until decades later and we did not have the album at home, it seems like the songs were in the air that summer and I knew the lyrics to several of them, like Nothing Like A Dame, and Bali Ha’i and Younger Than Springtime–and I still like those songs.

    Somewhere along the line I also developed favorites from other musicals by Rogers and Hammerstein, such as Oh, What A Beautiful Morning, June Is Bustin’ Out All Over and You’ll Never Walk Alone. The last soccer was later to become a huge anthem sung by the masses at soccer games.
     
    I'm about three years younger than you.

    You and I grew up during the golden age of Broadway musicals:from Oklahoma! to Music Man to Camelot to Cabaret. It's hard to communicate to younger people the impact Broadway musicals had on American culture in the quarter century after WW II.

    (I'm not denigrating more recent musicals such as Phantom of the Opera or Les Miz, both of which are great musicals, or, for that matter, the Disney animated musicals of the last thirty years, but there just has not been the explosion of great, popular, and influential musicals in the last several decades that occurred starting with Oklahoma!, which appeared in 1943.)

    Part of what is going on here, I think, is just exhaustion of possibilities: who wants to write a fugue nowadays when you know your composition will be compared to J. S. Bach? And, who wants to write a musical when you know it will be compared to Lerner and Lowe or Rodgers and Hammerstein? (Fortunately, a few people are gutsy enough to give it a try.)

    Jonathan also wrote:

    A lot depends on the state of technology when you were a certain age...
     
    Yeah, but our parents' generation did have record players (playing "78s"!). And, back during the ragtime era, there was a booming business in sheet music, though the recordings were very primitive (I happen to know some scholars of the ragtime era -- this seems to be a growing discipline).

    So, yeah, technology matters, but Americans were quite innovative in spreading pop music even before the transistor radio (yes, I do remember my first transistor radio, though being a nerd, I was more interested in how it worked than in what I could listen to).

    Dave

    I remember my first transistor radio, too. I loved it!

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    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
    Mine was red. Bought it from Sears for the princely sum of $10, when McDonalds hamburgers cost $0.12.
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  167. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @gunner29

    At the moment I am listening to Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You album. Here is Darlene Love’s Marshmallow World, as an example, from 1963. Is it my favorite song of all time? No. But the album is very, very good. Brian Wilson rated it as his all-time favorite. One could easily imagine any given song from it being used in a Scorsese period film.
     
    THE Scorsese film song is Gimme Shelter. There was even an op-ed last week where some womyn was bitching about GS as being the go-to bit of music when you want a dark and threatening sound. Being written in 1968, there was a good reason for it being that way.

    That 12 years '64 to '76 was the high point for rock. Then disco hit....

    That's my favorite song, 17 when I first heard it; Keith Richard's opening riff is probably the most recognizable bit of music that any Boomer would recognize.

    I only saw The Greatest Rock and Roll Band In The World ™ (and they were, and are) once, the 1989 Steel Wheels Tour, Bill Wyman’s last. Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, where earlier Ted Nugent set a volume record that AFAIK still stands: he was interrupting milk production at a dairy 18 nautical miles ( as the crow flies) away.

    Earlier I had seen Hal Ashby’s excellent Let’s Spend The Night Together in the now defunct but acoustically superb Glenwood Theater (a cinema, and one of the last real CinemaScope houses with VOTT speakers and the legendary blower cooled 4CX250 powered Fairchild amps before THX standardized big movie sound) and figured I knew what a Stones gig was all about.

    When the curtain rolled back, showing the Stones at last, I found I was quite wrong.

    Half the experience at a Rolling Stones show is the Stones. The crowd reaction is the other half.
    As soon as that intro music plays and you hear the announcer, the crowd-a mixture of people from not quite WWII vet age to teens-is on their feet. No matter where you are seated, even an open air football stadium, the air pressure actually changes. You can feel this wave of humanity.

    Ashby and Scorsese did great work, but I still hold it as a tragedy that the one filmmaker who had actually seen that elephant, so to speak, never got the chance to film the spectacle. She was still working in her eighties, and Mick Jagger certainly knew her, since she had at his behest photographed his wedding to Bianca. I am speaking, of course, of Leni Riefenstahl.

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  168. Here’s a wonderful monologue by the late Patrice O’Neal on why white people like “Creep” so much.

    Perhaps you were being sarcastic because it seems Patrice totally misunderstands the appeal of ‘Creep’ to white males (and not while people.) But then, blacks really don’t understand whites very well, do they.

    I think I first heard that track in my early fifties and it instantly appealed to me, possibly a little because of the similarities to ‘The Air that I Breathe’ were recognizable despite the slower tempo.

    However, the fundamental appeal, I believe, is that it speaks deeply to the lack of confidence young white males have with females. While it is now a long time since I was trying to attract young women and have been married now for many a year, I can still remember those times and the lyrics spoke deeply to that part of me.

    Now, let me be clear. I did not lack confidence when it came to mechanical things or science or programming, but women were a whole other dimension …

    And given how innately (genetically) confident black males are in most social situations I doubt Patrice has anything useful to say on that subject.

    Further, his claims that Whites voted for Obama for the same reason are simply ridiculous. That was all the guilt-tripping (((certain))) sources have pushed constantly in the media for the last 30-40 years …

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    • Replies: @guest
    You're right about the lyrical content of Creep, but of course you have to pay attention to get that message, and it's difficult to catch rock lyrics. I probably didn't know what Creep was supposed to be about when I was a kid.

    A song from around the same period with a similar message that stuck in my mind was REMs Crush with Eyeliner, which had sillier lyrics. A man is infatuated from afar by an attractive woman with a put-together look. His feelings are the "real thing" but he's wondering how he can convince her he is as fake and invented as she is.

    "We're all invented," he says. "Life is strange."

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  169. Mass media has lost its monopoly. But it’s not just that. Some time ago I watched a YouTube video about America’s greatest hits from 1840 or whenever to whatever year it was made. 2013? (Based on I don’t know what metric). Though I couldn’t detect a clear difference after the advent of radio and the rise of the recording industry, the rock and roll era was a whole new game. Perhaps that was tv’s doing?

    Previously, the occasional Stephen Foster made repeat appearances. Come 1955 or so, you see rock personalitie–Elvis, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Madonna–over and over again. They’re like advertising characters, almost. I really understand now why so many people hate disco. It takes over for five or so years in the 70s, and has got to an example of the MSM abusing its monopoly powers. Heck, I enjoy disco, but no one could have genuinely enjoyed it *that* much.

    Plus, everything is kiddie-oriented, with no greater meaning than what little bit of “relevance” you can pull out of “All You Need Is Love.” In earlier years, you heard twaddle and cloying sentiment, but there was also the occasional Tchaikovsky and religious or patriotic music that might have meant something to people. More than the hippies pretended their music meant, anyway.

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  170. @Anonymous
    How Old Were You When you saw your favorite female beauty?

    From Jill de Vries and Patty McGuire to Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. I continue to be amazed.

    So it is with music. I continue to discover things special. I cannot even fathom why someone would think a song in the past would be something definitive, something favourite.

    From Genesis to Deadmau5, freak costumes, dazzing lights, and unexpected wonderful music. It will never end.

    Music differs from particular examples of feminine beauty. I could probably stare at a picture of Elizabeth Taylor or Vivien Leigh several times a day and enjoy myself, but I’ve never bothered.

    They’re great and all, but beauty doesn’t get into you like a good song. Unless you’re in love, but that never lasts. Anyway who falls in love like that with celebrities? Besides weirdos.

    Also, interest in beautiful women isn’t particularly a pubescent thing. That last a lifetime for most men. And our aesthetic sense is ingrained. It doesn’t change with fashion, though the homos in charge of our culture try to change.

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  171. @Pat Boyle
    People get emotional about music. So I have to be cautious when addressing the music preferences of the commenter who writes under the rubric of "Tiny Duck". Mr. Duck likes rap.

    I remember when I was young and I hung around with a lot of musicians. I once casually said that the recorder was not a 'real' musical instrument. I had recently helped some friends by conducting the fourth Brandenburg Concerto (the one with all the recorders).

    As we used to say - "He came out of his tree". That means he sputtered emotionally. But of course he was into classical music not rap. Had he liked black music he might have shot or stabbed me.

    A few years ago there was a fad of playing Mozart to your infant as a way of raising his or her IQ. Alas that doesn't actually work but it may very well be that listening to rap (the music of People of Color) may very well lower your IQ. More research is needed.

    The recorder is indeed a real instrument. You just haven’t heard any good players:

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  172. @Jonathan Mason

    That came out well before I was born but the Beatles were godlike irrespective of birth year.
     
    Yes, there are certain entities that are beyond the reach of criticism, because they are what they are and set the standard for what comes after.

    Examples: Bach, the Beatles, Elvis, the Bible, Miles Davis, mother's cooking, Michelangelo, Monet, Picasso, Chaucer, George Washington, the Supreme Court, Shakespeare, Pele, gravity, Tesla, Hugh Hefner, Queen Elizabeth II. The Pope is also infallible, supposedly.

    Of course you CAN criticize Chaucer or Shakespeare or the Bible, but since they practically created the English language in its modern form, you are going to be kicking away the ladder on which you stand.

    Balderdash. You certainly can criticize figures who set standards. In fact, they deserve all the more negative criticism for setting crappy or fraudulent standards, like Davis and Picasso.

    I find the notion that Chaucer, Shakespeare, and the King James Bible created modern English unpersuasive. They’re convenient for scholars is all. The idea that to criticize them is to kick away your own footing is ridiculous. That may be so with a postmodernist or constructivist who uses logic to argue that there’s no such thing as logic. But if I say modern English sucks in modern English, what’s the issue? Doesn’t make it untrue.

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  173. @Kylie
    "How Old Were You When you saw your favorite female beauty?"

    I was 15. It was 1970 when I watched "Laura" for the first time. I've adored Gene Tierney ever since.

    I was eleven or twelve and she was Ursula Andress in The Blue Max.

    URSULA ANDRESS THE BLUE MAX PHOTO OR POSTER

    The flying was pretty hot too.

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    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
    I still remember seeing this in the movies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZ6mOC4uSX4
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  174. By that “your music taste is shaped by music you heard when you were 14″ metric I am way out of the ordinary. My favorite music is the stuff I started listening seriously when I was in my early 30s. When I was younger I liked simple music, and as I got older I started liking more complex music. The only music I listen to now is classical and prog/metal. My favorite rock song is 46&2 by Tool. Definitely not the stuff that was around when I was 14.

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  175. @Autochthon
    It's true siblings' effects are marked (perhaps lost on Steve, an only child), especially brothers' (men are better at music than women, and accordingly males have better taste).

    I discovered an older brother's copy of Fly By Night (a cassette, and even then an old album already in the late eighties, I guess) and was ever after ruined for the schlock which doubtless otherwise enraptures most teenagers. Then, too, the first album I bought was a copy of 5150 on cassette from a flea market my dad took me too, even before discovering Fly By Night, so I was discerning even then, if I say so myself. In contrast, another, different older brother (who later turned me onto The Cure!) was in adolescence very enamored of True Blue – probably more because he'd been mesmerised by Madonna Ciccione's cicciones bouncing around on eMpTyVee than because of her melodic arrangements or vocal range. I was spared that snare because I'd already discovered the good stuff before puberty.

    My point: it's all very complicated and reflects each individual's circumstances (like so much in life), so there is probably no grand, elegant, and insightful answer to how and why and when these pecadilloes take root in all people.

    @128 Autochthon: “Then, too, the first album I bought was a copy of 5150 on cassette from a flea market my dad took me too, even before discovering Fly By Night, so I was discerning even then, if I say so myself.”

    I loaned my older brother the money to buy his first Doors 45 – cannot remember the A song he was in love with but the B side was “Touch Me” – never became a hit but I liked it better than the A side.

    My father had the opportunity, in his work, to bring home free extra albums sent in by record companies. Although classical music was his life, he brought home the first James Taylor album (before he was famous) and the first Linda Rhonstadt album. I think my brother has both now, along with how many hundreds he kept after my father’s death to augment his own collection.

    We had a haul of old 45s from my grandmother’s attic which had belonged to my mother’s younger siblings. I still remember listening to “Istanbul not Constantinople” and having no idea what they were talking about (I was perhaps 8 or 9). As I said, no real “favorite” song but various tunes elicit various memories, whether I liked the tune or not.

    Totally irrelevant, but I HATE Neil Young’s whiny voice and tunes. Always have, even when I didn’t know his name or fame.

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    • Replies: @guest
    I hate Neil Young's voice, but own several of his albums because I love his songs. His recordings are like a fat chick you just know is gorgeous underneath.
    , @Autochthon
    Yeah. I literally don't think I have ever had the fortitude to listen to a single song of Neil Young's in it's entirety. I've no idea what people hear in him that he's become so famous and admired. At least Bob Dylan (who, likewise, has no talent with his voice or his instrument) penned clever lyrics....
    , @gunner29

    Totally irrelevant, but I HATE Neil Young’s whiny voice and tunes. Always have, even when I didn’t know his name or fame.
     
    Can't stand him either. Bob Dylan is in the same boat.
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  176. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous
    How Old Were You When you saw your favorite female beauty?

    From Jill de Vries and Patty McGuire to Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. I continue to be amazed.

    So it is with music. I continue to discover things special. I cannot even fathom why someone would think a song in the past would be something definitive, something favourite.

    From Genesis to Deadmau5, freak costumes, dazzing lights, and unexpected wonderful music. It will never end.

    How Old Were You When you saw your favorite female beauty?

    I’d seen her in magazines, book covers, tabloid articles (my mother bought all the “goofy papers” each week at the supermarket, Enquirer, Star, Globe, ad nauseum) and whatnot and snippets on TV movie reruns, but exactly what she was never hit me.

    In 1999, I was not quite forty, and AMC put the old footage together and made an attemt to “finish the picture” up until the footage ran out:

    (FULL MOVIE) Something’s Got To Give (1962). SGTG, Starring Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin. Also featuring Cyd Charisse, Wally Cox, John McGiver, and Phil Silvers. Directed by George Cukor. Sung by Frank Sinatra. 1:11

    Nick Arden’s wife Ellen, aka Eve, is mistakenly presumed dead when survivors from a yachting accident testified that they watched her and a companion, Steven, aka Adam, disappear out in the ocean. However, Adam and Eve washed up on an island and survived for 5 years until they were finally rescued by a US Navy Submarine on patrol. But before Ellen returns, Nick Arden (Dean Martin) has her declared legally dead and then marries his second wife Bianca. Posing as a Swedish maid, Mrs. Tic, Ellen Arden (Marilyn Monroe) is reunited with her son Timmy and daughter Lita, and pet dog Tip. But how will the story work itself out in the end? Sadly, we will never know, because filming was abruptly ended by Marilyn’s tragic death.

    At 35 (she turned 36 on the last day of filming completed) she had Phoebe Cates beat all to hell in that pool.

    I saw it on cable one night .
    Just what the world lost hit me like a tsunami, and since then…..

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  177. @Anonymous
    I remember my first transistor radio, too. I loved it!

    Mine was red. Bought it from Sears for the princely sum of $10, when McDonalds hamburgers cost $0.12.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Mine was white, and I think it might have been one of my best Christmas or birthday presents the year I got it. I'm sure it didn't cost more than $10, or so.
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  178. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Davidowitz’s theory applies to masses of listeners who tend to passive in what they listen to. They care about the latest hits and fads. Passion can be passive, i.e. let others decide what you should get all excited about and go along. Most of movie culture is like that. So, people get all excited about the latest Star Wars movie or which movies got Oscar nods.

    But there is another kind of people, like those guys in HIGH FIDELITY, and they have a more idiosyncratic approach to music. I think there is no special rule governing their tastes.
    Same goes for movies, or it used to be case when there used to be a bigger distinction between Art films and Hollywood.

    Some people want to keep up with what’s popular. Some people seek ‘safe space’ in a particular genre. It offers the security of belonging to a tribe. So, some people join Goth music culture, like some people become horror movie aficionados.

    The best rule is It’s Good If It’s Good. What’s good in arts, culture, and entertainment just won’t play by any set of iron rules. It’s unruly like Mozart’s talent in AMADEUS.

    Hollywood had its formula of what constitutes a Good Respectable Oscar-Worthy Movie. Cinephiles had their preference for Foreign Art Films over Hollywood. Foreign films were regarded as more serious and mature. But then, Auteur Theory said that isn’t necessarily true. People of great talent work in the Hollywood system and still project their personality onto the screen. So, maybe Hitchcock or Preston Sturges was just as good as Ingmar Bergman if not better. One shouldn’t be fooled into thinking ‘serious’, ‘heavy’, or ‘intellectual’ is necessarily more creative, original, and brilliant than something fun. But Auteur Theory had its own dubious formula of what constituted worth: directorial-authorial personality. Take this theory to extremes, and the worst films of ‘auteurs’ have more worth than the best film of faceless professionals. Following this logic, Hitchcock’s FAMILY PLOT or TROUBLE WIT HARRY is ‘better’ than MIDNIGHT RUN, one of the best of its kind. And because of this cult of personality, the Auteurs tended to underestimate the works of David Lean and William Wyler.

    Now, Auteurism was legit in that creativity is enriched by ‘personal vision’. Even though a work by a faceless professional can be very good, a work is always more interesting with authorial angle, a vision. REBEL IN THE RYE is a pretty engaging movie about J.D. Salinger, but any skilled professional could have made it. It has good acting, decent writing, and well-oiled narrative, but it’s nothing unique or special. In contrast, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS by the Coens, like MCCABE AND MRS MILLER, is one of a kind because of its mood and connection to themes in other Coens’ movies. As such, one can appreciate it more as ‘art’ than merely as ‘craft’, and there’s no mistaking that the Coens made it.

    And this was the core of Rockism, the idea that rockers had to be personal artists than just composers or performers of fun pop songs. In that respect, it was like the Rock counterpart to the Auteur theory. But it had the same pitfalls. Because of its over-emphasis on personality, it could end up over-praising certain ‘artists’ simply because they were doing their own thing. When Rockism praises Lou Reed of VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO, Neil Young of AFTER THE GOLD RUSH, and Bob Dylan, okay, totally legit. But it got to praising a lot of bad punk rock acts, Patti Smith, amateur eccentrics with gimmick than talent, and other cruddy acts.
    Meanwhile, just like Auteurists denigrated really good and even great films by non-auteur directors for being ‘impersonal’, the Rockists undervalued pop acts. ABBA got no respect in their time from critics, but they had a handful of great songs. And even though Carpenters mostly sang silly pap, a few songs are now recognized as all-time classics. Their version of Superstar is all-time great.
    But Rockists would have none of that. But then, things probably got worse over the yrs with the Idolists. By making mindless fun the center of everything, these ‘critics’ came topraise every industry-idol-product just because it makes their booty wiggle. They might as well publicity agents for the industry. And the movie critics have turned into a bunch of tards giving near unanimous up-votes to stuff like new Star Wars and Black Panther. Idolism of Pop Culture mixed with Idolism of PC has led to cultural rot.

    In the end, Good is Good, and that’s about it. Genius and brilliance may be wasted on silly stuff, but even silly stuff made by talent has that creative spark. Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” is silly but a real blast. McCartney’s Silly Love Song is a wonderful defense of talent for fun’s sake. Fluffy song but pushes all the right buttons, and it’s not easy to do.

    Still, themes and perspective do matter in art. While mere talent and brilliance can liven up anything, they have greater resonance when applied to certain deeper or higher themes. If Mozart had grown up in the 90s and worked as a DJ, he likely would have done amazing things and made a lot of people happy. But it would have been a lot of brilliance about nothing. Orson Welles could have made great TV ads and MTV videos, but as amazing as they may have been as visual stunts, they wouldn’t have the depth and stature of his films. It’s why John Cassavetes told Scorsese to do something worthy of talent instead of just working for Roger Corman. Why waste such talent on making just fun stuff when he could making real art?

    This is why pop music is so dumb since the 90s mostly. Sure, there are still lots of talent, but the main themes are now my booty and my bling. It’s like kids and candy.

    In contrast, the high point of pop music was the Folk Rock where all the threads came together. Rock n Roll released lots of creative energy but was raw and crude. Folk music revived tradition and curiosity. It’s like Enid in GHOST WORLD finds something in pop and youth music in old folk blues that has a Negro singing about some devil got his woman. It has an element of integrity missing in industry pop. Music made not for money or fame but love of music and from lessons of life. But folk movement could be stodgy, political, and dogmatic. Its purism verged on puritanism of Stalinist kind. Woody Guthrie may be an important figure, but he always put me to sleep… along with Seeger and Baez. Pop idiom was expansive and allowed anything fun and ‘groovy’, but it tended toward fluffiness. It’s like Paul Simon’s composition ‘Red Rubber Ball’ — a hit for Cyrkle — is a nice tune but about nothing. Carole King and Burt Bacharach throughout the 60s composed some of the best pop tunes, and they were geniuses in their own right. Still, the greater honor goes to an artist who has something to reveal than to someone who who just comes up with catchy melodies(even though King and Bacharach belong in the Pantheon for sheer brilliance alone). It’s like even though McCartney was Lennon’s equal as a song-smith, Lennon was always the more interesting personality. Same with Neil Young and Stephen Still. Stills had lots of talent and wrote some of the finest songs of 60s and 70s. But his thing was to please people, whereas Neil Young put fort his own take on life and stuff. And even though Carole King had a string of great pop songs in the 60s, her most special song is ‘It’s Too Late’, which really came from the heart. That’s her singer-songwriter moment when she went from a great music maker to an artist.

    With Folk Rock, all these threads came together. The energy of rock n roll, reverence for tradition and deep history of music, acceptance of pop’s eclecticism for new grooves and patterns, and the assertion of one’s own personality. So, there was the thematic balance of the old and traditional, young and exuberant, social and historical, personal and eccentric, egotism and humility, etc. This Folk Rock sensibility informed most of the best music from mid 60s to early 70s, even music that isn’t usually thought of as ‘folk rock’. It applies to the Stones, Beatles, Doors, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, CCR, and etc. A song that perfectly encapsulates all those themes is ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ by Harry Nilsson. It has elements of folk, country, pop, rock, and it’s a unique kind of song. There’s also ‘The Weight’ by the Band.

    But what are the themes of pop music since the 90s? Butts and blings. A lot of people like Nirvana, but I thought grunge was just dumb even though Cobain did have talent. But it was like a sculpture made of gunk scraped out of a sink hole. And while hip hop songs can be fun and catchy, they are nothing but ‘my butt’. The hips were always an integral part of modern music because of black influence, but when butt is all there is, it just gets dumb. You can sense the hips in the songs of Supremes and Four Tops but there is more than ‘my butt’.

    Granted, good is good, and even a butt-song can be remarkable, especially in association with a fine-tuned music video, like Umbrella by Rihanna that nasty-ass smoking hot ho. I can’t recommend it on any moral or cultural grounds, but one has to admit that the video deserves some kind of recognition… like the stripper in ACO. It’s salacious and not good-for-you but good of its kind.

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    • Replies: @guest
    About folk music. By which I mean not music beloved of 60s folkies or what they influenced, but actual traditional music. That music which has been passed down by people singing and playing it, instead of consuming it passively...I never gave it much thought for most of my life. It was either kiddie stuff like De Camptown Races or stuff for specific occasions, mostly Christmas. I never checked into it for itself.

    But now, as an adult, I have. Much of it is new to me, and I can enjoy it like I can't enjoy new pop music. I include here selections from "the American songbook" with known authors--like Hoagy Carmichael's Stardust or Jerome Kern's Can't Help Lovin Dat Man--in addition to songs written by "traditional"--like Over the Hills and Far Away or Greensleeves. Such are exempt from the Rule of 13-14.

    About Nirvana, I was 9 or so when Smells Like Teen Spirit came out, and I for one treated it in my mind like just more pop music. I didn't think of it as fundamentally different from Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston.

    Their aesthetic style was half-anti-aesthetic. Meaning they intentionally sounded ugly, which I guess is the lesson they learned from punk. As if to compensate, on the other hand they tried to be as simple and catchy as possible. Like nursery rhymes.

    Which is why I can hum their tunes in my head right now, though I couldn't say the same of many songs I like better.

    , @Kylie
    "A song that perfectly encapsulates all those themes is ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ by Harry Nilsson. It has elements of folk, country, pop, rock, and it’s a unique kind of song."


    "Everybody's Talkin'" was sung by Harry Nilsson but composed by Fred Neil (who also sang it).

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  179. @Jim Bob Lassiter
    I was eleven or twelve and she was Ursula Andress in The Blue Max.

    URSULA ANDRESS THE BLUE MAX PHOTO OR POSTER


    The flying was pretty hot too.

    I still remember seeing this in the movies:

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    • Replies: @The Alarmist
    Her nickname was "Ursula Undress."
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  180. @PhysicistDave
    Jonathan Mason wrote:

    In 1959, when I was 8 years old, South Pacific was a massive hit movie and soundtrack album and although I did not see the movie until decades later and we did not have the album at home, it seems like the songs were in the air that summer and I knew the lyrics to several of them, like Nothing Like A Dame, and Bali Ha’i and Younger Than Springtime–and I still like those songs.

    Somewhere along the line I also developed favorites from other musicals by Rogers and Hammerstein, such as Oh, What A Beautiful Morning, June Is Bustin’ Out All Over and You’ll Never Walk Alone. The last soccer was later to become a huge anthem sung by the masses at soccer games.
     
    I'm about three years younger than you.

    You and I grew up during the golden age of Broadway musicals:from Oklahoma! to Music Man to Camelot to Cabaret. It's hard to communicate to younger people the impact Broadway musicals had on American culture in the quarter century after WW II.

    (I'm not denigrating more recent musicals such as Phantom of the Opera or Les Miz, both of which are great musicals, or, for that matter, the Disney animated musicals of the last thirty years, but there just has not been the explosion of great, popular, and influential musicals in the last several decades that occurred starting with Oklahoma!, which appeared in 1943.)

    Part of what is going on here, I think, is just exhaustion of possibilities: who wants to write a fugue nowadays when you know your composition will be compared to J. S. Bach? And, who wants to write a musical when you know it will be compared to Lerner and Lowe or Rodgers and Hammerstein? (Fortunately, a few people are gutsy enough to give it a try.)

    Jonathan also wrote:

    A lot depends on the state of technology when you were a certain age...
     
    Yeah, but our parents' generation did have record players (playing "78s"!). And, back during the ragtime era, there was a booming business in sheet music, though the recordings were very primitive (I happen to know some scholars of the ragtime era -- this seems to be a growing discipline).

    So, yeah, technology matters, but Americans were quite innovative in spreading pop music even before the transistor radio (yes, I do remember my first transistor radio, though being a nerd, I was more interested in how it worked than in what I could listen to).

    Dave

    I”Part of what’s going on here, I think, is just exhaustion of possibilities: who wants to write a fugue nowadays when you know your composition will be compared to J.S. Bach? And who wants to write a musical when you know it will be compared to Lerner and Lowe or Rodgers and Hammerstein?”

    You’re looking at it from the perspective of individual artists or potential artists, but really it’s a cultural collapse. Artists don’t fall out of the sky with their own styles and genres and forms, you know. Those are built up over time. And they require different creators communicating with eachother and with a knowledgeable audience. Lack any of that, and most people don’t feel like trying.

    Musical theater never exhausted its possibilities. I find the idea ridiculous. Perhaps the era from Showboat to the last big Rodgers and Hammerstein-y musical was over. I can see people tiring of that. But of course there were musicals before 1927. The Beggar’s Opera is from like the 1720s. It’s a highly durable form.

    Rock and roll hurt Broadway, because they never really got the hang of it, or wanted to. Despite Hair, Grease, Rent, and some others they failed. To be fair, you can make rock musicals, but musicals aren’t made for rock. It doesn’t come across within the form like it does on its own.

    However, just because rock made musicals lose ground doesn’t mean they had to lose that much ground. In order to be viable, musicals didn’t have to copy exactly what was most popular. They just had to stay in touch with the public’s taste. Broadway set up this sort of genre-less Broadway style of music that people just didn’t like the way they like Oklahoma!

    Andrew Lloyd Webber managed to keep the common touch, though he didn’t stay current. In a way he went backwards, to an older operetta style. But people liked it. As they liked Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, and so on. Though Broadway couldn’t dominate pop music with such fare, those plays were successful.

    Another big problem was subject matter, which really demonstrates how out of touch Broadway has become. It’s been dominated by Jews and homos since forever, but for the longest time they catered to general American audiences. (Not without subversion, certainly.) Now they’ve gone wild. Endless AIDS plays. Endless stories of weirdos and alienation and homosexual awakenings. They’re not making stories for us, but for themselves. Which is selfish.

    About Bach and fugues, as I’m sure you know Western music of the modern tonal era flourished for at least 250 years, roughly from Monteverdi to Wagner. (There was good stuff after Wagner, but he’s where I place the beginning of the deadly rot.) No possibilities were exhausted. Bachs, Mozarts, and Beethovens had come and gone, with new geniuses always coming round the corner.

    Granted, what had become the favored outlet for creative expression, harmonic novelty, was becoming exhausted. Because there are really only so many ways to combine notes in odd ways to get a reaction out of people. But classical composers could have gone in for rhythmic variation or melodic variation, or really any other way to stand out besides harmony.

    I imagine there was something of an inferiority complex faced by the artists who trashed Western high culture around the turn of the 20th century. But that’s not why they killed the golden goose. It would be an incredible coincidence if all the arts had been exhausted around the same time. But that’s supposedly what happened in the latter part of the 19th century.

    Not only did they not want to be compared to Bach, they didn’t want to be compared to Michelangelo or Shakespeare or Dostoyevsky, either. All at once. How strange.

    That was a failure of culture, not an exhaustion of the arts. When the culture of the High Middle Ages gave way to the Renaissance, they might have thought it was due to fatigue. In a way it could have been. But 500 years of greatness gushed forth. Then it stopped. I refuse to believe that’s all there was. There’s more in us, we’re not doing it correctly, is all.

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    • Replies: @Anon
    Andrew Lloyd Webber managed to keep the common touch, though he didn’t stay current. In a way he went backwards, to an older operetta style. But people liked it. As they liked Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, and so on. Though Broadway couldn’t dominate pop music with such fare, those plays were successful.

    Gah, heaven help us. If THAT is music...
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  181. @PhysicistDave
    Jonathan Mason wrote:

    In 1959, when I was 8 years old, South Pacific was a massive hit movie and soundtrack album and although I did not see the movie until decades later and we did not have the album at home, it seems like the songs were in the air that summer and I knew the lyrics to several of them, like Nothing Like A Dame, and Bali Ha’i and Younger Than Springtime–and I still like those songs.

    Somewhere along the line I also developed favorites from other musicals by Rogers and Hammerstein, such as Oh, What A Beautiful Morning, June Is Bustin’ Out All Over and You’ll Never Walk Alone. The last soccer was later to become a huge anthem sung by the masses at soccer games.
     
    I'm about three years younger than you.

    You and I grew up during the golden age of Broadway musicals:from Oklahoma! to Music Man to Camelot to Cabaret. It's hard to communicate to younger people the impact Broadway musicals had on American culture in the quarter century after WW II.

    (I'm not denigrating more recent musicals such as Phantom of the Opera or Les Miz, both of which are great musicals, or, for that matter, the Disney animated musicals of the last thirty years, but there just has not been the explosion of great, popular, and influential musicals in the last several decades that occurred starting with Oklahoma!, which appeared in 1943.)

    Part of what is going on here, I think, is just exhaustion of possibilities: who wants to write a fugue nowadays when you know your composition will be compared to J. S. Bach? And, who wants to write a musical when you know it will be compared to Lerner and Lowe or Rodgers and Hammerstein? (Fortunately, a few people are gutsy enough to give it a try.)

    Jonathan also wrote:

    A lot depends on the state of technology when you were a certain age...
     
    Yeah, but our parents' generation did have record players (playing "78s"!). And, back during the ragtime era, there was a booming business in sheet music, though the recordings were very primitive (I happen to know some scholars of the ragtime era -- this seems to be a growing discipline).

    So, yeah, technology matters, but Americans were quite innovative in spreading pop music even before the transistor radio (yes, I do remember my first transistor radio, though being a nerd, I was more interested in how it worked than in what I could listen to).

    Dave

    “Americans were quite innovative in spreading pop music even before the transistor radio”

    True. The music of Stephen Foster was famous worldwide, and they only had sheet music and the old-fashioned hear-and-play method to spread it.

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    "Oh Susanna" was a global smash around 1860.
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  182. @Kylie
    "How Old Were You When you saw your favorite female beauty?"

    I was 15. It was 1970 when I watched "Laura" for the first time. I've adored Gene Tierney ever since.

    I was just watching Leave Her to Heaven, and Dragonwyck is a perennial favorite. Both of which feature her being wooed by Vincent Price, for some reason.

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  183. I can’t really think of a way to test this second question except by asking people with absurdly good memories when they first heard certain songs.

    THE DUKE, on the 1956 album, Brubeck Plays Brubeck

    My first listen . . . September 1957. Age 14, going on 15.

    Saw Brubeck play live 28 – 30 times over the next 55 years.

    Got to know him, his wife, kids, manager, as time went by.

    Received a “like to hear you play” bit of encouragement
    from him during an after-show conversation in 1988.

    Played THE DUKE as he stood next to the piano, 2002
    during a public meet and greet program in his honor.

    Have a by-luck, unscripted photo of the occasion.

    (I’m not a musician. Music is simply one of those things
    to learn more about and Brubeck became my leader.)

    Age 13 – 16 is the time in life to begin “going your own way.”
    In 1957, “On The Road” was the book and “jazz” was still
    the music. What makes you, stays with you, forever.

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  184. @Anonym
    Honesty is very useful in business and in life as it builds trust. Trust builds repeat business. Repeat business is usually where most of the money is.

    Even if you never build or run a business in your life, it also works like that with employees. Employers love honesty in employees because they need to not have to worry what the employee is doing. Mistakes are tolerable if they are owned up to, but mistakes swept under the rug with dishonesty take a lot of diagnostic time and tend to compound.

    I think you can be very daring even when you are honest. It does make it hard to pull "through deception thou shalt wage war" type stuff though, I'll admit. Though in any war situation sneakiness is required. How you treat POWs and the like is where the honesty comes in.

    Good sound thinking. Thanks for your contributions in this thread.

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  185. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @SteveO

    Imagine we had high culture, and Mozart, Beethoven and the rest were still pumping out the hits. 35 year-olds wouldn’t have to drop out of the scene from fatigue.
     
    You don't have to go back that far. Until the triumph of the youth culture, large chunks of popular music were aimed at the entire population. Sure, there were songs that appealed mainly to teenagers, but look at the Hit Parade for any year before 1955, and you'll see many songs that were enjoyed by people of all ages. They still can be, thanks to Youtube, and they are GREAT! There are more good songs from the hit list for any year between 1937 and 1954 than there have been in the entire last decade.

    Even in the early RnR years, you had still had universal-appeal songs like "Stranger on the Shore," by Mr Acker Bilk.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jzx664u5DA

    (How do you embed videos in a comment?)

    This was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May 1962. The Hot 100, mind you, not the Easy Listening chart. It was followed by "I Can't Stop Loving You" by Ray Charles. These were not songs limited to teenage appeal. Dave Brubeck's Take Five was a hit the previous year, too. Everybody knew these songs, just like everybody knew The Twist, because there were so few outlets for listening.

    It's part of the destructive fragmentation of our culture that popular music is so niche-oriented, a trend that predates the internet or even FM radio. It all started with rock-and-roll, and, like society in general, has been on a downhill course since then.

    There are good songs from post-Beatles era, of course, but it's really worth learning to appreciate the greatness of American popular music in its midcentury heyday.

    OT tangent, but there is general celebration of the fact that our news is no longer filtered through a few (usually liberal) outlets. But I wonder how often people stop to consider that the heyday of American power, cohesive culture and rising middle-class living standards was accompanied by, and maybe made possible by, the fact that we all listened to, watched and read basically the same things and took our social models from the same places.

    Good informative post. I always wondered about the mass appeal of all that music from before I was born!

    It’s part of the destructive fragmentation of our culture

    Your observations are doubtless accurate and yet: media fragmentation is also an effect of the internet, without which “alt” type dissenters such as many of us had no way of discovering we weren’t alone, much less conversing with one another and comparing notes. Despite the constant assaults upon free speech by the usual suspects, I’ve a feeling (and a fear) that we’re enjoying a golden age right now.

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  186. @Anon
    Davidowitz's theory applies to masses of listeners who tend to passive in what they listen to. They care about the latest hits and fads. Passion can be passive, i.e. let others decide what you should get all excited about and go along. Most of movie culture is like that. So, people get all excited about the latest Star Wars movie or which movies got Oscar nods.

    But there is another kind of people, like those guys in HIGH FIDELITY, and they have a more idiosyncratic approach to music. I think there is no special rule governing their tastes.
    Same goes for movies, or it used to be case when there used to be a bigger distinction between Art films and Hollywood.

    Some people want to keep up with what's popular. Some people seek 'safe space' in a particular genre. It offers the security of belonging to a tribe. So, some people join Goth music culture, like some people become horror movie aficionados.

    The best rule is It's Good If It's Good. What's good in arts, culture, and entertainment just won't play by any set of iron rules. It's unruly like Mozart's talent in AMADEUS.

    Hollywood had its formula of what constitutes a Good Respectable Oscar-Worthy Movie. Cinephiles had their preference for Foreign Art Films over Hollywood. Foreign films were regarded as more serious and mature. But then, Auteur Theory said that isn't necessarily true. People of great talent work in the Hollywood system and still project their personality onto the screen. So, maybe Hitchcock or Preston Sturges was just as good as Ingmar Bergman if not better. One shouldn't be fooled into thinking 'serious', 'heavy', or 'intellectual' is necessarily more creative, original, and brilliant than something fun. But Auteur Theory had its own dubious formula of what constituted worth: directorial-authorial personality. Take this theory to extremes, and the worst films of 'auteurs' have more worth than the best film of faceless professionals. Following this logic, Hitchcock's FAMILY PLOT or TROUBLE WIT HARRY is 'better' than MIDNIGHT RUN, one of the best of its kind. And because of this cult of personality, the Auteurs tended to underestimate the works of David Lean and William Wyler.

    Now, Auteurism was legit in that creativity is enriched by 'personal vision'. Even though a work by a faceless professional can be very good, a work is always more interesting with authorial angle, a vision. REBEL IN THE RYE is a pretty engaging movie about J.D. Salinger, but any skilled professional could have made it. It has good acting, decent writing, and well-oiled narrative, but it's nothing unique or special. In contrast, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS by the Coens, like MCCABE AND MRS MILLER, is one of a kind because of its mood and connection to themes in other Coens' movies. As such, one can appreciate it more as 'art' than merely as 'craft', and there's no mistaking that the Coens made it.

    And this was the core of Rockism, the idea that rockers had to be personal artists than just composers or performers of fun pop songs. In that respect, it was like the Rock counterpart to the Auteur theory. But it had the same pitfalls. Because of its over-emphasis on personality, it could end up over-praising certain 'artists' simply because they were doing their own thing. When Rockism praises Lou Reed of VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO, Neil Young of AFTER THE GOLD RUSH, and Bob Dylan, okay, totally legit. But it got to praising a lot of bad punk rock acts, Patti Smith, amateur eccentrics with gimmick than talent, and other cruddy acts.
    Meanwhile, just like Auteurists denigrated really good and even great films by non-auteur directors for being 'impersonal', the Rockists undervalued pop acts. ABBA got no respect in their time from critics, but they had a handful of great songs. And even though Carpenters mostly sang silly pap, a few songs are now recognized as all-time classics. Their version of Superstar is all-time great.
    But Rockists would have none of that. But then, things probably got worse over the yrs with the Idolists. By making mindless fun the center of everything, these 'critics' came topraise every industry-idol-product just because it makes their booty wiggle. They might as well publicity agents for the industry. And the movie critics have turned into a bunch of tards giving near unanimous up-votes to stuff like new Star Wars and Black Panther. Idolism of Pop Culture mixed with Idolism of PC has led to cultural rot.

    In the end, Good is Good, and that's about it. Genius and brilliance may be wasted on silly stuff, but even silly stuff made by talent has that creative spark. Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" is silly but a real blast. McCartney's Silly Love Song is a wonderful defense of talent for fun's sake. Fluffy song but pushes all the right buttons, and it's not easy to do.

    Still, themes and perspective do matter in art. While mere talent and brilliance can liven up anything, they have greater resonance when applied to certain deeper or higher themes. If Mozart had grown up in the 90s and worked as a DJ, he likely would have done amazing things and made a lot of people happy. But it would have been a lot of brilliance about nothing. Orson Welles could have made great TV ads and MTV videos, but as amazing as they may have been as visual stunts, they wouldn't have the depth and stature of his films. It's why John Cassavetes told Scorsese to do something worthy of talent instead of just working for Roger Corman. Why waste such talent on making just fun stuff when he could making real art?

    This is why pop music is so dumb since the 90s mostly. Sure, there are still lots of talent, but the main themes are now my booty and my bling. It's like kids and candy.

    In contrast, the high point of pop music was the Folk Rock where all the threads came together. Rock n Roll released lots of creative energy but was raw and crude. Folk music revived tradition and curiosity. It's like Enid in GHOST WORLD finds something in pop and youth music in old folk blues that has a Negro singing about some devil got his woman. It has an element of integrity missing in industry pop. Music made not for money or fame but love of music and from lessons of life. But folk movement could be stodgy, political, and dogmatic. Its purism verged on puritanism of Stalinist kind. Woody Guthrie may be an important figure, but he always put me to sleep... along with Seeger and Baez. Pop idiom was expansive and allowed anything fun and 'groovy', but it tended toward fluffiness. It's like Paul Simon's composition 'Red Rubber Ball' --- a hit for Cyrkle --- is a nice tune but about nothing. Carole King and Burt Bacharach throughout the 60s composed some of the best pop tunes, and they were geniuses in their own right. Still, the greater honor goes to an artist who has something to reveal than to someone who who just comes up with catchy melodies(even though King and Bacharach belong in the Pantheon for sheer brilliance alone). It's like even though McCartney was Lennon's equal as a song-smith, Lennon was always the more interesting personality. Same with Neil Young and Stephen Still. Stills had lots of talent and wrote some of the finest songs of 60s and 70s. But his thing was to please people, whereas Neil Young put fort his own take on life and stuff. And even though Carole King had a string of great pop songs in the 60s, her most special song is 'It's Too Late', which really came from the heart. That's her singer-songwriter moment when she went from a great music maker to an artist.

    With Folk Rock, all these threads came together. The energy of rock n roll, reverence for tradition and deep history of music, acceptance of pop's eclecticism for new grooves and patterns, and the assertion of one's own personality. So, there was the thematic balance of the old and traditional, young and exuberant, social and historical, personal and eccentric, egotism and humility, etc. This Folk Rock sensibility informed most of the best music from mid 60s to early 70s, even music that isn't usually thought of as 'folk rock'. It applies to the Stones, Beatles, Doors, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, CCR, and etc. A song that perfectly encapsulates all those themes is 'Everybody's Talkin' by Harry Nilsson. It has elements of folk, country, pop, rock, and it's a unique kind of song. There's also 'The Weight' by the Band.

    But what are the themes of pop music since the 90s? Butts and blings. A lot of people like Nirvana, but I thought grunge was just dumb even though Cobain did have talent. But it was like a sculpture made of gunk scraped out of a sink hole. And while hip hop songs can be fun and catchy, they are nothing but 'my butt'. The hips were always an integral part of modern music because of black influence, but when butt is all there is, it just gets dumb. You can sense the hips in the songs of Supremes and Four Tops but there is more than 'my butt'.

    Granted, good is good, and even a butt-song can be remarkable, especially in association with a fine-tuned music video, like Umbrella by Rihanna that nasty-ass smoking hot ho. I can't recommend it on any moral or cultural grounds, but one has to admit that the video deserves some kind of recognition... like the stripper in ACO. It's salacious and not good-for-you but good of its kind.

    https://youtu.be/OARVGVv8HdY?t=2m8s

    About folk music. By which I mean not music beloved of 60s folkies or what they influenced, but actual traditional music. That music which has been passed down by people singing and playing it, instead of consuming it passively…I never gave it much thought for most of my life. It was either kiddie stuff like De Camptown Races or stuff for specific occasions, mostly Christmas. I never checked into it for itself.

    But now, as an adult, I have. Much of it is new to me, and I can enjoy it like I can’t enjoy new pop music. I include here selections from “the American songbook” with known authors–like Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust or Jerome Kern’s Can’t Help Lovin Dat Man–in addition to songs written by “traditional”–like Over the Hills and Far Away or Greensleeves. Such are exempt from the Rule of 13-14.

    About Nirvana, I was 9 or so when Smells Like Teen Spirit came out, and I for one treated it in my mind like just more pop music. I didn’t think of it as fundamentally different from Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston.

    Their aesthetic style was half-anti-aesthetic. Meaning they intentionally sounded ugly, which I guess is the lesson they learned from punk. As if to compensate, on the other hand they tried to be as simple and catchy as possible. Like nursery rhymes.

    Which is why I can hum their tunes in my head right now, though I couldn’t say the same of many songs I like better.

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  187. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    http://www.unz.com/isteve/i-agree-with-john-mccain/

    In contrast, Obama’s list seems finicky, pretentious, and political. “Gimme Shelter” is the intellectual’s favorite Rolling Stones song

    Be that as it may, Gimme Shelter is one of the greatest songs in Rock history, a crash-and-burn maelstrom that perfectly encapsulated what became of the 60s. It took a possessed soul to write a such a song; Keith Richards was playing with fire at the time, and lucky for him, he didn’t end up like Hendrix and Morrison. Richards, Hendrix, Floyd, and later Zeppelin were few of the acts who entered the hurricane and made it to the eye of the storm & created form out of the chaos around them. Lennon entered this zone too, but the result was the comparatively tepid ‘Revolution’ and ‘Come Together’ or the shapeless stupidity of ‘Revolution No. 9′ with Yoko or hysterical mess like ‘Cold Turkey’. Only few surfers ride a giant wave and emerge standing. Gimme Shelter is one of those feats, which is prolly why Richards never topped it. Zeppelin finally got there with Kashmir, one of the great magnificent insane song, one that should collapse and burn but takes flight.

    “What’s Going On” is nice, but critics rave over it because it’s politically leftist, unlike 99.9% of the great songs of the 1964-1971 era.

    I can’t agree with this. ‘What’s Going On’ is a very great song. Also, it went against the grain of most leftist politics at the time. When it was released, the summer of love vibes were long gone. Blacks were angrier and more radical. It was the era of Black Panthers. But Gaye’s song is introspective and poignant. Also, instead of calling for love and peace(like so many message-laden songs of the time like the one by Youngbloods), it YEARNS for those things, which adds an element of pathos. It’s eloquent and soft-spoken at the same time, and the way the harmony builds and builds and overflows is a wonder to behold. Not just a great song but a song among many fine songs in a great album.

    I don’t think most critics like stridently political music. John Lennon went in that direction with SOMETIME IN NY CITY, and people got bored. And even though most film critics are leftist and revere Godard, most prefer his pre-Maoist films when he was not so political.

    Every year, critics may feel obligated to praise some movies for political reasons, but they are soon forgotten. Even an estimable movie like GANDHI is forgotten,and few talk about it anymore. But LAWRENCE OF ARABIA is very much alive because of its complex hero. Who talks about PHILADELPHIA anymore? And 12 Yrs a Slave? What’s that in the Age of Wakanda where fantasy blacks fly around in spaceships and have technology enough to conquer and enslave all the other races.

    So, I think the canonization of “What’s Going On” has to do with its soulful beauty than with ideology. Gaye had the combo of grit and cream, something of both Otis Redding and Sam Cooke.

    It’s quite funny, actually, how there’s so little in the way of leftist lyrics in rock songs from the Sixties and early Seventies. It drives critics crazy.

    I don’t think that really matters. The main ‘message’ of Rock was found not in the lyrics but in the volume, attitude, and style.
    As the songs were about fun, sex, drugs, hedonism, cult of youth, arrested development, fashion over tradition, amnesia over memory, self-indulgence, and etc, Rock culture was always bound to do more damage to Conservative culture than to Liberal culture that tended to be more permissive.

    Granted, the classic left was none-too-happy about Rock’s capitalist-consumerist excesses. Rock is about Me than We. But then, Me-culture is at odds with Conservative Communal values as well. In the end, both classic left and conservatism were harmed by Rock culture that produced lots of great songs from release of tremendous youthful energy and creativity, but its overall social impact was most dire and may even be fatal. Pop music and culture have a lot do with the current fall of Europe.

    For a time at least, as with Cinema, there was the hope that the Artist would define the future of Rock music. In the early 70s, cult of the singer-songwriter envisioned artist making music from ther hearts and souls. Cat Stevens worked wonderfully in this mode, and there were many others. Some were more personal, like Neil Young, while others could really write a sparkling tune, like Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce. Harry Chapin was a bit sentimental and over-the-top, and I never liked Cats in the Cradle but Taxi works as schmaltz. Gordon Lightfoots’s “If you could read my mind” is a gem.
    And this was also the time of New Hollywood when the hope was that American ‘auteurs’ would remake cinema as the sold studio system was gone forever.
    But as it happened, it wasn’t the Artists but the Industry that got to define the future. The industry pooled together lots of clever people and, over time, concocted formulas that could be milked over and over for mass consumption. And so, we are now in the Age of Idol.

    Maybe that’s the only purpose left for Art now. Idol Art or Iconic Art, now that Pop Art is dead too. Traditionally, iconography was for the great holy figures like Jesus and Disciples. Modernism, radicalism, and Pop sensibility did a good job of iconoclasm on traditional modes of art.
    Then, in the absence of old icons, new ones rose, especially the big stars of Hollywood and Pop Music.

    But now, with internet culture and with everyone owning a smartphone and photoshopping tools, iconography is no longer for the old gods or big stars. It’s for everyone. And with homos and trannies leading the way, it’s orgasmic as well. The result is a kind of Iconogasm where everyone’s idea of ‘art’ is to iconize whatever suits their fancy.
    I can see that as the new frontier in the Art World. Just like homos rallied culture to iconize the homo as angel and saint, the role of future artists is to work as universal iconographers for hire.

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  188. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @guest
    I"Part of what's going on here, I think, is just exhaustion of possibilities: who wants to write a fugue nowadays when you know your composition will be compared to J.S. Bach? And who wants to write a musical when you know it will be compared to Lerner and Lowe or Rodgers and Hammerstein?"

    You're looking at it from the perspective of individual artists or potential artists, but really it's a cultural collapse. Artists don't fall out of the sky with their own styles and genres and forms, you know. Those are built up over time. And they require different creators communicating with eachother and with a knowledgeable audience. Lack any of that, and most people don't feel like trying.

    Musical theater never exhausted its possibilities. I find the idea ridiculous. Perhaps the era from Showboat to the last big Rodgers and Hammerstein-y musical was over. I can see people tiring of that. But of course there were musicals before 1927. The Beggar's Opera is from like the 1720s. It's a highly durable form.

    Rock and roll hurt Broadway, because they never really got the hang of it, or wanted to. Despite Hair, Grease, Rent, and some others they failed. To be fair, you can make rock musicals, but musicals aren't made for rock. It doesn't come across within the form like it does on its own.

    However, just because rock made musicals lose ground doesn't mean they had to lose that much ground. In order to be viable, musicals didn't have to copy exactly what was most popular. They just had to stay in touch with the public's taste. Broadway set up this sort of genre-less Broadway style of music that people just didn't like the way they like Oklahoma!

    Andrew Lloyd Webber managed to keep the common touch, though he didn't stay current. In a way he went backwards, to an older operetta style. But people liked it. As they liked Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, and so on. Though Broadway couldn't dominate pop music with such fare, those plays were successful.

    Another big problem was subject matter, which really demonstrates how out of touch Broadway has become. It's been dominated by Jews and homos since forever, but for the longest time they catered to general American audiences. (Not without subversion, certainly.) Now they've gone wild. Endless AIDS plays. Endless stories of weirdos and alienation and homosexual awakenings. They're not making stories for us, but for themselves. Which is selfish.

    About Bach and fugues, as I'm sure you know Western music of the modern tonal era flourished for at least 250 years, roughly from Monteverdi to Wagner. (There was good stuff after Wagner, but he's where I place the beginning of the deadly rot.) No possibilities were exhausted. Bachs, Mozarts, and Beethovens had come and gone, with new geniuses always coming round the corner.

    Granted, what had become the favored outlet for creative expression, harmonic novelty, was becoming exhausted. Because there are really only so many ways to combine notes in odd ways to get a reaction out of people. But classical composers could have gone in for rhythmic variation or melodic variation, or really any other way to stand out besides harmony.

    I imagine there was something of an inferiority complex faced by the artists who trashed Western high culture around the turn of the 20th century. But that's not why they killed the golden goose. It would be an incredible coincidence if all the arts had been exhausted around the same time. But that's supposedly what happened in the latter part of the 19th century.

    Not only did they not want to be compared to Bach, they didn't want to be compared to Michelangelo or Shakespeare or Dostoyevsky, either. All at once. How strange.

    That was a failure of culture, not an exhaustion of the arts. When the culture of the High Middle Ages gave way to the Renaissance, they might have thought it was due to fatigue. In a way it could have been. But 500 years of greatness gushed forth. Then it stopped. I refuse to believe that's all there was. There's more in us, we're not doing it correctly, is all.

    Andrew Lloyd Webber managed to keep the common touch, though he didn’t stay current. In a way he went backwards, to an older operetta style. But people liked it. As they liked Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, and so on. Though Broadway couldn’t dominate pop music with such fare, those plays were successful.

    Gah, heaven help us. If THAT is music…

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  189. @Anon
    Davidowitz's theory applies to masses of listeners who tend to passive in what they listen to. They care about the latest hits and fads. Passion can be passive, i.e. let others decide what you should get all excited about and go along. Most of movie culture is like that. So, people get all excited about the latest Star Wars movie or which movies got Oscar nods.

    But there is another kind of people, like those guys in HIGH FIDELITY, and they have a more idiosyncratic approach to music. I think there is no special rule governing their tastes.
    Same goes for movies, or it used to be case when there used to be a bigger distinction between Art films and Hollywood.

    Some people want to keep up with what's popular. Some people seek 'safe space' in a particular genre. It offers the security of belonging to a tribe. So, some people join Goth music culture, like some people become horror movie aficionados.

    The best rule is It's Good If It's Good. What's good in arts, culture, and entertainment just won't play by any set of iron rules. It's unruly like Mozart's talent in AMADEUS.

    Hollywood had its formula of what constitutes a Good Respectable Oscar-Worthy Movie. Cinephiles had their preference for Foreign Art Films over Hollywood. Foreign films were regarded as more serious and mature. But then, Auteur Theory said that isn't necessarily true. People of great talent work in the Hollywood system and still project their personality onto the screen. So, maybe Hitchcock or Preston Sturges was just as good as Ingmar Bergman if not better. One shouldn't be fooled into thinking 'serious', 'heavy', or 'intellectual' is necessarily more creative, original, and brilliant than something fun. But Auteur Theory had its own dubious formula of what constituted worth: directorial-authorial personality. Take this theory to extremes, and the worst films of 'auteurs' have more worth than the best film of faceless professionals. Following this logic, Hitchcock's FAMILY PLOT or TROUBLE WIT HARRY is 'better' than MIDNIGHT RUN, one of the best of its kind. And because of this cult of personality, the Auteurs tended to underestimate the works of David Lean and William Wyler.

    Now, Auteurism was legit in that creativity is enriched by 'personal vision'. Even though a work by a faceless professional can be very good, a work is always more interesting with authorial angle, a vision. REBEL IN THE RYE is a pretty engaging movie about J.D. Salinger, but any skilled professional could have made it. It has good acting, decent writing, and well-oiled narrative, but it's nothing unique or special. In contrast, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS by the Coens, like MCCABE AND MRS MILLER, is one of a kind because of its mood and connection to themes in other Coens' movies. As such, one can appreciate it more as 'art' than merely as 'craft', and there's no mistaking that the Coens made it.

    And this was the core of Rockism, the idea that rockers had to be personal artists than just composers or performers of fun pop songs. In that respect, it was like the Rock counterpart to the Auteur theory. But it had the same pitfalls. Because of its over-emphasis on personality, it could end up over-praising certain 'artists' simply because they were doing their own thing. When Rockism praises Lou Reed of VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO, Neil Young of AFTER THE GOLD RUSH, and Bob Dylan, okay, totally legit. But it got to praising a lot of bad punk rock acts, Patti Smith, amateur eccentrics with gimmick than talent, and other cruddy acts.
    Meanwhile, just like Auteurists denigrated really good and even great films by non-auteur directors for being 'impersonal', the Rockists undervalued pop acts. ABBA got no respect in their time from critics, but they had a handful of great songs. And even though Carpenters mostly sang silly pap, a few songs are now recognized as all-time classics. Their version of Superstar is all-time great.
    But Rockists would have none of that. But then, things probably got worse over the yrs with the Idolists. By making mindless fun the center of everything, these 'critics' came topraise every industry-idol-product just because it makes their booty wiggle. They might as well publicity agents for the industry. And the movie critics have turned into a bunch of tards giving near unanimous up-votes to stuff like new Star Wars and Black Panther. Idolism of Pop Culture mixed with Idolism of PC has led to cultural rot.

    In the end, Good is Good, and that's about it. Genius and brilliance may be wasted on silly stuff, but even silly stuff made by talent has that creative spark. Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" is silly but a real blast. McCartney's Silly Love Song is a wonderful defense of talent for fun's sake. Fluffy song but pushes all the right buttons, and it's not easy to do.

    Still, themes and perspective do matter in art. While mere talent and brilliance can liven up anything, they have greater resonance when applied to certain deeper or higher themes. If Mozart had grown up in the 90s and worked as a DJ, he likely would have done amazing things and made a lot of people happy. But it would have been a lot of brilliance about nothing. Orson Welles could have made great TV ads and MTV videos, but as amazing as they may have been as visual stunts, they wouldn't have the depth and stature of his films. It's why John Cassavetes told Scorsese to do something worthy of talent instead of just working for Roger Corman. Why waste such talent on making just fun stuff when he could making real art?

    This is why pop music is so dumb since the 90s mostly. Sure, there are still lots of talent, but the main themes are now my booty and my bling. It's like kids and candy.

    In contrast, the high point of pop music was the Folk Rock where all the threads came together. Rock n Roll released lots of creative energy but was raw and crude. Folk music revived tradition and curiosity. It's like Enid in GHOST WORLD finds something in pop and youth music in old folk blues that has a Negro singing about some devil got his woman. It has an element of integrity missing in industry pop. Music made not for money or fame but love of music and from lessons of life. But folk movement could be stodgy, political, and dogmatic. Its purism verged on puritanism of Stalinist kind. Woody Guthrie may be an important figure, but he always put me to sleep... along with Seeger and Baez. Pop idiom was expansive and allowed anything fun and 'groovy', but it tended toward fluffiness. It's like Paul Simon's composition 'Red Rubber Ball' --- a hit for Cyrkle --- is a nice tune but about nothing. Carole King and Burt Bacharach throughout the 60s composed some of the best pop tunes, and they were geniuses in their own right. Still, the greater honor goes to an artist who has something to reveal than to someone who who just comes up with catchy melodies(even though King and Bacharach belong in the Pantheon for sheer brilliance alone). It's like even though McCartney was Lennon's equal as a song-smith, Lennon was always the more interesting personality. Same with Neil Young and Stephen Still. Stills had lots of talent and wrote some of the finest songs of 60s and 70s. But his thing was to please people, whereas Neil Young put fort his own take on life and stuff. And even though Carole King had a string of great pop songs in the 60s, her most special song is 'It's Too Late', which really came from the heart. That's her singer-songwriter moment when she went from a great music maker to an artist.

    With Folk Rock, all these threads came together. The energy of rock n roll, reverence for tradition and deep history of music, acceptance of pop's eclecticism for new grooves and patterns, and the assertion of one's own personality. So, there was the thematic balance of the old and traditional, young and exuberant, social and historical, personal and eccentric, egotism and humility, etc. This Folk Rock sensibility informed most of the best music from mid 60s to early 70s, even music that isn't usually thought of as 'folk rock'. It applies to the Stones, Beatles, Doors, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, CCR, and etc. A song that perfectly encapsulates all those themes is 'Everybody's Talkin' by Harry Nilsson. It has elements of folk, country, pop, rock, and it's a unique kind of song. There's also 'The Weight' by the Band.

    But what are the themes of pop music since the 90s? Butts and blings. A lot of people like Nirvana, but I thought grunge was just dumb even though Cobain did have talent. But it was like a sculpture made of gunk scraped out of a sink hole. And while hip hop songs can be fun and catchy, they are nothing but 'my butt'. The hips were always an integral part of modern music because of black influence, but when butt is all there is, it just gets dumb. You can sense the hips in the songs of Supremes and Four Tops but there is more than 'my butt'.

    Granted, good is good, and even a butt-song can be remarkable, especially in association with a fine-tuned music video, like Umbrella by Rihanna that nasty-ass smoking hot ho. I can't recommend it on any moral or cultural grounds, but one has to admit that the video deserves some kind of recognition... like the stripper in ACO. It's salacious and not good-for-you but good of its kind.

    https://youtu.be/OARVGVv8HdY?t=2m8s

    “A song that perfectly encapsulates all those themes is ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ by Harry Nilsson. It has elements of folk, country, pop, rock, and it’s a unique kind of song.”

    “Everybody’s Talkin’” was sung by Harry Nilsson but composed by Fred Neil (who also sang it).

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  190. I’m also from the “Creep” generation. Almost all the new music I listened to was between 13 and 27. The music that most imprinted on me was probably during the school year 93-94. Anybody else who grew up in the Northeast might remember that winter as unusually severe. Some school districts in my area had fifteen snow days that winter. That’s a lot of time to listen to the radio for a kid stuck at home.

    Mr. Jones by Counting Crows most reminds me of that time.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    93-94

    I really like the rock music from those years, even though I was pushing 35.

    , @Saint Louis
    I remember that winter being particularly cold. Our school district in VT almost never had snow days, but we did have a "cold" day in January of '94 when it was -36 F.

    I wasn't so big on Counting Crows. But I remember Weezer's blue album being a big favorite of mine and my friends that spring. And, I'm a bit embarrassed to say, we also loved Adam Sandler's "They're All Gonna Laugh at You" which came out around the same time. I wouldn't rate Sandler's "At a Medium Pace" as one of my favorites these days.
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  191. @Peripatetic commenter

    Here’s a wonderful monologue by the late Patrice O’Neal on why white people like “Creep” so much.
     
    Perhaps you were being sarcastic because it seems Patrice totally misunderstands the appeal of 'Creep' to white males (and not while people.) But then, blacks really don't understand whites very well, do they.

    I think I first heard that track in my early fifties and it instantly appealed to me, possibly a little because of the similarities to 'The Air that I Breathe' were recognizable despite the slower tempo.

    However, the fundamental appeal, I believe, is that it speaks deeply to the lack of confidence young white males have with females. While it is now a long time since I was trying to attract young women and have been married now for many a year, I can still remember those times and the lyrics spoke deeply to that part of me.

    Now, let me be clear. I did not lack confidence when it came to mechanical things or science or programming, but women were a whole other dimension ...

    And given how innately (genetically) confident black males are in most social situations I doubt Patrice has anything useful to say on that subject.

    Further, his claims that Whites voted for Obama for the same reason are simply ridiculous. That was all the guilt-tripping (((certain))) sources have pushed constantly in the media for the last 30-40 years ...

    You’re right about the lyrical content of Creep, but of course you have to pay attention to get that message, and it’s difficult to catch rock lyrics. I probably didn’t know what Creep was supposed to be about when I was a kid.

    A song from around the same period with a similar message that stuck in my mind was REMs Crush with Eyeliner, which had sillier lyrics. A man is infatuated from afar by an attractive woman with a put-together look. His feelings are the “real thing” but he’s wondering how he can convince her he is as fake and invented as she is.

    “We’re all invented,” he says. “Life is strange.”

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    • Replies: @Peripatetic commenter
    I have just re-listened to a live version of the song:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFkzRNyygfk

    1. Yes, some of the lines are indistinct enough that it could be hard to understand them,

    2. However, the basic meaning, is clear at a visceral level, I think. The important lines are very clear.

    It also has that tingle up the spine feeling which makes it a great song.

    I can still remember when I first heard Bohemian Rhapsody (30 or so years before I first heard Creep) and it was also a great song but mainly because it was much more intellectual rather than speaking directly to my basic emotions.
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  192. @3g4me
    @128 Autochthon: "Then, too, the first album I bought was a copy of 5150 on cassette from a flea market my dad took me too, even before discovering Fly By Night, so I was discerning even then, if I say so myself."

    I loaned my older brother the money to buy his first Doors 45 - cannot remember the A song he was in love with but the B side was "Touch Me" - never became a hit but I liked it better than the A side.

    My father had the opportunity, in his work, to bring home free extra albums sent in by record companies. Although classical music was his life, he brought home the first James Taylor album (before he was famous) and the first Linda Rhonstadt album. I think my brother has both now, along with how many hundreds he kept after my father's death to augment his own collection.

    We had a haul of old 45s from my grandmother's attic which had belonged to my mother's younger siblings. I still remember listening to "Istanbul not Constantinople" and having no idea what they were talking about (I was perhaps 8 or 9). As I said, no real "favorite" song but various tunes elicit various memories, whether I liked the tune or not.

    Totally irrelevant, but I HATE Neil Young's whiny voice and tunes. Always have, even when I didn't know his name or fame.

    I hate Neil Young’s voice, but own several of his albums because I love his songs. His recordings are like a fat chick you just know is gorgeous underneath.

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    • Replies: @Sparkon

    ...like a fat chick you just know is gorgeous underneath.
     
    Fortunately, my imagination never got carried away to that extent. Rambling comments about musical favorites, however...

    Certainly there weren't that many fat chicks anyway when I was a young dude coming of age in the late 50s and early 60s. Maybe they hid out in at home. Anyway, by my middle teen years, I was somewhat under the influence of an older pal, who commonly quipped when eyeballing a slender lass: "Closest to the bone, Sweeter is the meat," after the tune by Louis Prima from 1958.

    Like most senior Baby Boomers born in the first phase of the post-war baby boom (1946-1951), I was exposed to the Great American Songbook and other pop standards long before "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" (#13 from 1954) ever hit the airwaves. When we got our first record player at home in the mid 50s, the first few records we had were those 4-song 45s with hits from My Fair Lady and South Pacific.

    In the late 50s, I got a great Christmas present in the form of a germanium diode radio shaped like a little rocket ship -- Space Age Sputnik frenzy! Along with one mono earpiece, It had an alligator clip that turned any solid metal object into a big AM antenna.

    http://www.esnarf.com/7395a.jpg

    Late at night, alone in bed, radio clipped to bedsprings or floor lamp, I could slide the spaceship's nose antenna to tune in stations from long distances, and hear songs like "Raunchy" (three different versions in Top 40 in 1958), "Honeycomb" by Jimmie Rogers, "Short Shorts" by the Royal Teens, "Summer Place" by Percy Faith, "Green Leaves of Summer" by the Brothers Four from The Alamo, "Walk on By" from Leroy Van Dyke, which spent 19 weeks at #1 on Billboard's country charts in 1961, and 1959's "The Big Hurt" from (Miss) Toni Fisher.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlE6eHEENg4
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  193. @guest
    "Americans were quite innovative in spreading pop music even before the transistor radio"

    True. The music of Stephen Foster was famous worldwide, and they only had sheet music and the old-fashioned hear-and-play method to spread it.

    “Oh Susanna” was a global smash around 1860.

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  194. @Marty T
    I'm also from the "Creep" generation. Almost all the new music I listened to was between 13 and 27. The music that most imprinted on me was probably during the school year 93-94. Anybody else who grew up in the Northeast might remember that winter as unusually severe. Some school districts in my area had fifteen snow days that winter. That's a lot of time to listen to the radio for a kid stuck at home.

    Mr. Jones by Counting Crows most reminds me of that time.

    93-94

    I really like the rock music from those years, even though I was pushing 35.

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  195. @ScarletNumber
    Day after Day was produced by George Harrison.

    Day after Day was produced by George Harrison.

    Yes, and he played slide guitar on it. George is another example of a musician I appreciate more now. He got overshadowed by Lennon and McCartney as he developed.

    McCartney in particular got on his own roll and forgot for a while that there was other talent that maybe just possibly had something to do with the greatness of the whole enterprise.

    By the time of Abby Road, George was quite possibly making the best songs, i.e. “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun.”

    Besides, he was at Long Beach taking pictures of Formula One racing in the streets when I was there, so he wins the cool points.

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    • Replies: @guest
    Speaking as a fan of George Harrison*, his songs were of comparable quality to the bigger boys at least from Rubber Soul on, assuming they weren't Lennon-McCartney(Martin)'d-up by the others. But there were fewer of them. And though I like some of his solo stuff, he wasn't operating on a Beatles level after All Things Must Pass.

    Which is my favorite post-Beatles Beatles album, but there oughtta be an asterisk considering George was only allowed a coupla slots per album with the group, which he routinely wasted on sitar crud. Also, Phil Spector had something to do with it.

    McCartney produced a lot of crap after the Beatles, but starting with Revolver at least he was the driving creative force, and he continued to produce at a high level through Band on the Run in '73. Which is about as long as anyone usually stays a commanding force in pop music.

    *I have an odd appreciation for #3s in big groups, as with Dennis Wilson in the Beach Boys and Roger Taylor of Queen.

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  196. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    What to make of someone like Kate Bush. There is certainly talent there, but she can’t really sing, can’t really dance, and is a total flake. She may have spawned the terrible Tori Amos, total flake.

    Another weird case. Alainis Morissette. Talented yes, but it’s like 24/7 PMS syndrome. How can anyone stand it, esp with that whinish nasal nagging that never ends.

    I think all of them have something to do with creating a generation of pussy marchers.

    Many people say Tom Waits is a great lyricist, but the guy sounds like he’s choking on too many cigarettes. It’s like listening to an old car with busted muffler.

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    • Replies: @Anon
    If I had to recommend albums by a female artist, and there are very few female musicians I like, I would start with The Dreaming by Kate Bush. It's a frankly weird record. The iSteve crowd would freak out if they listened to it, because nearly all the people here are awfully conventional in their tastes. I'd follow it up with Hounds of Love by Kate Bush (also weird, but a little more comprehensible.)

    After that, I start running out of albums by female songwriters to recommend. I don't like Carole King that much. Maybe I'd add Let's Knife by Shonen Knife, which reaches the epitome of an oddball kind of kitsch. Other female artistes never seem to write music, just the lyrics, so I can't recommend them with the idea that they're creators. It takes almost zero talent to knock off the average song lyric.
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  197. @al gore rhythms
    I'm the same age as you, yet my memories of that song are from my mid twenties. I don't think it existed when we were 13.

    Exactly. I believe Drinkin’ in LA came out in 1997. I was born in 1980 and clearly remember listening to the CD in my car while driving home from high school.

    Note that I was also 13 when Creep was released and have liked Radiohead ever since. I still think OK Computer (also from 1997) is the best album of the ’90s.

    I don’t think I could name a single favorite song, but I definitely have favorite bands, mostly from the mid-’90s to early ’00s; Radiohead, Beck, Cake, The Strokes, Coldplay, Fountains of Wayne.

    I listened to a lot of psychedelic rock from the ’60s to ’70s in high school, too. E.g. I had every Jefferson Airplane album and most of The Doors’ albums, but funny enough, the only ’60s and ’70s rock I still listen to regularly is The Who and some Led Zeppelin.

    The one album that most brings back memories of high school though is Sublime (1996).

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    • Replies: @guest
    Sublime is one of those lighting in a bottle phenomena. I don't remember that group ever being pushed by the MSM, but they've stuck in people's minds, to the point where it feels as if I see someone wearing one of their logo t's daily.

    That's based on a few songs, each of which I might guess came from a different bsnd. But they're bound together by a strange mix of rock, reggae, hip-hop, and punk. I can't even tell what ethnicity they're supposed to be.

    Santeria is the one that takes me back. My sister is still into the Wrong Way.
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  198. @Jim Don Bob
    Mine was red. Bought it from Sears for the princely sum of $10, when McDonalds hamburgers cost $0.12.

    Mine was white, and I think it might have been one of my best Christmas or birthday presents the year I got it. I’m sure it didn’t cost more than $10, or so.

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  199. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Compare 1965 to 2005. Shocking contrast.

    https://digitaldreamdoor.com/pages/bg_hits/bg_hits_65.html

    https://digitaldreamdoor.com/pages/bg_hits/bg_hits_2005.html

    Maybe a lot of talented people back then wanted to write songs.

    But now, most talented people want to run the business and just hire hacks or fall back on industry formula.

    So, if people like Phil Spector, Barry Mann, and Cynthia Weil were creating music back then, today they just want to run the industry and focus mainly on the money.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You%27ve_Lost_That_Lovin%27_Feelin%27

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    • Replies: @danand
    “Maybe a lot of talented people back then wanted to write songs.”

    I had this same thought the other day as I was listening to “early 70’s music” delivered via an Alexa request. Could be a greater percentage the most talented of that time decided music was the highest calling? Towards the end of that decade the Bee Gees took over a big chunk of the industries song writing. I guess that may have actually coincided with music coming into its own as an industry?
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  200. @Ganderson
    My first album was The Beatles VI. Got it as a gift when I was sick in the hospital between 7th and 8th grades. Revolver is great! Revolver, Rubber Soul and Yesterday and Today (which contained the songs from the British releases of Rubber Soul and Revolver) are really all the Beatles one needs. And while I thought it great upon first release, St. Pepper sounds overproduced and precious today. I feel the same about the White Album, although like Sgt Pepper I loved it at first. BTW- I believe there's a lot of good stuff on those later records, but Revolver, Rubber Soul and Yesterday and Today were the top of the world, ma!

    A couple years later I was doing a report for English 10 on the History of Rock and Roll. The name Grateful Dead came up again and again. I had no idea who they really were- but figured that they must be cool. I bought Axomoxoa and was entranced, particularly by St. Stephen and China Cat Sunflower. Then, I found out that they were playing at the Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis! I went, and have been hooked ever since!

    Also songs can become imprinted later, too. Barbara H. by Fountains of Wayne will always remind me of driving around Western Mass to my oldest son's HS lacrosse games.

    You probably know already, but FoW has a western Massachusetts connection. One of the founding members went to Williams College and lives in Northampton.

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    • Replies: @Ganderson
    Just so. I think Valley Winter Song is about the Pioneer (Conn. River)valley. I love those guys.
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  201. @guest
    Steve, how do you feel about the Air That I Breathe? Either the more popular Hollies version, which came out in '74, or the version by Albert Hammond of It Never Rains in Southern California fame, which came out in '72. I ask because it's basically the exact same song as Creep, besides the lyrics.

    In fact, I believe Radiohead was successfully sued, and now Albert Hammond and some other guy share official writing credit with the band.

    I was 10 years-old when Creep came out, and though I enjoy it, I like the Hollies' version better. I remember my mother listening to the Hollies as a kid, but that was more the Bus Stop era. I don't remember really being into the Air That I Breathe until my 20s.

    Air That I Breathe is good stuff. As far as I recall, all my favorite songs came out between the ages of 18 and 28, so I must be out of synch. Or maybe it’s just that the decade between 1965 and 1975 had the best pop music in American history….

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  202. @Buzz Mohawk

    Day after Day was produced by George Harrison.
     
    Yes, and he played slide guitar on it. George is another example of a musician I appreciate more now. He got overshadowed by Lennon and McCartney as he developed.

    McCartney in particular got on his own roll and forgot for a while that there was other talent that maybe just possibly had something to do with the greatness of the whole enterprise.

    By the time of Abby Road, George was quite possibly making the best songs, i.e. "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun."

    Besides, he was at Long Beach taking pictures of Formula One racing in the streets when I was there, so he wins the cool points.

    Speaking as a fan of George Harrison*, his songs were of comparable quality to the bigger boys at least from Rubber Soul on, assuming they weren’t Lennon-McCartney(Martin)’d-up by the others. But there were fewer of them. And though I like some of his solo stuff, he wasn’t operating on a Beatles level after All Things Must Pass.

    Which is my favorite post-Beatles Beatles album, but there oughtta be an asterisk considering George was only allowed a coupla slots per album with the group, which he routinely wasted on sitar crud. Also, Phil Spector had something to do with it.

    McCartney produced a lot of crap after the Beatles, but starting with Revolver at least he was the driving creative force, and he continued to produce at a high level through Band on the Run in ’73. Which is about as long as anyone usually stays a commanding force in pop music.

    *I have an odd appreciation for #3s in big groups, as with Dennis Wilson in the Beach Boys and Roger Taylor of Queen.

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  203. @Steve Sailer
    For some reason, the Grateful Dead were dull studio musicians, so it's hard for people like me familiar only with their half-dozen best-known studio songs to understand the passion their live performances aroused. Their most famous studios songs are very nice and not at all polarizing.

    Like Rational Expressions, I figured out the Grateful Dead just a couple of years ago, when an old college friend and I discovered that over two thousand of their concerts were recorded and are archived online and available for free downloads at bt.etree.org, an updated version of the old Deadhead tape-swapping sub-culture.

    This would not have been of any use to my friend and me, but for the existence of a ratings website, Heady Version which lists user ratings of the best Dead live performances, song by song.

    Neither my friend nor I had considered the Dead to be first-rank musicians from the rock era, despite having attended a couple of Dead concerts in 1981, and considered them to be of note largely for their role in the genesis of the San Francisco Sixties scene, and for the Deadhead sub-culture and the fan entourage that trailed along with them in their tours. Nevertheless, we determined to work our way through the best rated of their concert performances, sporadically, over a year or two. We listened to about three dozen versions of their dozen most popular songs.

    It was a revelation. The Dead, in their best concerts, easily rank alongside the seminal rock acts of their time for their musicianship. And no, the stereotype that they are best enjoyed and understood under the aegis of chemical influence is only that, a humorous stereotype. Their best 10 to 20 minute performances of their songs are far from self-indulgent, show great improvisational musical intelligence, and the lyrics to their songs are written to a very high standard.

    It took me 45 years or more to figure them out, but it is not surprising that it did. The barriers to appreciation are considerable.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Like Zappa or, perhaps, a couple of regional acts in their day, (Danny Gatton comes to mind, as does the Numbers Band (15-60-75)) Deadheads were usually exclusively into the GD and their spinoff acts and no one else cared about them. It was like being a used book store: L Ron Hubbard and Ayn Rand sold to their adherents and were pulp fodder otherwise.

    All too much of the GD revolved around Jerry Garcia, who was a pretty decent guitar player when young, but devolved into a fat lazy hippie whose tripping guitar parts were ever more twee and pointless. And with his beautifully crafted hippie sandwich guitars made of many chunks of hard exotic woods glued together, plugged into the Alembic preamp ( the front end of a Fender Showman in a rack mount chassis, used also by many bassists and Dave Gilmour) driving McIntosh stereo amps, he sounded like a bone drill chewing into your skull. And the vocals were, well, pretty smoothball and high register, testosteroneless-Grace Slick and Chrissie Hynde had more manhood than any of those trippin' crooners.
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  204. @Saint Louis
    Exactly. I believe Drinkin' in LA came out in 1997. I was born in 1980 and clearly remember listening to the CD in my car while driving home from high school.

    Note that I was also 13 when Creep was released and have liked Radiohead ever since. I still think OK Computer (also from 1997) is the best album of the '90s.

    I don't think I could name a single favorite song, but I definitely have favorite bands, mostly from the mid-'90s to early '00s; Radiohead, Beck, Cake, The Strokes, Coldplay, Fountains of Wayne.

    I listened to a lot of psychedelic rock from the '60s to '70s in high school, too. E.g. I had every Jefferson Airplane album and most of The Doors' albums, but funny enough, the only '60s and '70s rock I still listen to regularly is The Who and some Led Zeppelin.

    The one album that most brings back memories of high school though is Sublime (1996).

    Sublime is one of those lighting in a bottle phenomena. I don’t remember that group ever being pushed by the MSM, but they’ve stuck in people’s minds, to the point where it feels as if I see someone wearing one of their logo t’s daily.

    That’s based on a few songs, each of which I might guess came from a different bsnd. But they’re bound together by a strange mix of rock, reggae, hip-hop, and punk. I can’t even tell what ethnicity they’re supposed to be.

    Santeria is the one that takes me back. My sister is still into the Wrong Way.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    I bet the guys in Sublime were about 14 when the Clash was big.
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  205. @Steve Sailer
    Was Scorsese a cameraman for the Woodstock documentary?

    He’s listed as an assistant director and was one of the people who edited the footage. Perhaps serious Scorsese scholars might be able to spot which sequences he edited from the style of the cuts. Or they could just ask him.

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  206. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Anon
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW3gKKiTvjs

    What to make of someone like Kate Bush. There is certainly talent there, but she can't really sing, can't really dance, and is a total flake. She may have spawned the terrible Tori Amos, total flake.

    Another weird case. Alainis Morissette. Talented yes, but it's like 24/7 PMS syndrome. How can anyone stand it, esp with that whinish nasal nagging that never ends.

    I think all of them have something to do with creating a generation of pussy marchers.

    Many people say Tom Waits is a great lyricist, but the guy sounds like he's choking on too many cigarettes. It's like listening to an old car with busted muffler.

    If I had to recommend albums by a female artist, and there are very few female musicians I like, I would start with The Dreaming by Kate Bush. It’s a frankly weird record. The iSteve crowd would freak out if they listened to it, because nearly all the people here are awfully conventional in their tastes. I’d follow it up with Hounds of Love by Kate Bush (also weird, but a little more comprehensible.)

    After that, I start running out of albums by female songwriters to recommend. I don’t like Carole King that much. Maybe I’d add Let’s Knife by Shonen Knife, which reaches the epitome of an oddball kind of kitsch. Other female artistes never seem to write music, just the lyrics, so I can’t recommend them with the idea that they’re creators. It takes almost zero talent to knock off the average song lyric.

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    • Replies: @guest
    Lyricism is a particular skill, and rock music isn't well fit for it. I'm not sure I know all the lyrics to any of my favorite rock songs. That could just be me; I'm not particularly attentive. But in my experience people remember lyrics to jazz standards, musical numbers, operettas, religious music, nursery rhymes, patriotic songs, and so forth, much, much better than rock or pop.

    Almost no one reads rock lyrics outside of following along with the music or for clarification. Nobel laureate Bob Dylan might be an exception, but his music is wordy, and written in a word-friendly subgenre. In fact, most famous rock lyricists who also write music write lyric-y and intellectualized songs, where the words intentionally stand out. Paul Simon, Neil Young, Roger Waters, etc. Morrissey spoke for all the whiney losers out there. John Lennon thought he was Lewis Carroll.

    Other famous rock lyricists got known not for their words so much as being on a famous team. Hal David made up words for Burt Bacharach, Leiber for Stoller, Taupin for Elton, Evans for Livingston, Weil for Mann, one of the Hollands for the other Holland and Dozier. (Whom I include because I love the Four Tops.) I'm not sure any of them would be known without their partners.

    Jazz standards are different. I could very easily see myself reading a Lorenz Hart, Cole Porter, or Ira Gershwin poem. Musical theater, from which a lot of standards derive, isn't exactly made for poetry, but the words matter a whole lot more than in rock.

    My favorite musical lyricist is probably Frank Loesser. The bestest librettist ever is the mighty W.S. Gilbert. I actually have read his poetry without any connection to the music.

    Funny thing about musicals, there's the music and the lyrics, but also what they call the book, which is the libretto. They have writers who specialize in all three, because they require very specific skills. Yet we expect rock musicians to write the music and lyrics, produce the albums, come up with the "concept" and storyline of the album if it's that kind, plan out the stage performance, be their own PR figure, etc.

    I know most acts have people to do these things for them, but there's at least the illusion with the higher-regarded ones. They can only be good at so much, however, and the lyrics aren't prioritized.

    , @Anon
    Joni Mitchell was, along with King, the best female composer of her time. Stunning talent.

    I love Stevie. Nicks, of course. Pat Benatar didn't write most of her hit songs, but she could sure belt them out.

    Dione Warwick and Dusty Springfield did great version of Bacharach songs.

    Recently, I thought Cady Groves showed great promise. But the industry worked on her and tried to turn her into another Katy Perry. Too bad with that.
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  207. @guest
    You're right about the lyrical content of Creep, but of course you have to pay attention to get that message, and it's difficult to catch rock lyrics. I probably didn't know what Creep was supposed to be about when I was a kid.

    A song from around the same period with a similar message that stuck in my mind was REMs Crush with Eyeliner, which had sillier lyrics. A man is infatuated from afar by an attractive woman with a put-together look. His feelings are the "real thing" but he's wondering how he can convince her he is as fake and invented as she is.

    "We're all invented," he says. "Life is strange."

    I have just re-listened to a live version of the song:

    1. Yes, some of the lines are indistinct enough that it could be hard to understand them,

    2. However, the basic meaning, is clear at a visceral level, I think. The important lines are very clear.

    It also has that tingle up the spine feeling which makes it a great song.

    I can still remember when I first heard Bohemian Rhapsody (30 or so years before I first heard Creep) and it was also a great song but mainly because it was much more intellectual rather than speaking directly to my basic emotions.

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  208. @ScarletNumber
    Day after Day was produced by George Harrison.

    Very interesting. He seemed to have mastered that super-clean 70s classic rock sound that made the Traveling Wilbury’s so great.

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  209. Born to come of age during the era of classic rock, and with many interests, listening to British Invasion bands along with American acts like CSN&Y, Santana, The Grateful Dead and The Doors. First album I really listened to on the family phonograph, remember those, was my sister’s Meet The Beatles. That led to The Rolling Stones, The Who and later to American and Canadian bands. Once we got a stereo with a decent turntable, I wore out Santana Abraxas and other albums.

    Growing up in the music business gave me access to all kinds of music and I attended many concerts starting early. The classical canon in those years was sometimes called the Three B’s although we also listened to Mozart, Chopin, Shubert, some of the Russians and others both on recordings and by piano-playing relatives.

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  210. @Jonathan Mason
    I think George Orwell got it right about popular songs, although he was writing about poetry in the context of Kipling:


    But what is the peculiarity of a good bad poem? A good bad poem is a graceful
    monument to the obvious. It records in memorable form--for verse is a
    mnemonic device, among other things--some emotion which very nearly
    every human being can share.


    The merit of a poem like 'When all the world
    is young, lad' is that, however sentimental it may be, its sentiment is
    'true' sentiment in the sense that you are bound to find yourself
    thinking the thought it expresses sooner or later; and then, if you
    happen to know the poem, it will come back into your mind and seem better
    than it did before. Such poems are a kind of rhyming proverb, and it is a
    fact that definitely popular poetry is usually gnomic or sententious.

    So there you have it:

    I Did It My Way
    I Wanna Hold Your Hand
    The Sound of Music
    Yesterday
    Nine To Five
    She's Gone
    Isn't She Lovely?
    Baby, One More Time
    I Will Survive
    This Land Is Your Land
    You'll Never Walk Alone
    Rehab
    The Way We Were
    You've Lost That Loving Feeling

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EF-xxcOYlKE

    So there you have it:

    I Did It My Way
    I Wanna Hold Your Hand
    The Sound of Music
    Yesterday
    Nine To Five
    She’s Gone
    Isn’t She Lovely?
    Baby, One More Time
    I Will Survive
    This Land Is Your Land
    You’ll Never Walk Alone
    Rehab
    The Way We Were
    You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

    Those Were the Days

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  211. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @PiltdownMan
    Like Rational Expressions, I figured out the Grateful Dead just a couple of years ago, when an old college friend and I discovered that over two thousand of their concerts were recorded and are archived online and available for free downloads at bt.etree.org, an updated version of the old Deadhead tape-swapping sub-culture.

    This would not have been of any use to my friend and me, but for the existence of a ratings website, Heady Version which lists user ratings of the best Dead live performances, song by song.

    Neither my friend nor I had considered the Dead to be first-rank musicians from the rock era, despite having attended a couple of Dead concerts in 1981, and considered them to be of note largely for their role in the genesis of the San Francisco Sixties scene, and for the Deadhead sub-culture and the fan entourage that trailed along with them in their tours. Nevertheless, we determined to work our way through the best rated of their concert performances, sporadically, over a year or two. We listened to about three dozen versions of their dozen most popular songs.

    It was a revelation. The Dead, in their best concerts, easily rank alongside the seminal rock acts of their time for their musicianship. And no, the stereotype that they are best enjoyed and understood under the aegis of chemical influence is only that, a humorous stereotype. Their best 10 to 20 minute performances of their songs are far from self-indulgent, show great improvisational musical intelligence, and the lyrics to their songs are written to a very high standard.

    It took me 45 years or more to figure them out, but it is not surprising that it did. The barriers to appreciation are considerable.

    Like Zappa or, perhaps, a couple of regional acts in their day, (Danny Gatton comes to mind, as does the Numbers Band (15-60-75)) Deadheads were usually exclusively into the GD and their spinoff acts and no one else cared about them. It was like being a used book store: L Ron Hubbard and Ayn Rand sold to their adherents and were pulp fodder otherwise.

    All too much of the GD revolved around Jerry Garcia, who was a pretty decent guitar player when young, but devolved into a fat lazy hippie whose tripping guitar parts were ever more twee and pointless. And with his beautifully crafted hippie sandwich guitars made of many chunks of hard exotic woods glued together, plugged into the Alembic preamp ( the front end of a Fender Showman in a rack mount chassis, used also by many bassists and Dave Gilmour) driving McIntosh stereo amps, he sounded like a bone drill chewing into your skull. And the vocals were, well, pretty smoothball and high register, testosteroneless-Grace Slick and Chrissie Hynde had more manhood than any of those trippin’ crooners.

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  212. @3g4me
    @128 Autochthon: "Then, too, the first album I bought was a copy of 5150 on cassette from a flea market my dad took me too, even before discovering Fly By Night, so I was discerning even then, if I say so myself."

    I loaned my older brother the money to buy his first Doors 45 - cannot remember the A song he was in love with but the B side was "Touch Me" - never became a hit but I liked it better than the A side.

    My father had the opportunity, in his work, to bring home free extra albums sent in by record companies. Although classical music was his life, he brought home the first James Taylor album (before he was famous) and the first Linda Rhonstadt album. I think my brother has both now, along with how many hundreds he kept after my father's death to augment his own collection.

    We had a haul of old 45s from my grandmother's attic which had belonged to my mother's younger siblings. I still remember listening to "Istanbul not Constantinople" and having no idea what they were talking about (I was perhaps 8 or 9). As I said, no real "favorite" song but various tunes elicit various memories, whether I liked the tune or not.

    Totally irrelevant, but I HATE Neil Young's whiny voice and tunes. Always have, even when I didn't know his name or fame.

    Yeah. I literally don’t think I have ever had the fortitude to listen to a single song of Neil Young’s in it’s entirety. I’ve no idea what people hear in him that he’s become so famous and admired. At least Bob Dylan (who, likewise, has no talent with his voice or his instrument) penned clever lyrics….

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  213. @Marty T
    I'm also from the "Creep" generation. Almost all the new music I listened to was between 13 and 27. The music that most imprinted on me was probably during the school year 93-94. Anybody else who grew up in the Northeast might remember that winter as unusually severe. Some school districts in my area had fifteen snow days that winter. That's a lot of time to listen to the radio for a kid stuck at home.

    Mr. Jones by Counting Crows most reminds me of that time.

    I remember that winter being particularly cold. Our school district in VT almost never had snow days, but we did have a “cold” day in January of ’94 when it was -36 F.

    I wasn’t so big on Counting Crows. But I remember Weezer’s blue album being a big favorite of mine and my friends that spring. And, I’m a bit embarrassed to say, we also loved Adam Sandler’s “They’re All Gonna Laugh at You” which came out around the same time. I wouldn’t rate Sandler’s “At a Medium Pace” as one of my favorites these days.

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    • Replies: @guest
    Adam Sandler I imagine wanted to be a serious singer at some point, and the opening and closing of At a Medium Pace are convincing enough that it makes the middle part funny, though it's overkill.

    You can imagine him performing it to an unprepared audience, like an Andy Kaufman prank. "Am I actually hearing this?"

    , @Marty T
    In my more mid-atlantic area it was ice storm after ice storm. Was a big Weezer fan too.
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