Posted tagged ‘baby-boomers’

The History of Punk Playlist #37

2015/06/30

Here’s the History of Punk Playlist on CJSR from 29 June, when Professor David Mills returned to the show!

This show focused on the protest music of the Boomers. Professor Mills had 5 main themes:

1. As baby-boomers came of age, they discovered the world really wasn’t that great. They decided it had to change, and they’d be the ones to do it. With music specifically, they built on the existing foundation of folk and protest songs and wrote about what affected them.

2. The 1960s were a period of growing awareness of social problems like Civil Rights, the environment, and Indigenous rights, and the popular music of the time reflected this.

3. The Vietnam War was the issue impacting white teenagers most directly in the USA – because of that whole draft thing. The war also heightened existing social problems domestically.

4. Canadians were especially prescient observers of the situation in the United States – while not having to worry about being drafted, they could still see how the behaviour of the country was in sharp contrast to its founding myths. Such as, you know, liberty!

5. By the end of the 1960s, folks increasingly believed that the war had come home (at Kent State for example). Because of this, the Boomers were in conflict with the older generation and those in power. This led to the politics of generational identity.

Playlist:
1. The Clash (London) – “Know Your Rights”
2. The Yardbirds (London) – “Shape of Things to Come”
3. Thunderclap Newman (London) – “Something in the Air”
4. Hedgehoppers Anonymous (Peterborough) – “It’s Good News Week”
5. Barry McGuire (Pasadena) – “Eve of Destruction”
6. Rolling Stones (London) – “Street Fighting Man”
7. Steppenwolf (Toronto) – “Monster”
8. Creedence Clearwater Revival (El Cerrito) – “Fortunate Son”
9. Country Joe and the Fish (Berkeley) -“The ‘Fish’ Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag”
10. The Bossmen (Toronto) – “Brainwashed”
11. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young (Not in Laurel Canyon) – “Ohio”

KSU

Advertisements

2012 Festival of Ideas: The Importance of Music Communities

2012/10/24

On Wednesday, 24 October, I’m helping launch the University of Alberta’s 2012 Festival of Ideas at Edmonton City Hall. It’s free and open to the public, and runs from Noon-1:00PM:

Here’s what my talk is about:

When it comes to research, my interest lies in the relationship between music and society. The best way to do this is to study music communities. So, in this presentation, I’m talking about 3 different scenes from Seattle history, and each can tell us something about the past. Seattle was far removed for the traditional music centres in the United States – cities like New York, or Los Angeles. But that didn’t stop the kids living there. Youths making music can spark big change in culture – and kids participating in music communities allows them opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Take a kid named James for example. He grew up in the Seattle ghetto in the 1950s. At this time, Seattle was still inherently racist – blacks couldn’t live outside the Central District, a section of town only a few square miles wide. They couldn’t work outside of it either, or go to school. It was an amazing music community though. Folks might not have had good jobs, but that didn’t stop them from playing jazz, the blues, or R’n’B. And despite the intolerance, it was still part of a network that spanned the entire continent. Locals were exposed to some of the greatest musicians in the world.

Now James, at first he couldn’t afford a guitar – so he played a broomstick. When he finally saved enough money to buy one, he was taught by the other players in the community – the ones who had nothing to lose by passing along their knowledge. This kid James? He’s better known as Jimi Hendrix!

Have you heard of the Baby-Boomers? They’ve probably made sure you have! If not, chat with your grandparents. They’re the HUGE generation that came of age in the 1960s. When it came to music in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, these youths went out and did it themselves. They created a successful teen dance network throughout the region, where everyone participated by attending the shows. They had FUN. Friendly rivalries between bands meant that if a band’s members went to the same school as you, you had to get out there and show your support. As the Baby-Boomers grew up, they moved out of the community halls and went on to dominate mainstream culture.

When the next generation was coming of age, the Baby-Boomers didn’t pass control of mainstream culture over to their descendants. Instead, they held on to it. This meant the next generation, Generation X, had to create an alternative to the mainstream. They were a small generation, and didn’t have the same opportunities of their predecessors. So, they worked on a shift underground. The foundation of this was personal expression. In music communities across North America, participants developed their own cultural institutions, and  throughout the 1980s built a stronger and stronger network. This all culminated with the Seattle music scene, and the band Nirvana – whose song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” finally brought the cultural spotlight onto a generation. If you don’t know Nirvana you might recognize the name Dave Grohl, who went on to form the Foo-Fighters. Also, you might be hearing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” a lot in the near future, since it’s the name of a sitcom being created by the writer of Big Bang Theory.

The 3 examples from Seattle show that youth create change by participating in music communities. And each shift meant this was no longer their parent’s music. For Jimi Hendrix, it was helping him overcome a life of poverty. For the Baby-Boomers, it asserting cultural dominance, and having fun doing it. For Generation X, it was speaking out against the status-quo and doing something different.

It might just be for themselves, or it might spark ideas that impact the whole world. If you have different ideas, your local music community can do the same for you. For example, in Edmonton, there’s record labels, music venues, and magazines. The only thing a local scene doesn’t have is an excuse NOT to participate. So go get your ideas out there!

 

this IS for you…to read.

2012/04/03

Here’e a link to my MA thesis, This is Not For You: The Rise and Fall of Music Milieux in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, 1950s -1990s.

“Somebody needs to figure out a new way to smash a guitar”

2011/08/04

it’s been a while

In the 1950s, we had beatniks and rebels without a cause.
In the 1960s, we had mods and hippies.
In the 1970s, we had glam rockers and punks.
In the 1980s,  we had metal and…other stuff.
In the 1990s, we had flannel and more flannel.

not just for lumberjacks

Then starting in the 2000s, we had…everybody dressing up like their favorite character from the last fifty years. The fashion became the passion, and folks with no connection to the subculture those styles came from regurgitated rather than invented something of their own. Often, these styles drew from music communities that formed around a particular grievance or attitude, – a relationship that can be symbolized by, say, reggae music and dreadlocks. Of course, the foundation for both of those was Rastafarianism, and anybody that knows anything about that branch of Christianity knows how stupid an affluent white person with dreads is. Or at least they should be stupid for not being informed on their stylistic choice, but nowadays there’s no meaning behind the styles – the superficial is all that matters.

This may be the reason why I’m still wearing the same clothes I had in high school.
(more…)

Here we are now. Entertain us: The politics of boredom

2011/03/15

Late 1991. A couple kids from an affluent family gets picked up by their parents from soccer practice and are chaffered to their safe suburban home. While the youths are waiting for dinner to be ready, they turn on MTV. But instead of MC Hammer dancing around in really baggy pants denying them even the chance to touch…this…they see something different but at the same time familiar: kids that are waiting for something to happen. Kids that are disaffected and bored. Kids just like them. And then there’s a guy with a guitar on the screen, not wearing Hammer pants or dressed like Gene Simmons or Vince Neil or even Axl Rose.  Hold on  a second – he’s just like them. And he’s screaming out the words, “here we are now, entertain us.”

It seemed like in an instant, these kids finally had a soundtrack for how they felt about their lives.

The beginning riff in the Nirvana video for their song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was the exact moment that the politics of boredom hit the mainstream. They’d been around in the underground for ages before that though. Let’s go for a listen through history and see what that tells us.

copyright John Mostrom 2003

(more…)