We were listening to R.E.M.’s Automatic for the People on the drive from Clear Spring to Sharpsburg tonight, and Ashley remarked on how old she felt. “I remember when this album came out, and it must have been somewhere on everyone’s Top Ten that year, you would think. And then you look at the lists for this past year, and it’s all shit. It’s like there’s no good music anymore.”
You know, I think she’s on to something, too. Maybe one or two news artists per year will come out with something worth listening too, but for the most part it’s older, more established acts making the good music. And how depressing is it that, with so many young people making music, so many bands comprised of teenagers and twenty year-olds getting on the radio, in such a tumultuous political and social time as this, that the only people with the balls to make serious political and social statements in their songs are old guard stalwarts Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen? Modern music isn’t just shrill and superficial — it’s fucking gutless. Every once in awhile a hip-hop artist will release a record with some political statements, but it always seems to get lost in the dissonance of homophobia and bitch-smacking.
Ashley subscribes to Rolling Stone and Spin; on the cover of the new Rolling Stone is Panic at the Disco, and on Spin, My Chemical Romance — two bands as useless as they are pretentious. It’s enough to make be reconsider my stance on the death penalty. I’m reminded of the opening lines of Johnny Cash’s anthem in defense of the young generation, “What Is Truth?”:
The old man turned on the radio
Said, “Where did all of the old songs go?
“Kids sure play funny music these days . . .
“And they play it the strangest ways.”
I'm 26. I’m the old man. The old man is me. And I will go to Hell.