Sunday, August 3, 2008

What do you do when you become a classic?

As we grow up, we learn that the word classic is usually used to describe something that stays great throughout time. In school, we study the classics: Shakespeare, Dante, Twain. When we are looking for our first car, we drool over the thought of owning a classic: perhaps a '64 Mustang or '67 Chevy. So how come as the decades pass, each generation distastefully refers to their parents’ moldy oldies as classic music? And why, although generally acknowledged as good, does classic music get categorized by young listeners as old people music? What do you do when you realize that the bands you listened to in high school are now considered classic rock?

The exact scenario above just happened to This Girl. I was passing the time watching music videos, tuned into VH1 Classic, and the music video for Soul Asylum's Misery from 1995 came on. As always, the first 4 chords reminded me of hot and stagnant summer nights spent playing capture the flag and an 11 o'clock curfew. This music video would inevitably always be on late night MTV as I recapped the days events with my best friend on the phone, or with my Marvin the Martian diary. I sat on the couch and watched the video with a smile on my face, but then realized that this was now considered a classic rock song! I remembered that my other favorite band from the mid 90's, The Gin Blossoms, toured with Soul Asylum this summer. They came to Chastain Amphitheater as part of the Classic Chastain music series. What!? Classic who?! Now I consider myself pretty hip and trendy, and I am most certainly up to speed on fresh new music. So how come bands I think are cool, would now be boo-ed by my 17-year-old cousin? What is going on here!

I thought back to some of the other music that gets played on this 'classic' music channel. Dire Straits, Michael Jackson, and wait, Blues Traveler?! What constitutes a classic band? When I was a youth, classic rock was considered Led Zepplin, The Who, Boston, and The Beatles. Now those bands at the time hadn't released a new album in a decade or more, even if they were still participating in the occasional U.S. tour. Others such as Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, and U2 had been around for 10-30 years but not considered old or classic. They were still releasing new albums, which generally had a new sound from their previous ones. Generating a new sound allowed the bands to be enjoyed and discovered by a younger audience, who then went backwards to fall in love with their earlier works. So maybe keeping up with the times, redefining the original sound, and creating fresh chords is what keeps a band from being considered a classic.

There are moments in every person’s life where they begin to feel old. Maybe it’s the first time a child puts Mr. or Ms. in front of their name. Or maybe it’s the first time you leave a bar early because you ‘have a busy day tomorrow’. But for every music enthusiast, the gauge of age comes when their favorite album from high school is filed in the classic rock category of the used record store. They say that all things get better with age. If this is true, then the brilliance that is The Doors, The O’Jays, and Earth, Wind, and Fire will soon be studied as ‘The Classics’ in the next music appreciation class. With that being said, if Bon Jovi, Blues Traveler, and Soul Asylum are considered classic, then just think of This Girl as an old fart.

But that's just This Girl talking...


jennyshields7 said...

Finally your BFF gets referenced in a blog ;)

And doesn't "classic" also convey a level of greatness? As much as I loved Soul Asylum, did they really do enough to be called "classic"??

-josh said...

please never mention marvin the martian again. ever.

p.s. the "word verification" below is "whalegod." how appropriate, hippie.