Listening again to The Vapors (see "Guilty Pleasures," below), I was reminded of visceral connections between the music we listen to and the lives we lead.
Time's gonna make you a man someday
And you won't wanna go out and play
With your friends
You'll just sit at home and watch News at Ten
And the pub's'll be closed and you won't have been
With your friends
And he picks up the paper and appears to be quite serious
And you smile at him and agree 'cause he's your old man
But still I can't hear you, still I can't hear you
You make no sense to me
Still I can't hear you, still I can't hear you
When the time comes I'll disagree with your policy
But you don't wanna sit tight, you don't wanna play cool
You don't want a whole life like your first day at school
And I wanna fight wars and I wanna die young
So don't keep saying 'like father, like son.'
Or try this (far more obscure) one:
Don't stop me having fun, don't make me be your age
You don't know what's going on, you're past that stage
Now when you say 'you should know better,' well, maybe sooner or later
You'll be as good as me, nobody could be better
Well that's alright, I know what I like
I wanna run with the pack now.
There's maybe five years (more or less) of your life when such lyrics connect with you, but when they do, that's all that matters. In the rebellion mode, pop articulates the nonverbal sneer, often for those too shy and geeky to actually sneer themselves.
I was thinking about the role of snotty adolescence in pop apropos of two reunions on the horizon. On November 26, in Cleveland, Eric Carmen is scheduled to finally take the stage (for the first time in 31 years) with Jim Bonfanti, Wally Bryson, and Dave Smalley, a reunion rumoured for several years. I was never much of a Raspberries fan; like Dylan, they struck me as one of those bands more important for their influence than their product. But then I'm probably overly influenced by the fact that, when I was a kid, the radio was full of Carmen's later emo ballads. Oh, and Dirty Dancing. There's a bit of humor in this: on the website advertising the show, one can sign up for a group discount for the hotel, as though it's a conference or a wedding. "Hey, The Raspberries are performing! And there's a group discount!" I'm joking, sort of... It's actually quite thoughtful of them to consider such things. But there is an element of the ridiculous in it, too. Wonder if the hotel takes AARP?
The other reunion is far more prominent and has received more attention, partly because of the irony. According to Launch, Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey may be heading back into the studio. On his website, Townsend says they're both writing and will meet in mid-December to suss out the possibility of a Who2 project. They've been touring on and off for years, but haven't recorded anything new in two decades. The oft-noted irony here is of course the famous line "Hope I die before I get old," a line which has been thrown at The Who at least since their last studio album. (Townsend turns 60 next year.)
I'm pretty heartened by all this news, as snarky as I may sound. The adolescent sneer doesn't weather very well, and talent, after all, doesn't go anywhere. I'm not sure music should be something we outgrow. Most of my postings, I realize, consider the question of pop music as an aspect of personal identity, and boxing up and putting away any part of your identity seems risky to me. Some part of this may be the comfort fans receive from the idea that those who shaped their identities in youth are still out there, writing, performing shaping. If they haven't outgrown it, why should we? Plus, age is a lot more relative now. Listen to "When I'm 64," and it sounds impossibly old. But as McCartney himself approaches the magic number (Next June), it's good to see that he's out there doing what he does, most recently with Live Aid. And he has a toddler.
And besides, older fans have the scratch to go places and see older artists. You can buy a lot more music with a real job than you can on a college stipend. That's a good thing.