Friday, August 29, 2008

How did we let Springsteen leapfrog Nirvana?

Two things have happened in the past week. First, I renewed my affection for music made between 1990 and 1996. Second, the democrats have been holding their election year convention in Denver. I was watching Joe Biden's speech, and the overeager applause, when it occurred to me how funny it is that the new generation is listening to the generation before last. Old, dried-up hippies are the new heroes for people in their twenties.

It's safe to say Nirvana wouldn't have shared the same enthusiasm. The band mocked The Youngbloods' call to "try and love one another right now" at the opening of the Nevermind song "Territorial Pissings." Mocked it, because, as children of divorce, they didn't much want to believe people who talked about love. They rightly called into question a generation who spent so much energy trying to let everyone know they cared for people when, in fact, they were so self-absorbed that they ended marriages for the sake of their own happiness.

In the 1994 film SFW, the cynical catch-phrase of "so fucking what," at one point a valid response to a shitty situation, becomes comodified to the point of meaninglessness. At the end of the film, the phrase is replaced in popularity by "everything matters," which becomes equally commercialized. Life has officially imitated art, so now we sing Springsteen again and talk about the change that's just around the corner, about the dignity of work, about the importance of self-sacrifice. All of these are virtues. But how confident can we be that the next generation won't be mocking our hypocrisy?

2 comments:

Tony said...

Richie, I love you, but please don't ever confuse the Youngbloods with the Yardbirds again. The Yardbirds never got down with that hippie bullshit. Listen to "Mr. You're A Better Man Than I." Or watch Blow-Up. They were some angry motherfuckers.

I'm glad you watched S.F.W. I've always thought of it as the Gen-X equivalent of Easy Rider.

Matt said...

chris cornell's acoustic 'like suicide' on the SFW soundtrack blows me away everytime.