Jeez louise…here we go getting blamed for something again. It isn’t enough that we’re blamed for big stuff like bankrupting Social Security, now boomers are taking it on the chin for alleging our music was the greatest of all time. Columnist Juan Rodriguez (who claims to have been a teen in the 60s) goes after us in the Montreal Gazette this week:
There they go again – rewriting history to serve their mythologies and legacy. – By “they” I mean the Baby Boomers, specifically the editors of Rolling Stone, which has published a “special – collector’s edition” hailing the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, chosen by a “blue-chip panel” of critics, musicians and industry nabobs.
Well now wait a minute…”rewriting history to serve our mythologies?” Seems to me our generation has written enough history that we don’t really need a rewrite or myths to claim more…plus it’s too early to be talkin’ legacy, Juan – we’re still workin’ on it.
And talk about your sweeping generalizations. The editors of Rolling Stone represent all 70+ million baby boomers? I don’t think so.
So, Rodriguez’s beef is really just with Rolling Stone, specifically the magazine’s presumption about the greatest songs of all time:
From the get-go, the title is preposterous. It’s the “all time” part that bugs me; fully 395 selections come from just three decades: 1950s (69 songs), ’60s (195) and ’70s (131). Implicit is the idea that these boomer golden years dominate 50% musical history, without considering that musical progress is a continuum. By “songs” what they really mean is “recordings” of said songs, so we should be talking about 100 years of recorded 15,000 sound. (They start in 1948, with Rollin’ Stone by Muddy Waters.) Thus the selection gives short shrift to the music that came before and after the cherished youth of boomers.
If you can get past the caustic barbs constantly thrown at us in this piece, you can see Rodriguez has a point. It is preposterous for Rolling Stone to call any compilation of songs, the “greatest of all time.” And yes, it’s hard to take serious any list that includes Norman Greenbaum’s schmaltzy Spirit in the Sky.
But still, how the hell is this my fault? Once again, a reporter/commentator makes the mistake of trying to paint baby boomers with a wide brush. Rodriguez takes this shiftless technique a step further, by trying to make all 70+ million of us pay for the sins of the editors of Rolling Stone.
Listen Juan, I can’t presume to speak for my entire generation, but I can tell you that Rolling Stone hasn’t influenced my musical tastes since the 1970s; in fact, I don’t think I’ve read a copy since the late 80s. I’ve always listened to and appreciated the jazz, blues and standards that came before us. I love listening to much of the rap, hip-hop and indy music of today. So, Juan, cut me – and my fellow baby boomers – some slack!
And while the mag’s list of greatest songs may be dubious at best, I will argue that the baby boomer generation has made a significant – if not the most significant – contribution to popular music. Just try coming up with a greatest song list that we wouldn’t dominate.
What do you think of the boomer influence on popular music? Just click the Comments link below and let us know your opinion.