The Kids Of Today (Still) Need To Defend Themselves Against The ’60s

noah | August 12, 2009 3:00 pm

Get ready for another wave of Boomer nostalgia to crash over our collective shores during the dog days of late August. The one-two punch of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock and the run-up to the release of The Beatles: Rock Band just happen to coincide with what are traditionally super-slow days in the music press, thanks to a large number of factors that include the waning days of the summer shed season, record labels’ decision to hold off on putting out anything “important” until back-to-school season starts, and the fact that any reporter who actually has to work in the weeks leading up to Labor Day not feeling all that inspired. (Cough.) Not that I’m not happy to post videos that include shots of the dearly departed Shea Stadium in them, but I can’t be the only person out there who hopes that the summer of ’09 will be something of a last hurrah for blind boosterism of the 1960s? Take the title of the most recent AP piece on the impending 40-year anniversary of Woodstock, which happens this weekend: “40 Years Later, Woodstock Still Fascinates.” Well, that may be true for a slice of the population, but if it really still “fascinated” a wide swath of people, wouldn’t it have been able to garner at least one measly sponsor for its big birthday party? Never mind that if you say “Woodstock” to people under the age of, say, 20, they’re going to think of Fred Durst telling people to break stuff and the occasional bonfire. (Perhaps that’s why the writer of this piece tried to claim that Woodstock “went viral”—youth appeal!) As for The Beatles: Rock Band, I have to say that the game does look legitimately awesome, and the careful detail put into the game’s production certainly results in the videos that result from gameplay mode being turned on looking at the very least convincing. But what does it say that one of the biggest musical events of the coming weeks is actually a bunch of reissues, and that “videos” from this Rock Band offshoot are being sprinkled into the playlists of both the throwback-happy Vh1 Classic and the aggressively now MTV Hits? Synergy’s important, sure, but there’s something bigger, and odder, about that to me. Is everyone just tired? Has it all been done? Are the few powerful people left at major labels that in love with the legacy that they’ve worked so hard to tarnish over the past few years? Certainly it’s easy to succumb to nostalgia—after all, look at all the bands out there who have tried to catch the ears of ever-fickle listeners with a cover, or a very egregiously used sample. And yes, I’m as guilty of looking to the past for comfort as anyone. But there’s something about nostalgia for the ’60s in particular that grates with me—perhaps it’s the whole attitude of Things Will Never Be As Good As They Were Again So Maybe You Shouldn’t Even Bother Trying that emanates from every single Summer Of Love-themed piece I stumble across. Or maybe it’s just because as someone who’s been alive since 1975, I’ve basically only been subjected to the hangover from that allegedly idyllic era, and have thus been only able to see the “peace and love” that was supposedly so prevalent back then calcify into a present that’s marked by pessimism and loathing for anything unwilling to pay proper homage. 40 years later, Woodstock still fascinates [AP] While My Guitar Gently Beeps [NYT] Beatles Rock Band: Ticket To Ride [YouTube]