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Thirty or fourty years difference, relatively speaking

Dan

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Think about this: about 35 years ago, these songs were on the Billboard Top 100 chart.

* Joan Jett and The Blackhearts - I Love Rock 'n Roll
* John Cougar - Jack and Diane
* Tommy Tutone - 867-5309/Jenny
* The Go-Go's - We Got the Beat
* Journey - Don't Stop Believin'
* Van Halen - Pretty Woman
* Men at Work - Down Under
* After The Fire - Der Kommissar
* Men Without Hats - The Safety Dance



In 1982/1983, I was in my early teens . Go back 35 years earlier, and these are among the Billboard top 100. This is the :poop: my parents listened to.

* Tex Williams - Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette
* Sammy Kaye - The Old Lamplighter
* Arthur Godfrey - Too Fat Polka
* Bing Crosby - The Whiffenpoof Song
* Freddy Martin - Managua, Nicaragua
* Guy Lombardo - Managua, Nicaragua
* Andrews Sisters- Toolie Oolie Doolie
* Sammy Kaye - Serenade Of The Bells
* Jo Stafford- Serenade Of The Bells



It wasn't uncommon to have multiple versions of the same song, by different artists, in that list. The Harmonicats, The Three Suns, and Art Lund all topped the chart with different versions of Peg O’ My Heart. That's like Katy Perry feat. XXXTENTACION, Ariana Grande feat. Quavo, and Alessia Cara feat. Taylor Swift feat. Drake feat. Jason Aldean feat. Big Sean feat. Lil Uzi Vert feat. Maroon 5 feat. Florida Georgia Line all topping the chart with different versions of Meet Me in the Middle.

Songs like I've got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts, Wabash Cannonball, Smoke Smoke Smoke that Cigarette, Woody Woodpecker, and On the Atchinson, Topeka, and Santa Fe weren't Weird Al-ish novelty songs -- it was the real pop music of the era. This was the number one song of December 1949.



Imagine Halsey, Ava Max, or The Chainsmokers topping the charts with songs like "The Ol' Airbus A220", "Flying JetBlue 1586", "I've Got a Thousand Instagram Likes", or "Selfies at Machu Picchu". Uh huh.

Anyhow, those songs from the 1940s sounded just as old-timey to my ears as ragtime, barbershop qurtet, and songs in a nasal falsetto voice about how merry they feel driving their Oldsmobile and going off to war to defeat the Kaiser. To those whose teen years were in the mid-1990s or later, does rock and pop from the 1970s and 1980s sound just as old fashioned to you, as if it's a relic from a long-past era?
 

Maister

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Anyhow, those songs from the 1940s sounded just as old-timey to my ears as ragtime, barbershop qurtet, and songs in a nasal falsetto voice about how merry they feel driving their Oldsmobile and going off to war to battle the Kaiser. To those whose teen years were in the mid-1990s or later, does rock and pop from the 1970s and 1980s sound just as old fashioned to you, as if it's a relic from a long-past era?
Dang, you scooped me! Just yesterday I was thinking about starting a thread about comparing time intervals and was going to use popular music as a referent.


In 1969 this was the pinnacle of mankind's endeavors into the field of flight. You might recognize it as the craft that sent man to the moon:
1552482943002.png
and 50 years earlier in 1919 this was the pinnacle of aviation design:
1552483173321.png

Quite a big difference there.

But compare the music of Led Zeppelin from 1969 with some metal today and the differences aren't nearly so great.
 
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Maister

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Anyhow, those songs from the 1940s sounded just as old-timey to my ears as ragtime, barbershop qurtet, and songs in a nasal falsetto voice about how merry they feel driving their Oldsmobile and going off to war to defeat the Kaiser. To those whose teen years were in the mid-1990s or later, does rock and pop from the 1970s and 1980s sound just as old fashioned to you, as if it's a relic from a long-past era?
I don't know about you, but I feel quite gay when listening to oldies on the radio :smirk:

I remember back in the 80's hearing hits from the 40's and thinking 'damn, that sounds quaint.' While there are many examples of songs from the 70's and 80's that sound somewhat dated to me now (e.g. synth pop from the 80's), I can't think of any that exude a quaint vibe at all. I wonder if that's because I have distinct associations of music from that era with me coming of age and all the memories of wicked behaviors associated therein?
 

Doohickie

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Tangent: A friend of mine recently pointed out that the release of Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back is closer to the end of WW II than it is to the present day, and that the release of Gone with the Wind is closer to the end of the Civil War than it is to today.


As to the original question, I'm a bit older than Dan in that I entered college in 1980. To me, the grand sweep of popular music for me starts in the 1950s (primarily later '50s) and goes to the 1990s. The 1950s was before I was born but a lot of the songs were still being played on the radio or used on TV when I was a kid, so they were still part of pop culture. The 1990s represents a tailing off of interest in pop music for me, mostly because that's when I became busy raising my young sons and just kind of lost track of pop music. Some of it I've discovered since- I became aware of artists like Barenaked Ladies, Dave Matthews, Amy Winehouse, etc., after they were "the big thing" (in Amy's case, didn't really listen to her until after she died). But even if I wasn't as actively involved I still heard it.

But I don't think it's just the passage of time that makes music sound old fashioned. It's also the technology. I tie my personal awareness of pop music to the 1950s, but I think it's not just that I heard the music in the 1960s, it was also that music from the '50s was still available because it was recorded on vinyl records which were first used in the late 40s and exploded in popularity during the '50s, and were much more durable than the old 78 rpm records (we called them "glass" because they easily broke, but Wiki says they were made from shellac).

At the turn of the 20th century, phonographs existed but the majority of music sales was sheet music for playing. There wasn't that much music recorded on 78s compared to the later vinyl records (and later 8-track tapes, cassette tapes and CDs) in a relative sense, and because they were not durable, even less of that music exists today. So music played in the vernacular of the day is rare, even exotic, to our ears. It's not just its age but its rarity that sets it apart as "old fashioned" sounding.

And that's why 1969's Led Zeppelin sounds like today's Greta Van Fleet- Led Zeppelin recordings are readily available so the sound never went away.
 
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Dan

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I remember back in the 80's hearing hits from the 40's and thinking 'damn, that sounds quaint.' While there are many examples of songs from the 70's and 80's that sound somewhat dated to me now (e.g. synth pop from the 80's), I can't think of any that exude a quaint vibe at all. I wonder if that's because I have distinct associations of music from that era with me coming of age and all the memories of wicked behaviors associated therein?
For me, the music of the 1970s and 1980s doesn't sound "quaint" in the same way as songs of the 1940s about choo-choo trains and shoeshine boys in an eastern Tennessee city, sitting under apple trees, picking four leaf clovers, or an encounter with a man who was going home to Pennsylvania for some homemade pumpkin pie. More contemporary songs about the kinds of things they'd sing about all the time in the 1940s, like ... oh, eating peaches, don't really send the same kind of straightforward sunshine-and-good-times message.



Rock and hip hop are rooted in rebellion. A core theme of the genres is the loss or lack of innocence, not innocence itself. If a more contemporary song has the same subject as something from the 1940s, the overall message will be a bit more cynical. Take, for instance, small town life. A 1940s song will be weepy and sentimental -- hubba hubba, let's to Grandma's for some apple pie, wave at passing choo-cooo trains, and drink cherry phosphates at Old Man Jenkins' drugstore. It was the fringe music of the era that was more rebellious -- country, folk, and blues. Those genres had songs about trains, too, but they'll more likely be about fleeing the oppression of the Jim Crow south or the poverty of Appalachia, and taking a long journey to Chicago to start your life over, not a fun ride on the Altoona Toot Toot to visit your sweetheart and share a bowl of pistachio ice cream under the old elm tree in the village square, with the bells of passing streetcars going ding-a-ling-a-ling.

king-sisters-sm.jpg
♫ Ding-a-ling-a-ling! ♫
♫ Ding-a-ling-a-ling! ♫
♫ The happy little trolleys, they go ding-a-ling-a-ling! ♫


Anyhow, here's Simon and Garfunkel's take on small town life, 30 years later.

Lord, I recall my little town
Coming home after school
Flying my bike past the gates of the factories
My mom doing the laundry
Hanging out shirts in the dirty breeze
And after it rains there's a rainbow
And all of the colors are black
It's not that the colors aren't there
It's just imagination they lack
Everything's the same back in my little town
Nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town


John Mellenkamp, about 10 years after that.

Oh, let it rock, let it roll
Let the bible belt come and save my soul
Holdin' on to sixteen as long as you can
Change is coming 'round real soon
Make us woman and man
Oh yeah, life goes on
A little ditty 'bout Jack and Diane
Two American kids doin' the best they can


A lot of music from the 1960s through the 1990s, though, have me thinking "they couldn't sing about that now", at least not in rock. Pederasty as a common theme in rock -- consider all the songs about 16- and 17-year old girls. Kinda' creepy, by anyone's standards, but a common theme in music from the past. The Rolling Stones probably couldn't release Brown Sugar today without a lot of outrage and media attention, and Ram Jam wouldn't be able to get near a college campus to perform Black Betty. The songs aren't necessarily racist, but people would see them that way, despite those songs having deep roots in the blues. (Huddie Ledbetter AKA Lead Belly wrote Black Betty, and I hope his estate was properly compensated for it.)

I've read one theory that rock is dying because women are now the main consumers of music, and they find rock alienating because the majority of artists are men, and objectifying women is a common theme in rock . I don't buy that, considering the situation is the same in hip hop. If rock was that objectifying, wouldn't the female half of its fan base have ditched it decades earlier? Would Patti Smith, Joan Jett, Ann and Nancy Williams, Chrissie Hynde, and countless other women have not embraced it?

Screen+Shot+2017-04-07+at+3.52.31+PM.png
Patti doesn't sing about about telephone operators, cars with ahooga horns, or the high standards of Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western right-of-way and track infrastructure.
 

Maister

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Yes, I agree the songs' subject matter/lyrics more than anything constitutes the great divide between the pre-rock n roll music of the 40's and the decades that follow. Rock n roll injected the idea of rebellion into popular culture and whole-heartedly adopted by the counter-culture movement of the 1960's. In the OP there's a link to a DEVO song. Using their lyrics as an example, we can see how they were not just cynical, but downright subversive:
Devo said:
Praying Hands
You got your left hand
You got your right hand
You got your left hand
You got your right hand

Well the left hand's diddling
While the right hand goes to work
I said the left hand's diddling now
While the right hand goes to work

You got both hands
You got both hands
You got praying hands
You got praying hands
They pray for no man
They pray for no man

OK Relax
And assume the position
Go into doggie submission

Wash your hand three times a day
Always do what your mom and dad say
Brush your teeth in the following way
Wash your hands three times a day
This sort of open subversion was utterly alien to the world of the 1940's where popular music served an entirely different artistic function as songs were primarily intended to evoke feelings of happiness, optimism, nostalgia, or even in the case of the odd sad song (e.g. 'I'll Be Home For Christmas") at least solace.

Clearly a musical revolution was in full swing by the time rock n roll was integrated into the anti-war movement of the late 60's. but it would be interesting to examine if there were earlier examples of rebellion in music. I can think of one offhand, but it wasn't rock, it was folk music in the early 60's
Oh, we're meetin' at the courthouse at eight o'clock tonight
You just walk in the door and take the first turn to the right
Be careful when you get there, we hate to be bereft
But we're taking down the names of everybody turning left
Oh, we're the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
Here to save our country from a communistic plot
Join the John Birch Society, help us fill the ranks
To get this movement started we need lots of tools and cranks
Now there's no one that we're certain the Kremlin doesn't touch
We think that Westbrook Pegler doth protest a bit too much
We only hail the hero from whom we got our name
We're not sure what he did but he's our hero just the same
Oh, we're the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
Socialism is the ism dismalest of all
Join the John Birch Society, there's so much to do
Have you heard they're serving vodka at the WCTU?
Well you've heard about the agents that we've already named
Well MPA has agents that are flauntedly unashamed
We're after Rosie Clooney, we've gotten Pinkie Lee
And the day we get Red Skelton won't that be a victory
Oh we're the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
Norman Vincent Peale may think he's kidding us along
But the John Birch Society knows he spilled the beans
He keeps on preaching brotherhood, but we know what he means
We'll teach you how to spot 'em in the cities or the sticks
For even Jasper Junction is just full of Bolsheviks
The CIA's subversive and so's the FCC
There's no one left but thee and we, and we're not sure of thee
Oh, we're the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
Here to save our country from a communistic plot
Join the John Birch Society holding off the Reds
We'll use our hand and hearts and if we must we'll use our heads
Do you want Justice Warren for your Commissar?
Do you want Mrs. Krushchev in there with the DAR?
You cannot trust your neighbor or even next of kin
If mommie is a commie then you gotta turn her in
Oh, we're the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
Fighting for the right to fight the right fight for the Right
Join the John Birch Society as we're marching on
And we'll all be glad to see you when we're meeting in the John
The John, the John Birch So- ci- I- teee.
 
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Super Amputee Cat

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Well, not 35 years ago, but 36 I had this terrible crush on a girl at work. It just so happened that at the very same time, AOR radio was in the midst of an influx of "New Wave" music that began the summer before but was in full swing in February-March, 1983. Virtually every other song that came out during that late winter and early Spring reminded me of her, such as Love My Way by the Psychedelic Furs, Do You Wanna Hold Me by Bowwowow, and Worlds Away by Strange Advance. Many other songs, while not reminding me of her specifically, did take me back to that exact time and place.

So 1947 was just as long ago in 1983 as 1983 is now. A year from now, it will be the end of WWII that will be just as distant. If that doesn't make me feel old, I don't know what could.
 
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The Terminator

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As a millennial hipster I can say unequivocally to us, it doesn’t sound antiquated at all.

It sounds bad ass, we try and replicate it! Whether it be Coldwave inspired by Depeche Mode or Punk inspired by 80s American Hardcore or jangly new wave à la the Smiths. A good portion of my generation listens to more old music than new! Allot of us do it on vinyl too!

Normies will always like what’s popular. Many normal kids born between 1995-2005 who are not punks or hipsters or whatever would find “Music for the Masses” as creepy, “Africa” or “The land down under” as hokey and insist you change the Spotify channel back to Top 40 ;p

But you’d be surprised.
 
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Dan

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I wonder what the threshold is for people of different ages to see something as "modern" or "contemporary", versus "old fashioned" or "old timey", not just for music, but also for other cultural realms.

We've been talking about music. To my ears, it seems like there was a massive change in the way music sounded between 1965 and 1967. Before then, popular music sounds like "oldies". After that, it sounds more contemporary. Even the Beatles -- there's the pre-1966 pre-Revolver teen idol Beatles and the post-Revolver, post-1966 psychedelic Beatles. "Help" and "Sergent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club" sound like they could have come from different decades, or even different bands, but only a couple of years separates them.

Same thing with American car design, movies, television shows, and fashion. There was a dramatic change between 1965 and 1967. I'm going to make a wild-ass guess, and say the Civil Rights Act was one of the game changers, triggering the tipping point between an old-timey monochromatic America, and a living color America -- just like how color TV broadcasting also became the norm around the same time. I'd go as far to say that there's more of a difference between 1965 and 1967 America than between 1950 and 1964 America.

From The Guardian:

But 1966 was a year of turmoil. It began in pop and ended in rock; began in civil rights and ended in black power; began in the great society and ended in the Republican resurgence. Inspired by the success of the civil rights movement and boosted by the money pouring into the music and youth industries, young people in the US and the UK began to think of another way of life, that didn’t involve being like your parents. They were beginning to envision what the future might be.

It was also the year that the torch passed from England to America, from London to Los Angeles, which became the central pop location, thanks to the Mamas and the Papas, the Beach Boys, and the Monkees – ersatz Beatles who bloomed just as the originals left the stage. California had its own youthtopias, reasonably autonomous zones where the young could congregate and try out new ways of living: the Haight/Ashbury in San Francisco, the Sunset Strip in Hollywood.

Pop Modernism was beginning to fragment under the impact of marijuana, LSD, and sheer exhaustion. Pop’s Herculean acceleration resulted in many casualties: during 1966, the Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones all crashed out from the pace, but not before they had provocatively expressed their dissatisfaction – Dylan with his polarising electric show segments, the Beatles with their notorious “Butcher” LP sleeve (pulped by their American record company, Capitol, at a cost of $200,000), the Rolling Stones with the drag video for Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?

At the same time, there were the new total environments: the lightshows of the San Franciscan ballrooms, the op art designs of cavernous new discotheques like New York’s Cheetah, the sensorium of Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable, which gave the impression of “everything occurring simultaneously”. By 1966, many strands of art, music, and entertainment were all coming to the same point by different means: the total focus on the instant that is the hallmark of many eastern religions; the happening; the drug experience; the ecstasy of dancing.
 

mercdude

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This is 26 years old.
Man I miss those guys - nothing got my teenage heart pumping quite like the angry/angsty political rock of the 90s. In retrospect, the only thing they were fighting was our own culture - kinda like how Fight Club was about destroying the commercialism that traps people into capitalist slavery, which is of course what America's economy depends on. Oh the good ol' days before people just stopped caring about philosophy and ethics. Now I feel like everytime I turn on the 'news' it's high school all over again... so-and-so said this, can you believe it? so-and-so thinks that, can you believe it? blah.
 

Dan

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Music that's 25 years old in 2019:











Music that was 25 years old when I was in high school:





 

Dan

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I think Johnny Cash is iconic enough to be timeless.
I'm just about to say that. Maybe Chubby Checker, too. Just the idea of throngs of women shrieking at Johnny Cash like they would at an early Beatles concert, though, is something I wouldbn't have expected to see back then.
 
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