All tears and beers, all the time!
One Saturday while pretending to clean my room I had the radio on and suddenly, in mid-song, I realized I was listening to something unusual. A song that didn't sound like all the others that typically played on that station. Music that sounded contemporary with lyrics that were smart, and a song that didn't get wrapped up in a sweetly packaged conclusion.
It was an Eagles song: Lyin' Eyes.
Today, Lyin' Eyes sounds as Country as can be. When it was fresh out, though, it was different. Different in style than anything my parents were listening to. Different in substance than anything the people in my church were listening to. And different in sound to anything folks living up Salem's Branch listened to regularly.
I loved it!
It made me feel unique. Special, and different. Each generation needs to figure out it's own identity, the thing that makes kids different and distinct from their parents . Teenagers need to feel as though they have a place in the world that's just for them. And as in my example, it's through music that this identity's sometimes discovered.
I missed the punk rock movement that's the focus of the documentary American Hardcore. Based on the book American Hardcore: A Tribal History, the film takes a look at the hardcore punk movement that occurred from 1980-1986, focusing on the early pioneers of punk, including Black Flag, Bad Brains, SS Decontrol, The Minutemen and Minor Threat. It's a cool mix of videotaped performances of some terrific shows, and modern day interviews with the musicians who performed them.
The interviews were my favorite part of the documentary, especially the focus on what the music itself meant to the artists who were performing. It was not only a way to separate themselves from their parents, but a way to vent and express their dissatisfaction with current political and social constraints. American culture changed dramatically in the 70s, and the punks were talking through music about the isolation, indifference and violence that was the result. It was also interesting to hear those interviewed talk about the commonly understood cultural practices of the bands as they toured. Staying in a fancy hotel while touring wasn't common; not only was it a waste of money that couldn't be spared, but it was considered to be selling out. The movement was as much about keeping the music and it's message pure as it was anything else.
In fact, those interviewed insisted they got out when it became clear the music had become something other than that.
"What if?" questions intrigue me. What if it had been Black Flag's Damaged II I heard, rather than the Eagles songs? What might I have become if The Punch Line by The Minutemen had caught my ear?
She gets up and pours herself a strong one
And stares out at the stars up in the sky
Another night, it's gonna be a long one
She draws the shade and hangs her head to cry
She wonders how it ever got this crazy
She thinks about a boy she knew in school
Did she get tired or did she just get lazy?
She's so far gone she feels just like a fool
My, oh my, you sure know how to arrange things
You set it up so well, so carefully
Ain't it funny how your new life didn't change things
You're still the same old girl you used to be