Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Talkin' 'bout my generation

Christmas of '94: I was in the basement of the bookstore, talking music with my co-worker friend, and he said, "I'm thinking Beck might be the Dylan of our generation."

I looked at him. "Really?"

He nodded. My friend wasn't being ironic or provocative -- he was serious, so I had to give this some thought.

At the time, this observation seemed bang-on. Calling 1994 a "breakout" year for Beck would be an understatement: Beck's "Loser", from Mellow Gold was the Gen-X anthem -- our "The Times They Are A-Changin'" -- padding Beck's bank account with his first several-mil. Success bred confidence, and Beck quickly released two more CDs of older material that same year, both of them divergent from Mellow Gold as well as from each other. Lyrically, it was anyone's guess what he was up to, which put him in good standing with the Boomer Bard. Three radically different albums in one monumental year? Maybe my friend was right.

Twelve years on, the point is moot. My generation never had a Dylan, and it's just as well. We never had a Beatles, or a Stones, or a Hendrix, either. In 1994 we were still very much in awe of Bill Gates. It wasn't at all uncommon to find his picture taped to our lockers (usually the college shot of him in his savant-crouch in the hallway, a knit toque pulled down to the bridge of his beak). Just think about that for a second: Bill Gates.

Who else do we have from 1994? Kurt Cobain (and Courtney Love), of course. Douglas Coupland, Radiohead, River Phoenix. Chip Kidd and Dimebag Darrell, if you're in a catholic frame of mind. Madonna, if you're gay.

Which is why I link to a piece on Timothy Leary. The man may have been his own lethal Barnum & Bailey show, but I don't mind admitting that when it comes to lethal Barnum & Bailey shows, the 60s were colorful enough to cover several decades.


Trent Reimer said...

WP, surely with a mega-star like Gates to adulate why would we need anything further? Sure, the last generation had a bunch of hairy anti-establishmentarians asking too many questions for anyone's comfort. Our generation's revolution was the realization that we're all better off supporting big brother.

Another hero I think you forgot: Donald Rumsfeld for providing weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein. Not only did this patriotic act keep Iran from a successful invasion of Iraq, not only did it keep Iraqi Kurds in fear and trembling, it also ensured justification for us to attack a relatively soft target in Iraq instead of having to deal with a much more serious WMD threat such as North Korea or Iran. Now I hear you dissenters clearing your throats, yes, you might well point out that this has the look of a colossal blunder since it has in fact gauranteed that the American public is NOT protected from WMD's in the hands of raving lunatics. But there you are wrong my simple-minded friend. Without a valid WMD threat from a second world nation there is no justification for the missle defense shield. And therein lies the true genious of the Bush administration: by ensuring the NEED for a missle defense shield we can now procede to really protect the public using said shield! And of course, and this is equally important, we can also direct enormous sums of money to the nation's greatest patriots, people who are so far above question only an anti-patriot would even think of examining them, ladies and gentlemen, our loyal defense contractors can finally be recompensed for finding a way to continue their fine work in the post-cold-war era.

Cowtown Pattie said...

I wrote a blog about the legendary Acidman myself a while back.

I there a book on the Sixties, like the one David Halberstam did on the "Fifties"?

Must search Amazon.

Of course, as a babe of the Fifties, I lived the Sixties from ages 6 to 15 - my "formative" years. No wonder I am a little warped...

Whisky Prajer said...

CP - I think you might like Arthur Marwick's The Sixties, though for sheer novelty you can't beat Smiling Through The Apocalypse: Esquire's History of the Sixties, edited by Harold Hayes. You'll have to visit your favourite purveyor of used books for that puppy.

TR - woke up in a political mood, did you? FYI, it was Gates' age that gobsmacked us as much as it was anything else. Rummy was always old.

Scott said...

Gosh Darrell, is Trent MY brother? :)

Our Dylan? You're right, it's a tough one. I would've liked to have gone with Michael Stipe but his ADD 'everything at once' approach is keeping him from focusing on the music.

Wait -- maybe he IS the voice of this generation!

Gideon Strauss said...

U2 aint our Stones?!

Whisky Prajer said...

Scott - Stipe as Dylan? It's hard to view him apart from the rest of REM - maybe if Dylan and The Band hadn't parted ways, I'd be more inclined to side with you.

GS - U2 = "our Stones" seems both tricky yet apt, since both bands once had huge cache with me, which is now all but spent. Still, if U2 is our Stones, then who's our Beatles?