“The Good Stuff” – What Will Become of Our Grunge Era Obsessions?

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So a friend of mine recently put me on to this incredible article written by Jon Savage for the September 2011 issue of MOJO Magazine, which is about the history punk rock and what sparked this incredible movement. The article really got me going, and I haven’t had that experience with a piece of music journalism in a while. Figures, with the state of the music industry being what it is right now, and the serious lack of real deal rock & roll bands, today’s musical atmosphere is strangely tense.

While reading through the article I couldn’t help but notice the clear similarities between the musical atmosphere in the early to mid-’70s right before punk broke, and that which we are experiencing today. In both cases pop music is multi-generational and has completely taken over the airwaves.

In the mid-’70s, things started to brew when a sub-group of teenagers became obsessed with the mid-60’s sound and the simplicity and directness of the music. Savage notes that it was as if these teens were seeking “a direct link with pop before the hippie explosion.” Fully awash in pop music and the stale lingering sent of the hippie movement, teens in the ’70s were searching for a sound that was distinctly theirs. They felt as though they had nothing to connect with but they were attracted to the simplicity and directness of the mid-60’s sound. It was overt and sexy in a rough around the edges sort of way, and many teenagers who were too young to connect with the ideals of the hippie movement saw what came before it as real musical gold.

A lot of that simplicity and directness was channeled into what became punk rock. Today we are seeing something similar with Generation Y, as many of us are still very much obsessed with the grunge era bands of the early ’90s. The general feeling I’m getting is that when the musical landscape gets so foggy that the youth generation can’t pin point their own identity, that generation naturally tends to revert their search back to what’s considered the “good stuff” from one-generation prior. (i.e. teens in the mid-’70s looked to the simplicity, directness, and overt sexuality of the mid-60’s, while the current generation maintains a continued interest in the sound of the early ’90s because the general consensus is that grunge was the last time something really big happened in new rock music.)

So as we come up upon the twentieth anniversary of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” or the PJ20 festivities that just happened this past summer, it makes me wonder if the youth of the ’70s were compelled to turn their mid-60s influences into the sound we now know as punk rock, what is this generation going to draw out of our grunge era obsessions?

The stage is already set, and tensions are mounting. The airwaves are once again being flooded with so much pop music that there is barely a dividing line between the music that the youth and their parents are listening to. The heart of rock & roll music is the teenage generation, and history has shown us that you can’t stop an entire generation from believing – that’s a fact. Just like they couldn’t stop the baby boomers from taking back their voice in the ’60s, or the punks from taking a stand in the ’70s, whatever is bubbling up from the underground right now is about to be something incredible.

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