I have to admit that I rarely listen to terrestrial radio these days, I mostly listen to Sirius. For one reason or another I was flipping around on the FM dial the other day and I came upon an old favorite, KEarth 101.
I was shocked when I heard the new jingle the other day, now playing the songs of the seventies, eighties and nineties.
Egads, I thought. Really? My first thought was, had it been that long since I listened to them? But my second thought was that they were now dedicating themselves to what is essentially a sonic wasteland in American music.
I pride myself on a very diverse musical taste. I like classical, old timey, jazz, blues, bluegrass, rock and roll, big band, pretty much everything this side of polka, banda and rap. I post a wide variety of music, most of which I think is very good.
I was thinking about this very topic recently. The seventies honestly had some good bands. Steely Dan, The Band put out some good stuff in the early decade, Bowie, Yes, Frampton, Roxy Music, there was great music for sure, especially up to about 1975.
But then we entered that horrible, Journey, Foreigner, Billy Joel, Toto, Kansas, Supertramp, Reo period and then it even got worse than that with the big hair stuff and the horrible metal bands. The middle seventies truly sucked.
Then what I think of as the greatest of the seventies bands showed up, what was it, in 1977? The Talking Heads. Brilliant. And the English Beat, another great band. Patti Smith, Blondie, The Ramones. The Clash. Cars. Tom Petty was doing some great work. Knopfler and Dire Straits. Armatrading. The B-52's got us having fun again. Michael Been and the Call were great but short lived.
The seventies turned the corner into the early 80's and Punk and New Wave. Iggy, Joe Jackson, Elvis, all good. But the rest of the decade? And the nineties? I think they were pretty pitiful. I play a lot of music on this blog. But I rarely stick much on from the eighties and nineties because I think that frankly the music was not very good. EMO, Morrissey, The Smiths? Couldn't stand it.
There are two or three late eighties or nineties bands that I really loved, The Stranglers and Echo and the Bunnymen. Thomas Dolby. Phenomenal bands. Maybe the Cure rates, Stereo MC's, although they never got popular. I liked Siouxie and the Banshees. Cake and the V Femmes were good.
But most of the music is total sheit.
I got an advertisement for an eighties tour today.
Gene loves Jezebel, the Motels and Bowwow wow. Honestly, I wouldn't cross the street to see any of these bands if you paid me.
I dread the Motels. Romeo Void I liked. But so much of the Ultravox, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Joy Division, Psychedelic Furs type crap just is lost on me. Heavy on the organ, somewhat akin to extreme dental surgery without pain killers.
Leslie likes it, I once was a nice husband and went to a Furrs, Fixx, Berlin show with her. Oy.
It was like three lost hours of my life I would never get back. I won't do it again. Honestly, how much of the 80's and 90's work will end up having any traction in the great American songbook? Compare the period to the fifties and sixties and think of the differences in artistic creativity.
Now the last couple decades have certainly not been much better. Taylor Swift, Kid Rock, K pop? Please. Some great young musicians around to be sure, many of them coming from bluegrass - Billy Strings, Marcus King, Sierra Hull and AJ Lee. Derek Trucks, although he is no kid anymore.
I swear, some things don't sound better with age. If you see something in the eighties or nineties songbook that you think I am missing, please let me know.