Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Mike Doughty

Musical Youth: four questions
Neumo's, Seattle, WA

(1) When does the music of our youth stop being our own?
(2) How long does it take for the lead singer of a band to establish himself as a solo artist?
(3) How can you recognize a rocker in his mid 30s without evidence of rock hair, tattoos, and ravages of addiction?
(4) How many times do I have to write "Neumo's was an oven" in this blog to remember to wear a t-shirt instead of a sweater?

(1) Each generation of music fans claims ownership over a batch of songs released during some pivotal time. This could be music that was on the radio while they were in high school, the songs that got them through finals in college, the 10 albums that accompanied their trip across the country when they were 23, etc. In any case, we look at this music and say "MINE."

Although we recognize that younger people will hear this music and love it almost as much as we do, we feel as though they are robbing us of something sacred when we see them sing along and wear the t-shirt. Of course what I sometimes forget in my irkdom is that the bands that were so pivotal to me after college, like Soul Coughing, could have been equally pivotal to someone ten years my junior while they were at band camp. What I don't buy, however, is a teen of today rocking out to Echo & the Bunnymen. You were like, FIVE when that was new. Go buy an Interpol album.

The lack of any discernable style of music in the 90s and 00s, the abundance of content today, and our limitless access to that content results in a nostalgia deficit that members of the younger set try to solve by reaching back to previous decades when music was more homogeneous and contained. This isn't necessarily a rejection of new music, which certainly straddles every available style--it's more like a quest for comfort; a way to establish some indie cred in an era when hot new bands appear on TV show soundtracks before your cool friend even has time to burn you a copy of the EP.

The music of our youth will always be our own; we just need to learn how to share. The kids will move on soon enough.

(2) Through at least two albums. Doughty's new CD is getting some airplay, but still every third song is a Soul Coughing number. Fortunately, the crowd is equally unwilling to let Mike move on, so he is rewarded for all the old stuff.

(3) You cannot. Mike looked so normal and un-rock-like that I was waiting for him to tell a story about teaching his 6 year old how to play golf.

(4) A lot of times. Too many times.


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