Growing up, I had very sheltered exposure to music. As a child of the 80s, I could have been bombarded by David Bowie, the Bangles, Metallica, Bon Jovi, or Queen—but I wasn’t. My Dad firmly believed that the only decent music in the world came out of the 1950s, primarily from doo-wop groups. My Mom didn’t offer much in the way of a counter-balance to this, adding only the occasional tape of The Carpenters, or Boney-M. We didn’t have cable (so MTV/Much Music was out), and being a generally awkward, nerdy kid (before that was cool, unfortunately), I didn’t have a lot of friends to introduce me to other kinds of music during my primary school years.
It wasn’t until my adolescence that I began to discover the other musical possibilities in the world. My best friend introduced me to a ton of different music, but the core of it, the foundation to my musical house, was Nirvana and the Beastie Boys. We continued to grow our musical interests together, though he was by far the more far reaching. Some of it I whole-heartedly embraced, like Prick, Tool, and (somewhat later) A Perfect Circle. Others, like Bush X and Alanis Morisette, stayed largely in his realm, though they were often blasted during our shared Saturday shifts at Mr. Submarine.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve slowly reached out and extended my musical reach, though it’s been a fairly passive act of either enjoying or disliking things that I happen to hear, rather than searching out new artists to listen to. I’ve developed an enjoyment of east-coast Canadian music such as Great Big Sea; I’ve occasionally jumped on bandwagons like Walk Off the Earth’s cover of Somebody that I Used to Know; I’ve even *occasionally* strayed into top-40 territory and listened to artists such as Bruno Mars.
Despite these dalliances, it’s clear that there my musical forever loves are here to stay: some more benign, like Michael Jackson and 50s doo-wop groups, but mostly groups like Prick, Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Nine Inch Nails.
So why does this worry me?
Well, when I was going through university, one of the jobs I had was as a caretaker (read: janitor) at an old folk’s home. Facilities like this generally struggle to keep the elderly engaged; unless you can keep their minds going, there isn’t much reason for their bodies to keep ticking. One of the primary ways they do this is through music, because that’s one of the things humans seem to be programmed to respond to.
And which music do you think they use? You bet: it’s the music that the seniors recognize from their younger years that gets them clapping their hands and singing along. That’s fine and dandy for the current crop of seniors. They’re younger days saw such risque hits as “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller, and damned near anything by Bing Crosby.
But what does it mean for my generation? Will I be sitting in a nursing home someday listening to “Weak and Powerless” by A Perfect Circle? Maybe that would be too depressing; how about something upbeat like “Aenima” by Tool or “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails? Yikes. Maybe we can just all sing along to “Closer” and get it over with…
Then again, I’m still holding out hope that by the time I get to that age, I’ll have a shiny new cyber-body that can pipe music right into my brain without going through my ears (though I’m sure the neo-hipsters will complain that the sound wasn’t analogue enough for them). There’s nothing like going on a rampage in a new cyber body with “Paint it Black” pounding through your cyber-skull.
What will you be singing as they wheel you down the hall to the dining room?