Indie-ignorant and proud: What it looks like to love the musical eras ofyesteryear
I have no idea what new music is out there right now. I have the freakin' pen-name "Hipstercrite," and I have no idea what people my age are listening to.
I am no hipster, I'm an old lady.
Cherishing my Time-Life 1950's compilations on tape is what I do best. Loving Meatloaf is what I do even better. I still long for the days when I would wistfully stare at a poster of a shirtless Elton John (don't ask). I'd probably stare at a poster of a shirtless Meatloaf and enjoy that too. I still have my Stevie Nicks costumes.
I even called Callin' Oates; when my boyfriend got sick of hearing Daryl Hall crooning from my speaker phone, I was reduced to getting my fix of H2O in the car.
It's Free Week in Austin, and you know what I'm doing right now instead of catching awesome local acts? Writing this post about how I'm indie ignorant.
I'd love to be in the know on what music is hot right now, but there is not enough time in the day to catch up! I haven't been actively listening to new music since 1989. I was six years-old then and thought George Michael was the most hetero man that ever existed.
There is over two decades of music I've missed out on and I don't know where to begin. (On a side note about current music: How have the radio DJs in Austin not been reduced to a zombie-like state after all this Adele playing? Seriously, like, don't you DJs even find it comical how often you play her music?)
What I've always listened to is oldies.
Oh man, anyone born up to 1965 will be super pissed for me calling 70s and 80s music "oldies."
Clear images of my mother's Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Simon and Garfunkel, Frank Zappa and Sly and the Family Stone albums still fill my mind. I remember her penmanship in the albums, her 18-year-old beliefs in 1968 (sorry for divulging your age, Mom).
At 13, I'd lay on the floor and have a completely non-drug related trip, just drifting away to the sounds of yesteryear. Nothing was like it. Nothing compared to Jimi's gusto, Janis' voice, Paul Simon's poetic lyrics, Frank's fart noises and Sly's... anger?
Like many musicians that I get into, I develop an OCD-like obsession where I listen to the band on repeat, every day, for roughly four months. It alienates loved ones, but there is nothing I can do about it. It takes over me.
My current idealization is Warren Zevon — someone I never gave much consideration to because the only song I knew of his had vocal howling in it. Any sort of animal or machinery sound effect typically calls for immediate dismissal, but both Warren Zevon and Billy Joel have managed to woo me.
Blondie was the woman you always wanted to be! David Bowie was the woman you always wanted to be!
It began on a road trip through West Texas. We had Warren Zevon on in the car, and I really listened to his lyrics for the first time. I thought, "Man, a long time ago people really wrote 'epic' songs, you know? Like, they sang about history and people, not just love and shit." This eloquent proclamation was agreed upon by my boyfriend and we listened to Zevon's entire greatest hits — twice — on the ride back to Austin.
When I got home, I instantly pulled up the ol' Youtube. While watching Warren Zevon sing, I was blown away. He had the sort of precision and enthusiasm that often lacks in current bands. Here was this relatively short man, bouncing around on stage in his tinted glasses, his shirt unbuttoned to his sternum, completely rocking out. Down on your knees rockin'. He had a charisma that you can't buy with high end producers and publicists. Of course Zevon was Stravinsky taught, so he kind of had that going for him.
Watching Zevon reminded me of all my other favorite 70s and 80s rock n' roll icons and how there just aren't bands like them nowadays. Oingo Boingo had horns with frontman Elfman being all devil-eyed in tank top and suspenders! Meatloaf sang through his sweat! Talking Heads were like watching a constant conceptual art piece! Elvis Costello sang for your angst! Frank Zappa confused the living shit out of you, but you loved it anyways! Prince represented a part of you, deep down, that you were too afraid to acknowledge! Blondie was the woman you always wanted to be! David Bowie was the woman you always wanted to be!
Oh, don't get me started on Fleetwood Mac or this post will be ten pages long.
Ok, I will get started on Fleetwood Mac, but I'll keep it short. The best concert I've ever been to is a Fleetwood Mac concert (David Byrne with Arcade Fire at the Hollywood Bowl is a close second, but admitting that I like a current indie band will negate the whole purpose of this post). Those guys still got it. They are, by far, the strongest live performers I've ever seen and they're in their 60s. I've seen indie bands that couldn't evoke the same amount of energy if their body was filled with pure cocaine instead of blood.
Mick Fleetwood acted like an unhinged animal onstage. Lindsey Buckingham still made you want to be a groupie. Stevie Nicks twirled around in her own little orbit. You could argue that they've been doing this for forty years, but they don't sound any different than they did back in the early days.
I miss the days when bands were strong live performers before they went into the studio. I miss the days where musicians were classically trained. I miss the days when musicians had personas. I miss the days when instruments like the piano, violin and saxophone were prominently featured in rock music. And of course I'm generalizing and all these statements do apply to some musicians out there nowadays, but it's not the norm and most definitely not required.
Will we look back on current music twenty years from now and say, "Hey, they were a real game changer!"? Maybe. Or maybe I just don't like change. Maybe I want to dance forever in my billowy shawls with my moon-shaped tambourine and dream about being the rock Gods that existed a long time ago.