I don’t have many interactions these days with 18 year olds. I have no children of my own or younger siblings and I am old enough now that they would not be in my normal circle of friends. So when I was speaking to one such creature recently I was intrigued to see how they worked. I asked her about music. That was mistake number one. Firstly, she confused Tom Jones with Cliff Richard. Old Cliff certainly did not sing “it’s not unusual”. Perplexed.
She then went on to ask me the finest gig I ever attended. After much deliberation I stumped upon one of Pete Docherty’s first gigs after leaving prison. He was with Babyshambles at the time and when he attempted to light a cigarette on stage, he was accosted by a production crew member who politely informed him that if he did light up, he’d be breaking the law, thus breaking the conditions his parole and would end up back in the slammer. Upon telling us in the crowd, a chorus of boos and an almost entirely synchronised glow of lighters erupted as everyone in the crowd lit up in protest. A plume of cigarette smoke filled the small venue as fans staged a mini protest. The support act was The View, who spoke to us before their famous song ‘same jeans’ in incomprehensible thick Scottish accents that no doubt their state of sobriety did nothing to alleviate.
In retort to this story, the best gig ‘this child’ had ever been to was a ‘ball’ that was put on by a particular radio station, featuring the likes of Usher, Rita Ora and Justin Bieber. Now I know I have age on my side when it comes to having a longer list of previous gigs, but if this is the pinnacle of live music for ‘the kids’, Justin Bieber, then I feel sorry for the generation after my own. I’ve been lucky enough to stand right at the back of a crowd of thousands of people watching Oasis, feeling the same electricity that the front row must have felt when the first few bars of ‘Wonderwall’ are struck. I’ve seen The Prodigy light up a mosh pit that went back as far as the eye could see at V festival. I’ve seen the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl bring out his mother on stage and sing happy birthday to her.
So when this 18 year old girl said that the answer to both her favourite artist and the best gig she ever went to was Justin Bieber, I feel genuinely sorry for her. Not only at the fact that this is her musical icon, but at the earlier point. The Tom Jones/Cliff Richard switcheroony. The kids seem to lack the urge to research where their music comes from. I doubt many 18 year olds have ever heard of The Vapours or X Ray Spex. When so many of their bands have genuine punk influences. How many school kids know the incredible back catalogue of artists such as Meat Loaf or Ozzy Osborne. Ozzy is not just Kelly’s dad, some crazy old guy on MTV. An increasingly lower average age of parents means that in the formative years, children will no doubt be listening to Chris brown and David Guetta. When I grew up, I was surrounded by my fathers rock collection – The Who, Sabbath, Queen, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Eagles. My mother would switch between Toni Braxton, Wet Wet Wet, Celine Dion and Simply Red, and Northern Soul and Motown acts such as The Supremes, The O’Jays and Frank Wilson. Don’t get me wrong. I do like some of the current artists producing music. And in a twist of hypocrisy, I absolutely love One Direction. Kanye West, Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry all make music that I like to listen to.
I myself have gone and found artists off my own back. I have listened extensively to music that changed the world. Elvis Presley and the aforementioned Cliff Richard bringing Rock ‘n’ Roll to the masses. The Beatles changing the face of music forever. Led Zeppelin selling out stadium after stadium with 7 minute long songs at a time when 3 minutes was the most you were afforded on the newly founded Radio 1. Why do kids not do this these days? It’s so easy, any song you want is at your fingertips.
I have never wanted children, and if this is the world that they would be born into, I see no reason to change my mind. If I was a father, a nightly sit down with my vinyl collection would be standard regime in my child’s life.