You know you’re getting old when you break out with the dreaded “Kids today. What are they listening to? That stuff is crap!”
I had one of those moments this week, as well as a shocking revelation.
I’ve been filling my iPod with classic songs from my youth, making liberal use of my library card to borrow CDs with songs from the LP and 45 collection from my teens.
And my wife will point out that outside of discovering awesome contemporary Christian rock; my music tastes have not changed that much from those formative years. I was a bit of a metal head, but embraced a lot of the synth new wave stuff. Hey, 20 gigs of space means Rush and UFO and Human League and A Flock of Seagulls can happily co-exist.
So I was excited to find that the Grand Rapids Public Library had a copy of Black Box, the collection of every Ozzy-era Black Sabbath album. I haven’t heard most of those since high school.
While I was searching for that, I came across a copy of Eminem’s new Curtain Call greatest hits disc. I confess I’ve always been curious. The Detroit Free Press seems to have a reporter covering the guy full-time, so we can’t help put be exposed to his assorted legal and marital woes and the outcry from whatever oversensitive group his lyrics were offending that week.
But I’ve never heard his stuff, other than that overblown duet with Elton John on the Grammy Awards a few years back and the small part of “Lose Yourself” in the iPod commercial that ran virtually between every single inning during the postseason.
It only costs 50 cents to borrow a disc, so I thought I’d give Em a whirl and see what the fuss was all about. I plunked down my buck and walked out of the library with both collections, and popped Curtain Call in the car CD player.
Yikes. There are 16 tracks on the disc. I think 15 are a continuous loop of F-bombs, and about 14 are about how miserable his life is. There was no joy, no optimism. Some of the tunes were OK, but I couldn’t get past the steady stream of profanity. It was distracting me from hearing what he was actually trying to say.
I’m not some language prude. Dee Snider lets an F-bomb fly once in a while, but not every other word. And Tony will remind me of a certain W.A.S.P. song I subjected him to in college. Well, him and the rest of the dorm. I was always a little heavy on the volume.
Considering how many millions of discs Eminem's sold, he’s probably in Carlos Beltran’s tax bracket. Can things be all that bad?
Then it happened. I broke out with the phrase: “Kids today. What are they listening to? This stuff is crap!”
I felt a shudder. Am I an official fossil?
Then I popped in some of the Sabbath discs when I picked Andrew up from swimming practice.
I threw Vol. 4 in first. “Supernaut” and “Wheels of Confusion” still seemed cool, but I finally realized that not only is “Snowblind” a drug song – it’s a pro-drug song! Who knew? OK, I was a naive kid.
The riff in “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” still growled with menace. “Paranoid” still rocked, and “War Pigs” was kind of a retro chuckle. Stuff from “Never Say Die,” the least popular of the Ozzy era, held up better than I thought.
Andrew groaned and showed displeasure as each memory blast out of the speakers. He turned up the volume on his GameBoy, as if Ozzy’s wail wouldn’t pierce through those computerized blips and bleeps.
But I realized that much of the rest just didn’t age well. I started skipping through the tracks, faster and faster, cringing along the way at each shrill scream, drug praise and devil devotion.
The first Sabbath CD was … unlistenable.
Ozzy used to seem kind of cool, but now I heard the foghorn vocals and all I could think of was the living cartoon mumbling and stumbling through his MTV reality show.
Then the revelation: When I was a kid, what was I listening to? This stuff was crap!
I used to love this music. I always found it easier to do those outside chores if I could bring my music outside. I’d either take my little red plastic Panasonic tape player or put my stereo speakers in the window and crank it up. I don’t know why the neighbors didn’t complain.
It was confirmation once again that my parents knew what they were talking about. If I’m even half as accurate when I’m bestowing advice upon my kids, they’ll be doing OK.
I ended up downloading a three songs from Curtain Call – more than I expected – and a total of 11 songs from the eight Sabbath albums, a lot fewer than I expected. And I won’t be as quick to criticize Andrew’s musical selections next time he wants me to import some songs to his iPod.
In other music news:
Another 45 I used to play over and over was Terry Cashman's "Talking Baseball -- Mets Version." Cashman rewrote his version of "Willie, Mickey and the Duke" for most of the major league teams. I recently discovered that these are available from his label's Web site, and puchased the National League versions plus a special disc he made for the Subway Series.
The original Mets version was from 1982 before the rebirth, hence the "We long to see them rushing, to the stadium in Flushing line." But the CD has a mroe recent version through the 1986 series and then the Subway Series. Good stuff, and no F-bombs!