Thursday, March 28, 2013


You are Tom Bosley.
From one of my political blogs, here's a Twitter exchange highlighting something I've become increasingly aware of. First, Carl Newman of the New Pornographers:

The distance in time between '77 punk and right now is the same as the distance between '77 Punk and the attack on Pearl Harbor.

 Response from Atrios at the Eschaton blog:

@ACNewman distance between now and Please Please Me is same as distance between 1963 and Archduke Ferdinand being alive

My version of this observation is to notice that difference in time between the period in which Happy Days was set vs. the time it was actually on TV is roughly the same as the time between now and Kurt Cobain's death. That would make me, horrifyingly, Tom Bosley.

Note: A panicky Wikipedia check reveals that Bosley was in fact older in 1975 than I am now, so I'm safe on that front. But still.

Anyway, Atrios writes:

Obviously the big takeaway is holy crap I'm old (I was born 9 years after Please Please Me, but still), but I think there's a broader point about us olds not getting just how distant stuff is for The Kids Today. More than that, I also think there was a kind of continuity between people born, roughly, from the beginning of WWII until about 1993. The discontinuity here is the internet, a society transforming technology change. 
 I probably started listening to The Beatles (aside from randomly hearing them on the radio) in 1986 or so, when I was 14. Some 14 year old kid today listening to The Beatles would be equivalent to my 1986 self getting into music from 1939 or so. Those "old movies" weren't actually all that old, some of them anyway, when I was a teenager, but I sure did think they were old, even movies from the 70s! Imagine what they look like to The Kids Today. 

Well, a lot of them seem to think they are pretty hip. But this feels like a little bit of an issue, because so much of the music we deal with here is— I guess— old.

Continued after the break:

Leaving aside the question of feeling old— at 45, I don't— I'll limit myself to our subject at hand and say that I think there are fewer barriers to appreciating say, a 40 year old recording today than there were for a 40 year old recording in 1973. Absolute technical quality was a major issue. From a drummer's perspective, you only had about 25 years of recorded history where you could actually hear the drums, with quality on a very steep downward curve as you went back in time more than a few years— recordings from, say, 1955-65 sound like a bad fourth-generation photocopy to younger listeners today, as they did when I was a kid. 1933 is almost literally prehistoric as far as the drumming is concerned; it's hard to draw much information from recordings made in that period— at least it has been for me. But since the end of the 60s, even if the music sounds dated, you are at least not so aware of the limitations of the recording technology, and you are given a fairly realistic image of the musical performance.

A similar thing happened with movies at the same time; they reached a state of technical quality you could say is fairly objectively realistic, and you don't have to stretch your aesthetics much to appreciate the good ones. The big advances since then, in CGI and high def, have moved in the direction of either being cartoonish, or a strange form of hyper-realism most people only experience when they are tripping on acid. Real life looks more like Alien than it does Prometheus. Or Alien's predecessor, It! The Terror From Beyond Space, for that matter. Likewise, Ndugu playing on a George Duke record sounds more like an actual drumming performance than, say, the average metal recording made in the last ten years.

I think music is now in a similar place to books and art when I was younger— the window for appreciating it is wider. I could make a case for somewhat older— pre ubiquity of Pro Tools, at least— recordings being more educational for drummers, but that's for another time.

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