Black and white photo of room with lots of guitars and a banjo hanging on the wall and other musical instruments

One month ago, I moved from my beloved Arcadia Avenue to the suburban paradise of Upper Arlington. I had my reasons, and I don’t regret the decision. But I do miss the noise and life of the city. There has also been something of a learning curve – dumping metal debris in my front yard for scrappers to pick up is not OK. I also had to buy a snow shovel.

As my consolation for the move, I decided that I was going to take advantage of my nearly doubled square footage and indulge myself with a real music room. A good chance to consolidate the drums, pianos, ten or so guitars, pennywhistles and other miscellany that was formerly stashed in every corner of my old house. And a place to put that duct taped together couch.

I hope so much that I will stay musically active and, unlike a lot of basement bars and man-caves, the room will be more of a functional space than a shrine to a past life. But hanging guitars on the wall got me excited, and the next thing you know I’m installing vintage style sconce lights and buying lava lamps. One thing led to another, culminating in a whiskey fueled online poster shopping spree at 1:00 AM.

Four days later I have sobered up, but the posters are starting to show up on the doorstep. And if I do say so myself, they are pretty cool. I’ve got some old playbills for Warren Zevon and Joan Baez, the movie poster for “Don’t Look Back,” and what appears to be a 3’x5’ stylized portrait of Tina Weymouth in hot pink. A nice Talking Heads concert shot, and a picture of Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt hanging out on some sort of farm.

So now I’m reliving my college experience with a can of Hamm’s beer and a mess of scotch tape. Which is all right – at least I really listen to the artists I’ve posterized (sorry Bob Marley, you bored me then as you bore me still).

But looking around when I was done, it occurred to me that most of this music was recorded before my 41-year-old self was born. The exquisite British Pop misidentified as Rock ‘n Roll that inhabited that magical decade and a half between the last good Elvis album and Gladys Knight’s “Midnight Train to Georgia.”

Boomer rock is long dead, buried, and definitively eulogized in Don McLean’s “American Pie.” But yet it isn’t, not even close. It continues to dominate the radio, sporting events, casinos, elevators, deserted pirate caves – anywhere music is played. My 20-year-old student tenants still swath their bedrooms in Led Zeppelin tapestries and blast Black Dog out of their used Toyota Avalons. Don’t they know that the Zeppelin has already repeated itself twice?*

The Talking Heads are the only posters for my own generation. And although David, Tina, Jerry and Chris are my favorite all-time band, they are still essentially derivative. Gosh, along with the Ramones they were downright responsive -- strong medicine along with the Ramones for boomer music which in the mid-70’s to jumped right past pretension into the downright silly.

So much of Gen X’s musical legacy is what we called rock, and most of it only nibbled at the fringes of the music left by boomers. We were fond of categorizing and sub-dividing and taking bad ideas to extremes (see Morbid Angel). But referring to us as the Grunge Generation is absurd. Two years of depressing power ballads out of Seattle is at best a footnote. It does suck that boomer record executives must still be laughing about suckering us into buying multi-platinum “alternative” and “indie” music. Pretty embarrassing if you think about it.

I mean, we were the generation that gave you hip-hop. But a lot of us neglected to recognize the importance of this at the time. Probably because we were listening to goth-core or some such nonsense. In retrospect, a lot of what we called “rap” music – the Beastie Boys, Tone Loc, Run DMC – sounds a little bit like….well…rock. The Millennials are doing way more interesting things with hip-hop than we ever did.

But we always were slackers, remember? Hardly. We were never permitted the luxury of grand sweeping change. We were the latch key kids, the children of divorce, whose job it was to implement the consequences of change. The Boomers tore up outdated and repressive concepts of family and culture, and good for them. But we picked up the pieces and reorganized them – we figured out how to make a life with them.

So forgive us if we steal a little bit of music. It seems to me that we deserve a little bit of it.

*The first time as tragedy (Foreigner) and the second time as farce (Motley Crue).

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