Driving down a busy city street last week, I hit a stoplight where next to me was a middle-aged dude in a Mercedes with rap music blaring out the windows.
It wasn’t lightweight rap, either – no hippie the hippie-hop “Rappers Delight” stuff. It was hard-core, in-your-face, booming-out-the-car rap. Did I mention the driver was partially bald and in a dress shirt?
What a weird juxtaposition, I thought – until I realized that it wasn’t.
Today’s middle-aged music lovers grew up on ’90s rap – “gangsta rap,” the East Coast-West Coast rap rivalry. It wasn’t the Sugarhill Gang that was making noise. The 20-year-olds then are the 40-year-olds now, but they still listen to what they listened to, just like the rest of us.
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I always thought I was kind of badass for driving down the street with my rock blaring out the windows, Aerosmith, AC/DC. Heck, even my less-hard rock – U2, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac – made me feel a little impervious to aging.
Well, aging gracefully, anyway.
But time and badass march on.
I realized last week on that stretch of road as the Mercedes pulled ahead and the rap music faded into the distance that my generation is no longer on the cutting edge of rocking on to stay youthful in our, ahem, middle years. Classic rock is giving way to classic hip-hop.
When I do finally find myself in a retirement home someday, the music in the lobby could be anything from doo-wop, a la the earliest baby boomers who came before for me, to rap music, a la the generation that came after. Sobering thought.
Frankly, I don’t want to hear either. In prime late-baby boomer/me generation fashion, I want what I want: Bono, R.E.M., the Police, Aerosmith, the Rolling Stones and other groups from the 1960s, ’70s and up who made rock ’n’ roll the greatest music ever.
While we’re talking about music and random exposure to it, it seems Muzak has marched on, as well. As I walked into a grocery store earlier this week, the end of a lyric from a peppy little ditty that I didn’t recognize hit my ears – something along the lines of “how to get you under me.”
Um, maybe my mind went the wrong way, but that’s kind of risqué for grocery store background noise, isn’t it? It’s not a lyric you want accompanying your kids as they pick out their juice boxes. Maybe stores should go back to good old-fashioned instrumentals only.
Man, I do sound like an aging wonder. I need to go sit in my car, roll down the windows and blare a little “You Shook Me All Night Long” to shake that off.
Reach Scene editor Pat Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.