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Nothing separates the generations more than music. By the time a child is nine he has developed a passion for his own music that is even stronger than his passion for procrastination and weird clothes. (Bill Cosby, Turn That Crap Down!)

Part 3 of a Series

It's said that Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach's audiences rolled their eyes at his father's "outdated" and "old-fashioned" music, and that J.S. Bach's generation was simply horrified at the mangling C.P.E. gave his daddy's heritage. Some things never change.

Let's get one thing straight: whatever teens like, their parents hate. No, really ... they do. They may say that they "understand," but they're lying. They don't. My Irish grandmother was horrified at the very thought of Bing Crosby -- never mind that he was Irish, Catholic, and straighter than a pants crease: he sang, you know, "that" music, the stuff black folk were laying down in New Orleans and elsewhere. My folks thought the Beatles were talentless blobs, the Stones barbaric, and got me a Don Ellis album for my thirteenth birthday. Hurl city. My nephew, an otherwise bright lad reared in the wide-open spaces of New Jersey's horse country, enthusiastically embraced Dr. Dre, Public Enemy, and Ice T. He was no more of a homey than the preppies next door: it drove his mother bonkers. Even my buddy Fast Eddie, a musician fercryingoutloud, had conniptions when his younger daughter proclaimed herself Goth, painted her life black, and played nonstop Marilyn Manson at unearthly volumes on her Discman.

The Crosby anecdote underscores our other working thesis: virtually every evolution in American popular music is derived in some measure from the previous generation's popular black music. And what terrified my grandmother still alarms. The PMRC was created in response to rap's original bad boys, Two Live Crew, and still targets black music above all else. The overwhelming majority of their "Parental Advisory" labels adorn rap and hip-hop discs -- each one of this issue's spotlight CDs is so graced. A great deal of this, as we'll see below, is deserved -- but a lot of it is good, old-fashioned American racism.

So what you end up with is old farts like me who rant and rave about he loss of one element or another from modern music, "... this old heart yearns for melody." And of course I'm as puzzled, unenlightened, and clueless about today's popular music, rap, hip-hop, hard rock, and all of the inevitable hybrids, as my parents were about the Beatles, Stones, and Led Zep-and as clueless as their parents were about Crosby, Sinatra, Armstrong, and Goodman.
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Title Annotation:popular music
Publication:Sensible Sound
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2001
Previous Article:Double double.
Next Article:The Marshall Mathers LP.

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