Monday, May 24, 2010

1957-1980 The Golden Age of Pop Music?

I love to spout off about how 'new' music sucks and the Golden Age of pop music was the late 50's through about 1980. My friends say 'That's not true! You just say that because that's the music that was around when you were growing up!'.

But I beg to differ. Just let me toss out a few names. Elvis, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, The Supremes, Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, The Ramones...I could go on.

Besides, if it was true that I have an irrational fondness for things I grew up with, I'd feel the same way about movies. But I don't think there was ever one 'Golden Age' for movies. My favorite movies are all over the place time wise; Apocalypse Now, Citizen Kane, Great Escape, Bride of Frankenstein, 2001, Big Lebowski...and sure, I dig the notion that the 70's were a great time for 'directors' and movies had finally grown up. But it was a short-lived period that ended with the awful BIG movies that were spawned by those same 70's guys who started out with such great potential to make really great films (Lucas, Spielberg, etc.). They let us all down big time and ended up producing mind-numbing, action driven movies void of humanity. You could even argue that the success of movies like Star Wars and E.T. were the worst thing that even happened to the film industry.

But what about novels? Am I in 'love' with books from the 60's? No way. My favorite book is 'Moby Dick'. That was written in 1851. Sure, I 'grew up' with it, but so did everybody else! And some of my other favorite writers I only discovered as a grown-up; John O'Hara, James T. the theory doesn't hold with novels.

But what about television? I do think that the Golden Age of Television does coincide with the peak of Pop Music (late 50's through late 70's). Some will argue that television is the ONE thing that is better now. That's true, but not overall. What is true is that the 'BEST' newer shows are probably better than the 'BEST' older shows. It would be hard to find old programs as good as 'The Sopranos', 'Breaking Bad', 'Six Feet Under' and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'. But it's not a fair comparison because the rules have changed. Shows are no longer self-contained. Think how bad 'The Sopranos' would have been if each show was self-contained, with no story arc and cliff-hanger endings? And on the flip-side, how much better would 60's shows like 'Star Trek' or 'Hawaii Five-0' have been if they were allowed story arcs and zero censorship?

And while I love the story arcs on my fav shows, they more often than not lack a decent conclusion. Look at 'Lost'. All those years and hours of shows with no real pay-off. Hell, 'Bonanza' had a pay-off every week! You might not have liked it, but at least in the end you knew that Hoss got the bad guy and all the loose ends were tied up.

So it's not really a fair comparison, TV Now vs. TV Then. Some aspects are better and some are worse, for both eras. But I'd give the nod to 'Then', because there's something to be said for 'self contained' scripted shows. You could graze. If the evening's episode of 'The Rockford Files' looked boring, you could skip it and try a different show. But with the 'soap opera' format of most dramas (and sitcoms, too), you're hooked!

Old show also make better re-run/DVD viewing for me. If I want to pop-in a DVD of 'The Streets of San Francisco', I can have a 50-minute complete story. Stone and Keller get their man, save the girl and have a 'humorous repartee' scene in the epiloge. Then I can go to beddy-bye. Pop in a 'Sopranos' DVD and you're drowning in the middle of forgotten subplots and characters and left unsatisfied. Or staying up all night watching the next one. And the next. But again, it's a close-call. I'm glad we have shows like 'Weeds' and 'Mad Men', even though my life is a misey if I miss an episode.

But Pop Music? No contest. And you can't pull the 'but the landscape has changed!' card. Yeah, it's changed a little. Radio is dead and people only listen to 'like-minded' stuff and don't stray. But we're talking about two-and-a-half minute songs and the great ones WILL find their way into the public consciousness. It's not that tough. And I don't see much of that happening these days.

And don't even get me started about comic books. Because there's no question that they used to be GREAT and now they pretty much SUCK.


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