Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Gen X music: Punk, Hip-Hop, or Grunge?

Being born in 1970, I had the coolest musical awakening growing up. Though I can't remember when I actually became conscious of rock music and all its dervatives, I do know that by the time I hit middle school in 1981, I was listening to classic rock on K-SHE95 in St. Louis while also trying to find alternative stations playing punk and new wave. The Ramones were the first band that took me in a cool new musical direction, and I was digging The Police, U2, & REM not long after that. St. Louis had a thriving punk scene in those days, and I can remember my older cousin playing in a band that covered the New York Dolls' "Looking for a Kiss." That one kinda blew my mind. Through middle and high school, we still listened to classic rock, but it was a great time for pop music, too with the rise of Prince and Madonna. Bon Jovi kept classic rock-and-roll front and center, and bands like REM and the Violent Femmes turned punk into post-punk into alternative. Heading off to college in 1988, I was confronted with the bold sounds of NWA, Public Enemy, and Ice-T coming through doors on my dorm floor. And, to be honest, my early reaction was that the music wasn't for me. But when a roommate started duping tapes from some guys on our floor, and I stangely asked why, he simply told me, "it's something new." By 1991, I was listening to some bootleg tapes coming out of the Pacific Northwest, and I still remember the moment I came home from the bars to find the raucous sounds and images of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" screaming through the TV. Mix in my introduction to the sub-culture surrounding the Grateful Dead, and you might be able to understand the Gen X music ethos. It was never about genre or style as much as it was about innovation and authenticity. The late 70s through the early 90s was a great time for music, and Generation X is defined by the vast eclectic world of music that grew out of rock, folk, and blues as Baby Boomer's Woodstock world became the fusion of Generation X's Lollapalooza.

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