Talking about my generation

The other day I was sitting in a room with a group of young people, whose ages probably ranged from about 18 to 24. The discussion moved to music, and I was amazed when I was told about their favourite bands and musicians: they included Queen, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Elton John, and of course the Beatles – in fact, every other name mentioned was around when I was their age. For a minute I thought about this: these musical acts were all 40 years old or so; and back in 1968, I certainly wouldn’t even have known the name (never mind the music) of someone who had been singing in 1928. How is it that the music of my generation has refused to die and is still being heard by young people today?

A friend of mine, who is about three years older than I am, has a theory that our generation has dominated the world for much of our lives. We introduced the Beatles, and with them, not just new kinds of music, but whole new ways of thinking. We started wearing longer hair, God help us we started on drugs, we pushed politics to the left and later to the right, we brought in new shops and supermarkets; and whatever we did, those both older than us and younger than us followed our lead.

It’s a beguiling theory, but probably not true. But then again, we do seem to have remained cool (or something that allows us to think we are cool) for longer and more persistently than any other generation. Others who came after us never quite managed it in the same way.

But then again, we’re growing older, and the generation that brought you the Beatles is about to start drawing pensions. And will we still be thought leaders then? I don’t know. But I do believe that we will be leaving things to those who follow in somewhat better shape than we found them, by and large. And while the Who, in that iconic song of my generation – My Generation – asked of the old establishment ‘Why don’t you just fff…fade away?’, I think that it may just about be possible that we’ll still be rebellious enough while holding on to our zimmer frames to ask that of those coming behind us, should they cease to show respect.

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4 Comments on “Talking about my generation”

  1. Mrs Ryan Says:

    No T-Pain, Amy Winehouse, or Girl Talk? This really is a very depressing indictment of today’s young people. Anyone who cites Elton John, for a start, needs to be immediately brought to their senses by being presented with a demand for fees for their course. As for mentioning Eric Clapton, well clearly, that person was still in some kind of delusion due to the recent assault on their free medical card…

  2. I blame World War Two. Yours was the first generation since the war that could afford to go bananas, and so it did.

    Us the generation of your children are a bit more sensible. We care mainly about jobs and mortgages, we don’t want to change the world anymore.

  3. How deeply sad to one of my generation (we who stopped a war, we who gained equality for women) that An Cainteoir Dóchais feels “We care mainly about jobs and mortgages, we don’t want to change the world anymore”.

    We had jobs, we had mortgages and we still managed to care about changing the world. And we didn’t just care about it, we DID change the world. Just a little, but enough to nudge it along.

    At 62 I still “hope I die before I get old” (funny how the definition of “old” moves along in front of you), but if by some unfortunate chance I find myself in a retirement village, the visiting entertainers are going to have to upgrade to the Stones’ “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” before I can sing along.

  4. Rob Abdul Says:

    My Generation in comparison has done nothing to help man kind. I’m talking about 1977 onwards.

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