Posted tagged ‘the Who’

Talking about my generation

November 2, 2008

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.