As some of you know, T. Middy and I belong to different generations. He is part of the worst generation ever, ie the Boomers, and I’m Gen-X, which thinks it invented irony and ennui and slackerdom and cappuccino. Actually, I used to think I was born in the first year of Gen-X, ie 1965, until everyone started saying that President Obama (born 1961) is the first Gen-X president.
Usually our generational difference is not apparent to others, because of TM’s Dorian Gray-like youthfulness. It’s in musical taste that a visible abyss between us yawns. For example, TM has shown no interest whatsoever in the imminent reunion of Spandau Ballet, and the only thing I know about the Allman Brothers is that one of them was married, briefly, to Cher.
Last night we went out to Metairie to a street party: our hosts were our friends (and landlords) Joy and Paul, and they’d provided a long table-load of spicy boiled crawfish. Joy’s brother, Doug, plays drums in a cover band, called Hedley Grange, and they were set up on the front lawn. Hedley Grange’s specialty is Led Zeppelin. We were there for two-and-a-bit sets, and about 75% was L. Zep. Hedley Grange also do Doors songs, and most of the second side of Abbey Road. I like this much better than the bulk of their output, largely because I can sing along.
According to TM, Hedley Grange’s best Zeppelin number is “In the Light”, which involved a violin bow on guitar strings. To me, the conjunction of the words “Led Zeppelin” and “violin bow” are almost as alarming as “Jethro Tull” and “flute.” I suggested to Joy that maybe Hedley Grange could mix it up a little with, say, “Dance Hall Days” by Wang Chung. (After all, it includes the classic lines: “When I, you, and everyone we knew/Could believe, do, and share in what was true.”)
Unfortunately, Joy is older than I am, and does not share my nostalgic affection for early 80s’ hairdresser pop by bands named for Chinese musical concepts, the phonetics of baby-talk, or lines from a Stranglers’ song.
Before we went out last night, we spent some time watching old TV theme tunes/intros on YouTube. T. Middy wanted to show me Hullabaloo, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Fireball XL5. Because he was a fan of a the latter, I showed him Stingray and Thunderbirds, made by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s ‘Supermarionation’ gang. He especially enjoyed the closing credits of Stingray, over the song “Aqua Marina”, where the lyrics and poignant images make it clear that a) Troy Tempest suffers from unrequited love for Marina; b) Atlanta suffers from unrequited love for Troy Tempest; and c) Marina never speaks, and has both a distant gaze and a fey swimming style.
I also showed TM the intros to Man About the House and The Double Deckers (featuring a very young Peter Firth). For the first time he realized that the song I sing all the time around the house (“Get on board! Get on board!/ Come and join the Double Deckers/Take a ticket for a journey/On our double-decker London bus”) was not an annoying tune of my own devising.
We had our own version of Hullabaloo in New Zealand: it was Happen Inn, hosted by the late Peter Sinclair. It started in 1969, replacing C’mon, which I’m too young to remember. For years my brother and I were obsessive viewers of Ready to Roll (Saturday, early evening) and Radio With Pictures (Sunday nights).
RTR was on early evening, which meant my father was on hand to tell us that “Heart of Glass” and “Wuthering Heights” were “a load of rubbish.” During the Karyn Hay-hosted years of RWP, he would stay up long enough to pass his usual comment on her (“What a mess!”).
These days, TM and I can agree on some music, like Radiohead and Arctic Monkeys, for example. When I’m out, he plays Bruce Springsteen, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Bob Dylan, the Beatles. When we’re both in, he tolerates a great deal of Brazilian music. He isn’t too thrilled about Portishead or Neko Case. (“What is she singing about, dolphins?”) He is also caustic about what he calls “all those bands from the 80s you like.” That’s OK. Not everyone can believe, do, and share in what is true.