Sound of a Generation – pt.1 June 27, 2008Posted by Matt in Sound of a Generation.
Tags: angst, Generation X, music, Nirvana
There are various descriptors tossed about to describe generational differences – whether they be akin to values or judgments or worldviews or any other number of characteristics that set one group apart from another. There may be no arena in which these differences are more pronounced than in that of the music we listen to.
It is through the arts, and, at least for this entry, music in particular, that this overarching worldview is proclaimed – sometimes in an almost inaudible whisper, sometimes with a tone of reasonableness, and sometimes with a violent, challenging cry to masses for change, a veritable call to arms in the battle for supremacy.
The music of the 1960’s and early 70’s was especially important in this way as it aided the civil rights struggle and strongly fomented the anti-war movement. It was music of hope, and spoke of an unbridled idealism that people could make a difference in the world. Entire movements were formed around the sounds of the time as young people tirelessly worked for change.
But something happened along the way.
By the 1980’s, popular music had moved from being a rallying cry, to something empty and vacuous. Superficiality and rabid materialism infected the masses, suburbs grew, fences went up, and the idealistic dream of the 1960’s died a painful death.
By the turn of decade, the nation was at war, the economy was in recession, the plague of AIDS was spreading and the youth of America were feeling more disaffected than ever. They were angry and disappointed and coming to the realization that our generation, Generation X, would be the first one that was not better off than our parents.
But then, something arose from the fog-shrouded city of Seattle that changed everything and gave us, the disaffected youth of Generation X, a new type of music displaying our angst and anger and rocking the proverbial boat as few had before. It was empowering, revolutionary, and announced our generation, not with a megaphone, but with a ragged, disquieting scream. And, so, to end part one of our series – the song that defined a generation: