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How Did Your Music Tastes Change As You Grew Older?

Do you still like the same songs you did as a teenager? Which artists have you grown out of? Are there genres of music you appreciate more now that you used to fail to understand?

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PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates!

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May 12, 2014 - 3:00 pm

In partnership with the new fiction publishing platform Liberty Island, PJ Lifestyle is going to begin promoting and co-hosting a series of debates and discussions about popular culture. The goal is to figure out what works and what doesn’t so that in the future we can promote and create better fiction and culture of our own. These are public brainstorming sessions for writers and culture advocates interested in developing a more vibrant popular culture. You’re invited to submit your answers to any of these questions — or a related one of your own! — that interests you:

A) in the comments

B) Via email to PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle.

C) at your blog, then let us know in the comments or via email. 

The most interesting answers may be linked, crossposted, or published at PJ Lifestyle. Also check out last week’s writing prompts: 5 Geek Questions To Provoke Debates About the Future of Sci-Fi and Fantasy and these three posts furthering the discussion:

Walter Hudson: DC Vs. Marvel: Why This DC Fanboy Believes Marvel Already Won,

Hannah Sternberg: The Bible of Buffy,

Dave Swindle: Surely, I’m Not the Only One Who Overdosed on Star Wars and Star Trek

P. David Hornik: Israeli Women, Part 4: Great Ladies of Hebrew Song

Megan Fox: Beyonce Worshipped by Fans in ‘Church of Beyism’

Hannah Sternberg: Look at Lana

Roger Kimball: Not Only My Favorite Interpreter of Bach, But Also My Favorite Pianist

Kathy Shaidle: 6 Classic Songs That Almost Didn’t Exist

What pop culture questions do you want to debate and discuss? Please leave your suggestions for upcoming Pop Culture debates also in the comments or submit via email.

Susan L.M. Goldberg: A Day in the Life of the Fest for Beatles Fans 2014

 

PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates Features a new prompt each weekday to weigh the good, the bad, the overrated, the unbelievable, and the amazing throughout the worlds of books, film, and TV. We can't figure out how to build a greater pop culture until we dissect the mess we already have. Want to contribute your perspective to the debate? Email PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle with your take: DaveSwindlePJM [@] gmail.com Image via shutterstock/ DarkGeometryStudios

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Freebird!
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (29)
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As I've aged, I've become a bit more receptive toward some of the older styles I didn't like before. However, 1980 is an important year for me -- it's the year that, effectively, I quit listening to new pop/rock.

Maybe it isn't the same for everybody, but conductor Georg Solti summed it up for me. He was asked, why don't you conduct some of the more modern, avant-garde music such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Boulez, or Iannis Xenakis? Solti responded, humbly I think, that a person can assimilate new music up to a certain age, but then it stops -- and for him, music stopped sometime around 1950. So he was comfortable with Bartok, Hindemith, Shostakovich, Webern, but that pretty much ended it.

That has been my experience with pop/rock. The very last pop tune I remember liking at the time was in 1980, "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty. But it isn't absolute. For me, that's when the faucet was turned off, but drink still trickled down for a short while. ZZTop I like in small doses. The Cars have a very interesting sound. Not real crazy about Sting's voice, but I like the combination of rock with Caribbean rhythms in the Police's stuff.

Anyhow, in 1969, I was in 9th grade and listened a lot to Top 40 pop/rock, like every other teenager. I played tuba in the band, though, and so was exposed to band renditions of certain more classical pieces, particularly British band music (our band director had a musical fetish for anything British). I was big into the Doors.

But one day, my mom brought home an LP that cost her 80 cents in a cutout bin, an Italian orchestra playing Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade", and I committed the irrevocable error of listening to it. Like some meth addicts, I was hooked on my first high. For the next twelve or thirteen years, I listened to nothing but symphonic music, and became a horrible musical snob. I even majored in music, decided to devote my life to trombone-playing and trying to get into a professional orchestra.

In 1979, though, I enlisted in the Air Force and joined an Air Force band. Life is not kind to musical snobs in a military band, because your job requires you to play many different styles. Gradually, the ivory tower was peeled away, and irritation morphed into tolerance which turned to respect and finally even appreciation for jazz, pop, rock, and pretty much everything except disco and rap/hip-hop.

One thing hasn't changed, though: I've always enjoyed the sensual aspect of music, not so much the intellectual aspects. I prefer Berlioz and Tchaikovsky to Bach and Mozart. Jazz for me means big bands and Ella Fitzgerald, not Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis. Thumbs up for the Beatles and the Moody Blues, and down for Boston and Yes. Yes to Nat King Cole, maybe to Mel Torme, and no to anything more esoteric. I have spent much of my life thinking about things, math, history, computers and database design, and music is where I go to escape the padded jail cell of the mind.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
How did our taste in music change? I thought it was our fault that it didn't change.

I still like the Bill Doggett band. I still like the pre-Nokie Ventures. I still like Surf and Doo Wop and Nuggets punk. I still like nonbombastic Classical. I still don't like jazz.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
When I was younger I loved jazz, especially pre-1970 jazz. I loved the improvisation and I really appreciated the American Songbook tunes that much of it was based on. As I got older I became really disgusted with the the whole "jazz experience" of sleaze, smoky bars, drugs etc. I wound up turning to Bluegrass! I know, weird huh? But Bluegrass has fabulous improvisation and it is based on a songbook of traditional hymns and American/Celtic folk-songs that I think is every bit as rich Tin Pan Alley and show tunes. Plus Bluegrass is usually enjoyed in healthy, wholesome, family friendly settings and it is usually played by people you would actually want to associate with. It takes a while to hear past the twanginess and there is a bit of a learning curve tune-wise, especially if you did not grow up in a Protestant church. It also helps if you are comfortable with country music. But you can ease into it. Start by listening to some Old Time Music (which is basically Bluegrass without the improvisation) like the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou. Or better yet, go to some festivals. So much great music and so many terrific people!
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
I still like some of the stuff I listened to as a teenager. I've always been a huge Rush and Yes fan, and lately I've been listening to a lot of Hawkwind, Budgie, and the first couple Exodus albums. I'm still into Black Sabbath, Dio, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Darkthrone, Death Angel, and Death. Some of my favorite bands--especially Judas Priest, Laibach and Morbid Angel--have really gone downhill in the last few years. There was some great thrash metal, death metal, and black metal back in the 90s, but it seems that nowadays those genres have lost any sense of originality, and so for the most part I've lost interest. Grunge and alternative was really big when I was in high school, but I was never into that stuff because it was so whiny and depressing, and it had no energy. I never got into punk either because it always struck me as children's music; hard to explain why, but thats the feeling I got from it.

Nowadays I've gotten into baroque and medieval music; most anything connected with Jordi Savall is exceptionally high quality. I've also become a fan of Dvorak. I'm still waiting for a new Kraftwerk album. I never could get into jazz--that stuff just puts me right to sleep, and it seems to have an air of pretentiousness about it that always put me off.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Should add: if you like Dvorak, maybe you'd like Smetana and Janacek, both fellow Czechs. Smetana's music sounds very similar to Dvorak's, quite folk-songish and sentimental (in a good way). Janacek's music is odd and awkward-sounding, but somehow works. Like Dvorak's, Janacek's music is inspired by Czech folk tunes, but the rhythms are just perverse enough to be interesting. I'd start with Janacek's "Sinfonietta".

Also, quite a lot of Dvorak's music reflect the teachings of his mentor, Johannes Brahms. Brahms' Hungarian Dances and Dvorak's Slavonic Dances are so similar in style it's often hard for me to tell the difference.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks, I'll check them out. What I've always liked about Dvorak's symphonies is the power and "bigness." Those are just HUGE. Dvorak is the kind of music you can blast and have it actually sound better; blast something like Chopin and its just loud.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's the brass. :)

I love Dvorak's symphonies, particularly 8 and 9 (New World). There's a trombone lick very near the end of No. 8 that I've always considered unplayable, and when you listen to most recordings, indeed, it sounds muddy. The lick is a descending G scale in sixteenth notes at a very fast clip, and it requires the sort of agility 99% of trombonists just don't have.

But there's a recording of the New York Philharmonic playing this Dvorak 8 (paired with, coincidentally, the Janacek "Sinfonietta"), where (dammit) the trombone passage is fast, loud, and clear as spring water. That's Joe Alessi, generally regarded in trombone circles as the world's best. It's a wonderful recording of both pieces. I really love the 8th Symphony's Third Movement, sort of a waltz -- very beautiful.

http://www.amazon.com/Dvorak-Sym-No-Janacek-Sinfonietta/dp/B00006I4AY/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1399997273&sr=1-2&keywords=dvorak+symphony+8+janacek

24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
All musical styles eventually reach a fork in the road (cue Art Fern here), usually at the zenith of its popularity, where one fork leads to intellectualism and the other to sensuality. Intellectualism appeals to a small, select audience of deep-into-the-culture freaks, while sensuality appeals to a broader audience for a while until they get bored with it and look for newer and fresher sensual delights.

There's a joke in musical circles that goes: What's the difference between blues and jazz? A blues musician plays three chords to an audience of thousands, while a jazz musician plays thousands of chords to an audience of three. Jazz has been infested with intellectualism since the Fifties. I can barely stand Coltraine, but Miles Davis makes me leave the room. On the other hand, there is the insulin-resistant saccharine sweetness of Manhattan Transfer, or Kenny G., for those who like their jazz sweet and neutered, like a spayed cat.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...jazz has been infested with intellectualism..."

And the worst offender is by far John Zorn. Some of his stuff like Masada is tolerable (albeit boring), but much of it sounds like Miles Davis wearing a clown suit and wielding a chain saw while jumping into a giant blender.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
As a non-intellectual, I've noticed that blues is on the surface about the performer but it's really about the listener, while jazz is all about the performer.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Try the Big Bands of the thirties and forties - jazz played to dance to, not to ruminate upon. Glenn Miller could never have put anyone to sleep.

My son is a metalhead. I can appreciate the astonishing technical skill it takes, but it's just not pretty enough for me.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
When I was in high school in the 90s there was a short-lived Big Band trend. I never could get into it.

Metal has changed quite a lot over the years. It started in about 69, and up until about the early 90s you had astonishing technical skill combined with actual songwriting ability. Once death metal started getting big in the mid 90s, technical skill took over and songwriting ability went out the window. Many of the people who play in death metal bands are truly the best in the world at their instruments, but hardly any of them can write a memorable song to save their life.

As for your son, metal is a genre geared specifically towards men. Thats why you rarely see chicks at metal shows, and the ones that do show up are either a. not at all desirable, or b. not interested in men. You do see a hottie from time-to-time, but thats pretty rare.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
In my experience, it might not be so much that you find the music acceptable, but rather if the music finds you acceptable. Case in point: I find that as a get older, I can no longer sing or dance with rock & roll as gracefully as I used to.

Which is no great loss.

When I was growing up, my father didn't allow rock in the house. I grew up on classical music. Self taught myself keyboard because I liked Bach. Listened to a lot of Rogers & Hammerstein and Cole Porter. I knew a lot about Broadway musicals for a straight guy. Listend to a lot of big band. Most of the songs I knew before I left home for college were Great American Song Book type songs. And I left that all behind for what was popular at the time.

Thirty-some years later I find myself turning back to the music I grew up with, especially the GASB stuff. Why? Like I said earlier, I can't sing rock as gracefully as I used to. On the other hand, I've taken up swing dancing, which means I've gone back to big band. And I've got this Dean Martin thing happening to my singing voice which older people seem to love, which kinda works out as I am become one of the older people. Only thing left is buying a harpsicord. ;)
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
> I knew a lot about Broadway musicals for a straight guy.

I share that stigma to some degree. Richard Rodgers was a great songwriter, with over 900 tunes to his credit, many of them exceptionally good.

And Dean Martin is the bomb. But don't neglect Nat King Cole and Sammy David, Jr.

I'm quite fond of Johnny Mercer, more for his lyrics than his tunes, but he was a decent tunesmith as well. You should listen, if you haven't, to Clint Eastwood's DVD documentary on Johnny Mercer, a wonderful experience.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
The phenomenon you describe is governed by the natural law expressed as "Quality never goes out of style." There actually are objective standards for good music, and the great old songs meet them. That's all.
A vast truth might be expressed by the fact that the most common Western vision of Heaven portrays it as a place of music...
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
In high-school, I was a straight up punk rock, emo kid. I'm so glad I grew out of aggressively whiny music.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was always pretty eclectic even in high school...jazz, rock, English invasion, but I struck paydirt my first year of college with the Mahavishu Orchestra, who I had the pleasure to see first at the old Long Beach (CA) Arena in '70 and 3 more times after that.  From there on to the absolutely brilliant Pat Metheny, and all other things fusion (Chick Corea, et al).

Have always been hugely into blues and still am, particularly hard, electric blues.  Listen to KKJZ and Erick (the Wag-Man) Wagner every Sat and Sun out of LBCC (get the app. GREAT show!).

Did the 60's thing in San Francisco. The only SF band that ever really struck me hard was Big Brother, of course because of Janice.  Saw them twice.

But I still listen to Zep, AC-DC, Rush, Van Halen, Doors and more.

Pretty much the only music I cannot stomach is the mindless sort: C&W (You Derailed the Boxcar of My Heart...) and Rap/Hip-Hop.

Being a working musician for a good part of my younger life and knowing the biz a bit has also helped refine my palette.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you think C&W is "mindless", you haven't listened to the right stuff.

Of course, I've heard that about cRap/Hip-Hop, so who am I to judge.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
C&W isn't exactly "mindless" but since the late '70s the personality of it has taken a huge dive. The technical talent is immense but the songwriting is droning and conformist, and albums are routinely over-produced right into an elevator. I don't know what all these people are doing in the studio but the might want to take advantage of all that musical back up talent and 1) encourage them to be more individual and 2) make more of an effort to get a "live" sound.

C&W has all these really great musicians (you can really see that live) but they are over disciplined into the background. C&W actually has some really fine arrangements but they are too often mixed together in a muddle. I'm guessing there is simply a lack of great engineers and producers or they feel they don't want to startle their audience with innovations.

The oddball thing about that is the acts which made CW in the '50s and '60s were just that - oddball. Each act had a truly unique sound.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
> C&W has all these really great musicians

"Nashville Cats... play clean as country water..."
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
I
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Freebird!
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Probably my oddest add-on was an exposure to Brazilian pop in the form of a genre called "pagode" (pah-god-gee), which is a poppy version of traditional samba. It hit big in the '90s although it had been around a long time.

My favorites are Sergio Aragao, Alcione, Beth Carvalho, Belo, Bebeto, Raca Negra, Revolucion.

The largest impact of the internet is that music like that was once compartmentalized so your only access to it was pretty much in the country of origin. Now you can listen to it and watch it on youtube all day long.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
My opinion of Linda Ronstadt went several scales higher when she recorded with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra. She didn't need Top 40 anymore, she had made her pile.

And I still think that passing legislation to ban harmony and melody from music was short sighted.

Just saying...
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
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