Friday, August 05, 2011


I know in my head that Ten is almost 20 years old now. I have been talking about it all year. I've even written about it already. But something about this trailer brought it a little too close to home, made me realize that it's not just that it was two decades ago that we first heard this music. It's that the whole thing happened in another time, during an altogether different cultural era.

The on-the-shoulder video cameras. The ironic sport coats. The unironic crowd surfing. Flannel pants and Doc Martens. The grainy footage of boxy sedans traversing a highway with no billboards. And perhaps most of all, Eddie Vedder's signature scream, which I have heard hundreds of times in the past twenty years but which for some reason I heard in this video as if for the first time. (It gave me chills this "first" time too.)

Gen X friends, I sat and watched, agape at the realization that was dawning on me: the world is not ours anymore. Our kids and our friends' kids will look at this footage, should we be foolish enough to show it to them, and they will scoff. They will scoff the same way we did when the Time-Life Sounds of the '70s infomercial would come on TV and our parents would stop flicking channels, lingering for a few moments to watch with unhinged eyes as Mick Jagger or Robert Plant (or, God forbid, whoever sang for ABBA) strutted across the stage ridiculously. They sighed and we snorted into our hands as we looked sideways at each other and it puts a lump in my throat to know that we are most assuredly not laughing anymore.

Soon, if not already, those kids of ours will be freshmen in high school, and they will discover whatever music will speak to them the way grunge spoke to us, and we will pray that it is their era's Pearl Jam, and not Color Me Badd. And after they crawl into bed (why do they have to stay up so late?), we will pull out our dusty DVD copy of Pearl Jam Twenty and hope they will stay asleep and spare us the ignominy of being discovered in the dark wearing our Doc Martens with our plaid pajama pants.

The world is not ours anymore. It is theirs. How did it slip so easily from our grasp?


Matt said...

I just sat here for a few minutes thinking about all of the different times in my life that I have sat listening to a Pearl Jam song.

From High School bonfires, to hanging out with friends on the lake, hiking, camping, runnning, before my wedding, while both Ella and Brenna were born, singing in my car with just me-myself-and I, when I had bad days, and lately my power song when I run.

I guess its just kind of an amazing thing, because whether Eddie knows it or not, he has been a rather important part of my life for a very long time, and it makes me happy to even think about.

Julia said...

Yes- things have changed. Grunge was not my "thing" but I did enjoy some Pearl Jam through the years. And though I have caught my kids bopping along to Wham! played through some store's music system, I know that in a few years (if not sooner than that) Katy Perry and whatever other pop icon is around will be gracing my ears. Right now I am thankful for Raffi and groups like the Verve Pipe and TMBG who are teaching my kids that music doesn't have to be bad.

And I know I'm getting old. M is already comparing me to teens and they are winning the coolness factor.

Ben said...

They may not scoff at this, Scott. There are some musical trends that transcend, like Woodstock and The Last Waltz, early Michael Jackson and Beatlemania. I teach high school music theory and spend school Friday mornings listening to examples from 16-year-olds' music collections. The students really into rock music listen to Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. A group of students even performed a Nirvana song in my class. I've seen students tie flannel shirts around their waists and some still wear Doc Martens. There's a reason why we scoffed at our parents' affection for ABBA and the shirtless screeching in band footage saved by Betamax. But there's also a reason why we stole their Velvet Underground records and had Pink Floyd posters on the wall.