Is ďhipĒ even a cool word anymore? Is it ďcoolĒ to say cool? Am I too old to write about pop music?
I donít know the answer to the first two questions, but I do know the answer to the last one Ė a resounding NO! I just have to learn to do some new things. I can no longer rely on top 40 play lists, the number one selling CDs or even what is billed on some radio stations. I need to dig deeper and find out what is popular before it becomes popular. This requires some changes on my part. A subscription to a few teen magazines, a lot more time on the Internet as well as becoming a pest and a fool in online chat rooms and on fan boards.
The chart watchers and radio stations donít know it all. You have to ask people what they consider to be popular Ė to be specific Ė you have to ask teenagers. See, they donít give up on music so easily Ė they are open-minded, ready for the new, ready for the strange, ready for surprises and willing to be criticized as well as critique what they see, hear and read. They donít settle for comfort zones or mediocre melodies when it comes to music and pop culture. It is what they listen to, talk about, read about, and spend their money on.
Sometimes, when we quit being a teenager, we get all serious about responsibility and stuff, paying the bills, changing the oil in the car, replacing furnace filters, that kind of stuff. I donít have children, so I donít know the chores that come along with parenting, but I can only imagine it does not leave much room for exploring pop culture and its music.
Since I donít have teenagers, I had to find some. Blogs, chat rooms, and My Space pages have been a great source of information. I donít act smart, yet I donít try to act dumb, I just end up being myself and telling them who I am and what I want to know. Teenagers love to talk about music and they love to tell you what is wrong with music today. Iíve learned that teens think the cost of concert tickets and CDs is too high; they canít always keep up with the technology of music downloads and that lyrics do mean something to them. The words set to music gives them hope for the future and understanding of the past. Music helps teenagers find causes and commitments and they often follow artists who have strong convictions about our world and current events.
Being young is painful at times and euphoric at others. This past week, I quit asking questions and listened and read as many high school and freshman college students blogged and talked about Virginia Tech and the impact that this tragedy had on their own lives. I read song lyrics and watched montages on You Tube created by students who needed to express their feelings about evil, death and picking up the pieces after the puzzle of their life fell apart. Others created picture tribute slide shows on places such as Photobucket. The bands were new to me and Iíve did research and made notes to do more. I almost felt as if I were spying on a world that Iíve outgrown.
Itís true that music belongs to every age, every color, every sex and every race; however, it seems that when you are a teenager and experience wins and losses for the first time, the rawness of emotion really interprets the creativity the artists and bands intended all along.
I canít stop varicose veins, wrinkles, liver spots or arthritis, but I can stop the aging of my ears. I can turn back the hand of time and get my ďteenage earsĒ once again.
In Memory of Virginia Tech Ė April 16, 2007.