A Record Store Geek (And Parent) on Exploring The Music Generation Gap
Finally, I get to write about music.
I've been hanging out on the cultural side of the New Times site, Jackalope Ranch, writing a little column called Parent Hood. Not a "how to parent" column, more like a look at pop culture through the eyes of a parent (five kids aged 11 through 30) and a hoodlum (not a criminal, just a rowdier-than-average person).
So what is some unorthodox parenting clown doing Up on the Sun? Actually, this is where I belong. This is where I figured New Times wanted me to be when they said, "How'd ya like to write?"
Why? I've been in the music business in the Valley for a little over 25 years, managing both corporate (Wherehouse) and indie (Zia) record stores for the first 10, and owning an indie record store (Hoodlums) for the past 15.
That fact does not mean you should read on. It's just a quick background check. My qualifications for adopting the moniker "Record Store Geek."
Hopefully, the reason to read is that I'm a lifelong music fan with an opinion . . . and the tendency to stir up shit, er, debate (and you like debate, don't ya?) about all things music.
So What About "Parent Hood"? Yeah, that's the trick. I've grown to really enjoy writing my little "Parent Hood" persona too . . . even though I wasn't sure, at first.
Admittedly, I was a little perplexed when my editorial overlords first told me that they wanted me to weigh in on Jackalope Ranch, which does not do music, especially considering my background.
"No music?" "But, but . . . "
Music is central to life, to my brain, to my existence. A huge percentage of anything I've written as an adult is either about the music itself or the ridiculous idiots that have been running our industry for the past 20 years (most people call those "rants" instead of columns). How could they not want me write about music?
Whatever. I didn't care. I've got an opinion on almost everything. I just wanted to write.
Consequently, I had to break out of the box. Which was fine. Once we had the angle, I had no problem finding stuff about which to contemplate or opine. Lord knows that parenting has been an overwhelming part of my existence.
But writing an opinion column with no music? Not possible.
Can I Be Two Characters at the Same Time? So I weaved some of my Parent Hood columns around the musicians, but not the music. I contemplated kids, grandmas, and profanity with the help of Frank Zappa. I questioned how much you should tell your kids about your rowdy past via a conversation I had with John Doe of X.
And I began to dig writing Parent Hood.
But it wasn't music. I will still walking around, driving, at home -- listening -- thinking of various theories and queries that I wanted to share and explore.
So I went to my editorial overlords. I said, "Can I write about music now?".
Being the cool editorial overlords (I'm pretty sure that's an oxymoron) that they are, they said, "Sure." In fact, they gave me a ton of flexibility. (Thanks, gang.)
So now I get to come over and throw in my two cents' worth on Up on the Sun . . . and I'm free to talk music.
And maybe a little parenting.
You see, I can't separate out the parenting side of me anymore than I can take out the music. Plus, I ain't some hipster pup anymore (truth be told, I'm pretty sure nobody has every identified me as "hip" at any time in my life). I'm 48. That doesn't mean I know any more than I did when I was 25, it just means I have a different perspective on everything, especially music and the music business (and that I've listened to a ton of music).
Exploring the Music Generation Gap So why not merge it all and explore the "Music Generation Gap" for a while? At least to start things off.
Luckily, Wileysworld includes a 15-year-old boy who loves music almost as much as his old man. He's willing to discuss his habits for the sake of debate (and learning). I'll gleefully overload him with questions, because even though (or perhaps even more so because) Hoodlums isn't a brick-and-mortar store anymore (so I don't really have a horse in the race), the ever-changing music generation gap fascinates me.
Things are so different in the music world these days. The changes have been, and continue to be, massive and rapid. Most of it looks better to me, but not all of it.
I hear a lot of coverage that sounds like bullshit in the mainstream media. Again, stuff that looks a lot different in my household . . . or in the stores . . . or the industry.
In the meantime, some things about the art of music never change. Thankfully.
So my goal is to explore it from both sides. I'll pick the boy's brain and see what he thinks . . . about albums, and ownership, and streaming, and headphones, and everything. When I'm done, I'll report back to you, give you my angle on it. And see what you think too.
Stay tuned. Thanks for reading.
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