Who’s next?

In my last post, I asserted that Bono is the John Lennon of the early- to mid-Gen X, and suggested that Kurt Cobain was sort of the late-Xer analogue. Nobody put up much of an argument about that, and it got me to thinking about how ungodly shallow music culture has gotten lately. So I’m wondering – who is the Lennon/Bono/Cobain of the Millennials? Who represents the kind of authentic depth and substance for this generation – the leading edge of which is currently in its mid-20s – that those other luminaries did for theirs?

If we don’t have a good answer, does that mean it’s just too early to tell yet, or does it possibly mean that music culture has been so eroded and devalued that there’s no possibility of someone like Lennon emerging from these conditions?

Hmmm….

:xpost:

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14 thoughts on “Who’s next?

  1. So far nobody has said Eminem, but I’m waiting. If that is, in fact, the answer, we need to go ahead and body bag the entire generation, because if that’s your voice you’re not worth saving.

  2. I think this question assumes that a vast majority were affected by the deaths of Lennon and Cobain. I don’t think this was true. I was too young too remember Lennon clearly but I was old enough to have some memory of his death if it had resonance. As for Cobain he was not the voice of my generation. He was a talented song writer who wrote a few great songs, some good ones, and some that were terrible (just about everything on In Vitro). He had a drug problem, was depressive and suicidal. None of these revelations were news to any Nirvana fan. His death was not a shock any more then Layne Staley’s eventual heroin overdose was a shock.
    There are artists that if they died today would have a profound effect on a specific fan base. But there is no musician that the vast majority of people would have much to say other then “aw, that’s too bad” before moving on with their lives.
    Lennon was a bit of an “everyman” or at least portrayed as such in the media. Same with Cobain in a way. That is no longer the case. When we are constantly being bombarded with images of how great the rich and famous have it why would the common citizen give a good damn about a dead musician no matter how deep or profound that person may have come across?

  3. I’m still waiting
    Last week when I wrote about my prison experience and how great the Beatles were. I originally wrote a long section about how over rated U2 was. I decided not to focus my energies on anything negative and I decide to take it out. Since Sam asked for it, I did some thinking and my my opinion is still the same, U2 is over rated! YES Bono will go down as a one of the “Greats” however I don’t feel his music connects to people as much as say Bob Dylan, or any Beatles songs. The Joshua Tree is great, and I even listened to the album when I went to Joshua Tree National Park, however I don’t think that their catalog of music is as strong as everyone thinks. I think that it’s popular to say that U2 is great, because if you don’t then you might be criticized for not supporting AIDs relief, hunger, or peace. How do you criticize a guy who is up for a nobel peace prize, unless you’re Fox News. It can almost be compared to saying Pulp Fiction sucks. (which it doesn’t, I saw the film before it got cool, so therefore I feel cool) I must say that I hold music to a higher regard than words, to me music is the first to move me, then if the words are great it’s a double bonus. Perfect example is “Imagine” That piano line gives me chills EVERY time I hear it. So maybe I might not be the best to comment on the lyrics or “Genius” of Bono, but I can absolutely with some knowledge comment on the lack of musicianship of the entire band. Bono’s voice is borderline annoying, and lacks emotion, yes I said it. He has the emotion of Ben Stein. Sure the Edge uses effects well, and has some good riffs, however you can’t make the assumption that he is a great guitar player simplifying himself for the common good of the pop song. He’s really just not good, and with the exception of a few memorable riffs I feel that most of their songs fall in the category of “forgettable.” As far as the rhythm section they are very average, and offer nothing exceptional to the band. I’m sure that this band is a tight unit and that they put on a great show but you won’t see me at a U2 show anytime soon. As far as Cobain, I think most of us forget how Nirvana got really lost in the mix during that period of music. I’m not saying they didn’t change music, but I don’t think that they would have been recognized as much today if he hadn’t killed himself. I like to call that pulling a “John Kennedy.” I actually think that they wouldn’t have been credited as much today, so it’s a double edged sword. Staying on the Nirvana tip, I really think Dave Grohl has become one of the greatest musicians/writers of the last ten years. No he’s no Lennon, or Henderix, or Keith Moon, but it seems like everything he touches is great and being a part of Nevermind, The Color and the Shape, and Songs for the Deaf has to be one of the most satisfying things in a music career. I will say this, although there may not be a “Hero” for today’s music, in the future there will be a huge amount of admiration by the next generation of bands for an act like Tool. I just have a premonition that when you watch an interview with a band 10 years from now you will hear people praise both the musical genius, and the lyrical oddities that these guys put together. I’m not even a huge Tool fan, but I’m amazed at how awesome these guys are. They may not be mainstream popular, but the next great bands that come along will credit Tool for their musical genius. I’m sure that there is a guy down the street that is “super awesome” at playing guitar, or that there is a dreadlocked hippie chick that smells like patchouli, reading prose in a local coffee house that will knock my socks off. Unfortunately I don’t care, and until they “make it” they don’t matter. Maybe I’m a little upset. Throughout my entire life I had a favorite band, even if it was just for a couple years. For the first time in my life I don’t have a favorite band, is this the point in life where I stop listening to new music? My brothers last album he bought was Dr Feelgood! Is that what I’ve become? Fuck it, today I’m going to drop 15 bucks on the new System of a Down album. I can’t become what I fought to destroy!

  4. The Timing of Martyrdom
    Was Cobain the voice of his generation? Sure, Nirvana’s big album tapped into something, but I think what cemented Cobain’s place in his generation’s consciousness was his death. He died at the top, so he gets to “live on” at the top. Was he a genius, or did he just have an impeccable sense of timing?

  5. Re: I’m still waiting
    Somebody is trying to bait me, sounds like.
    >>however I don’t feel his music connects to people as much as say Bob Dylan, or any Beatles songs.<<
    Well, that depends on the people. There’s over 20 years of concert footage that, taken along with sales data, suggest they’re connecting with a pretty big audience. Do they connect like Lennon or Dylan? Well, I don’t know – I mean, my whole POINT was aimed at the generational differences, and those two were the icons of the Boom. So no, it’s not just like that, but once you adjust for generational and cultural shifts, it’s probably similar in some regards. Of course, those shifting gens are also part of the point I was making about the Millennials, so maybe that’s irrelevant.
    >>I think that it’s popular to say that U2 is great, because if you don’t then you might be criticized for not supporting AIDs relief, hunger, or peace.<<
    People were saying U2 was great a long time before they took on these issues. Early on, the political issue was Ireland. But a great many people attributed greatness to them for reasons that had nothing to do with politics.
    >> I can absolutely with some knowledge comment on the lack of musicianship of the entire band. Bono’s voice is borderline annoying, and lacks emotion, yes I said it.<<
    Look. I’ve heard everything Lennon ever did and the same for Bono (and I’ve seen him live three times, as well). If you want to hack at his tonal quality, fine – I’ve had issues with that myself at times. But to say that Bono’s singing lacks emotion is like saying that Tarrantino scripts lack for salty language – it’s simply not a defensible argument. You may not SHARE his emotion, or you may be put off by his attitude or approach, but those are different arguments.
    >> Sure the Edge uses effects well, and has some good riffs, however you can’t make the assumption that he is a great guitar player simplifying himself for the common good of the pop song. He’s really just not good… <<
    Depends on what criteria you use to evaluate him – you know that. If you’re looking for the next Robert Johnson or somebody who can trade licks with Eddie Van Halen, then no, he’s barely passable. But if you’re looking for somebody can construct SOUNDS, sounds that go beyond the song or even the record, sounds that define AN ERA, then he’s one of the best that ever lived. Don’t take my word for it, either. Clapton called Edge the greatest guitarist of his age. And for what it’s worth, don’t dismiss his musicianship too completely – go dig up the ZooTV Live from Sydney show and pay attention to his solo on “Love is Blindness.” It’s so gorgeous it almost makes you cry.
    >>As far as the rhythm section they are very average, and offer nothing exceptional to the band.<<
    I don’t know what you think they should be doing. Is Adam Les Claypool? No, and Larry isn’t Stu Copeland. And if they were, the band wouldn’t work. However, they’re both ideal for what the BAND needs. You couldn’t replace any single member of the group without damaging the whole, no matter who you plugged into the spot.
    >>As far as Cobain…I don’t think that they would have been recognized as much today if he hadn’t killed himself.<<
    We’ll never know. Look at the last couple things he did, though – he was starting to evolve past grunge, sorta like Elvis Costello was done with New Wave by 1980. It would be interesting to see where he went and whether anybody went with him, though.
    >>Dave Grohl has become one of the greatest musicians/writers of the last ten years.<<
    No doubt about it. He’s one of the underrated greats of the last decade.
    >>the next great bands that come along will credit Tool for their musical genius.<<
    Which is better – Tool or APC?
    >>Fuck it, today I’m going to drop 15 bucks on the new System of a Down album. I can’t become what I fought to destroy!<<
    The guy who a minute ago was abusing U2’s musicianship is going to buy the new System of a Down? Well, I do love irony…..

  6. Re: The Timing of Martyrdom
    His timing was perfect, yes, but that’s how music culture is. There is a need for a hero, and a hero is thus anointed, etc. Lennon. Dylan. Springsteen. U2. Etc. But you’re dancing awfully close to revisionism if you’re suggesting that Cobain’s bigness was a function of his death. He was pretty feckin’ huge while he was still alive.

  7. Re: I’m still waiting
    Your joking about System of a Downs Musicianship right? I know everything elese I stated was all personal tastes and opinions, but you’re honestly really joking about System of a Down. Yes they’re not for everyone, but that entire band is beyond talented, some of the stuff they comeup with is jaw droppingly strange, but it maintains a grove. It’s not completley mindless “mathrock” that changes every 3 measure to show how great the musicians are. You have to blend the right amount of simplicity and craftiness togother and they do it. I don’t want the Edge to shred, but I want him to change up the riff once in a while. I think Green day uses more chords. Of course I’m going by the more popular radio songs, so maybe he does have some great songs I haven’t heard. As far as Clapton’s opinion, I can care less. Clapton has been putting me to sleep since the 80’s. Maybe I shouldn’t of said “passion” I’m sure he’s passionate, I just don’t feel it when I hear a U2 song, it sounds fake to me. Tool is better, but APC’s first album is pretty sweet. I do like U2, I just don’t hold them to that high of a status, and I don’t think I ever will. I like U2 like I like Zepplin, I love alot of songs, but I find fault in a lot more of them. Do I consider U2 a top 20 band of all time, Yea I can give them that. Is he the voice of my generation? Not for me.

  8. Re: I’m still waiting
    >>As far as Clapton’s opinion, I can care less. Clapton has been putting me to sleep since the 80’s.<<
    Look, it’s been awhile since I cared about Clapton, too. But D, his nickname was “God.” I doubt there’s ever been a credible analysis of guitar players in the rock era that has him lower than fifth, and if you go lower than third you’re begging for a fight. I’m sorry, but his opinion on the subject, whether you AGREE with it or not, is insanely credible and informed.
    >>Tool is better, but APC’s first album is pretty sweet. <<
    APC’s last CD was awesome, too.
    >>Do I consider U2 a top 20 band of all time, Yea I can give them that. Is he the voice of my generation? Not for me.<<
    Back up. How old are you? Right – the argument was that Bono is Lennon to the EARLY and MID-Gen X, and you’re more of a late Xer. In other words, you’re in the segment I was using Cobain to talk about. Not saying you have to worship Kurt – we’re talking about large generalities here, and there are going to be lots of exceptions to whatever rules you come up with.
    But you’re saying Bono doesn’t speak to or for you is completely beside the point I was making – I never made any claims about Bono and your general demographic.

  9. Re: I’m still waiting
    The whole Clapton thing I don?t even argue, because it’s all a matter of taste. I hate most blues so those guys put me to sleep. I know their talented but I don?t like them, so I guess I would say I respect them. And actually most guitarist will put Jeff Beck and SRV above Clapton. As far as talent and innovation Hendrix is the guy. I think what Clapton did was popularize a style, not necessarily create one. I’m actually a fan of John Frusciante. I think his stuff is phenomenal, and he’s one of the few modern guitarists that can “play” and create newer sounds that may not be conventional, but contain hooks.
    I’m going to be 29 in 2 weeks so I was alive and partaking in the Atari/MTV generation. I have a great memory of my early childhood, and I remember liking U2, even though they weren’t my cup of tea back then. I even didn’t mind REM! However I always disliked Bono. I liked the band, however Bono always irritated me. His actions always seemed fake. As far as Bono crossing generations, NO WAY. I think most people, myself included, feel that Bono comes across as an arrogant, money hungry, ego maniac, even if he isn?t. Of course most artists are, but it seems like the greatest make it seem sincere, i.e Lennon. Bono resembles Scott Stapp more and more everyday. I often wonder if Sound Garden?s ?Jesus Christ Pose? was written about Bono.

  10. Re: I’m still waiting
    1: If it’s all a matter of taste, then there’s no such thing as excellence. The Beatles are no better than Britney Spears and a monkey banging on a ukelele is as artistically valid as Hendrix. The great works of Shakespeare are of no more value than Temptation Island 3, and the stain left after the dog yakked on the carpet is as artistically brilliant as the David. This is what “it’s all a matter of taste” means, and if this is REALLY your position, then why are we even talking about it?
    2: I’m not telling what to like or not to like. But this goes back to a specific point I was probing about the relationship of specific artists to specific generational segments. You’re almost 29 – that means that you were born in 1976? So you were four when BOY hit, and when their best record, their defining moment, WAR, came out you were in second grade. In other words, your relationship to this band is like my relationship to The Beatles – history, not lived experience.
    All of which isn’t to say you aren’t entitled to a take on U2. Instead, it’s merely to point out that you are in no way implciated by the point I was making. You are BY DEFINITION not part of the early/mid-Xer cohort that fueled U2’s rise to the mountaintop, and as such you are not qualified to offer an insider opinion on the subject. This isn’t a value judgment, it’s a math question.
    And these assertions you’re making about how “most people” feel are awfully suspect. I know a LOT of people feel that way – especially those who are in the younger demo segments that you’re part of – late Xers like you, for instance, and a lot of Millennials. Different cultural assumptions in so many ways it would take years to write the whole book about it. Lennon makes a LOT more sense to people who were 18 years old in 1967 than he does to people who,like me, turned 18 in 1979. And if you were born in the mid-70s, it’s entirely possible that you simply won’t GET U2 the way somebody born a decade earlier will.
    If you think Bono is like Scott Stapp, that just proves my point. But, if you’d like a deeper look at some of what I think a LOT of people are missing, start here: http://www.lullabypit.com/txt/u2.html

  11. Re: I’m still waiting
    Isn?t this whole thing about taste? If I?m not qualified to talk about U2, and you?re not qualified to talk about Lennon, then how can we compare. If you want to know who compares to Lennon today, no one. That was the initial statement, correct. Does an interview with Britney Spears on VH1 about the influence of the Beatles make it less relevant than an editor a 40 year old editor at Rolling Stone who lived it? Yes, and no. Living in a time and studying history are two different things, but it still comes down to taste. My dad lived when the Beatles were huge, he hated them. To him and his life there was no impact. It all comes down to personal taste. All I can say is that Lennon has meant more to me and I?ve had a farther generation gap then with Bono. I know that Lennon crosses generations far and above more then Bono does.
    As far as art, much like porn, you kinda know it when you yourself see it. And in public the majority of times people will get the two right, but every once in a while a ?Pollock? gets through, and someone passes it off as art.
    As far as Bono, I?m just not sold on the whole Bono being a cultural icon.
    As far as age. Some how like the Simpsons episode where Bart was smart for a short period of time in his boyhood, that was me. I Remember all sorts of stuff that no normal human that young would remember. It was magnified with music. I was a music junkie even though I was young, all I did was listen to the radio. I remember when WAR came out, I remember Metallica?s Kill em?. It amazes me how much I remember when I was young, and how much I can?t remember now.

  12. Re: I’m still waiting
    It’s not that we can’t evaluate or talk about people who came before us – in my case Lennon, and in your case Bono. We certainly can, and I do it all the time. It’s just that there are limits to what we can say. I can talk about Lennon as an artist, for instance, but I CAN’T talk about Lennon’s place in the lived experience of Baby Boomers from a first-person perspective. That’s the key here – perspective. Your comments were assuming a perspective you cannot have – and this holds even if you had perfect awareness of U2’s early days, even though you were six years old. Because even if you did, you were NOT part of the youth culture for whom bands like U2 were the center of world. You weren’t THERE, is what I’m saying, and as such you can’t comment on what it was like to be there. Same with me and Lennon. By the time I had enough awareness to form an opinion, the Beatles were over. And I had no access to any kind of Lennon culture anyway, because nobody around me was listening to his stuff or going to his shows. The moment was past.
    Now, my initial question – who’s the new Lennon/Bono? – there are multiple ways of answering that. You’re right in a way – we can’t know from that first-person perspective. So that’s inherently a third-person question for the two of us. Which is fine. My point is that somewhere in there you took a hard left turn by asserting that Bono was never what I said he was for my cohort. And you have no footing from which to make that claim. Objective data says you’re way wrong, my lived experience says you’re way wrong, and you have no first-hand data from the inside. Frankly, you probably LIKE Bono a lot more than I ever liked Lennon, so it’s not about that, either.
    In essence, this isn’t really about Bono at all, it’s about perspective. And you certainly know enough about music and music culture to have lots of valuable insight on the original question. You’ve been in a position to see how things change over time, and that’s valuable.
    All I’m saying is that Lennon occupied a particular spot. Bono occupied a similar spot. And I’m not really sure I see that as a controversial statement. I mean, watch old U2 live footage – Red Rocks, Live Aid. That was powerful and it was real.

  13. Re: I’m still waiting
    I’ve been looking around the internet for a while trying to find what people think of Bono and his legacy and to no surprise I found a lot of great stuff written about him, but what surprised me was that most of it is about his charitable work. Which is absolutely fine, but what I care about is the music. I know millions of people love U2, but I had to really search hard to find something praising his/the bands lyrics. In fact I read that the Edge writes the majority of the songs (I’m not sure if that is true), either way I’m glad he is doing something positive with his status and fame. I had a hard time finding anything that represents what you feel. I’m also having a hard time finding that “Objective Data” that would elevate him into the stratosphere during a time when you and your age group were at their music listening pinnacle. You know that time when you lock your self into your bedroom and eat, sleep and breathe music. I don’t think I played anything but Metallica for 5 years! You’re right I do like U2, and I even put their band in my personal top 20 because of their music. I also have Bono in my top 10 most annoying celebrity rock stars, right under Lars Ulrich. Having said this he was just voted one of Time’s “People of the Year.” I guess we’ll have to have this discussion a few years after he’s dead. That’s usually when people’s places in history get defined.

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