Imagine the following conversation.
‘Hey, did you hear the new Skyhooks song?’ I said. ‘It’s called ‘Crazy Heart.’
‘Skyhooks? That old band?’ said my friend Steve, looking up the song on Spotify. ‘Wait a minute. That song came out in 1976. That ain’t new.’
‘Well, I’ve never heard it before,’ I replied. ‘It’s new to me.’
What does this mean? On the one hand the idea that a song from the 1970s is ‘new’ is absurd. But I want to look at the idea in a different way.
Have you ever noticed how the fashion industry works? The latest clothes are all the rage, but last year’s fashions are seen as worthless. This is strange. Last year’s clothes were great a year ago. What changed? Well, nothing. Those clothes are just as good now as they were then. The idea of newness is a scam a bit like the way that when iPhone 13 comes out, iPhone 12 is suddenly useless. Or wait, are they up to 14 now? I can’t keep up.
Everything was new once. In terms of music – or anything, really – the year 1976 was once brand new. It’s a counter intuitive concept – in one way, trivial, in another way, profound. 1976 was once right now.
So we’re in 2023, and if you look at 1976 from here you might see it as some ancient era, its music, fashion, and events hopelessly out of date. But examine it with a fresh mind, perhaps blocking out all knowledge of subsequent years, and 1976 becomes brand new again.
Have you ever been watching an old TV series from the past and come across an episode you’ve never seen before. Say it was an old Doctor Who episode, for instance. It’s like finding buried treasure. It’s the same if you like a classic rock band, say, Queen or the Stones, for instance and hear a song by them you’ve never heard before. In a way, that song is brand new to you.
There’s a more general upside to this concept. Some people say today’s music sucks by comparison to the past, and the current generation is unlucky. I won’t get into that debate, but there’s one good thing about being a kid in the current era. Someone born in, say, 2005, is eighteen this year, and that kid has five or six decades of ‘new’ songs to discover. That is, all the decades since the sixties.
I grew up in the 1970s. It was a great time to be a music fan. But by the mid-seventies, the Beatles had broken up, so whenever I thought about the Beatles it was always knowing they were a band from the past, albeit the recent past. However, it must have been very exciting to be a kid growing up in the 1960s as Beatles’ fans when they were still going. You’d get one or two literally new albums every year from the Beatles, and you’d be so interested to see what they could come up with next. Rock music was fresh and exciting in those days. The art form was in its heyday.
What the Beatles were to me in 1975, the whole classic rock era is to an eighteen year old kid today: the past. In one way ancient, dead, and buried. Yet from another point of view, brand new and alive. It’s a rather paradoxical way of looking at the age of classic rock, and has a certain poignancy.
So, have you heard the new song from 1976? Go check it out. Or rather, them. There are so many classic songs lost in the past but ready to be rediscovered, and born again in the ears of modern listeners.
By the way, here’s that Skyhooks song
Reminder – for guitar lessons or bass lessons in 2023, email me to book a trial lesson. There are six decades of classic songs to learn.