I’ll confess a weakness for classic rock. I listen to it a lot, actually. But almost never on “classic rock” radio, that fossilized format of market-tested homogeneity and limited playlists. Seems like every time I find myself listening to such a station, I find myself asking, “How can Baby Boomers stand to listen to Boston, Bad Company and ‘Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo’ every hour, on the hour?”
In today’s Wall Street Journal, critic Jim Fusilli coins a term for these folks: Gee-Bees, or “generationally biased.” In other words, people who think the only valid music was made while they were in their teens, and who remain stubbornly resistant to embrace anything new, even if it shares musical sensibilities with the stuff they grew up on. Fusilli cites examples, but I’ve got my own.
I recall a conversation with an unnamed boomer a few years ago, in which I asked him what he liked. “Classic rock, Allman Brothers, CCR, Zeppelin, that kind of stuff,” came the reply.
“Ever heard the White Stripes, Oasis, My Morning Jacket?” I asked him.
Of course he hadn’t. And not from those bands lacking exposure, either, I might add. Fusilli writes that this “kind of obduracy isn’t new, but it does seem especially egregious among boomers,”primarily because a Gee-Bee’s loyalty to the music of his youth is often linked to a profound sense of identification with the period and its causes—opposition to the Vietnam war, for example, or support for equal rights for women and minorities. For some Gee-Bees, that identification is a form of validation. To say that there may be better music now isn’t merely a challenge to a Gee-Bee’s taste. It’s a challenge to his self-perception.”
It’s also probably while they’re bankrupting us with Social Security, too, but that’s another story.