I’m attending a music concert and I’m feeling very, very old. The music is sonic boom loud and the lyrics of the songs are indistinguishable from the sound of a faulty car muffler.
But it doesn’t seem to make any difference to the age 50-something crowd. After only 30 seconds into the first song, two men have already removed their t-shirts, figuring that hard rock and hairy chests are two-punch ingredients of romantic libido.
Another man, a shirt-and-tie stockbroker during the day, walks up to me. He is wearing a t-shirt bolding blaring the band’s name. “Hey,” he says to me, “Tonight I’m going to rage.” (I would think a professional stockbroker would rage against the slumping stock market or the crushing economic blows from the Trump tariffs. But no, he is joining the rage of hard rock, high-decibel guitars. Tonight he’ll grunt and spit; tomorrow he’ll look in the closet for the white shirt.)
Music changes with generations. I get it! My father couldn’t understand how I could appreciate Bob Dylan albums. (“He sounds like a fox caught in barbed wire.”) The Beatles and subsequent British bands? (“They should get a haircut, stop shouting ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’, and attempt some real music.”) Even though I couldn’t enjoy Black Sabbath, I’ve searched out new bands to show I was still progressive and not locked into the 60s.
But to me, the lyrics were more important than the amplifications. I lived through the hard rock era, the bouncing anger of the rappers, and the drug-induced droning of electronic music. And now one of my clients, a 50-something woman who teaches Primary, thinks I’m an old fogey since I can’t understand her love affair with death metal music.
For those of you who aren’t acquainted with death metal, let me give you an explanation. The singers admittedly don’t try to sing. They scream, they screech, they bellow, they sneer, and (yes) they rage. If their fans understand all the words from the microphone the group has failed miserably.
And here’s a sampling of death metal song titles: “First Day in Hell,” “My Favorite Cadaver,” “Slowly We Rot,” “Regurgitated Guts,” “Masked in Leeches.” Of course, what do you expect from bands named Pestilence and Pungent Stench, Misery Index, or Morbid Angel?
Compared to this genre, the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen should be relegated to the “Easy Listening” racks in music stores.
Psychologists will explain music as a means of reliving one’s past. One person hears an Eagles song and remembers meeting a girl. Another hears Blink 182 and recalls his first job and early years in college. When I think of Kenny Rogers, I recall my first trip to Reno, Nevada. When I hear Johnny Cash, I’m reminded of a high school buddy (since deceased) who played eight-tracks in the delivery van of his fa
Music brings us back. And music I can’t understand makes me feel arthritic and ancient. Oh, I can still rage – but I save it for things that really matter. And that’s why I’m as welcome at a hard rock concert as a sushi-eater at a western barbecue.