One of life's more amusing paradoxes.
When we're young, we assume we know everything.
When we're old, we pretty much know everything worth knowing and, yet, realize it's time wasted trying to offer the young the benefit of that knowledge.
For one of the more illustrative examples, one need only turn to musical tastes.
Yesterday, in the course of a garden variety perusal of social media, I came across a video of Heart's much talked about performance of "Stairway To Heaven" at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2012.
By the way, I started to end that last sentence with "...Led Zeppelin's classic, 'Stairway To Heaven'..." but those who need to be given that much detail either
a) aren't going to read much further at this point anyway.
b) won't come within a hundred websites of this blog in the first place.
Transfixed as I generally am when I run across that video, I shared/sent it along down the posting pipeline with the dual purpose of giving already fans and/or generational peers a few minutes of enjoyment and, ideally, shining a little light of discovery that the young might follow back to the riches of music from the sixties and seventies that await them.
Along with the video itself, I offered this two cents/heartfelt moment of reflection...
imagine the joy...and excruciating pressure ...of performing that song in front of those guys.......
and while every generation has its musical heroes, I am reminded, every
time I watch this, that, forty years from now, nothing from this time
will have anything remotely close to this kind of emotional impact
then....how sad that is for the kids now....and how lucky we were to be
part of that era.....
As opposed to just rattling that observation right off the tip of my tongue/fingers, as the case may be, I actually found myself spending a few moments considering just exactly how I wanted to convey the message that, based on contemporary contribution, contemporary kids simply aren't going to be blessed with the quality of musical heritage that has been gifted to my life cohorts and me.
Those kind of "in my day" observations so easily come off as condescending or patronizing or, even, denigrating.
Because every generation does, in fact, have its own musical heroes.
So I said what I said and, as Forrest, Forrest Gump might offer, that was all I had to say about that.
Fast forward to today.
This morning, in the course of a garden variety perusal of social media, I came across a video of Rhianna's newest single release, a song entitled "Work".
And along with the song and video themselves, this little news item was attached.
Rihanna has broken another record with her new single “Work” featuring Drake. The song is now number one on Billboard’s
Hot 100 -- making it the singer’s 14th number one single. RiRi is now
third all time on the list of artists with the most Hot 100 no. 1’s,
beating out Michael Jackson’s thirteen and now only Mariah Carey (18) and The Beatles (20) stand before her.
First, let's just be honest with each other.
Nobody likes to see the legends of their lives eclipsed by the legends of subsequent generations.
I was, for example, respectfully admiring of Mark McGwire's accomplishment while, at the same time, not at all thrilled that he had knocked my own childhood hero, Roger Maris', record down a notch on the list.
And reading and hearing that Rihanna is now a mere seven number one's away from eclipsing The Beatles by topping that chart of number one chart hits isn't exactly flipping my skirt either.
Even if seven more number ones sounds like a pretty tall mountain to climb, you have to take a couple of things into consideration here.
1. Rihanna is still very young and barring, God forbid, any unforeseen tragedy, or her getting anywhere near getting back with Chris Brown, chances are pretty good that she will see those next seven number ones come ka-chinging along before you can say "what? eight years of Hillary is over already?"
2. The process of getting to number one status with a song on the pop charts is measurably different in 2016 than in was in 1966. Which shouldn't take anything away from Rhianna's possible achievement down the road as that whole 154/162 games nonsense when Maris did his thing in 1961.
Worst case, Rihanna gets an asterisk, too.
Meanwhile, back at the point.
I listened to as much of Rihanna's newest chart topper as both my birth date, and musical sensibilities, would allow and, as I was about to find, truth be told, some sweet relief in the form of a stop play button, I realized that this particular hip and happening hit is, at the very least, simply the latest illustration of a theory, ne' belief, regarding the past, present and future of popular music to which I have both subscribed and shared on air more than once through the years.
Simply put, it goes a little something like this.
Turn on any radio in the year 2016, wander around the frequencies and chances are you're going to hear, with very little wandering, both Rihanna's latest chart topper and, let's say, The Beatles 1965 chart topper, "I Feel Fine".
"I Feel Fine", by the way, was the sixth of the 20 number ones credited to the Fabs, Factoid provided as a public service for those who enjoy factoids with their beverage of choice and/or advancement of the theory that today's music doesn't hold a candle to the music of yesterday.
When all our troubles seemed so far away.
Now, fast forward to, say, 2056.
Turn on any broadcasting device, wander around whatever the 2056 equivalent of frequencies will be and chances are you're going to hear, with very little wandering, The Beatles 1965 chart topper, "I Feel Fine".
Not so much.
And it's not because the Beatles work was of a more durable, lasting and enduring quality than that of Rihanna or any of her dozens/hundreds of contemporary peers.
Actually, you know what?
That's exactly why.
I can't prove it to you. And, barring any remarkable biological breakthroughs, chances are very very good that I'm not going to be around in 2056 to say "I told you, so."
All I can offer you, by way of a guarantee, is this.
I know what I'm talking about.
You see, I'm old now.
And I actually do know everything.