Credit where credit is due. As the year comes to a close, I would be remiss if I didn't thank the Baby Boomer generation for not inundating the rest of us with a yearlong celebration of how great it is to be a newly minted AARP member. Or more specifically, how great 1967 was.
It wasn't until about April that I first started bracing myself for what I thought would be a repetitious glorification of all things Summer of Love. Given the fact that Baby Boomers controlled most major media outlets, I figured it was just a matter of time until the entire country was reminded of how great it was to be alive, young and subject to the draft when "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was released.
As proof bolstering my expectations, I point no further than a Sunday feature piece that ran in the Miami Herald in 1987, glorifying the twenty year release of that album. I was 11 when that piece ran, and I remember reading it and thinking two things: those uniforms are really cool, and people must really think a lot about this album to make a big stink of it two decades later.
Four decades later, it's still a landmark album, but that newspaper article gave me an early heads-up that my father's generation could toot its own horn like nobody's business.
At its very core, we have Little Richard and Fats Domino to thank for all this. If they, and several other groundbreaking artists, hadn't invented rock and roll, today John Lennon would probably be a subversive university professor tottering on the edge of retirement, and Paul McCartney would probably own a string of car dealerships in Liverpool. But the backbeat kicked in, Lennon and McCartney met up and formed a skiffle band, and the rest is history.
The Beatles, Hendrix, Vietnam, the Great Society, assassinations, Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Chicago, the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, James Brown, Woodstock, Altamont. The 60's seemed to be a cauldron of promising social changes, violence, and music. Out of all this it appeared as if an entire generation of new leaders would make a significant positive impact on American history.
It's just that for all the promise that was initially shown by Boomers, it all seems to have fizzled and dissolved into a "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" stew.
George Bush is a member of the Boomer generation, and he seems to be doing a pretty good Nixon impersonation, right down to the obsessive zeal for secrecy. We're currently embroiled in an open-ended war in a foreign country for dubious reasons. Our national finances are a wreck. And in probably the most damning indictment of "more of the same," Boomers now purport to tell others what morals are valid and rigid (don't kid yourself Republican Party, you know who, and what age, you are).
It's been a relief that this 40 year anniversary of the unofficial birth of the Boomer generation has been muted. Yeah, "Newsweek" has run a couple special features, but they read more like light history primers than social commentary. I'm sure there have been some specials somewhere on television I've missed. But overall I'd say the Boomers finally got something right, other than music.
When you pretty much waste your potential, there's really no reason to pat yourself on the back. So thanks for that.
And thanks for the killer tunes.
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