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Silly Young Things

I'm in my mid forties. Lately I've been thinking about why it is that I can't take modern rock and folk music seriously, the way I can take Dylan and the Clash seriously.

Recent groups just don't have authenticity for me. They seem frivolous, they don't know what they're talking about, and they're too opti- or pessimistic. Above all, they're pretentious.

However, objectively, I don't think it is possible to claim that Dylan or The Clash had any more of a grasp of reality or politics than current musicians. The opposite is probably true.

So what changed?

The difference is that when I was young, even young rock stars were older than me. As long as a musician is older than me, I can believe what he says. I can pretend to myself that he's got something serious to say and I'm willing to look for the deeper meaning.

Joe Strummer was born in 1952, and was in his mid- to late twenties when The Clash hit their stride. If The Clash came out now, I'd have trouble taking them seriously -- but as a teenager, it was life and death!

Dylan is an even better example. He recorded "Blowin in the Wind" in 1962, when he was 21. Sure, it's a great song, but even if a youngster had a great sound, I wouldn't see him as the voice of a generation.

But Dylan will be forever older than me.

The effect lasts. As I grow older, so does Dylan. So did Strummer. So I can keep taking them seriously, even though they were just as silly as young musicians are now.
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