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ej23
by Steve Castle
Magazine Issue: Vol. 2.3
E L E C T R I C . J E S T E R
times, they are a-changin'
N E X T P A G E >
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If times change, can tastes be far behind?
I vividly recall sitting on the floor of my parents' living room, a teenager sporting headphones and deeply immersed in the artistic stylings of Aerosmith. Their music connected with me: [the raw throbbing mayhem, the screaming vocals, the rebellion against all things good and right], such as harmony, melody and timing. I was so connected to Aerosmith that my parents would repeatedly ask me to lower the volume -- the muffled emanations from the headphones still offending the more mature sect.

I responded by turning it down a notch, only to crank it again for particularly offensive passages of tortured, wailing instruments. And I remember thinking, on occasion, whether someday I would be demanding that my child lower the volume on some alleged music, and wondering, of course, what could possibly be more offensive than Aerosmith. (This was before the days of rap.) Would my offspring listen to loud heavy metal like me? Or would they regress through evolution and prefer elevator music? Or jazz? Or worse yet, classical? Would I be yelling at someone to curtail "that infernal Bach?"

This led me to wonder whether I'd ever even have children and, more importantly, whether I'd ever get the chance to procreate. That was a much better image to contemplate, and it required turning up Aerosmith another notch.

Twenty years later, I have procreated, and yes, I have had to ask my 2-year-old to turn down the nursery rhymes. (I don't jest.) I no longer buy Aerosmith albums. I no longer own headphones. I listen mostly to contemporary jazz, which my younger coworkers refer to as elevator music. I speak fondly of the music of Sade and Toni Braxton, and they look at me as if I revere Barry Manilow.

I don't disparage anyone's taste in music. My tastes have just grown beyond blaring instruments and off-key vocals. I prefer the sound of a saxophone over a Stratocaster, the lyrics of love over despair, an aria over Aerosmith.

Primarily, this is because I have mellowed. Music is no longer something I consume in heaping doses. It's no longer a spiked electric mainline into my brain. It's the background music to a very hectic life. It's the sound of me relaxing in the car. And I know I am not alone in my musical "maturity" because a Van Morrison song just played on the contemporary jazz station. There are plenty of others like me.

This leads me to believe that someday I'll yell at my son to turn down some hideous emanations from his bedroom, but it probably won't be jazz or classical or elevator music. It'll be some form of highly offensive and rebellious rock n' roll or rap or some funkoid disco conglomeration. It'll be missing a melody or a harmony or just plain good taste. It'll be designed expressly to excite him into some testosterone-lathered frenzy and offend me right down to my Foot-Joys.

Musical tastes aren't the only things that change as we grow older. Our tastes in anything can become more refined. A teenage penchant for Schlitz could eventually turn to a passion for sangiovese. Funny little cigarettes may give way to Havana Churchills. Keg parties become neighborhood barbecues. OK, so some of the neighbors may still bring Jell-O shots, but most of us are happy with the imported beer, chilled white wine and the occasional jar of spiked fruit punch.

By the way, has anyone seen the brie?

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