Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Young Man's Perspective

I just did a Google search and found this post:
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 1999 20:52:25 -0600
Subject: Younger perspective

About a month ago I stood up for the younger fans on the digest by declaring our legitimacy as Bruce fans. I got tons of positive responses from younger fans on the Digest. All the discussion of us being younger (myself being a 20 year old college student) has led me to wonder if we have a different perspective on Bruce. For example, I don't listen to Greetings and Wild and Innocent in context. They aren't the first two Bruce albums I owned and I don't have any nostalgia attached to them. I just hear a Bruce that is slightly different from the Darkness sessions. The release of Tracks and my own collection of Brucelegs have allowed me to hear the different stages of Bruce's career in a different perspective. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Does Tunnel of Love sound different to me because I don't remember what Bruce's personal life was like at the time? I am able to group Nebraska with Tom Joad because I bought them within months of each other. I can't listen to Nebraska and remember the stark contrast to Darkness and his other albums of the time. I think (and hope) that my later introduction to Bruce has let me listen without many of the biases of an older fan. Do you agree or disagree?

And do you know who that astute author was? It was none other than your truly, Hops. As you can read it was written when I was only 20 – once I turned 21 and could legally drink beer I had no reason to completely geek out and post on a Bruce Springsteen discussion board (or as they called them back then Zines). But back then it seemed like a good idea.

Despite by nerdiness I still think I made an excellent point. Music can really be interpreted differently when you have the perspective of where that artist was in their history. For instance much of early rap music, like everyone’s favorite tune “Rapper’s Delight” or even the Beastie Boys, they seem really silly today. The lyrics are bad and it all comes off a bit juvenile. However, when you consider that those songs were written at a time where a music art form was emerging then they suddenly have a lot more value. It’s not a coincidence that rap music became a full force in both the music industry and pop culture.

When you don’t have the perspective of the time and place an album was recorded you have the opportunity to listen to the music without bias. I remember getting Wilco’s Summerteeth album before I was really into the band. I thought it was fantastic – I was talking about it to my roommate, My Buddy Brad, and he told me it was a disappointing record (something he later took back by the way). The reason was that it was the follow-up to the epic Being There – and frankly it was hard for them to really top that album. This was the point I was making in my post way back on those Springsteen boards.

Now with the perspective of a man in 2008 I realize that I was a pretty smart kid back in 1999 – I just needed to go out more.

So which is better? Hearing the music the first time in the context of its time and place. Or hearing the music as it stands on its own without the bias of nostalgia?

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