Musical memory lane

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 8, 2006

I was driving in my car the other day and a great rock song came on the radio, “Sweet Emotion” by Aerosmith. I cranked it up and enjoyed the tune, but it got me wondering what had happened to Aerosmith.

If you use the criteria of number of hits, along with longevity, the group could be considered the greatest American rock and roll band.

It’s not a stretch to say that three generations of fans can now enjoy their concerts. And they continue to have hit songs and fill concert venues. So what do I mean when I ask what happened to the super group?

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The band that gave us “Sweet Emotion” now has hit songs like “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” a nauseating love ballad from the film, “Armageddon.”

That’s quite a change from the early days.

Look at the Steve Miller Band. They put out great rock music in the 1970s, then in the 80s did that “Abracadabra” song. What happened?

I guess after more than 30 years, I should just be happy that a favorite group from my formative years is still making music.

But it’s not quite the same.

I understand that a lot of time has passed, and things have changed. People mature, have families, go through drug rehab – I suppose it softens them.

So that got me thinking. Is it a requirement of aging that we lose our edge?

My thoughts are that after you’ve experienced some of what life has to throw at you, it seems like you’d become even edgier. Seems like you’d be even more determined to experience new things and break barriers.

After all, this is not a soft generation. (Not as tough as the generations before that went through the Depression and World War II,

I admit.) Still, we saw the horrors of Vietnam on the nightly news. We wore POW bracelets and all crowded around the television sets to watch those same soldiers coming home.

We grew up in, or now have, “step families.” We survived the drug culture.

We slept through the Watergate hearings (not nearly as interesting as Bill Clinton approaching impeachment), but we did say goodbye to Nixon.

We watched the Challenger explode, and maybe that was the moment that we knew all the promises of our youth wouldn’t come true.

This is a generation that might not remember Kennedy’s assassination, but they can tell you where they were when they heard Reagan was shot. And when they heard Elvis had died.

We’ve now lost two of The Beatles, and might as well write off Paul – another example of what I’m talking about. This is the man who gave us “Hey Jude” for crying out loud, and then he went and did that duet with Michael Jackson. What was that about?

I still crank up the radio when I hear an early Aerosmith song, or Steve Miller, and (I hate to admit it), but even an early Michael Jackson.

I hope those songs always evoke certain memories and emotions. At least that music doesn’t change. But do I listen to it on XM Radio or CD? CDs just seem so old fashioned now.

Tammy Leytham is editor of The Times-Journal.