Sunday, July 12, 2015

What's Going On? Baby boomers and their music.

7/12/15. Published in the Michigan Psychology Newsletter, Spring 2015

I am going to live forever. So far, so good.

--- Steven Wright

Most people don’t know that the songs that defined the boomer generation have taken on new meanings for this aging population.

For instance, take Ray Charles’s 1959 song What’d I Say: The memorable lyric in this song is: See that girl with a diamond ring she knows how to shake that thing Baby boomers take this song literally due to hearing loss (“Why is everybody mumbling?”) and memory deficits.

And what about Aretha Franklin’s great 1967 tune Respect? The memorable lyrics in this song are: R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me R-E-S-P-E-C-T Take Care, TCB Aging boomers crave respect because they tend to think of themselves as special, very different from previous generations, rejecting traditional values, seeking higher levels of consciousness through drugs, sex, and an expectation to change the world for the better. But, try telling your grandchildren about your specialness and see how much RESPECT you get.

Then there was Motown’s Marvin Gaye who sang What’s Going On in 1971. Even today, this is a frequently heard greeting members of the boomer generation: “Hey, what’s goin’ on?” But the memorable lyric from this tune was: Brother, brother, brother… There’s far too many of you dying I hate to tell you this, fellow baby boomers, but when someone in your weekly card group doesn’t show up, it’s not because they found another group to play in.

And remember At the Hop by Danny and the Juniors in 1957? And remember when you, aging boomer, could actually hop, roll, and stroll -- and not fall down? But think of the memorable lyrics from At the Hop: You can rock it, you can roll it; Do the stomp and even stroll it. At the hop If you were to listen to this song today, you’re more likely to say to yourself: “Why is this music so loud, and why can’t I hear anything?”

Of course, everyone’s favorite rock ‘n’ roll group was the Rolling Stones. In 1965, they sang (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. This song captures the spirit of aging, although today, for us boomers it should be retitled: I Can’t Get the Satisfaction I Used To. But recall the memorable lyrics in the Rolling Stones hit: And that man comes on to tell me, How white my shirts can be, But he can’t be a man cause he doesn’t smoke The same cigarettes as me. You know as well as I do that your greatest satisfaction today is eating an early dinner and going to bed at about the same time your children and grandchildren are leaving their houses to go to a concert, restaurant, or bar. And if you’re still smoking cigarettes, it’s likely to be on the porch or in the garage --some satisfaction!

To comment on this article, contact Steven J. Ceresnie, Ph.D., at Dr.ceresnie@sjcpsych
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