“Well I don't care about history
Rock, rock, rock 'n' roll high school
Cause that's not where I want to be”
Ramones, Rock n’Roll High School
Make no mistake this is the first interactive article in history. You actually need to be listening to the Ramones to understand it. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQFEo5pj-V8) You there? Good. You don’t like the Ramones? Skip this article and go get yourself a foot massage to the sound of Enya. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Growing up I listened to whatever my older sister was listening to. At age 6 I was listening to Europe and Bon Jovi, because she was. At 10, I was listening to The Clash and the Ramones because, once again, she was. In school my fourth grade friends would say they were listening to Pink Floyd (which is what their parents were listening to) but I was way ahead. I was listening to what they would be listening to decades later. Pop culture sometimes works like that. Something has an immediate success, but it only becomes truly relevant decades later.
One thing my sister and I both listened to, during our summer vacation, traveling through Europe (the continent) was a cultural phenomenon that had been successful decades before –The Beatles. The fab four were the result of the insistence of a Jew, with family in Israel, called Brian Epstein who saw in three scruffy Liverpool boys cultural icons when the people around them barely saw musicians.
Epstein and the folks over at Sun Records didn’t know then they were creating an industry. Giving exposition to the musical talent of urban youths through massive distribution became a major cultural trait of the subsequent decades. And it all started in a Liverpool basement. That industry was able to absorb most of the political and cultural movements of the years in which it existed expressing them through music. However it collapsed on the first decade of the twentieth century. No! Video didn’t kill the radio star. Download killed the record industry star.
Last Purim I went to a party frequented by 20 year olds where they were using the same music playlist I heard in the parties I went to when I was 16. The download destroyed Epstein’s vision and with it any originality or connection between pop music and the lives of its listeners. No band means everything to everyone like The Beatles. Nowadays some artists mean something to some people. But this article is not a complaint about the inevitable technological progress. It is a celebration, a celebration of what came before. Not everyone listened to the Ramones or The Clash, when they were around, but they did twenty years later. Like me and my sister in our family travels, young people are making relevant what was successful twenty years ago.
Which brings us back to the Ramones. I hated high school more than Arik Einstein hated crowds. When I look back on how hard it was to grow in the suburbs of Lisbon it’s a wonder how I’m even alive. But it would have been a lot worst if I hadn’t listened to four Jewish kids from Brooklyn telling me they hated high school as much as I did. I really meant it when I said I didn’t care about geometry (since I liked history), cause that was not where I wanted to be.
You didn’t like this article? How’s that foot massage going?