Over Easter I got to go to a youth convention to have some serious words with the kids there about love. But I also got to be mocked by them because I have officially crossed the age gap. I am old.
I didn't know I was old (I'll be 30 next month) until I had an enlightening exchange with a group of young men in an elevator. Now, this hotel was FANCY. Like, TV screens in the bathroom mirrors and elevators fancy. Those TV's were always turned on to news channels so they weren't particularly entertaining or fun, but at this moment a commercial came one, the jingle was catchy and had a trumpet and trombone thing happening and I smiled. "Huh," I said innocently. "It's almost like ska music." The three young men in the elevator, all of whom were clearly cooler than I ever was or could hope to be, turned to look at me. One opened his mouth slightly, as if I'd just suggested I look just like a Kardashian or some other unbelievable thing, and said, "What is ska music?"
Guys. He emphasized ska like I'd made up the word. I was shocked. Clearly he hadn't heard me right. "Ska music? You know, Less Than Jake? Me First and the Gimme Gimmes? Come on! The Mighty Mighty Bosstones? Reel Big Fish?" Blank stares. Then I made a rookie mistake, the moment that defined for me just exactly how old I am, just exactly where I was in the age gap situation, and probably cemented my status as the crazy elevator lady to these kids. Then I said: "You know, trombones and trumpets with rock music and you skank to it with all your friends?"
Blank stares turned to grimaces of repulsion and confusion because THIS GENERATION HAS NO IDEA WHAT THAT MEANS. Or maybe they do and it just means something terribly terribly different. We all exited the elevator awkwardly. Those boys definitely did not come to my session.
Truthfully I feel bad for those kids, there was a lot of great things about music And music culture that they missed out on. If you were born after 1995 you missed some of that great music stuff too, so I'm going to give you a crash course in: MUSIC STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW BUT ARE TOO YOUNG TO HAVE EXPERIENCED.
Lesson 1 - Ska Music
Ska music was rock and roll with a brass section. It was like band kids were tired of being told they weren't cool so they created an entire subculture and for a while it worked. Yellow tinted glasses, oversized suits, I can still see the horn section bopping in beat. It was glorious.
And oh the dancing!! How can you not dance to ska music?! Ska dancing was called "skanking" but trust me when I tell you there was nothing inherently dirty or sexy about skanking. Skanking was the perfect dance for lanky, gangly teenage boys, which was really ska's bread and butter. There's really not anything quite like being at a ska show and watching a couple dozen pubescent boys skank to middle aged men playing the trombone.
Some ska bands to check out: Less Than Jake, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Save Ferris, Goldfinger, and Hook Line & Sinker
Lesson 2 - Dashboard Confessional
I literally can't even believe I have to do this. But apparently today's youth is unfamiliar with the melodic melancholy whining of Chris Carrabba. You're all very deprived. Dashboard Confessional is the absolute best sing along music on the planet. I will never be able to get out of the car while a Dashboard song is playing, it's impossible. I HAVE to sit there and passionately sing my angsty little heart out. I can't even count the number of college road trips that were soundtracked by Dashboard songs and me and my friends screaming along. Dashboard brought us such amazing lyrics as "you will be back someday and this awkward kiss that tells of other people's lips will be of service to keeping you away" and "my heart is yours to fill or burst, to break or bury, or wear as jewelery, which ever you prefer". And of course, the seminal lyrics: "your hair, it's everywhere, screaming infidelities and taking its wear." Those lyrics are way more awesome than they sound out of context..so here you go, YOU'RE WELCOME:
Dashboard Confessional hasn't released an album since 2009 and stopped being a thing in 2010, BUT THEYRE TOURING AGAIN THIS YEAR!!! I'll see you there, I'll be wearing my edgiest black graphic t-shirt and ALL THE EYELINER.
Lesson 3 - Record Stores
For our last lesson I'd like to tell you a little bit about a wonderful, mystical place: The Record Store
Yes, they are called record stores even though most of them sold primarily cd's. Some of you young guns may remember them, like a fading dream, it hasn't been too long since most shuttered their doors, and in fact a few still stand. They're sad now, like the sixth year senior trying to pass a life sciences class full of freshman. But once upon a time they were the BEST. PLACE. EVER. Especially once they started serving coffee.
The advent of digital music really did them in, and I get it, but I miss real record stores. The thing I miss most about record stores is randomly stumbling upon a new band when you're already there for something else. It was like fate or destiny. It's not a feeling that can be replicated with digital music. Accidentally happening onto a band that would turn out to be in your top five was like meeting your future best friend at a random party: magical.
You'd see it in the staff picks section, or it was improperly shelved and somewhere you wouldn't have seen it otherwise, or you're just walking by and the cover art catches your eye (I just realized some of you may not even get what "cover art" means). This is how I discovered some of the most important bands of my adolescence, bands I still listen to and treasure to this day. Somehow an iTunes reccomendation just isn't the same.
Record stores were a safe haven when your mom forced you to go to the mall or when you had an hour to kill before a movie or just when you wanted to get to know someone you liked (walking through a record store tells you a LOT about a person).
The best part about record stores were how perosnal they were. A good, local record store knew your name when you walked in, they told you which of your favorites bands had just released something new, a b-side or a colored vinyl. They could talk to you about actual music and not just the product in the store, and you trusted them because they weren't some nameless, faceless internet reviewer who could lead you astray. Oh man, no, the best part of the reord store was the buttons and stickers of bands you loved. Who am I kidding, the best part was all of it.
Ode to thee, beloved record store, you are missed.
So there you have it, I hope you feel enriched and educated. I mostly just feel old. Until the next installment of MUSIC STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW BUT ARE TOO YOUNG TO HAVE EXPERIENCED, in which we will discuss primitive forms of Internet music piracy, the double bass pedal, and Chris Gaines.