Sat in a coffee shop chatting with some hip, young entrepreneurs in SF last week when one of them blurts out “I was so totally in to ’80s music before it was cool.”
“Are you serious?” I ask.
“Oh yah,” he nodded earnestly, attempting to affect my British accent, “I’ve been collecting ’80s vinyl for years.”
I unbuttoned my Oxford shirt to reveal a genuine Activision Pitfall II t-shirt underneath “This shirt is older than you. I have microcomputers in my office older than you. I have investments that are older than you. Do you think you were ‘in to ’80s music’ before me?”
Okay, it was a funny moment of someone “discovering” new music they like and not quite having the perspective that the band has been around some time.
I “discovered” Dire Straits, Genesis and Pink Floyd long after they had found world-wide success. I distinctly remember “discovering” Pink Floyd… in 1984. And letting my programmer friends know about this fantastic new music that was really good to listen to whilst coding in to the wee hours of the night.
It is quite an audacious but naive step to claim being in to something popular that is 30 years old, before anybody else was in to it.
“I was so totally in to stick figure art painted in animal blood on stone walls in subterranean tunnels before it was cool.” *sips ethical, single sourced, mocha frap from a mortar* “The coarse inner texture of the mortar gives the coffee beans a smoky flavour that sits on the back of the tongue.”
Years ago I listened to a much older friend talk about how a young friend, of his then young son, had just discovered this cool new band called the Beatles and insisted on telling everyone within earshot about them.
This was in the late 80s.
And I thought to myself “Glad I kept my mouth shut about discovering Pink Floyd all those years ago.” Well alright, it was new to me and my friends.
Fast forward to 1995/6 at the cinema for the first Toy Story movie. I am (28-ish) and discussing music with a young employee of the start-up in California that we both work for. She says “I’m into this awesome new sound called Ska. You should check it out.”
“Ska?” I ask, “I listened to that growing up with the 2 Tone revival.”
“No, this is totally new!” She insisted. “Have you heard of The Specials?”
“Yeah, sure.” I nod. “Ghost Town. Too Much, Too Young. And Catch-22? Prince Buster? The Ethiopians?”
“Yeah,” she replies. And I wasn’t sure if she was surprised or disappointed that I’d heard of them already.
Discovering music new to us, that has been around for a while, is a bit like thinking we’re the first ones to do the kinky, dirty sex that our great-grandparents were getting up to long before we were ever an eye in our daddy’s twinkle.
The perspective of history is that we don’t have that much perspective.
I guess we are all guilty of this temporal blind spot at times.