Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Older people and newer music

One thing my grandparents and I talked about during my stay with them last week was music. I put on a Bon Jovi CD because I was curious what they'd think of it, and their reaction surprised me. Now, I wasn't expecting them to instantly love it the way I did when I first listened to it, because after all their tastes are pretty different from mine; I mean, I have a hard time understanding how anyone could not love rock music, and especially this particular band, but I also think there's virtually nothing more subjective than musical taste. What sounds amazing to one person sounds mundane to another.

What surprised me though was my grandmother saying that it wasn't that she disliked the songs, but that she couldn't understand them. She kept asking me to explain what the lyrics were, and that was so striking to me because I'd had no trouble understanding them right away. In fact, one of the things I really like about Bon Jovi is that I've always found their songs easy to understand and to pick up on, very “singable” as my dad would say; I don't like songs that I can't sing along with. So it struck me when Grandmom said she couldn't understand the words. She actually did like a couple of the songs on that CD (especially “Seat Next to You"), and Grandpop really liked “Who Says You Can't Go Home.” I know that different generations grew up with different musical styles and that that has a huge influence on what people of different ages like, but I hadn't realized that it might affect our ability to actually hear the music. (In some ways, my grandparents' reaction to Bon Jovi was an improvement of sorts; several years ago when Grandmom heard one of my Bruce Springsteen CDs she dismissed it outright as “not very musical.”:-P)

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