Thursday, July 10, 2008

Collective Nostalgia

So, I was racing to work this morning and didn't think to plug in the old iPod - so I ended up listening to GASP!! the radio. (I know my distaste for the radio is well documented, but bear with me; this will end well I promise). Anyway, as I was flipping from station to station, "Hey Jealousy" by the GIN BLOSSOMS drifted by - a song that I hadn't heard in awhile and which made me think fondly of my earlier days. I then came home tonight with the intent of picking this record out and giving it a proper listen. Sadly, I was too lazy to find it in the collection, so I did a quick search and found three other blogs that had posted the song. This in and of itself is not remarkable; what was interesting is that all three referenced the song in the exact same manner: a song that was a piece of nostalgia that contained fond memories and made no mention of the band or it's musicianship. Which got me thinking - do we suffer from collective nostalgia? Did we all subconsciously decide one day that certain songs have a shared meaning to all of us of the same age bracket? Conversely, do we all have the same break-up songs? Anthems of our youth that have moved beyond our personal attachment to some sort of Generation X storehouse of experiences (like the fact that everyone I know who spent anytime living in or around Los Angeles was at the Depeche Mode "riot" on Sunset during the release of "Violator" or those who swear to the almighty that they were "way into Dave Matthews" before they became popular...)?

In the same vein, how does a song escape our personal catalogue and reach collective nostalgia status? How did this rather run of the mill pop song about a girl and boy alluding the authorities become something we all identify with (trust me when I say this never happened to me)? Is it because it's catchy? Did it have something to do with the band being a big summer tour draw when we all had more free time to play the same thing over and over ad naseum? Or is it simply because we used to listen to the radio more as a society and music wasn't as fractured with variances as is it is today (which I am not saying is a bad thing); did we have a smaller pool of songs to make up our generational soundtrack? Will the next generation say to each other "Wow, that song brings back memories!" only to have the other person look at them quizzically and reply, "You mean the remix with Nas or the club remake from Kylie Minogue featuring Miley Cyrus and Timbaland?" as a result from the fact they don't suffer from collective nostalgia?

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