By Jason Menard,
What is true greatness? It’s simple to define if you just reduce it to a mathematical equation. Greatness is equal to the exposure of the dominant market at any given time.
That’s why I don’t understand why certain segments of the Twitterverse are acting so incredulously over the fact that #whoispaulmccartney is trending. To the people who dominate the world of Twitter, The Beatles are a band of their parents’ – or grandparents’ generation.
But the biggest question isn’t #whoispaulmccartney, but rather, #whyarewecriticisingourkidsforbeingjustlikeus?
For many of us, The Beatles are the standard. To us, they represent the greatest collection of four musical minds (OK, five… let’s give George Martin his due) to come together. And I say this as someone who was only old enough to be more interested in the Mini Pops than punk music when John Lennon was shot.
Had there been a Twitter in the 80s when Michael, Madonna, and Prince were dominating the music scene, would it have shocked anyone to read some hash tag permutation of Who are Frank Sinatra, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald, or Glenn Miller?
Are those who are so quick to criticize one’s lack of knowledge about Mr. McCartney obviously are well-versed in the works of Handel, Tchaikovsky, Robert Johnson, and Thelonius Monk, correct?
Not knowing Paul McCartney isn’t a bad thing. If some teenager is familiar with The Beatles, then good for them! In high school, I was less into the music of the day and more intrigued by the songs of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. It wasn’t a condemnation of my generation, but rather an appreciation of what came before – and a way to explore the roots of the music I was listening to today.
To those so incredulous about the McCartney cyber-snub, how familiar are you with today’s artists? It works both ways. Music didn’t die the day you stopped following the charts. Artists like Adele, Kanye, and the like show that talent knows no generational divide.
And, most importantly, music appreciation is a muscle – one that grows the more and more you exercise it. Personally, I think Drake is a terrible rapper. But if a kid who idolizes him continues to appreciate the music and discovers contemporary talents like Common or Mos Def, and then goes back to the roots – discovering Grandmaster Flash and other talents, then isn’t that good?
I think, as kids, most are hard-wired to believe that “our” music is the only one that matters. Nothing that came before us could ever be good. But we grow and we learn – hopefully. And with it comes an appreciation for all types of music and all styles. Today’s Beliebers may go on to embrace classical, opera, or vintage gangsta rap. All that matters is that they have an appreciation of music today. And today’s Beliebers are not all that different than yesterday’s Donny Osmond fans – and that group managed to survive.
Don’t just sit there and say, “that music is horrible” because it’s not. And not everything you or I listened to in our youth was gold. We just look back on our own musical appreciation with a prejudiced eye. We all have our guilty pleasures, we all have our memories. Just as for me, U2, cheesy Bon Jovi tunes, The Cure, and New Wave were the soundtrack of my generation, so too are today’s artists creating the foundation of our kids’ memories in the future.
Do I consider Rick Springfield, Spandau Ballet, or The Bangles high art? Absolutely not. Do I sing along every time I hear Jessie’s Girl, True, or Eternal Flame? You’re damn right!
Twitter is just a medium to relay the message – and it’s a medium dominated by people who are too young to know The Beatles. Eventually, hopefully, they’ll discover them, along with Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Parliament, Sammy Davis Jr., and all of Motown. And then maybe they’ll want to learn more about those artists’ influences and discover Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Billie Holliday, and so on and so forth.
The Twitterverse indignation to #whoispaulmccartney is just our own supercilious response to what we feel is an uneducated generation musically. But we were no different back then. We just didn’t have the forum to share it with the world – nor did we have a competing group ready to criticise our musical ignorance.
Because, if we were honest about it, 80s Twitter today would be rife with Tweets that say, “You call that rap? More like crap!”