The classics are dead? Long live the classics!
When I scroll past ‘60s to ‘90s songs on YouTube, it is easy to find commentaries stating ‘I was born in the wrong generation. Nowadays, music sucks.’ or ‘I love that song — and I’m 12!’ and that gives me some questions: How can someone possibly miss the ’60s, even though he/she is really into The Beatles? Why is it worth mentioning that you are 12 years old AND enjoy R.E.M.? When somebody is breaking into my room at night, wakes me up and demands to know whether I think Beethoven or Queen made better music — am I going to automatically implode? Do I really have to choose?
I recently went to an opera-live-streaming at the Vue cinema with a friend and realised that those operas were the Hamiltons and La La Lands and Les Misérables of their time. And yet, visiting an opera is rather exotic for people younger than 60. Mozart’s Zauberflöte was barely visited and the other people who attended seemed the same age as my grandparents. Mozart is, unlike Hamilton, La La Land and Les Misérables, not a part of pop-culture anymore. Nobody really wants to live in the 1700’s because he relates to the music so much.
Every time seems to have this period of Golden Age, that people look back on — also with music. Some people romanticize the ‘50s over today’s music — or the ‘70s or the ’90s or all the times in between. And when time goes on and ages pass, the Golden Ages of music are shifting as well. Some day, they will eventually stream Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton in cinemas and only five old people and two youngsters are buying tickets. And people will put Mozart ad acta. And, later, they will forget about David Bowie and when they forget about Bowie, who will remember the rest of us? And suddenly, you have an existential crisis because of Mozart’s Zauberflöte.
I don’t even think I was born in the wrong era. However, the thought of nobody remembering the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody anymore scares me more than I would like to admit. But that is a messed-up future I personally will never know, because I forget my own birthday before I forget the Bohemian Rhapsody lyrics. New records come out as I am typing and lots of pieces, that made today’s classics possible, will soon be forgotten, as well as, some day, the classics themselves. History is about evolution and time and recreation and yes, also about letting go. Because, as sad and scary as the thought of forgetting those pieces is, the mere fact that we are forgetting also implies that we are able to move on.
Our current music taste might be the result of remembering and forgetting songs or bands. But our culture is the result of everything that ever was. Queen influenced a lot of different other bands and musicians that came after them — and those bands will influence future generations and so on. Even if future generations forget about Queen or Mozart, their influence over time stays. And that is a reassuring thought. But for now, save a life and listen to Bohemian Rhapsody.
Every two weeks, Antonia will add the songs she writes about to the Spotify playlist below. This way, she creates a soundtrack to her time in Nijmegen. Click left and right for more songs.