File this post under "I am turning into my parents."
As we near the end of the second decade of the new millennium, it occurs to me that many of the songs I grew up on are meaningless to today's young people because they reference technology that has gone the way of the dinosaur.
Here are some that come to mind...
Ah, the love letter. Brought to you by the USPS. Who remembers the last time they saw either of them?
"The Letter" was first recorded by the Box Tops, but it was stolen by English rock and soul singer Joe Cocker whose 1970 rendition became his first top ten single in the U.S.
“My baby just sent me a text” just doesn’t have the same ring.
Remember when photographs cost money to develop and were precious?
"Photograph" was the lead single from the band's third studio album (Pyromania), it reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Tracks chart and No. 12 on the Pop Singles chart.
Now, all the singer has is a .jpg on their phone.
Although it seems laughably low-tech these days, the pre-caller-ID world enjoyed a powerful weapon in the battle against prank callers-the ability to dial back whoever just called you by typing *69.
The chorus spells out this technological wonder: “I know you called, I know you called / I know you hung up my line, star 69.”
While it may still be possible to send a telegram, it’s inconvenient and expensive, especially when compared to how cheap it is to give someone else in the U.S. a call or send them an e-mail (or a Skype, a tweet, a Facebook post).
The Five Americans’ “Western Union” was all about reaching the singer’s girl when a phone call just wouldn’t do, and was already charmingly quaint by the early seventies.
It’s sad to think that today’s emo youth have never known the joy of making an actual mix-tape (or a burned mix CD).
The tape medium was dead, and CD’s were starting to gasp for breath, by the time Butch Walker released this tune in 2005.
“You gave me a playlist” does not really tug at the heart strings the same way.
"BIG TEN INCH RECORD"
Some may argue that the record is alive, but CD's still outsell vinyl records by ten to one and everyone is calling the CD dead....
Of course, we all know this song isn't really about records anyway, right?
“THE ANSWERING MACHINE”
Marillion released this tune in the late 1990’s, by which time answering machines were already old news.
Now everyone has multiple voice mail accounts (home, cellular, work), and pretty much does all communicating via text or Twitter, so the concept of “my words were absorbed
Into the answering machine” is lost on today’s young people.
Here’s a history lesson, kids. The television dial used to only have channels 2 to 13. Then, we got the mysterious “U” and explored the wilderness of numbers from 14 through 69.
For most people, the UHF band of the TV dial had only a handful of local stations, but for kids it meant going from three to seven channels AND cartoons after school.
And most of us were happy….continued below
“57 CHANNELS AND NOTHIN’ ON”
Most were happy but not Bruce.
Most would agree that the Boss lost his way with this one-can you believe this was a single?
The lyric uses cable TV as a metaphor for the emptiness of his newfound Hollywood lifestyle, although a cable package with only 57 channels hardly seems luxurious enough for a man who “bought a bourgeois house in the Hollywood hills with a truckload of hundred-thousand-dollar bills.”
These days, you can scroll through 57 channels in less than ten seconds, and you’d be able to upgrade your digital television package in about the same amount of time.
This song was an examination of the fallibility of memory, and now Kodachrome is itself merely a memory, a relic of the era before hi-res cell phones.
I am getting nostalgic for the days when my view at a concert was not blocked by a tapestry of iPhones.
“VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR”
And it did. This was the first video ever played on MTV, and radio started to die right about then.
For the next decade, we went from talking about records to talking about videos.
And then twenty years of generic music killed the video star, and now streaming rules and it’s all pretty much electronica that’s being streamed.
“HANGING ON THE TELEPHONE”
I felt this Blondie tune was worth an honorable mention since I always thought she was on a pay phone in this one…and when is the last time you saw a pay phone?
"OLD RECORDS NEVER DIE"
It seemed appropriate to wrap it up with this Ian Hunter tune-since the title is correct-if it was a good song then, it's a good song now.