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What Is Baby Boomer Music?

Updated on January 22, 2018
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Stephen Bush is a consulting expert and a Baby Boomer. He is the CEO and Founder of AEX Commercial Financing Group.

Baby Boomer Music
Baby Boomer Music

Baby Boomer Music (and Beyond)

For those born in the years shortly after World War II, we have been given the honor of being referred to as "Baby Boomers." Anyone growing up in that period now has about 65 years of music (that was created during their lifetime) to influence their musical tastes. This article represents one composite of how those musical influences have merged at this point in time. Fortunately this music has been elevated to a point that is more familiar to everyone due to CDs and satellite radio featuring music by the decades.

Music has always represented the period in which it was created in multiple ways. First there are the musicians themselves. Second are the lyrics and the stories that they tell. A third way of representing the period in contemporary times is how the music is used in television, movies and other public events. The third method became especially influential during Baby Boomer Music years.

There is only one thing wrong with the younger generation — a lot of us don't belong to it anymore.

— Baby Boomer Wisdom

What Is a Baby Boomer?

There are many definitions of what constitutes a "Baby Boomer" (with none of them being precise). In the loosest sense, the "Baby Boom" occurred after loved ones were reunited following World War II and decided to start families. That would place some emphasis on the years 1945 to 1950, but quite a few discussions of Baby Boomers extend the impacted period into children born during the 1950s and early 1960s. The Korean War during the early 1950s is probably the biggest factor in extending the impacted period. So in looking at Baby Boomer Music, we are talking about music interests for those born between 1945 and (pick a year: 1955 to 1960 and beyond).

The baby boomers owe a big debt of gratitude to the parents and grandparents - who we haven't given enough credit to anyway - for giving us another generation.

— Steven Spielberg

The Sweet 19: My List of Favorite and Most Influential Baby Boomer Singers

Connie Francis, Brenda Lee, Joan Baez, Linda Ronstadt, Judy Collins, Carole King, Nat King Cole, Ricky Nelson, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Johnny Mathis, James Taylor, The Everly Brothers, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, The Four Seasons, Peter Paul and Mary

A Music Mulligan - Just a Few More

A "mulligan" refers to getting a second chance to do something when the first attempt was not what was hoped for, and one of the most common uses is a mulligan in golf when the tee shot is unsatisfactory. I am adopting the practice of mulligans here in order to add a few musicians that upon further reflection deserve their fair share of baby boomer music recognition. It is still my personal list, and I am sure that there will never be universal agreement about who to include or exclude from a list of the most influential baby boomer musicians. So I've taken a vote among me, myself and I and we have decided to add the following. Stay tuned for additional revisions!

  1. Buddy Holly
  2. Elton John
  3. The Moody Blues
  4. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Look and Listen: Baby Boomer Music
Look and Listen: Baby Boomer Music

No Shortage of Activists Like Joan Baez During Baby Boomer Years

When we think about music we first heard during the 1950s and 1960s, many songs became anthems for activism and non-violent resistance during the period. In some cases, the musicians spoke out publicly as well while others let their music do the talking. Here are a few examples of both quotes and songs reflecting the spirit of the time.

  1. "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" and "If I Had a Hammer" (Pete Seeger songs popularized by Peter Paul and Mary)
  2. "The Times They Are A-Changin" (Bob Dylan song title)
  3. "Action is the antidote to despair." (Joan Baez quote)
  4. "Blowin' in the Wind" (Bob Dylan song title, also popularized by Peter Paul and Mary)

Music Videos - A Few Baby Boomer Gems

We Shall Overcome
We Shall Overcome

World War II brought the Greatest Generation together. Vietnam tore the Baby Boomers apart.

— Jim Webb

Two More Music Videos from The Sweet 19

The children of elderly borrowers are learning that their parents’ reverse mortgages are now threatening their own inheritances. There is no data on how many heirs are facing foreclosure because of reverse mortgages. But interviews with elder care advocates, the housing counselors and heirs, suggest that it is a growing problem already affecting an estimated tens of thousands of people.

— Jessica Silver-Greenberg (New York Times, Pitfalls of Reverse Mortgages, March 2014)

How Many Are There?

"Today there are about 40 million retirees receiving benefits; by the time all the baby boomers have retired, there will be more than 72 million retirees drawing Social Security benefits."

Tony Snow

The Information Age and Baby Boomers

Music is always moving forward, but the speed of change for music has particularly accelerated during the past two decades. The music changes that occurred during the 1950s and 1960s (and perhaps for two more decades after that) had more to do with external society than technology. The music and musicians discussed above were enjoyed in their original era via transistor radios and LP record albums. CDs were perhaps the first major technological shift and this was followed by storing music on computers, music sharing services, YouTube, satellite radio, television talent shows, social media and music streaming.

In the absence of the advanced technological impacts seen today, the musicians of 50 years ago seemingly enjoyed a more intimate relationship with their audience. Whether this is judged to be a good thing or a bad thing is a personal call. Music has also evolved into more of a business. Just as baseball players and other professional athletes from 50 years ago did not routinely engage in their sport to become wealthy, musicians from that period rarely enjoyed a financial windfall.

It is of course still a struggle for musicians to become successful. It is always difficult to judge the overall music business by the success of those at the top. Perhaps that part of the music economy hasn't really changed so much after all.

I've never had a humble opinion. If you've got an opinion, why be humble about it?

— Joan Baez

© 2012 Stephen Bush

And now, your thoughts on the subject...

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    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 3 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      From your Sweet 19 list, I like the music of Carole King, Nat King Cole, James Taylor, The Beatles, and Simon & Garfunkel.(I was born in 1962.)

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 3 years ago

      I'm a boomer and also have written a lens on the 60s - go figure. Enjoyed yours!

    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 3 years ago from Orange County, California

      You brought back fond memories of the music I grew up with!

    • MJ Martin profile image

      MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 3 years ago from Washington State

      Super to know all this, love reading about the baby boomers that are not really, being in the younger category, late 50's early 60's.....wonder what they are emerging as with the X's and Y's after them....Just curious, love this lens!

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 4 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I used to be called a Boomer but, for some weird reason, I'm now called a 'Senior'. How did that happen?

    • alina nicoleta92 profile image

      alina nicoleta92 4 years ago

      Interesting lens, like it!

    • profile image

      DebMartin 4 years ago

      From one boomer to another, Thanks! d

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 4 years ago

      I love ALL the music you've listed here!

    • opatoday profile image

      opatoday 4 years ago

      Nice Lens thanks for sharing

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 4 years ago from Ohio

      @Webinaut: As Yogi Berra said, "It's not over 'til it's over," so your comment has inspired me to add a few baby boomer musicians to the lens. We each have unique musical taste and influences, so there will still be what are considered to be oversights and omissions. Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Webinaut profile image

      Webinaut 4 years ago

      I took my Gen Y kids to see Crosby, Stills and Nash recently. They were blown away. Our era was amazing for music. You could have gone on and on - Moody Blues? Credence Clearwater Revival? Led Zepplin? Grateful Dead? Rod Stewart? Elton John? Eric Clapton? ........

    • RosaMorelli profile image

      RosaMorelli 4 years ago

      I'm GenX rather than Baby Boomer, but I love some of the Baby Boom music - Dylan's 'The Times They Are A Changing' is one of my faves :)

    • BestofHalloween profile image

      BestofHalloween 4 years ago

      Your Sweet 19 list of favourites takes you for a stroll down memory lane.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Fun trip down memory lane. Superb lens.

    • mariaamoroso profile image

      irenemaria 5 years ago from Sweden

      I too is one of these Baby boomers. Besides the Swedish music I think Joan Baez is unforgettable

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 5 years ago from Concord VA

      I am a baby boomer and Buddy Holly is one of my favorite singers of that time. :)

    • Jo-Jackson profile image

      Jo-Jackson 5 years ago

      I love Baby Boomer music.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Fun just to stop by again to read what other had to say. :)

    • tonybonura profile image

      Tony Bonura 5 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      Since I was born in 1946, I am definitely a Baby Boomer. I really enjoyed your lens.


    • Maritimer LM profile image

      Maritimer LM 5 years ago

      Proud Baby Boomer! Nice Lens...

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I turned in 1969 listening to progressive rock on the local college station. I still flip to that station to see what's on. So-called classic rock rubs me the wrong way.

      I still prefer to hear something I haven't heard before.

      Vic Doke

    • Mawkjump profile image

      Mawkjump 5 years ago

      Groovy! My parents were boomers, but I grew up enjoying their music. Cheers!

    • RetroMom profile image

      RetroMom 5 years ago

      Really enjoyed reading your lens!

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 5 years ago from Concord VA

      I am a baby boomer, but I prefer 50's music. I do like 60's music, too, though. :)

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      Enjoyed the music and the quiz. All the best.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 5 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      What fun tunes!

    • chas65 profile image

      chas65 5 years ago

      Proud to be a baby boomer.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      I didn't do very well but I enjoyed it. Blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Failed the quiz, but I still love their music. Thanks for the memories!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      I didn't do too well on your quiz, but enjoyed the lens very much!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      And I thought I was a baby boomer -- I didn 't know any of this.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Glad you included Joan Baez. I have many of her albums (on vinyl).

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 5 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Haha, and just think the younger people will have to hear from us for another 30 years, at least. I figure that with past hard work, spending and saving power, the boomers kept the U.S. out of a depression. Yeah, we are still singing, and we are never on empty.

    • profile image

      MarcellaCarlton 5 years ago

      Lovely lens, weren't those some good times?

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada looks like I am a baby boomer. Good thing you have some great music selected to soothe me now that I know I am classed in the elite group of so many other quickly aging folks.

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 5 years ago from Somewhere in England

      I was born at the end of the baby boom - 1960 (same year as Seth.) Also I'm from the UK, but it's surprising how much we have in common musically. I love all of the above, but also punk. Same spirit of rebellion and protest?

    • bechand profile image

      bechand 5 years ago

      pretty cute lens - didn't take the quiz (too young - would bomb it- LOL)

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      I got my boomer fix by listening to the YouTubes. The music then had so much meaning! Thank you. Angel blessings.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I grew up listening to your "sweet 18", born in the 50's and still enjoy baby boomer music.

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 5 years ago

      thank you for sharing. i love those songs of the 50's and 60's when the world is still in order.

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 5 years ago from Albany New York

      Great music in those days. Nice lens.

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

      I'm not a baby boomer, but I love baby boomer music! :)