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What Is 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!
- Buddy Holly
- Elton John
- The Moody Blues
- Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
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.
- "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" and "If I Had a Hammer" (Pete Seeger songs popularized by Peter Paul and Mary)
- "The Times They Are A-Changin" (Bob Dylan song title)
- "Action is the antidote to despair." (Joan Baez quote)
- "Blowin' in the Wind" (Bob Dylan song title, also popularized by Peter Paul and Mary)
Music Videos - A Few Baby Boomer Gems
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."
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