The Manly Men Man’s Club Of Beards, Of Which I’m A Member

When the Hell did all these beards enter the room? What, was earth sucked into a wormhole that shot us back to nineteen-freakin’-seventy-two? How did Bon Iver, Devandra Banhart, Fleet Foxes and all other sorts of unwashed heathen musicians weasel their way into the upper echelon of pop? I feel a little like Rip Van Winkle; that is, I went to sleep in 1991 and have just been awoken by the cast of Hair.

The world is in a world of shit and artists have chosen to revolt by emulating the fashion sense of Jim Croce and sing songs about trees, unicorns and the benefits of a good nights sleep. Good time bands and jam bands, folk artists armed with nothing but a six string acoustic guitar, some Centrum Silver and a Pan flute seem to be en vogue once more.

Some of these bands, like My Morning Jacket, at least have a bit of an edge about their music, but most are mining territory that was abandoned, rightfully so, years ago. And why has it come back to haunt us?

Which brings me to my next question: what is the time frame for a style of music to become “cool” again? Back in the early ‘80’s rockabilly made a comeback. The Stray Cats, The Cramps (although I consider them more ‘psychobilly’), The Reverend Horton Heat and The Polecats all received serious underground, and in the case of the Stray Cats mainstream, success. Time frame: 30 years.

Grunge, or those that worshiped at the alter of early 70’s Neil Young, happened at the beginning of the ‘90’s. Time frame: 20 years. Ditto 70’s punk (via Green Day/Offspring/Rancid, etc). 20 years had to pass before punk became fashionable and, unfortunately, mainstream.

The mid 60’s English pop of the Kinks came back in the form of Brit-Pop in 1995, or about 30 years after the fact.

I can argue that Disco never really went away, and that the pop of the Beatles has always been prevalent in virtually every genre, sans rap, for the last 40 years. And the Beach Boys, even though they were never really considered ‘cool’, have been extremely influential, especially with musicians from the UK, always, but more so since the ‘90’s with such bands as Stereolab, High Llamas, Wondermints and Boo Radleys. Time frame: 30+ years.

The power pop of Badfinger and Big Star didn’t come back into fashion again until 1990 or so, with bands such as Teenage Fanclub and Mathew Sweet, although REM was using their sonic template and citing them as an influence since Murmur. Only 20 years.

The pop of the 80’s has been unfashionable since 1985, but is making a huge comeback today thanks to bands like M83 and Neon Indian, or about 25 years.

So I think I just answered my own question. Rock doesn’t follow any template. Good music is good music, folks, and each new generation will discover the good music of the past in their own sweet time.