Dick Clark and The Perfect Storm
Today, the world is mourning the passing of music icon Dick Clark. His passing is a reminder to baby boomers that we are in fact mortal and is sad for numerous reasons. Dick Clark was truly a unique person. I had the honor of meeting him about a decade ago and he was very down to earth and “uncelebrity like”; just like talking to a normal guy. Being a huge music fan, we chatted about the transition of music throughout recent times and he said there has been one thing that is and will always be a constant. He said that “kids will always listen to music that their parents hate!”. That was really a pretty profound statement and very true when you think about it. I am sure that my grandparents cringed when my parents listened to Big Band music and I know my parents cringed when I blasted anthems of 60’s and 70’s distorted guitar rock. If my sons weren’t handicapped, I would probably be nagging them about the “trash” they were listening to.
Music has always been a part of culture from the time there were people. It may have been simple drum beats in the beginning, but music and people are inseparable. I am sure that every generation feels that “their” music is the most significant contribution, but one thing for sure, the baby boomers were weaned on rock and roll, which led to many aspects of social revolution. There are numerous reasons for this. The first is sheer numbers as baby boomers represented the largest youthful population ever and became a component of the perfect storm to latch on to an new mantra to navigate through what was to become the 60’s. Music also became more relevant to this generation due to technology. While earlier generations were tethered to large home radios and record players, portable music definitely influenced the baby boomers. Television allowed us to not just hear our idols, but to see them as well. Seeing Elvis and the Beatles on Ed Sullivan is etched in the head of millions. Transistor radios allowed melodic portability and when 8 tracks and cassette tapes were introduced, we could personalize our portable music. The rest is nothing less than amazing. If someone would have told me in 1970 that I could take all my 45’s, albums, eight tracks and cassettes and put them all on a phone in my pocket it would have been a stranger statement than saying we will walk on the moon. If you want to really realize the power of music on baby boomers, just watch Forest Gump and listen hard to the sound track. Music is a subliminal sense that is among our most powerful. I can’t remember the first name of someone I met yesterday, but I can hear a rock song that is 40 years old and not only tell you who sang it, but what dance I was at, what blue corduroy Levi’s I had on, the girl I was dancing with and of course my Brute cologne. Music is us and we are music.
Dick Clark was an amazing person for numerous reasons, the greatest being that he was always “Dick Clark”. This perpetual teenager was one of the few people ever able to transcend multiple generations and remain “hip”. He as always just Dick Clark,never outspoken, rude, in a bad mood, mean or prejudiced. He did a lot to integrate music and brought it into our living rooms, which was for many of us our first only exposure to racial diversity. Somehow, he got hooked up with New Year’s Eve and ushered many of us through the song and the ball drop.
The world will miss Dick Clark and I am not sure there will ever be another one for all the reasons stated above. The perfect storm of music, sheer numbers of pubescent teens, and rapid emergence of technology is not likely to align again in that manner.