DG and I saw Wicked at the Boston Opera House last night. I’ve yet to read the book, but DG had, and she said the story was quite different and simplified, but true to the themes and spirit. I thought the show was excellent, and was especially impressed by the performance of Julia Murney, who plays Elphaba (a.k.a. the Wicked Witch of the West). I highly recommend it to anyone with a fondness for The Wizard of Oz, musicals, or subtle but effective digs at the current administration.
I’ve been drawn into a discussion of Pearl Jam (the closest thing I have to a favorite band) over on OB1og (how do you pronounce that anyway? “Oh-blog”? “Obb-log”? “Oh-bee-one-ogg?”) and it got me thinking about a recent experience I had.
I went to a party Saturday night (yes—I attended a real social event rather than staying in and watching reruns of Spongebob Squarepants). At the party, the hosts had their iTunes running as background music, and at one point I heard the familiar guitar hook of a rock single I’d been looking for for ages. It turned out to be “Wax Ecstatic” by Sponge from their album of the same name. When I got home I immediately downloaded the song off iTunes and since then I’ve listened to it about a dozen times.
Now, if I’d decided to stay in that night, as I often do, I wouldn’t have heard the song, and thus wouldn’t have derived the later pleasure I’ve had in listening to it. It’s a small, over-simplified example of chaos theory in action. Small differences yield big results (the “butterfly effect”).
The song has also reminded me how commercial rock music just doesn’t seem as good these days as it was during the so-called Grunge Era. I wonder if I’ve already become calcified in my conception of what makes good rock music, as most generations seem to do, and that soon I’ll be sitting on my front porch in shorts and a white tank top, shouting at the neighborhood kids to get off my lawn and spraying them with the garden hose when provoked.
But what I hear on the radio these days just doesn’t seem to have the same depth of creativity and emotion as I remember from that time. The early nineties gave us Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, the Smashing Pumpkins, the Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Nine Inch Nails, Tori Amos…I miss the days when that sort of music dominated stations like WBCN. Nowadays there are a lot of bands that sound like those artists but lack the same depth. Of course, this is all just my opinion. No doubt there are twenty-year-olds out there listening to their favorite rock stations and thinking, “Man, I miss the days when Limp Bizkit, Slipknot and P.O.D. were all over the radio.”
To that kid I say, “Get the hell offa my lawn!”