The Enduring Insight of Travis Birkenstock

There is a scene in the movie “Clueless” where Travis Birkenstock makes a crack about how “The way I feel about The Rolling Stones is how my kids are going to feel about Nine Inch Nails.”
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Travis’ keen observation flashed through my head this morning when I heard Metric’s “Gimme Sympathy” on The Current. And it’s really only keen in the way of thinking about the impact the bands of your time will have on you rather than the bands from a different generation. Not that I think NIN has had the same kind of impact on rock & roll that The Stones have. In fact, I’m inclined to dismiss NIN out of hand, because I’m not a fan.

Now that I’ve started this I’m not entirely sure I have a point, but I might find one along the way.

So in the seconds that it takes for thoughts to flutter through my brain I thought “I wonder if my niece’s generation will feel about Liz Phair’s ‘Exile in Guyville’ the same way I feel about Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue.'”

I do not have much affection for Mitchell’s “Blue.” In fact, most of my warm Mitchell feelings come from the use of “River” in that scene from “Almost Famous” when William Miller “introduces” Penny Lane to Russell Hammond. My feelings grew a little warmer after reading Kicking & Dreaming and how much Nancy Wilson adored Mitchell, so much so that as a teen Wilson went hitchhiking in search of Mitchell’s Canadian home.

Wilson is part of the reason my brain latched on to “Blue” in comparison to “Exile in Guyville.” That album seems to be very important to a certain demographic of women born during the late Baby Boom year to the very early GenX years.

The other part was Sonja, a fiercely-intelligent web developer I worked with 100 years ago. She was about the age I am now when she discovered that I had never heard of or listened to Joni Mitchell’s “Blue.” She howled in despair and outrage. Stunned that a musically-savvy woman like me was so ignorant to Mitchell and her importance. Because Sonja had recently introduced me to The New Pornographers, I followed her advice and dug into “Blue.”

It’s good. I dig it okay, I guess. I find Mitchell’s voice a little shrill. My appreciation is much more intellectual than emotional, in that I appreciate how this album was inspirational to a whole host of women who laid the path for women in rock & roll. But it doesn’t make my blood flow hot and fast through my veins. It didn’t open up my brain and my heart and make me stand up and say “HELL YES” like “Exile in Guyville” did (and still does).

And this morning as I listened to Emily Haines sing about The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, I thought about how she managed to get a whole host of Minnesotans off their asses and made them dance at Rock the Garden a few weeks ago. I thought about how my niece is still talking about how amazing Metric is/was, and I wondered will Metric be the Liz Phair of her generation?

6 Comments
  • Barrett
    July 2, 2013

    This is one of my favorite topics, and I think about it more and more with my impending fatherhood.

    The time between Metric’s “Gimme Sympathy” and PBG’s high school graduation is the same as the time between my own graduation and:

    “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel
    “Hello, I Love You” by the Doors
    “Time of the Season” by the Zombies
    “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly
    “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix
    “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones

    As well as: the Beatles’ “White Album” and Johnny Cash’s “At Folsom Prison.”

    • Jodi
      July 2, 2013

      The Beatles & The Stones will probably be classical music to the PBG. Or old-timey music, like I think every time I hear Glen Miller or any kind of swing music.

      Thinking about it kind of makes my head hurt.

    • Jodi
      July 3, 2013

      I was just reading something about Johnny Depp playing Tonto and the first thing that popped into my head “PBG will probably look at that and cringe the same way I cringe at Mickey Rooney in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.'”

  • Barrett
    July 3, 2013

    As far as years go, the difference between PBG’s birth and the release of the White Album are the same as the difference between your birth and the release of such popular hits as:

    “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby,”
    “I Wanna Be Loved By You”
    “Let’s Do It”
    “Mack the Knife”
    and “When You’re Smiling”

    Songs are bad enough, but it gets even worse when you think about TV shows. For example, Pretty Little Liars is to her, according to years, what The Brady Bunch was to us. Lost is the equivalent of The Andy Griffith Show and My Three Sons. Melrose Place is her I Love Lucy. And a show like Seinfeld is basically a radio serial.

    • Jodi
      July 3, 2013

      She’s not even here yet & she’s already like a spacegirl from the future.

  • Doug
    July 3, 2013

    I believe Metric are partly Canadian, so they might be this generation’s Joni Mitchell as well.

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