Bring the noise

I am no longer young — and it has nothing to do with my 40th birthday coming up later this month, or my worn out knees, or my more frequent need to wear my glasses or even my recent hernia surgery. In fact, I’m really trying not to dwell on any of those things.


No, my delusion of still being young was recently shattered by a pair of musical incidents.

Up until now, I’ve always thought of myself as relatively with it, at least in terms of the music scene. I listen to the local radio stations, check out new music releases online, and even sometimes stay awake long enough to see the musical guest on Saturday Night Live before I fall asleep on the couch. Anything my kids don’t keep me filled in on, I learn about from the hipper, younger crowd at the office or in the gym.

But we recently were driving to one activity or another when my middle school-aged son proclaimed that the local radio station needed to play more dubstep.

“How do you even know what dubstep is?” I asked.

“Dad, Skrillex is huge at school right now.”

I have to admit, the only reason I know what dubstep is, is because a reporter did a story on a former resident who is making a name for himself in the genre. (For those who don’t know, dubstep is a sort of heavy-duty electronic club music.) I also have to admit that I had to do a Google search to find out what Skrillex is.

While my son has since recanted his statement, having listened to some more dubstep and deciding he can do without, the incident served to alert me to the fact that I may not be as in touch with what’s hip and now as I thought I was.

If that wasn’t enough, a separate incident drove that point home. A couple of weeks ago, the bike instructor at the gym was taking suggestions for music to play during class. A young man — I’m guessing he’s in his teens — suggested the song “Radioactive.”

My initial thought was wow, this kid knows his classic rock. “Radioactive” became one of my favorite songs when it was released in 1985 by The Firm — an 80s supergroup with Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page on guitar and Paul Rodgers from Bad Company on lead vocals.

I didn’t think much of it until a week later, when the instructor played a song I recognize as that annoying one that makes me switch back to the classic rock station when I hear it on the radio. It kind of sounds like when we used to play records backward, looking for secret messages.

I’d never really listed to the lyrics of that song, but as I guessed from seeing that teenager get really excited, it’s also titled “Radioactive.” I just hung my head with the realization that my musical tastes are now three decades out of style.

So I guess I might as well quit pretending that my knees aren’t sore, and start wearing my glasses all the time. While we’re at it, may as well program the oldies easy listening radio station into the car stereo, so I don’t have to listen to this newfangled noise. I’ve even got a box stashed somewhere with some mix tapes I made back in high school. Does anyone know where I can get a cassette player anymore?

Reach Clarion editor Will Morrow at


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