DARE TO ASK: Kid, you're listening to 'my' music

By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union

Question

What do people think of teens listening to classic rock? My friends and I like Led Zeppelin, and, for the most part, older adults comment positively. However, we have encountered a few who've given us grief for liking "their" music.

Emily, 16, Toronto

Replies

Many of my peers don't understand why I enjoy the music my parents enjoy. And a few adults think I'm attempting to give the impression of maturity. The majority of adults, however, have no qualms about my tastes. I feel having a common link with other generations provides an excellent way to maintain communication.

J., 14, female, Jacksonville

Some old gas-bag telling you not to listen to "their" music is like a Slovak telling you not to like holupki or an Englishman telling you not to like tea.

Tony, 51, Binghamton, N.Y.

I was in Burger King once wearing a Beatles T-shirt. The guy behind the counter, in his mid-40s, looks at me condescendingly and says, "Aren't you a little young to be listening to The Beatles?" I just laughed it off and thought, "Aren't you a little old to be working behind the counter at Burger King?"

Kristen, 22, Buffalo, N.Y.

Experts say

We'll let two classic rock lead guitarists do the talking to ease Emily's concern about the uptight adults in her life.

First, Little Steven Van Zandt, he of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and host of Little Steven's Underground Garage, which promotes old and new rock 'n' roll and airs locally on WFYV (104.5 FM):

"No. 1, it's hard to believe someone would even say that. She's hanging around with the wrong adults," he said. "No. 2, the '50s and '60s and a brief part of the '70s were basically our Renaissance Period and had the greatest music ever made. It will resonate throughout our culture and inform our culture for decades and perhaps longer, until new instruments are invented.

"She should tell those people they should be listening to new garage rock and not be so close-minded. Rock 'n' roll transcends age groups, generations and time. Rock 'n' roll is forever, and cool is forever, and it has nothing to do with how old you are or what era you came out of."

Next, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick:

"Not every kid is being force-fed Britney Spears by radio programmers and told it's good," he said. "Kids today, just 'cause they're supposed to like rap and hip-hop or heavy metal or goth, well, if you don't like it, you don't have to go with what people think. There's great hip-hop, great rap and great old stuff, and there's crap hip-hop, crap rap and crap old stuff.

"Adults who say that to a kid must feel threatened. If someone likes something, keep your mouth shut and let the music do the talking. Don't try to forcefeed anybody. That would make me want to listen more, anyway. It's just reverse psychology. So, yeah: Parents, tell your kids to quit listening to Cheap Trick! Maybe they'll start to listen to us."

Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee), moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers, or mail to Phillip Milano, c/o The Florida Times-Union, P.O. Box 1949,Jacksonville, FL 32231. Include contact information.