If my life were a movie, then my parents would have set nearly the entire soundtrack. And while their music taste has shifted over the years, two bands remain firmly fixed in my psyche. In terms of my father, it would be the Foo Fighters and their transcendent rock ballads. I think there was one summer where, as long as my dad was driving, “Monkey Wrench” was the only thing we would listen to. On the other hand, my mother tended toward the soft, melancholic sounds of the Lumineers. I guess you could say that I have had a very well-rounded musical experience.
But as much as these bands were ever present in my sixteen years of life, I didn’t realize to what degree they had impacted me until this past weekend’s Boston Calling. As I screamed familiar songs to the moon with thousands of others on a field in Harvard in the dead of night, I felt an overwhelming wave of appreciation not just for the music, but for my parents as well.
I soon came to see that this is true across generations, as was apparent from interviews I conducted at the festival. When asked about whether the people in his life growing up impacted his music taste Dan Thompson, age 63, said, “Oh absolutely. I was never one to be the leader in music, I tended to be a follower.” Later this sentiment was echoed by Nicky McLaughlin, a 35-year-old woman who turned out to be a great conversationalist for the hour and a half that we spent waiting for the Lumineers. When asked the same question she responded, “My sister is nine years older than I am and she was a big Alannis (Morissette) fan. […] She was a big influence on my music taste growing up and I didn’t realize it until now.”
And that is precisely why these infamous bands that are headlining this year’s festival, like the Foo Fighters, the Lumineers, and Paramore, have been able to last so long. They have been shared and appreciated across generations because our music tastes are intrinsically linked to that of the people we grow up with. Our parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, and every family member in between want to share what they love, so what we love often reflects that.
However, this does not mean that music and culture itself do not change as it is shared. The lead singer of the Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl, acknowledged that as he introduced some of their songs. He discussed how, for all the intention their songs were written with, they mean something different now because the world is different, and the people are different. And there lies the key to how the world goes on, we take what was and make it what is. As we treasure what has been entrusted to us from those before and breathe our type of life into it. From Beethoven to the Beatles, from Aretha Franklin to Ariana Grande, music will be loved and shared and changed, but most importantly it will go on.