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A defense of “boomer music”


I get my love for music from my dad. I’m sure a lot of people can say that.

What most others can’t say, though, is that my music taste mirrors his almost exactly.

Though my music taste truly spans all eras and genres, I listen to classic rock more than anything else. My friends affectionately call it “boomer music.”

My dad is 51, so not quite a boomer (though I often call him one, just to make him mad), but he’s undoubtedly been the largest influence on my love for older music. 

When I was a kid, my dad would quiz me on the songs that came on the radio when we were driving. 

“Who’s this?,” he would ask, and he’d beam with pride when I got the answer right. After a while, playing the game became pointless because I knew every song that came on without fail.

As I became more familiarized with the music on the radio, I found there were certain bands and artists I really liked. Led Zeppelin was the first classic rock band I started listening to regularly (yes, I know that’s basic, but I was 12). Robert Plant’s high, scratchy vocals and Jimmy Page’s intricate riffs quickly had me hooked.

After a year of worshipping Zeppelin, I slipped into my angsty phase. Pink Floyd became the soundtrack of my life, and I listened to “The Wall” nearly every day of my eighth grade year. I thought I was really cool because I listened to old music.

As hard as it is to admit, I did have a superiority complex for a while because of my music taste, but that was mostly a product of being 14 rather than of the music itself. I very much had an ‘I’m not like other girls’ attitude back then, and my “unique” taste in music played into that.

Nowadays, I’m honestly a little insecure about my boomer music.

I dread being handed the aux in any situation, and I usually just opt for a generic “throwback 2000s hits” playlist because I know that’ll please everyone.

I see friend groups making playlists for each other, and it makes me a tiny bit sad that my friends and I can’t do that because most of them have no idea what music I even listen to.

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Having to explain that my tattoo is from a David Bowie song called “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” gets old after a while, as it inevitably forces me to backpedal and explain that the song isn’t about suicide (and no, it doesn’t mean I’m suicidal). 

And, of course, one of the main drawbacks of listening to old music is that most of my favorite bands are no longer putting out music, and many of my favorite musicians are dead.

I still remember my mom waking me up for school one morning and telling me David Bowie died. I was only 15, and I don’t think I’ll ever be done mourning. 

I know people that have been to dozens of concerts, and I’ve been to a total of five (I’ve seen The Who twice, Paul McCartney, a Pink Floyd cover band and Big Time Rush, but we don’t need to talk about that one).

It kind of sucks seeing my friends getting hyped over their favorite artists’ new albums, knowing none of my favorite bands are together anymore. I also fully admit that I tend to listen to the same dozen or so albums over and over and over again.

But, despite the drawbacks, I wouldn’t trade my boomer music for anything – mainly because it’s just so damn good. But also because I love having music in common with my dad.

My top song on Spotify in 2020 was “Peg” by Steely Dan, which I heard for the first time during a drive home from Miami. The windows in my dad’s car were all down, and he sang along to the chorus and drummed the steering wheel. The immaculate vibes during that car ride made me obsessed with the song for a couple weeks straight.

When I was 13 or so, I tried teaching myself to play guitar. It didn’t go so hot, but I did learn one song, Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” Though it’s one of the easiest guitar songs of all time, I still proudly performed it for my dad. He was proud, too.

In true John Phaby fashion, my dad named our Wheaten Terrier after Iggy Pop, one of his favorite artists. I didn’t listen to Iggy Pop much until recently, but I’ll associate him with my beloved dog forever. 

Though he’s proud of my love for older music, my dad has always encouraged me to broaden my horizons beyond a single genre, and I do. I’m the first to admit I’m a little clueless when it comes to today’s music, but I do listen to some of it, and I definitely appreciate all of it even if I don’t regularly listen to it. I just love quality music, regardless of who’s making it.

I’ll always argue, though, that boomer music is some of the best music ever made, and it’s also been in the background of many of my best memories.

Here’s a playlist of some of my favorite boomer songs right now, though my favorites change on a daily basis.