When I was in Wales, I had a nice chat with John (one of the guides) about music. He told me that his 12-year-old grandson listens to nothing but classic rock, specifically Led Zeppelin. His fellow pre-teen friends were also into the band, as well as other classic rock staples Cream, the Rolling Stones, and Jimi Hendrix. John, while pleased with what they were listening to, thought it was kind of strange that these younger people were more into songs from his generation than any of the new bands.
"Why would kids born in the Nineties turn to timeworn guitar anthems?," asks reporter Brian Hiatt. "For all of the vibrant rock recorded in the past ten years -- from pop punk to neogarage to dance rock -- no new, dominant sound has emerged since grunge in the early Nineties. 'I can't think of a record recently that blew people's minds,' says Jeff Peretz, a Manhattan producer and guitar teacher. 'And there aren't really any guitar heroes around anymore. Kids don't come in and say, ''I want to play like John Mayer.''"
In 2004, Edna Gunderson wrote in this USA Todayarticle: "Jamie [14 years old] is not alone in his obsession with the sounds of the '60s and '70s. Though difficult to quantify, the trend of youngsters craving oldies seems to be gaining momentum. Kids are snatching up Beatles and Led Zeppelin discs, flocking to ZZ Top and Steve Miller concerts, researching the troubled histories of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Black Sabbath and scouring their parents' record collections for Jimi Hendrix licks and Allman Brothers Band jams."
What does this devouring of classic rock by teenagers say about today's rock music? Does it say something larger about our culture? Or is just a quirky teenage rebellion trend? Maybe teenagers are pushing back against what mainstream radio and bloggers say is cool.
Or maybe it's as Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis said in the Rolling Stone article: "It's called classic rock for a reason--it's classic. It's just really great music."