Thursday, May 10, 2007

25 IS THE NEW OLD (Deathcab, Mcdonalds, and your Parents)

As I write this I'm sitting in a McDonalds in Federal Way, supervising a visit. The walls are garishly painted, covered in posters with larger-than-life photos of well-manicured chicken sandwiches, bold colors and bold slogans, declaring prices, flavors, and how much everyone is lovin' it. Teenage skater kids and down-and-out black folk fill every table, making a steady buzz of chewing and chatter, and over all this, the sound of Death Cab For Cutie's "Your Heart is an Empty Room" tinkles gently from the overhead PA speakers.


It suddenly hits me how surreal this is.
When I was 17, just leaving the parents' house and just starting to get exposed to "good music", Death Cab was one of a few household names that all my new friends knew about, along with Radiohead, Sunny Day Real Estate, Pedro the Lion, and maybe Portishead. Their latest album was We Have the Facts and We are Voting Yes. All these bands were so obscure (relatively speaking) that knowing them was sort of a badge of potential, indicating that you might be an interesting person who does interesting things, thinks about interesting things, or at least appreciates interesting things. Who would have ever thought that a secret-handshake band like Death Cab would within a few years be part of the decor at the largest restaurant chain in the world, the prime champion of low culture, the icon and epicenter of all of society's most base instincts? The place with the really annoying radio commercials that always come in sets of two?

I don't resent Death Cab for being successful. I'm not the kind of guy who accuses bands of "selling out" just because they start getting some airplay. I understand the cold reality of the music biz and I know that any band in their right mind would jump at the chance to do what Death Cab is doing. The fact that they're being played at McDonalds doesn't bother me--it just makes me feel really, really old.

Have we already become our parents? Are the bands I grew up with now "the classics"? Am I already the gray-haired old dude with the worn out tour t-shirt, telling today's young punks how there ain't been one good rock band come out since Led Zepp?

This happened way too fast. I'm not ready for this role.

Although, I am a little excited to see the commercials for The Best of Indie Rock! Vol. 1 with the names of songs scrolling up the screen (some highlighted in yellow!) while two middle aged scenesters in Chucks and hoodies hold copies of the CD and exclaim to each other, Wow! I NEVER thought I'd find every song I ever lightly bobbed my head to collected all on one CD by a team of cultural analysts and focus groups! This is GREAT!

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