From the Archives: Here’s Some Upsetting Music Facts

Originally published January 30, 2021.

Editor’s Note: All ages have been updated to reflect the fact that this archival post is being re-published in 2022.

I was born in 1989. I’m 33 years old, and while there are plenty of small things that make me feel old, such as the increasing number of grey hairs I see in the mirror or the fact that if I don’t stretch each day my back will be too tight to enjoy sitting down, nothing makes me feel older than listening to the classic rock radio station.

In Dallas, 92.5FM, KZPS, is the best classic rock station. It’s been on since I can remember and years before that, and it’s generally one of the only non-country-music stations I listened to growing up because my mom loves Journey. I have satellite radio in my truck, so I don’t listen to 92.5 much anymore. But the other day I did, and I heard “Better Man” by Pearl Jam (1994) and “Interstate Love Song” by Stone Temple Pilots (1994). I hated it. H-A-T-E-D it. I hated it.

Not because of the songs, mind you, but because I can remember when those songs came on KISS FM and the alt-rock stations in the 90s. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t some five-year-old pee-pants getting tossed around a mosh pit at a Pearl Jam concert, but I remember hearing them on the radio.

So now I feel ancient and like people often do when these things happen, I decided to wallow in it and come up with some more upsetting music facts to share with everyone.

Time is Stupid

I thought I would begin with some relativity. Not the physics kind, per se, but more the everyone-can-understand-it kind. For instance, the song “1979” by Smashing Pumpkins was released in 1996 and took place in 1979, meaning there was a difference of seventeen years. That means that, theoretically, if Smashing Pumpkins was to make a similarly-situated song today, it would be called “2005.” I got my driver’s license in 2005, and I don’t like thinking about how crystal clear I can remember the time in a theoretical song that took place 17 years ago.

Similarly, Bowling for Soup released a song called “1985” in 2004, a difference of nineteen years. Proportionately, if that song was released today it should be called 2003, which is weirdly even more upsetting than the Smashing Pumpkins stuff. I remember 2003 very well, too, and the fact that it was nineteen years ago is a weird combination of nostalgia and midlife crisis.

Going in the other direction, in 1982 Prince released an album and song called “1999.” This is, of course, a difference of 17 years going into the future, which means if it was made today it would be called “2039.” What would those lyrics even mean? How does one party like it’s 2039? For that matter, are we still going to be in masks and having party centers at 25% capacity? I would think not, but to me we are in no position to be writing such optimistic songs that involve partying any time soon.

Aging Like Wine

First, a warning that this video contains plenty of NSFW language because it’s from “Pulp Fiction,” which is a 27-year-old movie. Some people talk about aging like a fine wine. In Marcellus Wallace’s words, “if you mean it turns to vinegar, it does. If you mean it gets better with age, it don’t.” So, here’s some info on how old people from my childhood are.

For starters, Chris Kirkpatrick, the oldest member of NSYNC, will turn 50 this year. Fifty. And here’s the worst part: when NSYNC was touring in 1999, he was 28 and I thought he was ANCIENT at the time. (For street cred purposes I must state that I didn’t listen to NSYNC by choice, but my sister was/is way into them and so I listened to them a lot.) Now I’m older than he was then. Hell, I’m almost as old as Chris was when NSYNC broke up. Ugh.

Then there’s the rocker crowd. Dave Grohl, who has to be one of the ten coolest people on the planet, recently turned 53. Stephen Jenkins from Third Eye Blind is 57 and will be 58 in September. Snoop Dogg will be 51 this year. Scary Spice will be 47 in May. Sporty Spice just turned 48. Baby Spice just turned 46. Ginger Spice (how unoriginal is that stage name?) will be 50 later this year. And Posh Spice, also widely known by her real name, Victoria Beckham, will be 48 in April. They are no longer Spice Girls. They are Spice Women! Britney Spears turned 40 in December. The more fun thing to remember about her is that her marriage to all-around greaseball Kevin Federline ended 15 years ago. Weirdly, Dave Matthews, who it feels like has been around since the beginning of time, is only 55, which is oddly comforting.

Memories

And then there are those who have left us. Kurt Cobain has been dead for almost 28 years. Rob Buck from 10,000 Maniacs has been dead for 21 years. Aaliyah will have been dead for 21 years on August 25, 2022. As a brief aside, remember this Aaliyah song? This was an absolute banger at Texas Skatium when I was a kid. Rich Cronin, most famous for calling The Bard “Billy Shakespeare” and saying he liked girls who wear Abercrombie & Fitch, has been dead for 11 years, and it will be 12 years in September. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes from TLC will have been dead 20 years this April.

It’s crazy for me to think about. And yeah, it’s a bit selfish of me to use the deaths of people I’ve never met to consider my own mortality, but that’s what you do when someone dies, right? You freak out, make an awkward joke to re-center yourself, then you privately dwell on it until something else takes your mind off of it. Right? Okay, we’re getting a little too existential here. Let me bring it back a bit.

Retirement Home Rockers

Finally, there’s the crowd from 92.5 in the 1990s and early 2000s. All of those folks are in their 70s or getting mighty close. Journey’s former frontman Steve Perry, who is my mom’s all-time crush besides my dad, recently turned 73. Neil Young will be 78 later this year. Bob Dylan will be EIGHTY-ONE in May. Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin will be 74 later this year, and Jimmy Page just turned 79. John Paul Jones, the oft-overlooked wizard and multi-instrumentalist from Zeppelin, is 76. And, for that matter, Zep drummer John Bonham has been dead for 41 years. Yikes! Emmylou Harris is 74. Bonnie Raitt is 72. Ann Wilson from Heart is 71.

The point is, the classic rock icons from my early rock days are all grey-haired or sleeping the big sleep. And now my early rock icons are becoming classic rock icons. It’s odd. I know it is a fool’s errand to attempt to slow the steady march of time, but good grief, I didn’t think I would feel so old at so young an age. But as time moves forward, my goal is simply to enjoy the music.

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