Twenty year anniversaries have been making me feel old this week (34, since you ask). Firstly, the blanket coverage of ’20 Years since Britpop’ on the BBC, especially 6Music. All week, I’ve been hearing the songs I listened to constantly 20 years ago, when I listened to the Evening Session on Radio 1 every night, and almost all my free time was spent listening to music.
There is a natural tendency to believe your teen years were more culturally significant than any other period, and that far more, better music was released then than there is in the present day. Unless you’re very lucky though, it’s unlikely to be true. It seemed that way because it was all new, I’d never heard anything like it before. It was like the first rush of falling in love. Now that I have twenty more years of listening to music of all types and eras, that rush is harder to recapture.
During the Britpop era, I hadn’t listened much to most of the bands that influenced the Britpop groups, so didn’t really understand how Bowie begat Suede, Wire begat Elastica, The Kinks begat Blur, and so on and so on. If I’d been ten years older and familiar with these bands already, would the Britpop bands have affected me so much? I suspect not. Listening back to these songs twenty years on reminds me that much of the music I liked then wasn’t so great, and only a few bands (Pulp, Elastica, Blur) have passed the test of time. However, this doesn’t mean that my love for these bands and songs at that time was any less important or valid.
If and when my children begin to love music, I will most likely not think much of the music they listen to, and suspect it is a pale imitation of bands from my youth. I may even be right. I hope that I will resist the temptation to try and puncture their excitement by saying so though. I remember my mum being very dubious of my love for the Lemonheads cover of ‘Mrs Robinson’, on the entirely correct grounds that the original is way better (and a much loved song from her own youth).
It didn’t matter to me though, at that age I needed music I could love and call my own. What I think of it twenty years later is irrelevant, and so is how culturally significant it is deemed to be.
Anyhow, probably my favourite Britpop track: