“I’m a boy and I’m a man. I’m 18 and I like it,”–Alice Cooper.
Truer lyrics have rarely been written.
For many of us, 18 (or somewhere in that range) is when music mattered most. When we were passionate about a certain artist or band and had to see them in concert, and couldn’t wait for their next album to hit the racks at Sam the Record Man.
Then again, recently many 18-year-olds reacted to the sudden appearance of a free U2 album in their iTunes libraries with, “Who the fuck is U2?”
I don’t know whether Bono is arrogant or incredibly out of touch (and Apple gave the band tons of money for that publicity stunt so he’s shrugging all the way to bank) but to the average 18-year-old, U2 is their Dad’s band.
They are a nostalgia act like Aerosmith and The Rolling Stones.
If teens wear t-shirts that represent cool artists from the past it’s not U2 but The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Ramones and, the band that mattered most to me in my late teens, Iron Maiden.
Maiden still packs arenas and stadiums over 30 years after the release of their self-titled debut album. They made it big through relentless touring, limited airplay, a refusal to sell out or compromise, and a very simple message to their fans, “It’s all about you.”
So if you’re 18 today, if you are aware of U2 they are a self-important, money-grubbing musical corporation and Iron Maiden is the hard-working, never-say-die band that never lost sight of how much they meant to that 18-year-old, be it 1980 or 2014.
My radio show takes a then-and-now approach. You may not have been 18 in 1957, but imagine how it felt to hear Little Richard blasting from your radio for the first time.
The raw energy.