Back to the future of media and entertainment
When Marty McFly time travels back to 1955 he has a hard time convincing old friend Doc Brown that he’s come from ’85.
“Then tell me, future boy, who’s president of the United States in 1985?”
“Ronald Reagan,” Marty answers.
Doc can’t believe his ears.
“Ronald Reagan, the actor?”
Then again, the idea of an actor who became the Governor of California and then president seems almost reasonable today in light of you know who.
Bonzo would be more qualified to lead the free world (though you could be cynical and say he is).
BACK TO 1967
I’ve covered the walls in my 97.7 the Beach studio with music photos, including the four Beatle pics that came with the vinyl version of The White Album. John and Paul are to my left, George and Ringo to my right though Harrison’s photo is behind my monitor and I often wonder if he could have imagined our future back in 1967.
George had yet to record “Something” and the Fab Four were a couple of years away from breaking up, and a year past their final concert. The would never again play live, except for the rooftop performance in ’69.
Would he have envisioned forming the Traveling Wilbury’s with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne?
Back in ’67, the only way to watch television was by hooking up rabbit ears or an antenna. Okay, George, picture a flat-screen television with two little boxes connected to it (my setup). On one side, a Roku that gets free channels. On the other, a jailbroken Apple TV that uses a program called Kodi to get more free channels.
Though in ’67, TV was free. In the ’70s, cable brought us a dozen or so channels you had to pay for, then the 57 that Bruce Springsteen sang about, and eventually hundreds that sent the cost of cable and satellite TV through the roof.
THE HELL WITH BELL
By the way, has anyone else recently cancelled cable or satellite TV? The “loyalty” rep from Bell acted like I was breaking up with her after a long romance. She wanted to keep seeing me and I had to say, no sweetheart, I’ve made up my mind and this is the way it has to be.
Actually she, and the other rep I dealt with were so persistent that I soon lost my cool.
But remember the good times we had together, John? We brought you The Sopranos. Wasn’t that great? Do you really want to cancel? Really? You’ll miss us. People get bored with Netflix, you know.
THE DIGITAL AGE
Getting back to ’67, I’m sure George’s mind would have been blown by the way computers changed television and music.
Songs that exist as wav files or mp3s. Auto tuned voices. Guitar riffs or beats ripped off (okay, sampled) to create new tunes that people mostly talk over in rhyme. Producing an album without actual instruments or vocalists who can sing in key. Or sing at all.
The Beatles honed their chops playing for hours and hours a day at beer halls and strip joints in Hamburg, treating German audiences to renditions of classics by Elvis, Little Richard and Chuck Berry.
THIS SONG IS AN OLDIE…WHERE I COME FROM
And that, conveniently enough, brings us back to Marty McFly, who joined Marvin Berry’s band and ripped into cousin Chuck’s “Johnny B. Goode” at the high school dance where his parents kissed for the first time. Delighting his bandmates and the the audience with a song that “really cooks,” and then baffling them all with an Eddie Van Halen-esque guitar solo.
“Guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet,” Marty said. “But your kids are gonna love it.”
Who knows what kids will be listening to in 30 years, or how we’ll consume music, movies and TV shows?
Or how we’ll communicate at all. Maybe we’ll go back to the future and actually have conversations in person and not be so obsessed with texting and gadgets.
Nah, that’s too hard to imagine.