A 16-year-old boy sits with his grandfather in the den. It's an NFL weekend. The boy watches the game intermittently as he plays on a laptop. The grandfather is going through the Sunday paper, he too with one eye on the game. A commercial comes on. People getting or sending packages. In the background, a song, with a falsetto "doo-doo-doo-doo" refrain, plays over the images. Near the end of the spot, we see an envelope being passed, and a singer croons "Fly like an eagle . . ." and the spot fades out. The boy, without looking up from his laptop asks, "Fly like an eagle? What's that about?" His grandfather, nose deep in the Book Review, answers, "I don't know. Sounds like some of the crap your father used to listen to."
It's safe to say that the baby boom generation is the most self-obsessed group of people ever to have boulevardiered the planet. I know. I'm one of them, and boy do I think a lot of myself, or at least enough to misuse the word boulevardier. Due to sheer numbers, we own the marketplace and we will continue to do so until we're so doddering that all the chemicals and surgery in the world won't prevent us from drooling all over our Dockers. And this is fine, I guess, until it leads to a paralysis in the creation of new ways to think, see and do things. Which is why I'd like to see a forced moratorium on using the music that we fondly recall from our high school and college years in our advertising executions. Not all of it, but most of it. Because, truth be told, most of it sucked.
There, I said it. In fact, going out further on the limb of potential excommunication from my generational homeys, the music that is coming out now kicks its ass. Why? Because there isn't one generation dictating the course of music. So now there is room for the Beastie Boys at the same time there is room for Cuban. Electronica can live in the same collection as jazz. And so-called alternative can be stacked in the CD player with Brit Pop, Alanis Morissette, Tony Bennett, and, of course, Frank Sinatra. But we will consign ourselves to the scrap heap of hackdom if we continue to find comfort and creativity in forcing the rest of the world to buy into the premise that there hasn't been any real music since Joe Walsh or Creedence Clearwater Revival. (I don't know about you, but I was really disappointed when I found out they were singing, "There's a bad moon on the rise," instead of "There's a bathroom on the right.")
The only music that lives longer than the time it was created is classical, and music that has a sense of humor. Classical because, well, it just has so many damn notes in it that there's probably a Beck riff somewhere in Vivaldi's Four Seasons. And, as most people know, the Chemical Brothers' "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" is almost a note-for-note lift of Mahler's Fourth Symphony. Music with a sense of humor will always deliver, because humor, except for Jerry Lewis, is timeless. But an awful lot of the stuff that was the shit yesterday needs to be buried today. God forbid anybody out there has got the Moody Blues in their sights for the next big campaign. And please, toss away the storyboard that proposes Three Dog Night. "One is the loneliest number" -- my ass. The loneliest number is the one listening to that godawful song. Burn the one that has 10CC oozing "I'm not in love. I'm not in love," for what seems like a day. Oh, and while there's a fire going, lets toss in America, Steely Dan, Emerson Lake & Palmer, the Electric Light Orchestra and the Doors. I can see the faces now. "The Doors! They're classic, man! Oliver Stone made a movie about them!" Exactly. Put it in a box with a bunch of Jerry Lewis stuff and ship it off to France, accompanied by Steve Miller's "Fly like a fucking eagle."
In fact, ship out any rock music that treated an acid experience as something deeply profound instead of a chemical excuse to get giggly over a banana. Also exile any music created to make an acid trip more groovy. These are the artistic equivalent of drinking songs, just not as funny. I got a call recently from an English publication asking me what I thought some of the new trends in advertising are. I started to think about what I saw as "trends" before I realized that there shouldn't be any trends in advertising. Advertising isn't supposed to be about trends. It's about saying something important about something new, or saying something new about something old. But it is about newness. And the minute something approaches a trend, it must be abandoned quicker than a blind date with an open lip sore. So, my little moratorium on boomer music. It's been done. Burger King did it in spades, and they ruined it for everybody else. Time for us to get off our khakied asses and create something new.