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Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024
The Observer

Songs your teenage parents (and you) loved

Erin Rice | The Observer
Erin Rice | The Observer


Chances are you are not much more hip than your folks were. Our parents may not be the most chic when it comes to their music preferences nowadays, but marginalizing their entire history with music is downright shameful. Biology tells us that our parents were indeed young at some point, and with youth comes the hunger for fresh, different— even at times a bit strange — music, much like we modern-day indie-heads exhibit today. Below is a small collection of timeless songs justifying the proverbial, “I was cool too, you know."

“Rock the Casbah” - The Clash (1982)

Punk rock will always be cool. Sticking it to the man, throwing caution to the wind — all themes synonymous with youth since the dawn of time. In the early '80s, a fiery rock band hailing from London, England began embodying all of these themes through catchy, in-your-face punk ballads. While some may only associate The Clash with the edge and aggressiveness of the punk era, The Clash is more than meets the eye. Incorporating elements like reggae, rockabilly and funk, The Clash brought with them tremendous artistry — Rock the Casbah being the perfect example. Sharif may not like it, but our parents did, so that’s good enough for me.

“Boys Don’t Cry” - The Cure (1980)

So maybe your parents were a bit too soft at heart to identify with the punk revolution, but do I have a cure for you (sorry). Introducing the world to the goth look, The Cure’s Robert Smith sang his way to the billboard charts throughout the '80s and '90s with his soulful and sensitive pop-rock ditties. A bit ironic I chose “Boys Don’t Cry,” as almost all of the Cure’s discography gets the feels going, but in a peaceful, emphatic way. Yet, that’s The Cure’s appeal, sensitivity masked by well put together, fun, pop.

“This Must Be The Place” - Talking Heads (1983)

Talking Heads is like a little kid dancing at a wedding: vulnerable, weird, liberating, but most importantly, fun. New York City hipsters, Talking Heads busted onto the music scene during the mid-1970s with their experimental, new-wave funk. Bolstering great range, Talking Heads’ 1983 hit, “This Must Be The Place” captures the group’s ability to create slower, more melodic pieces, while songs like “Psycho Killer” and “Burning Down The House” present more upbeat, funky head-bobbers. At either end of the spectrum, Talking Heads is a great band for any family groove session.

“Touch of Grey” - Grateful Dead (1987)

The Grateful Dead is more than just a band; it’s an entire culture. The Grateful Dead’s music is phenomenal, so it's not mystifying why an unlikely group of peace-loving youngsters became cultural icons. As far as psychedelic rock goes, you can’t do much better than The Grateful Dead. Whether it be Jerry Garcia’s wispy voice, Bob Weir’s bluegrass funk guitar or the overarching themes of peace, love and kinship, The Grateful Dead provide something for any music lover, old and young alike. “Touch of Grey” is one of my favorite feel-good songs, perfectly capturing The Grateful Dead’s ability to put a smile on anyone’s face.

“Ask” - The Smiths (1986)

Please, please, please check out The Smiths. The Smiths at their core are an Indie band, yet through lead singer Morrissey’s excessive showmanship and tremendous vocals, the '80s made the Smith’s more than that. Credit also goes to lead guitarist Johnny Marr for crafted some of Rock’s timeless guitar hooks. “Ask” is everything right about The Smiths, since it conveys a message shaming shyness via an infectious guitar hook and Morrissey’s unforgettable vocals; give it a listen.

As long as music exists, there will be those hungry for more than what appeals to the masses. Maybe your parents had the same passion about music as you, or maybe they didn’t. Either way, revisiting the past will always be fruitful.