It seems that classic rock is here to stay. In 1973, when I was 15, I made a bet with my father. I wrote it out on a piece of paper and still have it tucked away in a drawer. The bet was that the band Jethro Tull would be popular for at least another five years. (Obviously, I won the bet—by a long shot. Jethro Tull made albums, toured, and remained popular for the next thirty-plus years.)
I’m quite smug about it, and reminded him about it over the years. But who was to know that so many groups and singers from the 50s, 60s, and 70s would attain classic rock status and feed the baby boomers’ need for nostalgia. Jethro Tull were cool and British. “Living in the Past,” one of their only hits, was in 5/4 time, and jazzy. That’s all I knew at the time. There was no way of predicting how long they would last.
My father was cynical when it came to pop culture fads. He had seen many things come and go—soda fountains, zoot suits, hula hoops and fallout shelters. To him Jethro Tull, with its quirky mix of folk-jazz-rock flute music, was yet another flash in the pan. Perhaps he also thought that the music from his generation was the true classic music, and everything that followed paled in comparison.
I also listed other bands that I liked and were popular at the time. They included Canadian bands April Wine and the Guess Who, along with Deep Purple, Santana, Led Zeppelin, and the Who. All were popular for decades after and remain popular (at least for baby boomers) to this day. They are played on classic rock stations around the world. It makes me wonder if today’s music will enjoy the same status forty years on. Will Arcade Fire and The Weekend still be popular in 2063? It’s a good question.
Rock ‘n Roll Forever, Toronto, 1981, is from the series: Toronto Days