By Harry Smith
The World According to Harryoke
I was born in the 60s, and raised in the 70s. My father was born in 1917. These facts help to shape my cultural perspective. I am old enough to remember throwbacks and hippies, and the 50s ALWAYS seemed like a long time ago. Fifties culture ALWAYS has been retro, to me. Happy Days was a huge hit in the mid-70s, and seemed like ancient culture to me, but when I think about it, it had only been 15 years since the 50s!
It is amazing to me that my perspective would allow me to accept that show as a look at the retro, when most of the TV I was watching in the 70s was from the 50s and 60s! (For the record, Happy Days does not age well culturally and is unwatchable now as an adult decades later, LOL!!) I was not culturally aware in the 60s, but always culturally aware OF the 60s. I lived the stereotypical 70s. I lived thru the polyester disco era, and did have a leisure suit. I saw rock die, and be born again. I witnessed the new wave. I saw the birth of “alternative” music. I remember the first times hearing rap music, and the first time I saw a break-dancer on the sidewalk. The hair stood up on the back of my neck when I first heard Nirvana. I wanted my MTV.
My observations are borne of several events. The first event was that I found myself humming a song that I had learned from an Abbott and Costello movie. I was thinking it was an old movie. Now for some perspective, I was probably watching a lot of Abbott and Costello movies in 1975 as a 10-year-old boy. It was a regular thing to view movies from the 40s and 50s, as they were aired regularly on TV. They seemed ancient then, but in perspective, if it was from 1945, it was only a 30-year-old film. Today, a 30-year-old film would be one from 1981! There are still plenty of films from that era that would “feel” contemporary, but thinking like a 20-year- old today, the must feel ancient!
When I was 10, my father was a 58-year-old man. He probably became culturally aware in 1927, during the depression. I grew up in a house where 40s culture was HIS stimulus…big band, orchestra and show music. The 20s were his 60s. I am sure that in the 40s, it was a novelty to dress up and have parties dressing in zoot suits and flapper gear.
Another event that got me thinking, was that I recently did an event with an 80s theme. I lived thru the 80s, and the outfit I wore actually was based around a piece of clothing I HAD in the 80s. Most of the guests were in their 20s and 30s, and it was interesting to see their take on a decade that I have great familiarity with. Many of them NAILED it perfectly! Most of them were born in the 80s…hmmm; I was born in the 60s. The 60s dress-up was popular for my generation when I was younger. I observed to myself that we would always look back nostalgically, whether that is good or bad, on the era in which we were born, and always evolve out of that era into a new fashion sense.
This seems to be happening in 10-year cycles, and 20 years always begins to seem “retro.” Of course, if you are 20, retro is not that far away, but if you are 40, that scary retro has a familiarity, and you can think back 20 more years…then I started looking at the 60-year-olds in the room and thinking how their memories must go back even further to THEIR 60s…the 40s.
As we get older, and have more years under our belt, time perspective changes. A year is 1/10th of the life of a 10-year-old, but only 1% of the life of a 100-year-old. This is why summers were so short when we were kids, and go by so fast as adults.
As a teen, it is amazing to think of what I considered an OLD car. My first real car was an old Ford. A buddy of mine got it from his dad, who was a car dealer. He drove it hard, beat the crap out of it and had a slight accident with it and sold it to another friend of mine. He took it apart and put it back together again and beat the crap out of it. We spent days and days working on it all thru high school, then after graduation he sold it to me and I beat the crap out of it.
In the meantime, I always got compliments on my “great OLD Ford.” Everyone used to talk about my “OLD Ford” and ask me about it, and I took pride in owning an old car. The reality is, this car was only 14 years-old and had less than 100,000 miles!! As a man in my 40s (and admittedly in an era when cars last longer), no one looks twice at a 14- to 20- year-old car. OR DO THEY? I now look at this through the eyes of a 20-year-old.
Loris has 3 kids in their 20s, so I get SOME perspective culturally from them…BUT most of my perspective comes from the 20- to 30-year-olds I meet at work. Many of my closest contemporaries and closest friends happen to be as young as Loris' kids or younger. I started doing my job 13 years ago. I was a man in my very early 30s, playing to 20-somethings at Finns. Now I find myself in my mid 40s, playing to 20-somethings at Finns. My cultural perspective finds balance by the 80-year-olds in my audience at some of my other venues.
Another recent event giving me perspective was the DAY after the 80s party…and this event was an 85th birthday party for a good friend. Seeing all the generations, and supplying the music to please them all really got my mind going in regard to cultural relevance. That means that my friend was born in 1926, and that the 1920s were her “60s,” and that culture from the 1890s probably seemed relevant, yet old. While her great-grand kids were singing karaoke, this gave me pause to reflect!
So back to work, I tend to play music at work that I like. Maybe not as popular, but that is what gives my shows their flavor. I was playing 80s music that was a little more obscure while getting ready for the show, and in between singers. THIS was when I had the epiphany that what I was putting the 20-year-olds through was equivalent to making me, as a 21-year-old, listen to 60s music! Thankfully people seem to enjoy it and I can remain relevant!
I have been fortunate that the music I find relevant comes back around as the cycle continues and the younger generation embraces it. I find teens and twenty somethings very knowledgeable about classic rock, and R&B music. I get requests for this era and they seem to be singing it. I am FAR more tolerant of 40s and 50s music now than I was as a kid, and if I were honest, my favorite music comes from the 60s and 70s.
Another event that shaped my ramblings was the screamo-metal folks that would perform on my stage at the old Finnegan’s/Finns. Personally, in a karaoke environment or DJ environment, I am not a big fan of the screamo-metal that was finding its way to my stage for five minutes years ago. It seems to have thankfully waned in that arena. That will be the cool thing to imitate in 2025 if history is any indication.
If you have a baby or young child right now, today is going to be their “60s.” I think our perspective of life and culture is always grounded in the decade in which we are born, and tempered by the number of years we live. I will just continue to observe this from my perch on the stage.
Peace, Man! HA!
Harry Smith administers the popular Facebook groups, I Grew Up in Daytona Beach and I Grew Up in Daytona Beach #2. This first appeared in his blog, The World According to Harryoke. It is reposted here with permission.