Kevin Smith: Sweating To The Oldies

I have a vague recollection of the introduction of the word “oldies’ as a descriptive for radio pop music that was over 20 years old. Back east in Jersey as a kid in the ’70s, any time you went for a ride in a car with a non-predatory adult, chances are they were rockin’ A.M. radio, blasting “the golden oldies.” It never occurred to me as a reductive term until I hit middle age and realized that all of my favorite music — the music I was listening to when I first got to second and third bases with people other than myself — was now akin to the tunes of yore that the adults who ruled my world back then would subject me to, much to my chagrin.

I figured this out solely because my kid gave me some shit about playing Hall & Oates near her bus stop.

I was never a H&O ho as a youngster, but in the last year, I’ve listened to more Hall & Oates than maybe even Hall & Oates themselves have heard in their lifetimes. I’d always maintained a Hall & Oates playlist on every iPod, and often during poker games, I’d irritate folks with the dulcet sounds of “One On One” or “Sara Smiles,” but if you attacked Daryl & John, I wouldn’t defend.

That changed with Harley.

“Can you turn this off?” she asked as I drove her to the bus stop for one of her final days as a 6th grader. We were still about a mile from the destination but you could tell by the panic in her voice that she was already fretting someone from school hearing “Family Man” blasting from her old man’s whip.

“How come we can blast Big Time Rush’s ‘Boy-boy-boy-b-b-boy-bb-boyfriend’ song, but Hall & Oates catches shit?” I countered. (In our house, we define “bad words” a bit differently.)

“Because your music’s so OLD.”

This kid, this ex-sperm who once resided in my balls, dropped a generational anvil on my head. “Old”?!? Was this chick out of her mind? Or rather, “Out of Touch”?

As I prepared to decimate an 11-year-old’s preconceived illusions with a Hall & Oates treatise, I quickly did the math on the song playing on the iPod that I was wrestling from the kid’s hands. “Maneater” was released in 1982; I know this because it was one of the tracks on the first mix tapes I ever recorded, holding an old tape recorder up to a clock radio during an evening of listening to a new F.M. station to catch songs I liked. I was fighting over a nearly 30 old song.

Suddenly, I was fighting for the oldies.

to be continued…

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