Now there’s a phrase you hear a lot.
Most frequently to describe something that is assumed to be timeless.
Something that is just as good … no, wait … BETTER … today than it was when it was first produced.
For example, many of the automobiles and a great deal of the songs produced 40 years ago are still regarded as some of the best ever.
Not only by the generation who enjoyed them in their initial phase, but by the generations that have followed.
I don’t believe we will see cars produced today designated as “classics” in the future. They will certainly become “antiques” after the required length of time, but “classics” … nah.
Thirty years from now, it’s very doubtful that car makers will be producing a new version of the Nissan Maxima or that a mint condition restored Ford Taurus will fetch top dollar at auction.
We certainly know what “classical music” is because Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, etc. have stood the test of time. But, what will define classical music 100 years from now? People may still be listening to and appreciating Tchaikovsky, but what new genre(s) will have been added to the vaults of classical music?
Will people still appreciate music from the 1960’s and 1970’s generations from now? And more to the point, is the music from the decades following somehow less substantial, less timeless than that from what is now known as the Era of Classic Rock?
Am I being snobbish to assume that the cars and the music of my youth are the benchmark for the term classic to future generations?
Perhaps … I don’t know. I suppose I’m prejudiced and maybe it will take another 2-3 decades before any of this is sorted out.
But, looking back, did people in the 1940’s regularly listen Dixieland and Ragtime music instead of Big Band? Did people in the 50s pine for Big Band when Elvis hit the scene? I know that personally, I dropped Elvis like a hot potato when the Beatles hit … and I never looked back.
Those genres were still popular, but only in a nostalgic sense. I don’t think people still saw music from those periods as relevant or timeless in the sense that music from the 60s and 70’s is viewed today.
What is it about the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and dozens of other classic rock artists that still generates excitement among not only those of us who lived through it, but the younger set who passed through 4-5 musical phases since and are still willing to help keep “classic rock” radio stations profitable.
And what causes our pulses to race at the sight of a restored 1964 Mustang Convertible while being passed by 1994 Mustang mainly inspires yawns? Why are car manufacturers busily designing and producing the new Chevy Camaro and the new Dodge Challenger?
Why not the new Ford Grenada??
Will future generations enthusiastically support radio stations that feature music from Madonna or Backstreet Boys? Will they search in vain for the perfectly preserved Honda Accord or Toyota Camry?
In short, will they ever have a reason to utter the phrase … It’s a Classic???