Ann Powers does her usual fine job on the recent Woodstock Anniversary invasion, taking a different approach than most:
Music still gives expression to cultural divides, they're just not often generational now. The next great pop icon might be primarily Spanish-speaking … such a star could really shake things up, the way Dylan did back in the day.
Until that happens -- or as it's happening, if Shakira's career continues on an upswing -- we'll undoubtedly keep looking to the 1960s for a vision of a unified movement based on popular music. In fact, the most telling thing about Woodstock nostalgia is that it's now being felt by plenty of younger fans.
Baby freaks who enjoy the music of the Fleet Foxes and Devendra Banhart, grow their own tomatoes, rock woolly beards and retreat to the desert for vision quests don't feel the need to rebel against their elders at all. Such a warm embrace of their legacy may not be something the golden children of the 1960s expected, but I'm sure they're happy for the dissolution of that generational divide.
The above, which comes at the end of her piece, hits right at the heart of my own desire for the generational divide to continue. I’ve often argued that boomers’ arrogant claim to own youth culture made it hard for subsequent generations to create a culture of their own. Even though I am a boomer myself, I found this problematic. What Ann is suggesting (and it’s nothing my own kids haven’t tried to explain to me) is that today’s generation finds value in connecting to “their elders” … they don’t feel the need to rebel. Which, if true, and I have a suspicion she’s onto something, means that what boomers “own” isn’t youth culture, but rather the adolescent need to rebel. That need, which so many of us never abandon, is what identifies boomers as a generation that refuses to grow up.