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Writings

Pop Culture Blue Bin

Elvis didn’t die, they just stuck him in the blue bin

by Rhiannon Nachbaur of Award-Winning Fiddleheads Violin Studio

Some things just never go out of style. Take, for instance, blue jeans and T-shirts. They’ve changed very little over the past 50 years. Sure, they endure phases ranging between threateningly large and precariously-scant, but for the most part they are a staple of modern day attire and are a pretty safe bet.

Bummer that most fashion is not this way. To quote a famous English prophet, "it is commonly known that one should never chuck yesterday’s styles in the bin." This is because the universe, extraordinarily goofy as it is, has created the mystic fashion-recycling program, known to seers as “Trend Reincarnation.” This perplexing phenomenon manifests itself in the miraculous and unwanted reappearance of such cosmic foibles as platform shoes, tie-dyed shirts and (shudder) powder blue polyester bellbottom tuxedos.

The catch is you have to hold on to these garments for 20-30 years until they are supernaturally reinstated to popular acceptance.

Shucks. If only I knew this tidbit at the tender and impressionable age of six, I would have stored my Star Wars pyjamas and Scooby Doo underoos in a cryogenic vault for successful and stretched reappearance in my late twenties. Alas. I do have a few pairs of my mom’s old hip-hugger bellbottoms from the early-seventies, along with an original “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” T-shirt, circa 1967. And though those charming antiques are older than I, remarkably they are the height of current fashion!

My MTV generation, “Gen-X,” has seen fashions come and go as fast as a radio jockey can change a record. Or is that reel-to-reel? Tape? 8-track? CD? DVD? MP3? Blue-Ray? Sheesh, in my short 29 years on this planet I have gone through more than eight playback mediums!

I can unflinchingly confess to a simpler time when we'd drive our olive green domestic leaded gas "boat-mobile" with artificial snakeskin trim to the beach listening to the fresh sounds of Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Madonna, Michael Jackson and other 80’s greats. Soon enough MTV had new replacements on the top forty and we moved on.

I was driving my new non-snakeskin imported hybrid electric car along the other day when some familiar sounds came through the car speakers. There was my old pal, Stevie, singing about love lost with a … what’s that? Techno beat!?!

It seems a new fad is to take old 80’s tracks and spruce them up with heavy techno or soul beats with booming bass. Good grief, anyone from ABBA to Elvis has been recycled by techno geeks! Elvis didn’t die, they just stuck him in the blue bin!

Then there are comebacks I never would have expected in a million years. Purple-haired, gum-smacking 80's icon Cindy Lauper has recently been recycled with a new album of sultry jazz covers. On the idea of recycling music, the now-50-year-old artist said, "a song is like a dress... you try it on, you can’t wear that dress sometimes because we’re not all built the same so you have to take it in here, let it out there." Sage wisdom from the girl who just wanted to have fun back in '84.

My poor baby-boomer mother realised she was getting old when she heard “Stairway to Heaven” on an easy listening station. And just recently I heard a real heavy punk tune from my childhood on a tame CBC Sunday afternoon program and simultaneously my life flashed before my eyes. It was a short flash, more of a bright blip, but it really put off the rest of my day.

In any event, I can safely say that there are some classic bands that will never go out of style. Maybe they’re not on the top-40, but they’re still tops in our collective musical consciousness. The symbolic “T-shirts” of pop music culture, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, are just as groovy, funky and totally bitchin’ now as they were back when those expletives actually meant something.

What’s next, you ask? Well, it won’t be something I haven’t heard already!

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Feedback for "Pop Culture Blue Bin"

Just a quick line to say I appreciated the insight and humour [in "Pop Culture Blue Bin"].  It was very well written and certainly gives hope for playing music a long time.  It is much more appealing to put a spin on some oldies than attempt to take most of the "new stuff" and do something constructive with it. Thank you.

- Jim, Kelowna BC

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