The music we listened to between the ages of 13 and 16 is extremely influential. As a career musician, music educator with a music doctorate ... it is my qualified opinion that today's pop music sucks.
I was talking with Bill Kanengiser of the Grammy Award winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and he said exactly that. He said to one of my guitar students:
"the music me and Bill grew up listening to is SO much better than the crap you guys are listening to today."One of the reasons for this is highlighted by the late great musical genius, Frank Zappa in the interview above.
When I was a kid, I was lucky. I had good musical influences. As a 8 yr old I was listening to R&B, but when I hit those formative years in my early teens, it was progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, and ethnic music. I was introduced to Baroque music, my first love in the sphere of European classical music by an album called "Switched on Bach," that I got when I was 13. I've been hooked on contrapuntal music ever since.
Remember those bands? Music that refused to fit into a neat little 3 minute pop radio spots. Music that was through-composed, suite-like, orchestral, experimental, used virtuoso musicians, and stretched the boundaries. Starting in the 60's with the Beatles Sgt Pepper, then Abby Road, and the White Album. Then those crazy experimental albums by Zappa and the Mothers, like Uncle Meat that were improvisational and used experimental electronics. The epic Dark Side of the Moon album of Pink Floyd. The band Yes, with Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman. On the Fragile album we heard a classical guitar solo from Steve Howe - "Mood for a Day, " a transcription of a movement of a Brahms Symphony, and later Wakeman releasing his epic "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" with the London Sympony. Emerson Lake and Palmer, recorded their Trilogy, Brain Salad Surgery, Pictures at an Exhibition albums with rock transcriptions of classical music composers Aaron Copeland, Alberto Ginastera and Modesto Mussorgsky. Their Works album had Keith Emerson's piano concerto recorded with the London Symphony.
On the Jazz Rock fusion side there was John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, his albums with Shakti - virtuoso Indian raga music, Chick Corea, Al Dimeola, and the best instrumental (no vocals) rock guitar album of the era, Jeff Beck's Blow by Blow. Steely Dan's Aja was a revelation, using mostly jazz virtuosos like Wayne Shorter, Phil Woods, Larry Carleton on an album marketed as 'rock'... what a trick! I could go on and on.
Compare this music to what 15 yr olds listen to today, I was very lucky.