Kids These Days Might Not Know Who Paul McCartney Is, Get Over It
On New Year’s Eve, Kanye West and Paul McCartney released a new collaboration, “Only One”. The immediate response sweeping Twitter? People asking, “Who the hell is Paul McCartney?”
Media outlets from The Mirror to USA Today breathlessly reported on the trending topic (in articles that ought to be subtitled “get off my lawn!”), joining an even bigger trend that arose in response to the first one: people posting hate, anger, and shock that anyone, ANYONE, could dare not to know who the Beatles are. Oh, the humanity!!
Anyone who managed to stop shaking their canes and walkers at the computer screen long enough to compose a diatribe against the moral and/or musical failings of today’s youth, though, should have considered two things: first of all, somewhere around 97% of these “Paul who?” tweets are clearly tongue-in-cheek. I mean, come on:
And second of all, and even more importantly: who cares? Not knowing about bands that were popular when you were a kid doesn’t make teenagers dumb, it makes them teenagers. When people complain about kids these days not knowing who the Beatles are, I like to imagine an unbroken string of ancestors expressing similar doubts. “You don’t know who Artie Shaw is? Kid, you’re joking.” “I say, young man, you wish to tell me you enjoy partaking of musical enjoyment but you cannot name even a single Antonín Dvořák opera? My word!” “Thou dost profess to enjoy the chansons of Jean Mouton, but how can’st thou lay such a claim without acknowledging the great debt he doth owe to his great forebear Loyset Compère!” And so on, back to, “When Ogg was young, we no have stick to make song with! Kid these day no understand real music!”
It’s easy to get all het up about our favorite things falling by the wayside as new favorite things are up-and-coming, but why waste the energy? This is a lesson I’m trying to internalize too, and I think this xkcd comic has the right take on it: instead of “UGH, you IDIOT, you STUPID KIDS, how can you not know who the Beatles are?!”, I suggest: “Oh my gosh, that means you’ve never heard ‘Let It Be’! Listen to this, it’s going to blow your mind!” Or, depending on the young person you’re talking to, perhaps something more like: “You don’t know the Beatles? This is ‘I Am The Walrus’ and it was written by some guys who were high as balls at the time’.”
The Beatles are in no danger of being forgotten – tune into any Pandora a capella station and I guarantee you’ll hear a Glee version of ‘Let It Be’ or ‘Blackbird’ within five minutes. The kids these days are all right without your concern trolling. Music is getting on just fine fifty years after the Beatles hit the scene. And your faves don’t need to be viciously defended, although it never hurts to generously share them.
But … maybe leave McCartney’s whole ‘Wings’ era in the past. In this case what the kids don’t know won’t hurt them.
(Image: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty)