Recent articles in the New York Times and Ad Age have suggested that marketers, long willing to play the nostalgia card with music, have adjusted their Wayback Machines to discard the music of the Boomer Generation in favor of the 1980s and ’90s, in an effort to update what current 30-somethings recall as nostalgic. This points to the declaration that the Boomer Generation is no longer their major target market. The only problem is, nobody told the marketers.
Boomer music appears everywhere these days — in commercials, movies and on the stage. What are we to make of this latest display, when supposedly generations beyond the boomers would not be able to relate to or even like the nostalgic sounds of the 1960s and ’70s?
Mister Boomer has delved into the use of boomer music in commercials in the past (Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma), and the practice certainly isn’t new. Perhaps what is surprising is that it continues unabated. There are several commercials running in regular TV rotation now that use boomer-age music as their driving sound. Two of the most popular have to be All Day and All of the Night by the Kinks (1964), which is used for, of all things, a Yoplait yogurt commercial, and Mony Mony, the Tommy James and the Shondells’ hit from 1968, used to sell Nissan Sentras. This ad plays a respectable Billy Idol cover of Mony Mony from 1987, but the point remains that the song is key to the entire premise of the ad.
On the Silver Screen
Jersey Boys, performed on the Broadway stage since 2005 and still going strong, is now a major motion picture directed by Clint Eastwood. The movie tells the story of how Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons formed, enjoyed success and ultimately disbanded in the 1960s.
Broadway has certainly discovered the age of boomer music. Look at this list of current and recent musicals about people in the music business in the 1960s and ’70s:
- Jersey Boys, as previously stated, opened in 2005. Now word is out on the Internet that the release of the movie has not only increased interest in tickets for the play, but also for the music of the Four Seasons.
- Motown: the Musical opened in 2013. The play’s book was written by none other than Berry Gordy himself, to tell stories about his personal relationships with Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson in the early days of the Motown label. Is there a person of any generation who doesn’t like something from Motown?
- A Night with Janis Joplin had a limited run in 2013. It gained critical acclaim for the woman who portrayed Janis, Mary Bridget Davies. It took 50 years to find someone who could belt out a tune like Janis, yet this woman wasn’t even born until 1978!
- Beautiful: the Carole King Musical opened in 2013, too. It tells the remarkable story of the steady climb of one of the greatest singer/songwriters of the 1960s and ’70s. Carole king often collaborated with other songwriters, and the play concentrates on songs that she co-wrote with Gerry Goffin, Phil Spector, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill, among others. The 2014 Tony Awards honored the musical with seven nominations and Jesse Mueller won for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical. It also won for Best Sound Design of a Musical.
- Next up is Piece of My Heart, an Off-Broadway musical that opened in previews this past week. It tells the story of Bert Berns, a man who became one of the most successful songwriters and producers of the 1960s. He wrote an astounding 51 hits in seven years before his tragic death from heart failure at the age of 38. Included in his cavalcade of hits were Hang On Sloopy, Cry, Baby, Here Comes the Night, Tell Him, I Want Candy, and Twist and Shout! Ironically, one of the last songs he wrote was Piece of My Heart. Originally recorded by Erma Franklin, it later became a huge hit for Janis Joplin when she sang with Big Brother and the Holding Company. Other artists and bands that had hits with his songs include the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Otis Redding, Led Zeppelin and David Bowie, to name only a few.
It is Mister Boomer’s opinion that this wave of boomer music exposure is not a plea to nostalgic boomers, but rather, it’s a nod to great music. Surely Baby Boomers have appreciated great music from any era in the past, and continue to do so — whether it was Frank Sinatra, Ira Gershwin or Frederic Chopin. So why would “experts” expect anything less of younger generations? Mister B has mentioned in earlier posts that he has friends whose children count among their favorite bands The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Jethro Tull, Neil Diamond, Led Zeppelin and many others. Yes, these same kids who play the current music that bewilders many of us boomers actually like boomer-age music.
So, Mister B says let’s hang on to what we’ve got and give these artists the R-E-S-P-E-C-T they deserve. It’s good day, sunshine for boomer music and Mister B says, yeah, yeah, yeah!
What do you think is the reason for the current rise in boomer music exposure, boomers?