I remember in the olden days music was cherished one song at a time. I would hear a song on the radio, take a liking to it and then hope desperately to hear it again. Those tunes that resonated the most became obsessions as I tried to figure out a way to raise the money to go buy the single.
I remember riding my cool Sting-Ray bicycle all the way downtown to buy the song, “Hooked on a Feeling,” by BJ Thomas, complete with the awesome ooga-chacka intro. The song, coupled with a crush on a hot girl, could just about make you lose your balance.
I remember it seemed like I had to save up $200 to get the Beatles album “Hey Jude,” which I still have, by the way, and it can be played on either of my two record players. Now it sounds like it was recorded in outer space thousands of years ago, but I have never regretted the sacrifice it took to buy that album.
I remember when we were all asked to take to school our favorite song. I brought “Hey Jude” and another kid, Kyle, who was cooler than I was, brought “Crimson and Clover.” He mocked me for having such boring, out-of-date taste.
I had a teacher who could see into the future and he was horrified at what he was hearing.
He stood on his soapbox and spoke words I have never forgotten.
“Kyle, let me tell you something, 20 years from now 'Crimson and Clover' will be a long forgotten footnote in music history and people will still be playing the Beatles. They aren’t even in the same category.”
It was a rare moment that I have been reliving for 40 years. Strangely enough, "Crimson and Clover" is playing right now because I asked my computer to play it.
How would I have instant access to such a thing? I just discovered that my iTunes library has nearly 7,000 songs. (And to think I’m always complaining that I’ve never been to Maui.) Who bought all that music? I’ll bet I’ve never heard 70 percent of the music I own. My children, who have all temporarily moved out of the house to try to be grownups, bought them. Clearly they must have been doing some kind of drug running business right under my nose without me realizing it.
So I set out to systematically learn all my music the other day. Using an iPhone app I set up a double-elimination tournament and pitted the songs alphabetically against each other, one by one, to find out if I have better taste in music than my kids. Turns out, I do. Here’s a list of some of the champions that have emerged from my 16-song tournaments:
If you recognize the names on this list, then you should feel good about yourself. These are artists who have created music that I have scientifically proven to be superior to many other more hip musicians. If you’ve felt bad that you don’t know the music of Blink-182, Justin Timberlake or Homstar Runner, don’t worry about it. I have systematically proven that they will never stand the test of time like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. In fact, I think the lead singer in Blink-182 needs to be grounded until he gets a better attitude.
I’m assuming that when my tournament is done, sometime when I’m in my 90s, it will be a Beatles song that will test the best of all time, but the Beatles did lose out in one tournament already to a song I had never before heard. It could happen.
But I’ll tell you, it wasn’t to “Crimson and Clover,” Kyle.
The results are in. I’m in the future and science has shown, once and for all, that I am cooler than you.
Steve Eaton lives and works in Logan, Utah. He can be reached at [email protected]