My fellow Criqueteers,
There comes a time in every man’s life when, sitting to rest at the bar and appreciate a fine pour of George T. Stagg, he senses the parade of youth passing him by.
Only the parade of youth does not sense the man. For the youth is too busy traipsing around on the sidewalks, their schnozzes pixel-deep in the search of Snorlaxes and Pikachus, while trying to survive the BatteryKillusMaximus.
This being the internet age and all, it didn’t take long for my own progeny to catch on to Pokémon Go. Of course, being the fine upstanding father figure that I am (and endeavoring for the rare bout of exercise that might keep the belly from completely overthrowing the belt) I agreed to lead them on the hunt.
But as we poked around on our Pokéhunt amidst a gaggle of 20-year olds, I became acutely aware of not only how out-of-touch I was with kids these days, but also how many non-f**ks I truly gave about this state of affairs. What started with ambivalence over SnapChat had manifested itself in complete and utter nonchalance over this latest e-trend. It was then I had realized: I had reached full dad-dom. Next stop, dark socks, sandals, and yelling at the damn kids to get off my freshly-manicured lawn. (My excellent taste in vintage-style golf shirts, of course, would remain immutably classy.)
Still, this revelation – like a cold glass of Fernet – is not without its bitterness, no matter how delicious it may be. Has old age hunted me down like some Demogorgon of decrepitude?
Nowhere is non-cool and non-caring more deeply felt than in music. It’s subtle at first (“Taylor Sw-who? Eh, I’m fine with my copy of Kid A, thankyouverymuch.) But then you begin to realize how much of your canon seems to drop-off in the mid aughts. A decade ago. Sure, there’s a Tame Impala album here, maybe a Leon Bridges album there, but people look at you strangely if you’re not rushing out to buy the latest Kendrick Lamar. (Your second mistake, everyone KNOWS you don’t buy music anymore, you stream it.) My friends, you have officially become:
Your tastes have suddenly gone from daring to Dad rock. Welcome to the place where every mid-to-late 30s man eventually finds himself.
Much has been written on the subject of Dad Rock by smarter, more attuned, and slightly more sober minds than myself. But if you’ll humor me – and I assume you will having read this far – here are some of Noonan’s honorees in the Dad Rock Hall of Fame.
Before we begin, scholars are still debating the exact delineation between Dad-rock and Granddad-rock, so let’s leave aside the Zeppelin, the Stones, the Beatles, the Dead, the Who, ol’ Mr. Young, Bruce, Bowie, Iggy (and his Stooges), P-Funk, P-Floyd, Morrison (Jim), Morrison (Van), and Halen (Van), Queen, Rush, the Marvins, the Mayfields, and any and all from the more bygone eras. And yes, especially the Yes.
Now, for the list:
Yo La Tengo.
For three decades, we looked to these elder statesmen as our guides to unchartered indie greatness. Now they’re pushing 60 – yes, 6-0, and their crowds have aged right along with them. As a friend of mind put it at one recent show: “if the roof was to cave in right now, NPR Austin’s entire listening audience would be gone.” Still I say: rock on, YLT. No doubt years from now we your fans will be in nursing homes, sharing stories with other residents of how “I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One” blew our minds (and eardrums), all while we slide vegetable soup past our collective gums.
The White Stripes.
Jack White technically hasn’t aged, presumably striking a similar deal with Satan as Keef Richards did. Still, there’s no overlooking that he and his sister/wife started rattling our ribcages at the turn of the century. Which feels like a century ago.
Do not compare them to “Dave.” And God help me if I find anyone mentioning Blues Traveler, the String Cheese Incident, or any others in the same breath. Regardless where you lie on the spectrum between “hippies suck” and “I named my first kid Trey”, there’s no denying these four from Vermont have amassed an impressive following.
It’s 2016. Let’s go back a decade and a half to when Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was leaked on the web. Remember that? How alive and electrifying it was? Or maybe for you it was Summerteeth. Or A Ghost is Born. Now, Jeff Tweedy plays in a side band with his grown son. Which is awesome, yes. But let’s not pretend that these Chicagoans are not the banner bearers of all that is Dad and Rock. And I wouldn’t change a thing.
The Flaming Lips.
They are equal parts weird and wonderful, with the best live show this side of insane. Sadly, Wayne Coyne has recently hit a slightly-more-than-mid-life crisis, hanging with the likes of Miley Cyrus and all. But thank the Clouds Taste Metallic, the Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots that he and the ‘Lips made good music before things got really bizarre.
Which brings up the last (for now) on my list of Dad Rock.
There’s more mystery here with Matt Beringer and company – they’re’ still hip n’ cool. Perhaps not yet past their prime. But with their 5 CD recent release of delicious Grateful Dead covers, I can already sense their tentative steps into the Dadlands. And oh how I welcome it.
Now, this list could continue on longer than the second set of a Phish festival. And no doubt I’ve overlooked a, well, a plethora of bands.
There’s Pavement and all of Mr. Malkmus’s incarnations thereof, Beck, Nirvana, Pixies, Foo Fighters, U2, Weezer, Radiohead, Neutral Milk Hotel, the Olivia Tremor Control, My Bloody Valentine, the Strokes, whoever. Feel free to include your own list, feel slightly smug and superior about said list, and then realize someone probably has a better one and they write for pitchfork.com.
Fact of the matter is, all are one day destined for Dad Rock. A truth that will hold fast long after Pokémon is Gone. So turn up “Heavy Metal Drummer” to 11, pour some more George Stagg, and enjoy. This is our 19th hole and us dads’ll listen to whatever we damn well please.
Be the dad, be the rock, and be the ball.