Looking around today, it seems like everything bad from the 1970s is coming back: unemployment, high gas prices, an embattled democratic president, and douchebags sporting mustaches. (Hell, speaking of an unpleasant return of things from the 70s, even I'm coming back to post here weekly). But I was raised to believe that there is a ying for every yang. Or to keep with our 70s theme: a Loggins for every Messina. No? A Hall for every Oates? Sonny for Cher? In any event, if we have to deal with all the crap from the 70s, then I think it only fair we petition the universe's cosmic laws of balance for the good stuff too. And even though I was only alive for part of the 70s, I'm appointing myself your captain and tour guide as we demand justice from the Cosmos.
Are you with me, people? The time for the 1970s is now. We demand the following:
Its hard to believe, but did you know that Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino used to star in movies that did not make cinema-lovers cry tears of blood while shattering their souls into a million irreparable pieces? It's true. In fact, in the 70s, these guys actually made some movies you might have heard of: The Godfather, The Godfather II, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, Taxi Driver, Deerhunter...
But starting in the 80's, these two acting mavericks decided to let some crap slip into their arsenal of awesome. Sure the 80s brought De Niro's Raging Bull, but somehow We're No Angels also snuck in. And Pacino's questionable Cuban accent in Scarface may have distracted you from the questionable everything in Revolution. But by the 90s, panic had set in. The suck to quality ratio was changing and Pacino became that Scent of a Woman cartoon, running around in devil pants, shouting "HOO-AH" at Keanu Reeves. (Or something like that. It's a hazy decade for me. I started having sex by then.) And Deniro, who pursued comedy so expertly in Midnight Run, began his long descent into middling family comedies like the recently released Little Fockers.
Well, Cosmos, I say that if we have to pay 50 bucks to fill up our cars, then we deserve to be able to drive that car to a theater where two of the greatest actors of their generation are starring in something I won't have to IMDB to reference correctly for a column 6 months after its release. (I'm looking at you Everybody's Fine).
Yeah, I know. You see afros today. Some on white guys. Sad, sad white guys. But when I say Afro, I don't mean some Brooklyn hipster's ironic conception of an Afro. I mean a glorious African American round head of hair that says one thing: "Fuck you, whitey." Oh, I miss those. Why? Because as a little boy, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing old white people get nervous around blacks. "Silly, white people," I thought. "Haven't you seen The Jeffersons, Good Times and Sanford & Son? Those black people are A-OK!" And seeing those bad white people made me feel like one of the good white people. So each time an afro made a middle-aged woman secure her purse in fear, I felt that much cooler. But now that's all lost because well it seems blacks and whites hate each a lot less. And where's the fun in that? Hmm. I may have lost my point in there somewhere. In any event, Afros sure are cool. More please.
Don't get me wrong, as far as inventions go, I put the IPOD right up there with the polio vaccine. I don't go anywhere without mine and frankly would iron lungs even be that bad if they could play all your MP3s on shuffle? But technology has come with a price. The digitalization, compression, and online availability of music have forever altered our listening experience.
And with that change came the death of concept albums - self-contained recordings telling a particular story or servicing a singular theme. Concept albums were records you would never think of cutting up into singles. And if some kid at school said, "Well, um, I don't know all of The Wall, but like I like that 'we don't need not education song,'" you'd scoff at him like he was a noob, except being the seventies you wouldn't call him a noob. Dickweed? Ungroovy? I'm not sure. I was so very small.
But now, music is spread on youtube and linked on facebook in bits and pieces. The notion of sitting down with an album cover and lyrics for an hour is almost as unlikely as expecting more Dark Side of the Moons, Tommys, and Ziggy Stardusts. And it makes me sad. Is it strange to bemoan the loss of albums dedicated to insanity, deaf blind mutes who excel at pinball, or well-hung guitar playing aliens? No. No it is not. It is awesome. I know you were tempted to say it was lame for a second, but I'm glad we pulled through that. Yep, awesome.
Now I know there are still concept albums. After all, Arcade Fire's Surburbs gets me so hot I replaced my real doll's head with a super-glued CD player blasting it on repeat so I could actually sodomize the music. But it's not the kind of album an entire generation of kids will emblazon across the back of their jean jackets. It just seems today's bands can't generate albums of anthem-level importance and when they try, we get this:
And no one wants this. Ever. So, c'mon Cosmos, make with the quality concept albums.