It being the last day of term, Fifth Year students were listening to music. After a number of songs, there came the realisation that the music being played was not the music of their youth, it was the music of my youth.
As Roberta Flack’s Killing me Softly began to play, I asked the girl who had chosen it why she was playing a song from decades before she was born.
“I don’t know when it’s from, sir. It’s on Spotify and I like it.”
It made an agreeable change from the banal, monotonous rap played by some of the boys.
“Have you heard of Dionne Warwick?” I asked.
The girl typed the name into the Spotify search and found Walk on by.
“That’s nice music,” she said.
“Nice,” would have seemed to me to be an understatement of the qualities of the singer, but I was happy to accept the comment.
Standing on the terraces at a football match, the halftime music included Carly Simon’s You’re so vain. I would probably not have noticed the song being played if it had not been for the conversation earlier in the day. The song is fifty years old, though has stood well the test of time.
It would have been unthinkable for music from the 1920s to have been played at football matches in the 1970s. (Although it might have been an improvement on what was played, I remember E viva Espana being played at Yeovil Town matches long after it had been in the charts).
Perhaps the playing of Roberta Flack by a seventeen year old student is just a reflection of how Spotify can keep decades old tunes to the fore. Once on a digital platform, it might have come from any year, recent or distant. Perhaps the sheer number of plays ensures that it comes to the attention of potential listeners and so perpetuates its popularity.
However, there seems to be an absence of a distinct youth culture. Clothing and haircuts seem more a mark of social class than of particular trends. Look at how some young people are dressed and it is not hard to guess at their background.
A colleague complains that the current youth generation are the most boring there has been. Social media have made them self-obsessed and introverted.
As pleasant as it was to hear Roberta Flack, it would have been more encouraging to have heard something distinctly 2022.