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Talking about pop music

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I had a horrifying experience earlier this week, when I went to look up the highest-grossing concert tours of all time (There is of course a very elaborate Wikipedia page on the subject).

My Kurtz-like gaze into the abyss was generated by the — for a brief moment literally incredible — realization that I had never heard of the performer responsible for the highest-grossing concert tour of all time. And by “never heard” I mean I couldn’t have told you, prior to looking at this list, whether this person was a politician or a novelist or a soccer player or the inventor of the pet rock. The name was 100% unfamiliar to me.

The rest of the list of the top 20 grossing tours of all time was made up of people like the Rolling Stones and U2, i.e., bands whose music is very familiar to me, and people like Bruno Mars and Garth Brooks and Pink, whose music I don’t really know at all, but at least I know who they are because of course I do. The latter group is part of my Ariana Grande theory of politics, which you should check out because it explains a lot and will also brighten your day if you’re down about the fascism and all.

But #1 on the list — this drew a total and profound blank.

I felt somewhat better about this when I revealed it to my youngest brother, who is a mere 49 years old and also much more hip than I am to the music world generally — he used to send me compilation CDs (remember those?) of cool bands and artists I had never heard of — and he told me that he had never heard of this person either! Unfortunately our collective relief was shattered a couple of hours later when both his wife and his two pre-teen children mocked him for his laughable ignorance: in fact his son was even able to guess the identity of the artist responsible for the highest-grossing tour of all time without being told the name first.

This was of course profoundly depressing.

I guess we’ll both just have to wear the bottom of our trousers rolled, (query: were the Allman Brothers making a recondite literary reference?) and face the fact that we’re like aging people in 1972 who had never heard of Bob Dylan or somebody like that.

Speaking of which, let’s look back at the Billboard Hot 100 for exactly 50 years ago this week:

  • I Can See Clearly NowJohnny Nash
  • 1
  • 1
  • 11
  • 2
    • I’d Love You To Want MeLobo
    • 3
    • 2
    • 9
  • 3
    • I’ll Be AroundThe Spinners
    • 5
    • 3
    • 10
  • 4
    • I Am WomanHelen Reddy
    • 8
    • 4
    • 13
  • 5
    • Nights In White SatinThe Moody Blues
    • 2
    • 2
    • 16
  • 6
    • Papa Was A Rollin’ StoneThe Temptations
    • 13
    • 6
    • 6
  • 7
    • Freddie’s Dead (Theme From “Superfly”)Curtis Mayfield
    • 4
    • 4
    • 14
  • 8
    • Convention ’72The Delegates
    • 9
    • 8
    • 5
  • 9
    • Witchy WomanEagles
    • 10
    • 9
    • 11
  • 10
    • Summer BreezeSeals & Crofts

Pop music was just better when I was a kid.

Fight me.

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