January 28, 2012

Similar music from similar environments

Stumbled upon this hit from the Jazz Age, where a clingy girl wonders why her crush doesn't make a move on her, even after sending him such forward signals:

"He's So Unusual" by Helen Kane, 1929

In tone it's not so different from this hit from the New Wave Age:

"Johnny Are You Queer" by Josie Cotton, 1982

One of the biggest changes that people undergo when violence rates start rising is to desire more social interaction and attachment. So even people with low self-esteem will still want to reach out and touch someone; they'll just come off as needy.

But I miss clingy-needy girls, now that I've seen the alternatives. When people no longer desire social contact, the high self-esteem ones become dismissive and avoidant, like Fergie and other attention whores, while the low self-esteem ones become fearful and avoidant, or mousy, kind of like Norah Jones. They both don't trust others, and wouldn't feel comfortable letting their guard down to get close to someone. That really comes across in their singing, which has a very limited range of pitch and never gets very high.

That songbird type of inflection that says "hey, notice my voice and come over to talk to me" only comes from those who desire contact, whether they have lower self-esteem like the needy ones or higher self-esteem, who show a "secure" attachment style, like how Belinda Carlisle sounded.


  1. Speaking of Norah Jones being fearful and avoidant, note how painfully uncomfortable she is in this duet with Keith Richards. Sure, Richards is creepy, but suck it up for a couple minutes and pretend to be enjoying yourself for the crowd, for chrissakes!

  2. Look at women like Joan Baez or Grace Slick. Dangerous time singers seem unfairly loaded with heavy artillery- singing pure, clear, and full of vibrato. But they turned right into feminists. Gonna do a post on this.


  3. Yikes, Norah Jones looks like she's about to collapse into the fetal position. It's not like he was feeling her up (didn't even put his hand directly on her shoulder). Girls today have a much lower threshold for what will make them freeze and want to hide.

    For others who think we're making this stuff up, here's the mega-hit "We've Got Tonight" by Kenny Rogers, a gray-haired 44 year-old man, and Sheena Easton, a tiny 23 year-old girl, back in 1983:

    "We've Got Tonight"

    She gives an unrestrained performance, holds his hand, hugs him, etc., even though he's over 20 years older and probably a foot taller. Not only didn't she think it was the end of the world, but she has fun.

    And just to show that some of these personality traits persist far into adulthood, here's a duet from the same time period as the Jones-Richards one (the 2000s, it looks like), but between two people who grew up in the good ol' days, and recorded it originally in 1985.

    "I Got You Babe" by UB40 and Chrissie Hynde

    Again look at how easy-going they are, holding hands, letting their faces get close, and so on. What a weird world when middle-aged people are more affectionate and carefree than the prudish young people.

  4. I hate to keep leaving comments on your blog unrelated to the blog post, but there's so many directions to go with your basic thesis. Don't feel pressured to squeeze some insight out of this post.

    That being said, I'd highly suggest reading "Generations" by William Strauss and Neil Howe. Or just the WIkipedia article on "Strauss-Howe'd generational theory", which you can find here:


    Interestingly, they agree with you that different generations receive different levels of parental "protection", but that Generation X - which seems to be the generation you speak of as coming of age during the - was *under* protected. Making them tough but too cynical and individualistic to seize the reigns of power or force a values change. Coincidentally(or perhaps not), they are called "the Nomad Generation", because they mimic pastoralist nomads who are self-reliant and face their enemies one-on-one.

    ""such generations tend to be remembered for their adrift, alienated rising-adult years and their midlife years of pragmatic leadership. Their main societal contributions are in the area of liberty, survival and honor. Their best-known historical leaders include Nathaniel Bacon, William Stoughton, George Washington, John Adams, Ulysses Grant, Grover Cleveland, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower. These were shrewd realists who preferred individualistic, pragmatic solutions to problems. (Example among today’s living generations: Generation X.)[26]""

    Neill and Strauss also make a distinction between those who experienced the Internet and technology post-childhood vs. pre-childhood. In their scheme, the Millenials - the "hero generation" - encompass anyone who was born after 1980, but had reached adolescence by the time of the huge cultural changes that the Internet created. So basically, teh Millenials are 1980-85 or perhaps 1980-1990. They are those who received their basic values pre Internet,

    The "new Silent Generation" - or Generation Z - don't start being born until the 1985-1990 period. Though I suspect anyone who was subjected to computers and Internet technology as a child would classify, regardless of birth date...


    Just some food for thought.


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