Now playing: ♫ The Best Is Yet To Come – Tony Bennett

I was talking to a friend of mine last week about music.  I mentioned that I enjoy listening to rock and pop music from the 1950s and 1960s.  He replied “yeah, the 50s were great.  A happier, friendlier time, without all this emo rot on the telly and radio, and worries about oil and the impending financial doom.”  I looked at him with the most surprised look I have ever had.  Then I asked him on what merit he based this opinion on, especially since he wasn’t even born until the 1980s.  He simply stated “that’s what everyone says”.

To be fair, I do believe him.  That is what almost everyone who didn’t study world history and wasn’t alive in the 1950s says.  But I would like to rebut his comments:

  1. “A happier, friendlier time”
    Obviously, he has never studied the Cold War.  The entire world was on pins and needles, worried that at any second the nuclear war would start and the entire human race would be utterly obliterated.  The perceived fallout from the Cold War definitely added many unhappy moments to the decade, and most of the Western world was very unfriendly to anyone in Latin America, the USSR, or any communist country.
  2. “Without all this emo rot on the telly and radio”
    This is by far the easiest to rebut.  People claim that “emo” (the angsty teenagers — not hardcore emotive nu metal like the word originally meant) and songs about failed relationships and depression started in the late 1980s or early 1990s with the punk/grunge scene.  I would like to point out that one of – if not the – most famous musicians of the 1950s, Elvis Presley, recorded “Heartbreak Hotel” in 1956 and that song basically started his large success.  This song was actually inspired by a suicide note.  If you want to define “emo” as most modern people do, this is the epitome of “emo” songs.
    Note that I’m not putting down this song or Elvis Presley at all — I am simply making an observation.  In my humble opinion, the word “emo” is far too overreaching and overzealous for its own good and should be stricken from the world’s collective mindset.
  3. “Without worries of oil and the impending financial doom”
    Of course, the worries of oil were almost non-existent.  But the cost of the Cold War, namely the quickly skyrocketing cost of maintaining strong military and defence systems, coupled with the loose trade regulations led by the Conservatives, meant that there was always the chance for financial ruin.

Of course, if you were quite young (or not even born) in the 1950s, you probably don’t remember much of that.  You were too busy having fun and enjoying your innocence to remember any of that.

In a more personal look at the effect that the passage of time has on our recollections, let me point this out.  Last year, I had a longing to relive the mid-1990s.  I remembered it as a quite enjoyable time; I made a lot of friends, I graduated at the top of my class in school, and I got my first look at this new-fangled bit of technology named the “World Wide Web”.  However, yesterday I found a journal I wrote in from 1994 to 1997.  I read it and was horrified at what I found: rants about how hard school was, how mean many people were to me, and even a two-week long epic about me fracturing my arm.

I remembered none of this until I reread my journal.  And I think that’s what the point of this article really is.  The past may seem like a better time to you, but it may not have seemed like it when it was the present.  Be satisfied that you have happy memories.  And instead of reliving the past (and all of your prior troubles) over again, it’s better to live in the present and make the most of what life has dealt you.

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