Τρίτη, 14 Οκτωβρίου 2014

Legends!!! (Mostly....)

                            "It's gonna be Legen - wait for it - dary!!!"
                                              They say every generation has its own heroes and legends. I should know because as a child raised in the '80s my hero was Ralph Macchio. And Tom Cruise sporting Ray-Bans. So shoot me, I love the '80s.I can see though why kids today would consider them silly. Because they are. It's ok, down the line they will be too embarrassed to show their own kids their Bieber records (or downloads, whatever.). They won't listen to them themselves at that point if you hold a gun to their face just like I can't watch a Stallone movie right now although I loved them back then (c'mon, "Adriaaaaan"). You always think fondly of your past because of them ol' rose tinted glasses called memories (I envy you, goldfish!). Some things though have no need of them memories and the allure of childhood living because, well, simply put, they have an inherent worth that doesn't need crutches. These are things we lived firsthand or things that have preceeded us but we nevertheless discovered on our own. They are, in short, True Legends.
     Today the hype machine works overtime. We deal in verbal excess so words have lost their meaning. Nothing is "good". Everything is "great". Don't get me wrong, I love me some exaggeration. I grew up after all on those old Marvel Comics from the '60s (reprints, duh) where phrases like "When Titans Clash" were emblazoned on every cover (bless  Stan "The Man" Lee). The difference is that now the tongue is not set in cheek and we're expected to take everything at face value. And that's exhausting. Not everything needs to be great after all. Sometimes just good is good enough. What the hype machine does though, is raise expectations. You read a review about how great , say, a movie is, that it can't usualy meet those impossible standards. It gets even worse when spoilers are involved. Like an adaptation of a book you've already read, a scene played out in your head is always better than on screen. So, someone decides what is legendary for you and you must go along with it - or not. There's a well tested remedy that goes by the name of "Time" (I mean the actual concept of time, not the magazine although they would love that I guess). But Time can be its own hype machine....
   Growing up we take the classics of the previous generations for granted. Not everybody has read the greek tragedies but everybody considers them classics. Most people can't sit through a Bob Dylan song but he's still considered a demi-god (he is).. How about philosophy? I don't know what Plato is all about but he has to be great - everybody says so. In fact, I might pick up Plato's writings and completly disagree with him or, more probably in this case, not understand a single thing. I'll still say he's great because God forbid I disagree with "everyone". "They" always know better. That's not to say that the classics don't deserve to be revered. Quiet the contrary.But if we are told beforehand what to like or not, how can we know what we truly like? How can we feel for ourselves what made all those things great in the first place?   
     Growing up, I was lucky to have missed out on many things that I later came to love. There were things I came to like because my parents liked them and some of that sipped through. Some of it was genuinly great, some of it wasn't but retains a sentimental value and some of it -ok, most - was pure crap. One day though something magical happened; I heard the voice of Mercury. Not the ancient god of speed but close. Better in fact. Freddie Mercury. Now, Freddie had just passed away and was all over the news but I had no idea who he was. The world was in shock but I was in the dark. All I knew, all I cared about was that Voice. It had gripped me like nothing before and wouldn't let go - not ever again. Over the next days I heard Bohemian Rhapsody at the end credits of a TV show. It took me a few seconds to realise it was the same Voice. A few decades ago that same song had taken the world by storm but I would only find about it much later. That moment all I knew was that lump in my throat. I could sense it was something Magnificent. I didn't feel that way because that notion was suggested to me by my friends, my parents or some magazine. I didn't sift through a damned Buyer's Guide to tell me what's good or not. I had found out on my own and so, 20 years after the song was written, it was still brand new to my ears. And, yes, an instant classic. It would've been for me even if in the end it had proved to be an unknown song by some unknown artist. The experience turned out to be a - much, much -  shared one though and that was down to the absolute strength of the material.
   Down the line the pattern repeated itself multiple times. I fell in love with Led Zeppelin after watching a clip of Stairway to Heaven off the "Song Remains the Same" video on a local channel. I didn't know the name of the band, let alone the song or that it was supposed to be one of the most played songs in the history of music. It took me sometime to find out and by the then I thought "well, of course it is, it's bloody marvelous". And "Hallowed Be Thy Name" is Maiden's best song you say? It was just another song I chanced upon on TV (again, radio followed soon after) and made me a fanatic for life within minutes. The same thing happened with Sabbath's 'War Pigs'. And the list doesn't end with music. Those comics I grew up with? The reprints I read had stories I fell in love with, like "The Death of Gwen Stacey", that unbeknownst to me were classics indeed decades ago half a world away. And the list grew longer and longer...
      Down the line I would be versed in the things that captivated me. I did finally buy music magazines, vigorously. I now check the Buyer's Guides to have an entry point for artists I want to get more familiar with. I check the internet for the next, much hyped, comics event, months before it is published. Sometimes the reviews influence me and sometimes they're right. Through the years I've learned to trust them much less than I used to.And, yes, the hype machine is hard to escape now. Not to mention that I have myself become the old generation preaching the classics (I've been doing that for the last few paragraphs). In the end though the classics don't need my preaching - and we mostly preach to the converted anyhow. Even if we all forget them or take them with us to the grave, all it takes is a kid somewhere to discover them again on its own somehow. And it won't be long before they once again become Legen-wait for it- dary!