Last night I was practicing in the rehearsal space I rent, rocking to some XTC — "Down in the Cockpit" from English Settlement, to be precise, and nailing it, I might further add — when the next band walked in and hung out at the other end of the vast room until I was done. Then one of them walked up (well, actually he skanked up, entirely in keeping with the song's ska-like groove) and said, "Hey, that was great. Is that your band or…?"
"Oh no, man, that was XTC," I said. "1982."
Now, fine, whatever, dude was somewhere in his mid-20's, he didn't know XTC. But it was interesting that he thought that perhaps this was contemporary music. Of course, a lot of the hippest music right now cannibalizes that same 1978-1982 post-punk golden era, something my friends and co-workers know I complain about all too often. But the exchange actually underscored another point: there are some exceptions, but for the most part rock music's evolution has slowed to a crawl in the past quarter-century. To illustrate what I'm saying, think about this: 1982 was 25 years ago, and music from that time can still sound contemporary even to relatively discerning ears. But what if it was 1982 and I was practicing to a record from 25 years before that — i.e., 1957 — and the same guy walked in. Would he have said, "Is that your band or…?" I doubt it.
So what's up with that?