Who’s a boomer?
Born just after the war finished in late 1945, I always assumed I was a baby boomer. My class at primary school was told that’s what we were. But only the younger members of that class are now caught by the ONS classification. Someone born in 1964, a boomer according to the ONS, could only be the child of one for me, a consequence of the fallibility of condoms in the pre-pill era, not that they worked well if still in the top pocket of a jacket. Older boomers respected the music of their older siblings, like Elvis. They learnt the game with Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison and Gene Pitney.
Then came the sheer northern working class, grammar school (Ringo excepted) energy and vitality of the Beatles and the Mersey sound. That’s what I still think of as baby boomer music. It was the sound of delight from the first lower class generation to get a shout. The Beatles were immediately followed by The Stones, The Kinks, and The Who from elsewhere in the country. Male mainly, but we got the brilliant Dusty early. From the US, Dylan in a sense capped it all as he still does more than half a century later. One of the characters in my book sums up early boomer attitude to what followed when he was made by his wife in the early seventies to listen to a Yes album. “I’d rather listen to bloody Mantovani.”
I quote from Elvis Costello, Chrissie Hynde and even a Snow Patrol song in the book, but not Bowie. Although only a year younger than me, not a word of his crossed my mind while I was writing. Even those of us who’d gone to University were in gainful employment in the white hot heat of the technological revolution by the time he hit it big, the few who’d gone to Art School included. We heard him on car radios driving to the factory or the office.
The wall to wall coverage since his death has reminded me of the many songs of his that I did know, and they were good, but I enjoyed his Tony Newley impressions best! Conversations with contemporaries reveal similar views. There are at least two categories of boomer!