God Bless The Generation Gap. If the people of the fifties met with the people of today, it’s quite obvious they wouldn’t meet eye to eye. Could you really blame them? It was a different time and a drastically different atmosphere. Back then, the army drove hummers during combat; nowadays people drive hummers during rush hour. Back then, people trembled at the fear of reefer madness, nowadays people are mad about reefer. Back then, the U.S. had fought in two World Wars seemingly back to back, nowadays the U.S. is involved in two different wars at the same time. Although they at one time walked on the same Earth that we did, it is like it was another planet. It’s a special moment when these two phases of history can share a connection. To have the clean-cut face of my grandparents’ generation shake hands with the pierced, tattooed face of my generation is a situation I would enjoy experiencing and believe it or not it happens more often than not.
Wanda Jackson is 72-years-old and a recent induction into to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The proclaimed First Lady of Rockabilly is known for the early sixties hits “In the Middle of a Heartache,” and “Let’s Have a Party.” She has released 31 solo albums. Her latest work is called You Know I’m No Good/Shakin’ All Over and it was produced by 35-year-old White Stripe’s front man Jack White.
Mavis Staples is 71-years-old and a former civil rights activist. Traveling with her family band “The Staple Singers,” her powerful voice evoked the soul of classic rhythm and blues/gospel and stood as the musical voice of the civil rights movement. She has released 13 solo albums and the latest one, You Are Not Alone, was produced by Wilco’s 43-year-old Jeff Tweedy.
The discrepancy in the ages seem to fit a grandson and his grandmother, not that of co-workers. Nonetheless, Tweedy has been hard at work introducing the tough soil of classic rock to Staples soft gospel roots and White has begun to experiment Jackson’s country sound with grizzled southern R and B.
Tweedy and White are established musicians that are now surfacing as up-and-coming, talented producers and both Staples and Jackson have solidified their names in music history. The combinations of the two factors can only equate to the combining of a flame to gasoline. An eruption of new exquisite music where old meets new and refined musicians have their art exposed to a younger crowd, with help from a young, fresh soul.
The future only looks bright for situations such as this. It isn’t the first time a youngster has groomed a senior musician’s sounds. For the last eight years of his life, the late Johnny Cash released four albums with 47-year-old Rick Rubin, giving a new generation a chance to hear some of his latest and most passionate work. What could’ve happened if White had worked with B.B. King or Chuck Berry, or if Tweedy got the chance to work with Aretha Franklin or Jerry Lee Lewis? The sky’s the limit and even in this age of high tech recording and mixing, the most exciting music is coming from what these artists, separated by years, seem to cook up. Future producers take note, because what White, Tweedy, Jackson and Staples are doing just prove that music is an entity that knows no age.