Still Flying the Flannel

Our local modern rock station, born of a university radio station since gone commercial, is currently airing “90s week” programming for “those of [us] still flying the flannel”; an extended Christmas gift, if you will.

It really is all I could ask of WBRU.

I cut my alternative teeth on their play lists.  I made tape – yes, audiocassette – recordings of their “twelve cuts above the rest” and “retro lunch” programs.  I mailed one such cassette to my now husband when he was in some far-flung locale in the Coast Guard.  I did have a few flannels and one ripped-in-all-the-right-places pair of men’s jeans I still miss from time to time.

Over the years, some of the music made my ears hurt and I found myself asking the question oft-repeated by our forebears, ‘they call this music?’  And I questioned some of their song selections for the “retro” lunch: ‘they call this retro!?’  I scoffed at the apparent naiveté of the new jockeys, these rookies who didn’t know the really classic stuff.  It never occurred to me that for them to be considered whippersnappers, I had to be moving into a new age bracket myself.

Slowly, tastes changed, a new sound came about, and I reveled in it.  There was this niggling thought in the back of my head, though.  Was this a new crop of really fabulous music – or was I old enough to have witnessed my first cycle of the old becoming new?  After all, Rainbow Brite, a color-wheel explosion of my childhood, is now available on DVD.  The Strawberry Shortcake picture that once hung above my twin bed now adorns my daughters’ space – and they know who she is!

When I was in second or third grade, I remember rocking out to Billy Idol’s version of “Mony, Mony”.  I was flabbergasted when my mother chimed in.  ‘This is an old song, you know,’ she told me with a certain triumph in her voice.  I can’t say I share in her bravado.

The very phrase, “for those of you still flying the flannel”, suggests that we’re somehow stuck in an outdated place.  Are the glorious days of my hey-day now ancient?  And am I becoming so?

It’s a bittersweet feeling.  While one never wants to be considered passé, the gut-wrenching chords of “Seether” still awaken the adolescent beast in me.  “Particle Man” still reignites images of my favorite people bouncing around to it.  And the supposed one-hit-wonders, The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones, still make me turn up the volume to an unhealthy level and groove.

The synapses are still firing and helping me remember some of the best and brightest moments of my life.  And luckily the music that inspired them has inspired a new group of whippersnappers to create like-minded and nearly as good music for a new soundtrack.

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