When I was in high school, kids wore Led Zep shirts. I didn't, because I was a self-righteous little snot of a hardcore kid who thought Led Zep was tired bullshit. To me, the Bron-yr-aur Stomp reeked of thick-headed jocks in suburban backyard parties, a red plastic cup of Bud in their hands.
It would take me some years to come around to the popular music of my day and see the artistry in, say, U2's Unforgettable Fire, to say nothing of side one of Led Zep IV.
And but so when I was a freshman in high school, Led Zeppelin was about twenty years out of date. So the metalheads in my class who gave me grief and called me "thrasher" were wearing a t-shirt for a band that was formed before they were born. A band whose best albums came out when they were still gestating within their respective mothers' wombs or twinkling in their fathers' respective eyes.
I would go to hardcore shows and buy t-shirts of bands I'd see whose members were basically my age, so buying the t-shirt of a twenty-year-old band just seemed weird. It seemed cookie cutter and bland and empty of spirit. Book your own fucking life and all that. Disclaimer: I get it now. I'm not knocking Led Zeppelin. There's nothing wrong with teenagers liking them. Houses of the Holy rules. I like hobbits. They're great.
So now, two decades and change later, high school and/or teenagers/young people still occasionally wear Led Zeppelin shirts. Maybe not to the extent they did in the early 90's, but it happens. So Led Zeppelin is now forty-six years old. What I wonder is how do young people think about a wearing the t-shirt of a band that is forty-six years old? It would be like if, in my high school days, some kid was proudly wearing a Hoagy Carmichael t-shirt.
Does the modern young person wearing a Led Zep shirt feel about Led Zep the way an imaginary 1991 high schooler might have thought about Hoagy Carmichael or Bing Crosby or some other antique singer from another age? Or is that 1960's cultural bridge so pronounced that those of us on one side of it will always share a kinship not imaginable with the art and ideas on the far side of it? Or is it just that the consumption of media has so thoroughly changed in the digital age that there really is no difference between Led Zeppelin and Hoagy Carmichael? Or more precisely, is the difference between Hoagy Carmichael and Led Zeppelin like the difference between Beethoven and Bach, just two flavors of the same mildewed rainbow?