Yeah.. Casey Kasem died today at the age of 82 (an interesting coincidence… Dick Clark, the “other” rock & roll broadcast icon, died April 18, 2012… also at the age of 82). Casey was just yet another symbol of the Baby Boomer age that has passed to the ages.
But the funny thing is, in spite of the vanishing icons of our past our Boomer generation is not going down quietly but rather forcing 60’s nostalgia at every turn. It’s kinda like one last fling with what made us who we were.. and are. Music was, of course, the centralized glue that held our generation together; allowing us to express our restlessness with the world and providing the catalyst for social and political upheaval. Sex, drugs, and rock & roll!
Well, the sex part is less… um… dynamic; the drugs part is very much alive, although it’s not recreational drugs anymore; but… the rock & roll remains. We are now entering into our senior years and many of us are the nation’s decision makers, in business and politics. Back in the day we echoed, “Don’t trust anyone over 30!”, and now we are twice that age. Are we doing any better at it than our predecessors whom we despised and vilified at Woodstock and on the streets of L.A, Chicago, Detroit, and New York? I guess we can leave that to history to sort out. Personally, I think we did no better, but not because we failed to live up to our exceedingly idealistic high expectations but rather we followed a course of basic human desire to maintain a status quo, which can be a good thing (Hell, most of us are obese and diabetic. I guess, if nothing else, we exemplified ourselves in beating previous generations in junk food consumption).
Anyway, Casey Kasem was a part of all that because we were a part of him. Along with Dick Clark, when you heard Casey’s distinctive voice somehow all seemed ok with the world for one more day. We listened to the Top 40… then ran to the record stores to buy the 45 of our favorite song (that’s, “buy the 45rpm record” to you youngsters out there; remember records?). If you had the money you would splurge and buy the entire album… the 33!
Oddly, for me, I didn’t even know he existed until I was stationed in Iceland in 1972-73 while in the U.S. Air Force. For the most part Casey Kasem was a West Coast persona.. and maybe East Coast. Growing up in Chicago during the rock & roll 60’s us Boomer teens had a large number of radio DJ “personalities” between WLS radio and WCFL radio filling the airwaves, even on weekends. I don’t recall any “canned” Casey Kasum or Dick Clark programming in the Chicago market until later years. As I began road travel in the 70’s I do recall hearing their canned Top 40 shows on radio markets outside Chicago. I first heard Casey’s canned show while listening to the local air base’s Armed Forces radio in Iceland.
Decades from now when the last Baby Boomer dies the nostalgia will have been long gone and the subtle tidbits of our generation will be lost forever. But for now we are still running the show and Hollywood and TV… and radio, are filled with Boomer nostalgia. Even as we speak, CNN is running a series called, The Sixties. If you talk to the average teenager or 20 year old you’d be surprised at how popular some 60’s rock still is. We made our mark for sure… musically, technologically, socially, and <sigh> politically. Casey was one of our spokespersons.
Thanks for being there, man.