It was Paul Westerberg who best summed up the rootless ethos of rock & roll: ”We are the sons of no one — bastards of young!” Take that, Mom and Dad. But what’re all the young dudes to do when it was their own folks who helped perfect that ‘tude in the ’60s? Should you be your father’s son, like Julian Lennon, rising or falling with each comparison…or stand on rock principle, affect illegitimacy, and do a Jakob Dylan, giving the evil (baby blue) eye to anyone gauche enough to bring up genealogy?
This year’s Kid-ish Invasion reveals a variety of approaches from second-generation rockers living up to — or living down — their legacies. Bastard of young Elijah Blue, 21, dropped his surname along the way. (Think Allman and Woman or, um, Gregg and Cher.) And Commencement, his band Deadsy’s debut (due late summer), is hardly a tip-off: Though Blue does sound like he’s tied to the whipping post, his tortured Goth rock suggests he might enjoy that sort of thing.
Other progeny usurp their folks’ fans’ expectations less overtly. Emma Townshend, 28 — on record as having thought Quadrophenia was a Genesis album on first listen — truly does come off like she’d never willingly heard a Who record, so un-windmill-friendly is her defiantly piano-based Winterland. (The kids are all…Tori Amos fans?) Rufus Wainwright, 24, son of Loudon III and Kate McGarrigle, got the sensitive singer-songwriter gene but, on his self-titled May 19 DreamWorks bow, cloaks it in an intriguingly show-tuney, Ron Sexsmith-meets-Noel Coward sensibility. Adam Cohen, 25, inherited Leonard’s knack for languid melancholy, but while his father couches disappointment in cryptic comedy, Adam is heart-on-his-sleeve earnest on his eponymous upcoming Columbia album — whether he’s calling a high school sweetheart a whore or confessing ”I’ve never been in love/Does that surprise you?”
Yes. But doesn’t anybody want to carry on the family biz, ”as is”? Sure. In the blood uber alles world of country, coal miner’s granddaughters the Lynns — twins Patsy and Peggy, 33 — carry on Loretta’s proto-feminist spunk on The Lynns, their new Reprise debut. And Chris Stills, 23, makes no bones about dipping into the gene pool with his unashamedly Stephenish Atlantic splash, 100 Year Thing. All together now: Love the dad you’re with.