The post-attack notion that youngsters will give up their musical faves for more somber performers is simply boomer myopia, says David Browne

Will teens trade Britney for Bruce?

A few days after the all-star charity telethon, an MSNBC anchor delivered one of the many sternly delivered pronouncements on the future of pop culture we’ve been hearing since Sept. 11. This one, accompanied by footage of Bruce Springsteen performing at that event, was: ”Will people now want less Britney … and more BRUCE?”

Before I begin, let me start with a preface. When I was growing up, my older sisters inundated me with their Simon & Garfunkel and Elton John records; pensive singer-songwriters are in my blood. Each time a new one of unmistakable quality and substance comes along — from Suzanne Vega to Jeff Buckley to Rufus Wainwright to Joseph Arthur — I’m there. The world always needs as much intelligent music as possible.

Still, the idea that, in the wake of our time of direst need, droves of teenagers will be trashing their favorite CDs of the last few years and asking their parents to borrow battered vinyl copies of Springsteen’s ”Nebraska” or old Melissa Etheridge albums made me chuckle for the first time in weeks. It’s another tiresome example of boomer myopia and that generation’s collective disdain for contemporary music they don’t like or understand. Such wrongheaded theories are right up there with the supposed death of irony, a demise that lasted approximately until David Letterman did his first post-attack ”Top 10 List.”