What are 2002's musical anniversaries? Forget Elvis and Dylan: David Browne celebrates four events in music history that matter to him -- and you can post your own list

By David Browne
Updated August 27, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Credit: Hanson: Steve Granitz/WireImage.com 

What are 2002’s musical anniversaries?

For baby boomers and the media they control, this summer has been an orgy of pop music nostalgia. Wow, 37 years since Dylan plugged in at Newport! Whoa, 25 years since Elvis left the building for good! Check it out — Bruce back with the E Street Band for the first time on record since the ’80s!

Granted, all these events were important in one regard or another (although how much to anyone under 30 is extremely debatable). But can’t we also celebrate summer pop anniversaries of a FRESHER vintage? In backwards chronological order, a few suggestions:

The Fifth Anniversary of ”MMM Bop.” Now that teen pop is receding, it’s worth noting when the flood began. By 1997, alt rock had been reduced to pathetic Kurt Cobain knockoffs, and it was time to rediscover the pleasures of a pop hook. To our rescue came three eager-to-please brothers from Tulsa, whose first and biggest hit, an irrepressible sunshine-day of a song, boomed from radios all summer. The Spice Girls had arrived a few months before, but ”MMM Bop” indicated an actual movement might be afoot. How we got from there to Britney being booed in Mexico is another saga entirely, but for now, let’s relive the days when pop didn’t mean lipsynching and rigid choreography.

The 10th Anniversary of ”Lollapalooza 2.” The alt-rock touring festival-carnival had kicked off the year before, but the 1992 edition was in fact more significant. Earlier that year, Nirvana had broken through, and suddenly the klieg lights rotated to music that until the year before had been deemed cult or underground. The ’92 ”Lollapalooza” lineup — which included Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Ministry, and the debut of Perry Farrell’s ”Porno for Pyros” — was the right tour at the right time, accidentally capturing the genre’s rise in the culture. Before long, the musicians who made it would be torn between success and credibility, between progress and clichés, and later by Cobain’s suicide. But for a heartening moment, it appeared as if the indie rock scene of the decade before hadn’t died in spirit, and that a large mainstream audience was looking for valid alternatives to things like hair metal.

The 15th Anniversary of ”My First CD.” Around this time in 1987, a package arrived in the mail with an advance copy of a new Van Morrison album. Great, I thought. But wait — what’s this shiny, miniature silver disc? I’d heard of CDs, of course, but this was the first one in my possession. I bet I wasn’t alone that year, either, as many of us began investigating the new technology. I also bet I wasn’t alone in thinking (a) ”I should probably GET a CD player now,” and (b), ”Why do these things cost twice as much as LPs?” I’m still wondering to this day.

The 20th Anniversary of ”Eye of the Tiger.” Two decades ago this season, the airwaves were pounded into submission by this cheese-puff deluxe, thanks largely to its use in ”Rocky III.” The marriage of movies and pop was old news, of course, but the key difference here was MTV. The fact that Survivor’s ”Eye of the Tiger” had a video, complete with movie clips, inaugurated an era of movie/music cross-promotion that became the status quo. Thanks to VH1 Classic — a random segment of which is infinitely more entertaining than any hour of ”American Idol” — I was also recently reminded that ”Eye of the Tiger” must have been one of the first videos in which musicians had to ACT. In this case, the performances were laughably bad: Survivor made for the lamest-looking boys in the ‘hood imaginable. Judging from Michael Jackson’s ”You Rock My World” freak-show clip, musicians STILL aren’t learning from this historic event.

Which of these musical events matters to you, and what else should go on the list?

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