When Dinosaur Rockers Go Extinct

by Brendan James

E.J. Dickson worries that Springsteen’s music, unappreciated by millennials, won’t survive longer after his death:

[H]ere’s the thing about Bruce’s fan base: It may be huge, and it may be rabidly loyal, but it is old. Like, Peter, Paul and Mary fan old, to the point where David Brooks, in a recent New York Times editorial, referred to American Springsteen fans as “hitting their AARP years, or deep into them” (in Europe, where Springsteen’s fans are arguably even more fervent than their U.S. counterparts, the crowds tend to skew much younger). …

That feeling of restlessness and exhilaration that Bruce speaks to in his songs will be around forever. But Bruce won’t be. Dude is pushing 65. He can’t go smashing his balls into cameramen forever. And if this trend continues – if his music is listened to by progressively fewer and fewer members of younger generations – his fans won’t be around for much longer, either. He won’t reach the level of Zeppelin or Dylan or Kurt Cobain or Neil Young, artists who are still popular among those born decades after the pinnacle of their popularity. In 20 years, he will be a dinosaur, a Glenn Miller, duly respected in record books and Rolling Stone but virtually ignored by people born from 1995 onward. He will be known as the guy who sucked because he was old, or the guy who was old because he sucked.

I’ll make a tentative prediction that Springsteen’s quieter albums like Nebraska and Tom Joad will resurface in the future generations with every obligatory 10-year folk revival. Those records drop the gaudy, heartland grandeur that turns off younger listeners with no interest in cars or crumbling textile mills.

Previous Dish on the Boss here, here, here and here.