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World O’ Words: A Guess Who visitation for Generation Jones

How our winter was bookended by Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman

I’m not going to tell you how old I am, but let me just say that we who were born in 1962 occupy a very particular and narrow place in history.

There’s even a term for us: “Generation Jones.” * That refers to we who were born in the very late ‘50s and very early ’60s. We are too young to be Baby Boomers, and too old to be Generation X. Commentators often try to shoehorn us into either the previous or subsequent generations, but really, we belong to neither. We did not have the glorious adventures of the 1960s that true Baby Boomers had — damn them — not to mention all that money and influence. Neither did we have the cachet and “coolth” of Gen X (start date: 1965), and all the tech savvy which they are now passing on to their children.

As a result, we of Generation Jones tend to be a bitter, resentful lot. “Where is our parade?” you always hear us saying.

I quote from Wikipedia:

“[Generation Jones} is noted for coming of age after a huge swath of their older brothers and sisters in the earlier portion of the baby boomer population had come immediately preceding them; thus, many Generation Jones members complain that there was a paucity of resources and privileges available to them that were seemingly abundant to those older boomers born earlier.”

So there!

Why do I bring this up? Frankly, I don’t brood over my place in history overly much, but the term “Generation Jones” did come to mind on Saturday, March 17, at Randy Bachman’s concert at the Key City Theatre.

There are all sorts of ways we can bookend a season, but for me, this long tumultuous winter of 2017/18 was bracketed by the appearance in Cranbrook of Burton Cummings, in late autumn of 2017, and Randy Bachman, in the very late winter of 2018 — I will argue that these are the two signal figures of Canadian rock music.

Cummings and Bachman, of course, are old friends, colleagues, rivals and great opposites of each other. As founding members and writers in the Guess Who, they were the creative core of what is arguably song for song the greatest Canadian rock and roll band.

Bachman’s tenure with the Guess Who ended in 1970 — not too amicably, by all accounts. And so that stage of the Guess Who properly belongs to the Baby Boomers. But as Generation Jones came of age musically, the big music news was Bachman’s new band Bachman Turner Overdrive, followed shortly by Cummings’ own departure from the Guess Who to start a solo career. In this way, they both went on to dominate the CanCon airwaves of the ‘70s, and the rock and roll reptilian brains of us of Generation Jonesers.

Thus, to see Cummings and Bachman at either end of the winter just passing was like seeing old friends. Cummings performed solo at the keyboard, Bachman was with a five-piece band (including himself — a three guitar attack). Cummings’ famous voice was in fine form; most of the vocals in Bachman’s band were handled by bassist Mike Dallavee. Both Cummings and Bachman were voluable and engaged with the audience, happy to be there and at the top of their musical games. It was interesting to have heard their different perspectives on the history of some the songs they wrote together, and the adventures they had shared. Cummings revued hits from the Guess Who and his long solo career; Bachman’s band roared through songs from the Guess Who, BTO and a trio of George Harrison songs — one of his musical heroes and the subject of Bachman’s latest album “By George.”

All these songs, as I’ve said, are deeply ingrained in the musical unconscious of Generation Jones.

We of Generation Jones, being who we are, are not much for living in the past. As soon as one day is over, we are diving into the future, looking for something that belongs to either the Baby Boomers or Generation X, but not to us.

But I think a visit from the two great founding members of the Guess Who will go a long way to helping us move on in peace.

* Generation Jones is a term coined by the author Jonathan Pontell to describe those born from approximately 1954 to 1965, while other sources place the start point at 1956 or 1957.

Barry Coulter

About the Author: Barry Coulter

Barry Coulter had been Editor of the Cranbrook Townsman since 1998, and has been part of all those dynamic changes the newspaper industry has gone through over the past 20 years.
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