Gen Xers, Millenials Sound Off On The Music That Moves Them

Melissa Block and Audie Cornish read listener responses to a question we asked of Gen-X and Millennial listeners last week: "Who are your generation's future musical legends?" Tupac Shakur, Nirvana, Michael Jackson, and Adele made the list, but by far the most frequently mentioned group was a quartet of Irish baby boomers.

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And now - bear with us, please - ALL THINGS CONSIDERED presents yet another baby boomer musical moment.


JAMES BROWN: (Singing) Whoa! I feel good...

THE BEATLES: (Singing) Here comes the sun...

PATSY CLINE: (Singing) Crazy...

MARVIN GAYE: (Singing) I heard it through the grapevine. Not much more...


And here's why. Last week, I spoke with Robbie Robertson - of The Band - about his new book for kids, "Legends, Icons, and Rebels." It profiles the musicians we just heard plus 23 more, as artists kids need to know. And it comes with two CDs of songs.

CORNISH: Boomer music.

BLOCK: Indeed. So I asked Robertson if he'd considered any artists from today for the book, and here's what he said.

ROBBIE ROBERTSON: You know, for all the artists that are in this book, they have a timeless thing in their music. We had discussed artists from the '80s, and we weren't positive who was going to make that cut. Time is not kind to everything.

CORNISH: Fair enough but to some of us, not entirely satisfying. So we put the question to you Gen Xers and millennials: What musicians from the '80s up to today do you think will be timeless?

BLOCK: Who are the future legends kids need to know about? Well, the emails and tweets came pouring in.

CORNISH: So now, mark this date. ALL THINGS CONSIDERED presents a Gen X-millennial musical moment.


TALKING HEADS: (Singing) Watch out, you might get what you're after...

BEASTIE BOYS: (Singing) No sleep till Brooklyn.

PRINCE: (Singing) Maybe I'm just like my father, too bold...

NIRVANA: (Singing) With the lights out, it's less dangerous. Here we are now, entertain us...

CORNISH: Nirvana, Prince, the Beastie Boys, Talking Heads - and this guy, who's already a legend, according to many of you: Tupac Shakur.


TUPAC SHAKUR: (Rapping) I think it's time to kill for our women, time to heal our women, be real to our women. And if we don't, we'll have a race of babies that will hate the ladies and make the babies...

BLOCK: About Tupac, Patrick Boughton of Yakima, Wash., writes this: When entire college courses are devoted to the study of your hip-hop and poetry, you have done something right.

CORNISH: Other artists in the need-to-know category? Garth Brooks.


GARTH BROOKS: (Singing) ...'cause I've got friends in low places...

BLOCK: Bruce Springsteen.


BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing) Come on up for the rising...

CORNISH: Michael Jackson.


MICHAEL JACKSON: (Singing) Just beat it. Beat it. Beat it. No one wants to be defeated...

BLOCK: And Public Enemy.


PUBLIC ENEMY: (Rapping) I got so much trouble on my mind. Refuse to lose. Here's your ticket...

CORNISH: From today's popular artists, several of you picked Pink, Mumford & Sons and Adele, citing the emotional honesty in their performances.

BLOCK: But hands down, the future legend favorite among our Gen X and millennial listeners is a group of Irish baby boomers.


U2: (Singing) I have climbed highest mountains. I have run through the fields only to be with you...

BLOCK: U2 challenged us to care, tweets Kate Warnock. And a quite a few of you said this song, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," is as timeless as it gets.

CORNISH: Eric Anderson, a Gen-Xer parent from Gig Harbor, Wash., told us he schooled his daughters in U2. He writes: Traveling with kids can be a challenge, but they're a captive audience. So what better game to play but what is the meaning of this U2 song?


U2: (Singing) How long? How long must we sing this song? How long? How long...

CORNISH: But what do Anderson's back-seat captives think? He posed the future legends question to his daughter Hannah, a college freshman. She and her friends wrote up a playlist. Then she sent this text to her dad.

BLOCK: There was some Death Cab, the Killers, Arcade Fire, Lumineers and U2. "When U2 came on, I totally started crying because it reminded me of being little again, and riding in the Sequoia with my sisters and Mom and Dad." It just made me realize that you can't ever get back your childhood, and I'm so happy that you guys made mine worth missing.


U2: (Singing) It's a beautiful day. Don't let it get away. It's a beautiful day...

CORNISH: Well, thanks to Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam for that, and to all of you who wrote in to share your thoughts on the musicians who will be your generation's legends.


U2: (Singing) ...take me to that other place. Teach me. I know I'm not a hopeless case. See the world in green and blue. See China right in front of you. See the canyons broken by clouds. See the tuna fleets clearing...

BLOCK: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News.

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