Back when I worked at Best Buy, I often encountered a rather peculiar type of music fan: those who had passed the 40-year-old mark and wanted soothing pop-rock/easy listening to contrast their hectic life. I'm talking the people who bought Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love, the Titanic soundtrack and Norah Jones' Come Away With Me. A certain percentage also liked new age and smooth jazz as well, but the point was, they wanted music that was easy and polished. Frankly, seeing this type of music fandom was scary to me.
Why fear crept into me was, from what I could tell, these men and women used to be fans of rock 'n' roll. Yet with the decision to get married, move out to the suburbs and drive their kids in SUVs meant they had to "grow up" and ditch that rock 'n' roll music. Modern rock music scared them, so they wanted music that was light and elegant. Their idea of "variety" was not far-reaching: Kenny G, Celine Dion and Matchbox 20. When I came across an Onion editorial spoofing this view, I realized I wasn't alone in thinking this way.
The deal is (and the encouraging thing is as well), these days, a lot of parents with young children aren't trading in their copies of OK Computer and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot for Norah Jones' latest or Michael Buble. They aren't complaining about how they can't find good modern music and they aren't scared by it either. In other words, they aren't going soft any time soon.
I'm of the argument that when off-the-mainstream music hits you on a deeper level, you're not the same. You cannot go back to the way you previously found music. You're no longer sitting by the radio hoping for a new song to catch your ears. You're no longer reading the local mainstream paper in hopes they review a record you might actually like. It's a hunt and a hunt worth your time, but you can't go back to your old ways.
Maybe it's the people I hang out with and correspond with on the Internet, but I have yet to run into someone my age who has given up the rock for mashed potatoes. And that's fine by me.