Sisters Eve and Leonora Epstein are 14 years apart in age and decided to take on a generational culture war. In their new book, "X vs. Y," the Epsteins get through the best and worst pop culture references that define their generations.
The sisters take on their generation's musical contributions. We've pulled two excerpts on their perspectives.
Eve Epstein on Gen X:
At some point in my life, I learned to have two musical identities: the outward-facing, Gen X-aligned one that broadcast my love for "cool" bands like Pavement, the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., the Beatles, the Beastie Boys, X, R.E.M., A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul; and my private self, which indulged in guilty pleasures like Madonna, Mariah Carey, George Michael and Barry Manilow. No matter how much I see the world around me changing — watch punk rock signifiers get hollowed out by teen pop stars or people who look like ravers listening to Johnny Cash — I still hold on to those old categories of cool and not cool, subculture A vs. subculture B (or vs. mainstream culture), and stand in judgment of the part of me that loves a song for its own sake. The idea that I don't have to be embarrassed by the rather large offering of Olivia Newton-John songs in my iTunes library is one I have trouble accepting.
Leonora Epstein on Gen Y:
Taken objectively, the body of musical work produced during Gen Y's formative years isn't exactly an example of creative brilliance. But we're beginning to understand and experience a phenomenon that happens so universally — that distance yields genius. This is not to say that we now consider "Tubthumping" to be some musical masterpiece. (We're not that dumb.) But while Billboard-topping acts like Britney, Smash Mouth, the Spice Girls, SisQo, Ace of Base, and Barenaked Ladies rank nowhere near in caliber to, say, the Beatles, they're all important in their own ways, or at least more kindly considered, thanks to an ample dose of nostalgia.
This may be because our nostalgia isn't just about the songs. It's about an era in which the music industry was still hanging on to an old-school model before Napster would come along and desecrate it, "Independence Day" style. As our generation began bridging the gap from physical to digital, we realized that we'd also be the last group to experience a pre-digital music industry.
Eve and Leonora join The Daily Circuit to discuss their book.