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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Don't Trust Anybody Under 64: Generation Gap Narrows, Beatles are Catalyst

Study Says Beatles May Bridge Generational Gap -
Maybe it is the sweet mixture of apprehension and promise in “When I’m 64,” Paul McCartney’s ode to aging, which he wrote when he was still a teenager. Or the gentle optimism of “Here Comes the Sun.”

Whether or not the inspiration was lyrical (don’t forget “All You Need Is Love,” “All Together Now” and “Your Mother Should Know”), a new study argues that the Beatles may have helped bridge today’s generation gap in America.

They didn’t close it altogether, of course. Younger and older people still disagree.

But the raging antagonisms that defined the intergenerational divide in the 1960s have eased, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center being released on Wednesday to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Woodstock (the music festival, which more than half of 16- to 29-year-olds could not identify).

“There’s now broad agreement across the generations about one realm of American culture that had been an intense battlefield in the 1960s: the music,” the survey concludes. Every age group from 16 through 64 listens to rock ’n’ roll more than any other format (people 65 and over prefer country music). The Beatles rank in the top four among every group.

Strikingly, Pew found that the number of Americans who find major differences in the viewpoints of younger and older adults is slightly higher than it was 40 years ago. But Paul Taylor, the Pew center’s director, said: “The generations in 2009 have found a way to disagree without being disagreeable. They’re not fighting with each other.”

While 19 percent of older adults recall that as teenagers they had major disagreements with their parents, only 10 percent say they have similar arguments with their own teenage or young adult children.
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