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Kitzmann column: Cruising to the sweet sound of timeless music

My car -- which is actually my grandmother's old Oldsmobile -- does not have a CD player. Since I am personally as poor as a church mouse, I don't have the means to buy a vehicle that does, or even invest in a new stereo system that plays CDs. I am happy to just have a car that moves, so I didn't complain, after all, I'm free!

So I was content to listen to the radio for awhile, which was fine, but it didn't let me listen to what I wanted, when I wanted. I explained my problem to my dad, and he listened. Then, when I was done, he led me to the living room closet. I started to worry. As if he could read my mind, he told me: "Don't you worry about a thing, every little thing gonna be all right."

Since then my commute to and from school has become the favorite part of the day.

First of all, cassette tapes are cool. They have a nice warm sound to them, even though some (who have listened to less loud music than me) would tell you the audio quality leaves something to be desired, and unlike the case with CDs, every listen is a unique experience.

As cassettes get played repeatedly (and every one in my parents' collection had gone through hundreds of cycles before I ever touched it) the tape inside them weakens, until one day you click Eject -- and surprise! -- your cassette player spits out more loose tape than you ever imagined could fit inside something the size of a credit card.

But mostly, I like my parents' collection of cassettes because they speak of a time that has always fascinated me; a time when America was on the verge of social and political upheaval, a time when estranged vagabonds would sit down on the corner trying to become the first Bob Dylan, a time when it meant something to be a rebel.

The hippies didn't generally have much in the way of material possessions, but all you need is love, so everyone got by with a little help from their friends. They were unified by a genuine desire to make the world a better place. It was the time of Love, Salvation and Discovery.

Cynics may have said they were dreamers, but they told themselves they weren't the only ones, and that someday people would join them and the world would finally be as one.

The closest the hippies ever came to achieving their goals was Woodstock. Folks came from all over; and I have to believe that many of the half-million people attending the epic musical festival thought they could faintly hear the answer blowing in the fetid New York wind. What a long, strange trip that must have been.

Shortly after Woodstock, the peak of the movement, the dream collapsed. I guess that was inevitable, for, just as castles made of sand fall into the sea, eventually, something as unorganized and idealistic as the hippie movement was doomed to fail.

After all, freedom (the underlying theme of the movement) is just another word for nothing left to lose. And having nothing gets old after a while.

Music from my generation -- at least popular music -- leaves a lot to be desired. How will I explain Britney Spears and Toby Keith to my children? Don't we need somebody to love? Music from the '60s and '70s is amazing, but it would be nice if timeless music was still popular.

Granted, it's still being made, but at this point, most of the people making anything worth listening to can't afford to quit their day jobs. We're not gonna take it anymore! We can't take it.

I know there has to be at least one Bob Dylan among us, for every generation has its share of geniuses. Those of mine just need their chance to shine.

So get up, children of the 21st Century, stand up for your right to hear music that is both good and modern, music that we'll proudly share with our children and grandchildren, music that will still be enjoyed and respected a hundred years from, music that is, in a word, timeless.