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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Talkin’ Tunes: Kerwin’s music taste, in his own words: ‘boring as hell’

Surrounded by youths, President Neil Kerwin might be in the best environment to learn about new music. But, that doesn’t seem to be the case. In the once-in-an-academic-year chance, The Eagle got the opportunity to talk with President Kerwin about his favorite tunes and the new ones he’s picked up from AU’s Spotify generation.

The Eagle: Describe your music taste in one word.

Neil Kerwin: Pedestrian.

I most often listen to music when I work out, and I try to work out every other day. On a given day, CNN overtakes the music. I’m probably listening to much of the same thing that I was listening to when I was your age. I probably lost about 40 years of development along the way. There are a few newer groups I’ve been impressed with, like Coldplay. Fundamentally, my taste in popular music was formed when I went to AU and a few years afterward. Life took over. I’m not a musician. One of my sons is, so his appreciation will last a lifetime. I can’t say I’m the same student of music that I am for what I do as a living.

E: What do you listen to when you work out?

Kerwin: That old playlist from the ‘60s. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby and Stills, Nash and Young. One current group that I’ve come to admire is Coldplay, but they may be old for your generation already. It often goes back to those things I listened to in college. Familiarity, it’s boring as hell.

E: What album has made the biggest impact on your life?

Kerwin: When I look back on my time in college, an album that affected everybody was “Sgt Pepper’s,” by The Beatles. At least, to my unsophisticated ear, it sounded very different. It seemed to be breaking new ground in a lot of different ways. Since the release of that album, younger musicians have been empowered to try different things.

E: When did you begin to come into your own unique music taste?

Kerwin: Coming out of high school and into AU. I was in AU at a period of time that was enormously exciting. I was here from ‘67 to ‘71. A lot of different things were happening politically. A lot of different things were happening socially. A lot of different things were happening musically. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin groups that went on to be enormously influential for decades. Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. And of course, Bob Dylan was extremely important.

E: What song do you think every AU student should listen to?

Kerwin: I think they ought to listen to “The Times They Are A-Changin’” by Bob Dylan. It will validate whatever their current dissatisfactions are and underscore their obligation to bring it to the attention of people that can change them. It should also remind them that one day they’ll be in positions of authority and will inevitably be challenged.

“The Times They Are A-Changin’” has a message for every generation. When he was singing to me as a 18, 19, 20-year-old kid, it was seemingly indicting my parents’ generation. Now it’s indicting me for you. Someday it will indict you to younger students. The young grow impatient of the old and the old feel authority. The tension between the new and the untested and the old and the established is universal. As a result, that song’s message is universal.

kpappas@theeagleonline.com


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