Baumgartner Vaughan column: Time of your life, the ’90s

May. 03, 2014 @ 11:34 AM

You all know how hip-hop producer 9th Wonder and N.C. Central University men’s basketball coach LeVelle Moton were buddies back in the day on campus as students. After 9th Wonder launched the Hip-Hop Institute at NCCU with history department chair Jim Harper last month, you learned that Harper was there, too, doing his history thing while 9th made beats and Moton carried that basketball around. That was in the mid-1990s. You know, just the other day. Not long ago. Recently. Say what? That was 20 years ago? Oh, right. Time moves fast.

I covered the NCCU announcement about 9th Wonder coming back to teach, and was chatting with Harper about history. That’s what my degree is in, too. 9th Wonder is going to teach hip-hop history, which goes back 40 years now. Sure, 40 years. That seems historic because it’s within the parameter of “older than me.” Funny thing is, as you get older, the “older than me” is still plentiful, but the “younger than me” starts showing up, too. My kid’s school principal is younger than me. My optometrist is younger than me. Marketing for television and movies stopped caring what I watched a few years ago. 9th Wonder talked about things coming full circle two decades later, and that got me thinking. Now it seems like this is the 20th anniversary of everything.
This past week I went to see the Broadway tour of “American Idiot” at the Durham Performing Arts Center. I review those opening night performances, and a lot of them have been great shows but the kind that spark the memories of older audience members. “American Idiot” is based on the 2004 album of the same name by the punk rock band Green Day. Forget 2004, the show took my mind back 20 years to 1994 when I first liked them. In my review, I wrote about the appeal to audiences in their 30s. That includes me, and I’ll share a line you might have missed. I said the show is for the generation who is past college but not quite middle aged. You can relate to some of the youth on stage, but also want to tell them to quit whining and contribute to society already. Next I’ll be calling them whippersnappers.
The music of my youth is the best music and no other time period could be better. I say it, you say it, someone else a different age says it. We can all say it, because the music of our youth is more than just music of those particular years. It is music of a time. I didn’t include this in my “American Idiot” review because I didn’t want to spoil it for those seeing it the next night, but the end of the show includes another Green Day song. The cast comes out with acoustic guitars and they all sing “(Good Riddance) Time of Your Life.” That song came out about the time I graduated from college in the late 1990s, and darn if I didn’t tear up just a little. Time of our lives, indeed.
Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan may be reached at or 919-419-6563. On Twitter: @dawnbvaughan.