“A little messed up but we’re all alright.”
If you listen to country radio, you know that line from Kenny Chesney‘s “American Kids.” The hit song (it recently reached No. 1 on the country singles charts) and its colorful video are a celebration of life — specifically, the vibrancy and energy that comes with being young.
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“American Kids” isn’t a preachy song at all, but it is about tolerance. Young people may not be perfect, they may make mistakes (and, if the accompanying video is any indication, let “their hair grow long and shaggy” in a way that would’ve ticked off Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee”), but the point is, that’s OK. In the end, they — like all of us — are “all alright.”
That message of tolerance appears aimed not at the “kids” themselves but more at their parents. Which makes “American Kids” one of the biggest songs in recent years to address a topic that was all the rage a few decades back: the generation gap.
The generation gap is a term that came into popularity in the early 1960s, thanks to Baby Boomers, who were coming of age at the time and showing interests that differed greatly from those of their parents, many of whom had been Depression-era kids and clung to more conservative ideals. And the Boomer generation’s impact was significant: by 1965 half the U.S. population was estimated to be under 25.