Once upon a time, a fat, spectacled, pleasant amateur song parodist sold millions of records with what middle-aged college grads thought were witty musical critiques of Sixties life and culture. His name was Allan Sherman, and one of those witty songs was this:
Therein lies some useful lessons which we all should absorb:
1. What seems like a valid opinion today might well seem incredibly stupid to virtually everybody later.
2. Venturing outside your expertise is always risky.
3. Everything seems obvious in hindsight. In most cases, it was anything but.
4. Yesterday’s wit is tomorrow’s ignorance.
5. Whether your opinion is going to make you look like a prophet or a fool is often nothing but moral luck.
6. Criticizing someone for views proven invalid by subsequent developments no one could have foreseen is consequentialism, and unfair.
7. People will do it anyway.
8. We are all Allan Sherman. We just don’t know how.
It’s hard to imagine now that John, Paul, George and Ringo are icons and deserving ones, but back in 1964 it was considered wise and clever to make fun of their hair, their fans and pronounce them untalented hacks. At the beginning of the British invasion, many sophisticates regarded the Beatles as indistinguishable from the legendary Dave Clark Five, and a passing fancy no more significant that the hula hoop.
Mock them now at your peril. Your time will come…in fact, it probably already has.