Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Cueball listens to the song "Stairway to Heaven" performed by Led Zeppelin using an old phonograph. Led Zeppelin were active during the 1970s, with Stairway To Heaven being released in 1971; as such, the music belongs to the Baby Boomer generation. After the song fades out to the end, he expresses how much it's affected him by stating that the baby boomers are winning over his own generation at music. The way in which the lyrics are written evokes the sound of this particular song as it finishes and fades out.
The title text refers to Pachelbel's Canon. Pachelbel's Canon is the informal name for the first movement of a piece of classical music by Johann Pachelbel, called "Canon and Gigue for 3 violins and basso continuo", written in the late 17th century. The music recently became popular again - during the era Led Zeppelin were most active - and is now found everywhere in pop culture. The joke is in the irony; the person speaking the title text is apparently unaware that the party he's offering a recording contract to has been dead since 1706.
Classical Music was a movement which produced many musical compositions still remembered hundreds of years afterward, and the word 'classic' is now used to describe something that remains popular long after its time. The "Baby Boomer generation" is known for having created many musicians still well-loved today, including:
- [Cueball is sitting in front of a turntable, listening to Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. A guitarist (possibly meant to be Jimmy Page) can be seen in an inset in the top left corner of the first two panels.]
- Song: And as we wind on down the road, our shadows taller than our soul
- Song: When all is one and one is all, to be a rock and not to rooooll
- Song [fading away]: And she's buying a stairway to Heaven
- Cueball: Man. The Baby Boomers are kicking our ASSES.
- Cueball: We need to get it together, guys.
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Looks very much like a turntable and speaker to me. 22.214.171.124 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
My guess is it's a sarcastic reference to how many songs heavily borrow from Pachelbel's canon in D. In Stairway the clean arpeggiated beginning of the song and the solo around the referenced part of the song, IIRC, as well as Procul Harem's Whiter Shade of Pale are variations on the work, in different keys. The listener knows this but doesn't know Pachelbel's long dead. Just my 2c. If I was certain I'd change the page. If you're convinced please do so. Steve T 126.96.36.199 11:52, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
The real question is if Randall is a defener(TM) or not. --188.8.131.52 15:48, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
It looks a little like a turntable and speaker to me; if that's what it is supposed to be, I hope that Randall would have made it look more like that. But my only other idea is an iPhone/iPod in a dock, and that argument has a hard time convincing even me. I also think that the title text is a straightforward reference to the talented Lim Jeong-hyun, whom Randall is saying should be supported and encouraged towards greatness. StephenP 184.108.40.206 21:08, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't think having only one explanation is necessary. The comic really could be interpreted either way; there is no "right" way to interpret it. As long as it's clear that they're two different intepretations, it's better to have all the detail and let the reader decide. Can we remove the incomplete? LogicalOxymoron (talk) 19:21, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
I agree with ^ 220.127.116.11 01:19, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
I disagree; the two explanations aren't really distinct enough to warrant an alternative, and should be combined into one. The point, as I see it, is that baby boomer music is better in many ways - not just lyrically. It's just not a complicated or ambiguous comic to confuse readers with a second explain. 18.104.22.168 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Changed the bracketed part in the transcript - the guitarist for Led Zeppelin is Jimmy Page, not Robert Plant. Robert Plant is the vocalist though. 22.214.171.124 02:38, 7 October 2014 (UTC)
- Pachelbel Kid
By "Pachelbel kid", isn't he maybe referring to the guy in the famous "Pachelbel Rant" video from 2006?, implying that in the current generation there are also people that show actual musical talent?--126.96.36.199 19:10, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
- I have no idea. I rewrote that section because the previous version didn't make any sense, but I haven't linked to that video because I don't know how that fits into the joke and what he's referring to. Was the video spiking in popularity when the comic came out? Is it a well-known meme that an internetter of the mid '00s would have recognised? I don't know so I didn't include that when I edited it, but there's scope for someone to do that if it makes sense. for that to be Randall's joke. 188.8.131.52 03:09, 14 March 2016 (UTC)
Classical music isn't "a type of music"; the term didn't even exist back then. It was invented to differentiate it from music that wasn't written in what was considered the "classical style" with rebuttals and mathematical meter and tonal harmony, etc. Back then you were just playing/writing music, which could be described as an arpeggio, or a sonata, or a symphony, opera, etc. "Classic" may be related, but not directly, and it has nothing to do with the number of famous performers, but the style and mode of music itself.184.108.40.206 06:59, 17 May 2016 (UTC)