I actually meant "pre-greyhawk", i.e. the pre AD&D era. Before "named" spells and artifacts with names as placeholders, not "tied into" an assumed setting. When we as DMs ran our own wildly varying "settings" -because there wasn't anything besides what we pulled from literature, movies or our arses Each of us had a mishmash of what we thought was "cool" and expanded on it. I think I have mentioned it here before- I had a blast playing my Paladin of Odin raiding a Temple of Set in the bowels of Barsoom. Not to say everyone mixed Fantasy and Sci-Fi, but we did our own thing, and the game, the gaming culture, and even the game designers (at the time) encouraged it. Some of myt group ran very LoTR type games, or Medieval England, or Cthulhu meets Conan. Now everyone want to sell you their IP, and D&D has regurgitated itself to where it has become it's own brand of vanilla fantasy.Some mighty argue that the period in which it was the Greyhawk Roleplaying Game was also the "roots" of the game, but I agree with you. I really don't like FR.
One thing that I think would help is to encourage the idea that not all races/classes/subclasses (and even spells) are appropriate to all settings. Of course DMs are always free to restrict options, but given the way the game is presented that can lead to grumbling. I'd like it to be assumed that DMs will restrict options to those that are appropriate to their setting, so that a game in which all options were available would be unusual.
I also agree that an emphasis on using rule/options to fit the setting, instead of fitting the setting to the rules (as we have seen since the switch into 2E) as written would be most welcome.