Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Too old to rock n roll, Too young to die...

I have always been a rock n roll fan. I grew up in the 70's when rock music was at it's best. All the great bands were at their peak and every week there was a new classic being released. At the time we had no idea these albums would stand the test of time. We were probably too stoned to realize what was happening. It's interesting to see the albums we thought were crap are now considered classics. I listened to a lot of British Invasion music. It all started with The Beatles of course. The fab four were certainly the launching pad. I was always a little left of center when it came to my music of choice. While friends were listening to The Beatles and Stones, I was listening to:
The Kinks

Ray Davies was, to me, one of the most interesting songwriters of the time. He would sing about your neighbor, the guy in the paper caught stealing a can of beans, the ugly girl he dated, people taking pictures of each other. He really spoke to me personally. I had a real connection to songwriters back then. Pete Townshend, Bob Dylan, Ian Anderson, all great writers.

I have an 18 year old nephew who loves this period in music.

He not only listens to it, he dissects it and really gets it. He has gone much further into it than I ever did. I just liked playing air guitar with my tennis racket, until my mother yelled "turn that down". It's amazing to me that this music has stood up over the years. It's a real testament to the musicians and writers that created it. Too bad some of them are not alive to realize what an impact they had.

Over the years, I have sold most of my records and tried to replace a lot of my collection with CD's. It's not the same. I miss the "album". I would read the liner notes over and over. I got to know who the producers were, the artists who designed the cover. I had a friend who would buy an album based on the cover's art work. If Roger Dean drew it, it must be good. Roger Dean designed all the YES album covers.

Concept albums were the most interesting. I remember listening to The Who's Quadrophenia over and over and looking at the booklet inside. CD's are not the same. I can't even open the damn things. Now I have an IPOD, so it's all songs now. No continuing story or feel of what an artist was trying to say.

I still listen to a lot of the classic stuff. The problem is it kind of makes me feel old and dated. I recently tried to get into some new bands. The Shins, The Decemberists, The Hold Steady, Vampire Weekend are all decent new bands. The problem I find is I listen to these guys and after a couple of weeks, I wear them out. However, I can put on The Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers and it's as good as the first time. Why is that?

I used to go to concerts all the time. Back then, before MTV, VH-1, Fuse, You Tube,etc. You couldn't see your favorites until they came to your town. Sometimes it was the first time you ever saw what the bass player looked like. I remember going to shows and sitting in the seats smoking and drinking and jumping up and down without anybody bothering us. There was no security. The ushers were your friends and most of them were as high as you were. It was a love fest of music and togetherness. Those days are over. Recently, I went to see The Who at an outdoor show. There was more security than a Presidential rally. If you so much as moved two inches from your seat, you were pushed back by some burly bouncer. No drinking, no smoking, no rushing the stage. NO FUN.

What happened? How did we screw this up? It was nice to see so many young people at the show, but during slow songs I heard them talking on cell phones and to each other. I never had to shhush somebody at a rock concert before. During Baba O'Reilly (A Who classic) I jumped up out of my seat. Some guy behind me yelled "sit down". sit down? at a Who concert? I turned to him and said...Hey, just because I paid 150 bucks for this seat doesn't mean I have to sit in it the whole time. I will stand up, thank you very much. What is this a freaking tea party? The bloody WHO are up there. They might be dead next year. Two of them already are.

At one point, however, it did occur to me that I might look a little silly jumping around at my age. I somehow pictured Andy Rooney rocking out and thought how ridiculous that might look.

So, is there a cut off for having too much fun at a rock concert? Is it time for me to listen to classical music in my rocking chair? In a few years nursing homes will be filled with Led Zeppelin fans talking about the time when Jimmy Page whipped his guitar at Madison Square Garden.

I don't care what I look like. To my nephew, I am a hero because I was there when my rock n roll heroes were making their mark. Now, 30 plus years later, these same rock gods are his heroes. It's nice to know they are still talkin' bout my ggggeneration...

Long Live Rock...I need it every night.

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