Thursday, July 9, 2009

Does music become superfluous?

7-9-09 All of the musicians you grew up with are in their 60’s. Many are dead.

As you near death, at what point does music become superfluous?”

When I draw my final breath?

Ah, yes – stars in their 60’s & 70’s…Leonard Cohen! Ravi Shankar! Hermeto Pascoal! Charlie Watts! (What’s the collective age of the members of The Rolling Stones? 270?) – Leonard Cohen never fails to amaze. It doesn’t matter to me even if he has to continue performing because he needs the money. Bring on the tributes! What about that CD of “Ravi Shankar with Philip Glass”? You’d never know they were ‘old guys’! Leon Russell!

Hermeto Pascoal is positively the most illuminating and enlightening musician on Earth. I saw him play live a few years ago at U.C.L.A. – when he was nearing 70 years of age. This was the best show I’ve seen in 20 years.

Yep, the curtain gets drawn on a lot of fine folks way too early – Jimi Hendrix (what would that next album have been like?), Jim Morrison (were they really going to make a movie of “An American Prayer”?), Frank Zappa (personally, I need about 60 more dynamite FZ albums!), Miles Davis (would he ever play with Scritti Politti again?), Serge Gainsbourg (hey, man – amen!) etc.

Certainly as I age, my position to popular music transmogrifies. I stay away from the loud shows these days – my John-Cale-Concert’-damaged hearing simply can’t take the loud stuff anymore. I do not know or care who charts these days. When they find my body, presumably slumped over a Sony Slat-screen computer monitor, it will be in a room full of phonograph records and compact discs. “He never down-loaded anything!” should be my epitaph. I want the artifact. I suppose if my deafness increases, I may ‘lose interest’ in music and record collecting, but…probably not…

Having just seen Yes the other evening, I was made very aware of just how the musicians I grew up with are aging. How much longer are they going to continue to play live shows? Who will quit the band first? I mean, there’s really only Chris Squire now – from the original Yes. And even without Jon Anderson – the fans were still all there. We should take bets – who will give it up first? Steve Howe or Chris Squire?

The yardstick really should be The Rolling Stones. As long as Charlie Watts is alive and drumming…all four members of Slade are still alive, too. But only Paul & Ringo – what a combo!

Pictured: Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass “Passages”, Private Music 2074.2-P, 1990.


Brian Ware said...

Rock and roll music has essentially defined who were are as a generation and why should this change as we age? While many have thrown in the towel for watching golf or "Desperate Housewives", music is no less vital for me as I age. What I also find exciting are artists who more or less "retire" yet can't resist the itch and manage to release new music after 20 years out of the public eye and the fans are still there. Mitch Easter, Was Not Was, Trevor Tanner of The Bolshoi, Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin in the recent past - next year it's Wang Chung and Martha and The Muffins. Bring it on!!

Anonymous said...

I am more focused on music as I have matured. A decision was made in 1993 to stop watching TV - as little as I watched it then, it ate into time I could spend more profitably in other, more creative pursuits. And I can listen to music while engaging in these other activities. Also the cost of cable could mean several new CDs instead.

I still enjoy movies on home video on occasion, but have also stopped buying them for a "collection" cold. I have only 30-40 DVDs after 10 years of the format! (1/3 of them are music oriented) That's a lot of money that could be more profitably spent on music!

I have virtually stopped buying books as well - that's what libraries are for! I've even unloaded part of my book collection since it took up precious space better used for music storage. Can you see where I'm going here?

My main hobby is creating CDs and boxed sets in sometimes lavish packaging that few actual labels could expend the resources on. This unites my love of music with that of graphic design and sometimes even software development. I am definitely firing on all cylinders when i do that work. To have all of my passions engaged simultaneously is really rewarding.

But can I see myself doing the same at 60?

I'm not sure. I have the feeling the stakes will heighten as I age further. Music, my longtime companion, may get left behind.

But until that moment, how about that Peter Holsapple-Chris Stamey concert I'm going to tomorrow night at The Grey Eagle?!