Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes or Someone Old on Something New – an editorial by J. Hayes
Now I don’t generally think about my age, am not big on birthdays and don’t normally refer to myself as “old.” A friend recently said, “I still feel like I’m 21, until I hang out with someone 21.” And it’s true. Better yet, try hanging around someone 17 (that’s not your own family) and try to not find yourself saying things like “when I was your age…” and “we didn’t have…” and “I was doing ___ before it was cool…” (Yes, hipsters are not the only ones who say that.) While all of these things may be very true, you have instantly moved into cliched old person territory.
So, let’s call a spade a spade. Once you’re someone that thinks of something that happened 10 years ago as fairly recent, you’re no longer a kid. And that is not a disparagement. Most cultures around the world view aging as synonymous with wisdom and respect. Remember, the skinny blonde girl who sang “Big Yellow Taxi” will turn 70 years old this year and she’s still fucking awesome…so get over your self-hate issues America.
The second part of my friend Umar’s comment “I still feel like I’m 21, until I hang out with someone 21,” was “and then I think nope. I’m definitely not 21.” It was said with this sense of relief and reflection and “Hallelujah!” It was cool when it happened and I remember being out at shows until 3 in the morning or sleeping ’til 3 in the afternoon, but my kids are gonna be up at 7am so that’s kinda off the table now. But let Fishbone come to town and Umar, my wife and I will give any 21 year old a run for their money.
‘Cause there’s this thing called music that is just ageless and eternally cool. And you can spin a younger person’s world around with it. I keep up with new music as much as I listen to old and I can shake my head at the trying-too-hard sexiness (read silliness) of Nikki Minaj, role my eyes at Justin Timberlake’s attempts to recreate a Ratpack/Motown look for an utterly forgettable song. (Remember that Motown and the Ratpack are still cool because music is still cool). However, I also respect the innovative performance, production and Jeff Buckley-esque passion of young New Zealand songstress Kimbra (notably the female voice on the Grammy-winning Somebody I Used to Know) and I am continually floored by the gut wrenching guitar style, old soul belts and genuine originality of Belgium-born Trixie Whitley, both of these young women in their 20’s.
But you hip a young person (and that phrase alone dates me) to the music you love and watch what happens. You’ll start to hear phrases like “Well he’s no Marvin Gaye” or “It was cool when Jimi Hendrix did it” or “Stop trying to be Prince; you’ll never be that cool.” You’ll probably occasionally get things like “I just saw Chicerita on the Grammy’s” referring not to a mexican appetizer but the jazz pianist and former Miles Davis sideman Chick Corea. But you smile at the effort. When I put on an Aretha Franklin record and the first thing my 6 year old says is, “Is that the Queen?” I know I’ve done something right.
Still, as someone old, when something new crosses your path, don’t be too jaded to recognize that it may be really good. The 21 year old in my life introduced me to great new bands like the Alabama Shakes and Little Dragon. While I am still passionate about listening to vinyl, she also showed me how I could use Apple TV to stream my entire digital music collection on my TV, which is wonderful for dinner parties, house cleaning and all sorts of old people activities.
I jog now, cause at some point you recognize that your metabolism isn’t what it once was and I use an app on my iPhone to track my progress while at the same time listening to a Funkadelic radio station on Pandora. So, new stuff kicks ass and old stuff kicks ass. As the years roll by (and recent studies have shown that time really does seem to go faster the older you get) never forget to share the history with the younger people in your life but at the same time always be open to something new. ‘Cause it’s cool to be old but not cool to be out of touch.
Live Well and Listen Closely,
read my previous interviews here:
Bettye LaVette: www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/becoming-bettye-lavette-an
Chocolate Genius, Inc.: www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/chocolate-genius-inc-marc
Special Thanks to my editor; Kellee Webb and all the young people listening to great music!