Is there such a thing as too much music?
Quizzical looks get aimed my way at times when I get on a roll speaking in lyrics. A question is asked, I respond with a lyric. Just ask folks around the office. I used to get bothered by the looks — at work and elsewhere — but I don’t care anymore. I don’t care what you say. We never played by the same rules anyway. Oops. There I go again.
I do think I have hit that age, though. You know the one. It’s when most of the new music just doesn’t settle on you like a warm blanket and you long for and listen to what you grew up with, what you like, what you love.
That’s not to say I am close-minded to any new music. I’ll give it a listen, but generally I gravitate to old reliables. And there is a deep appreciation yet for some of the music my parents grew up with, from Big Band to Hank Sr., from Roberta Sherwood to Peggy Lee, from “God’s Trombones” by Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians to Frank Sinatra and so many others.
As music for our performance of “A Raisin in the Sun” at Greenwood Community Theatre was being put together, director Clark Nesbitt came across a gem of an album and included some of it for scene interludes and the intermission. I hope to get a copy of “Black, Brown and Beige,” an album Mahalia Jackson recorded with Duke Ellington and His Orchestra.
But this past week was more nostalgic with respect to music I grew up with, music that still seems fresh today but was released more decades ago than I care to admit or believe.
First came word that Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks are embarking on a reunion tour as Genesis. Guys, please come to the States. They haven’t played under the Genesis moniker in 13 years. Phil won’t be sitting behind the drum kit for this as he’s had son Nic assume that role already while performing. Phil went from the drummer for Genesis to lead vocalist with the departure of Peter Gabriel. And no, don’t look for Peter to join the tour. Some things are simply over and done, and that’s OK.
All three former Genesis members clock in at only 69 years of age. That’s young for some rockers who are still hitting the tour circuit and yet releasing new material. Think Rolling Stones here.
I’ll typically read the birthdays we publish under “Today in History” on page 2A. Trust me, it’s a scary thing to read at times and gives one perspective. Sometimes I find myself saying “I’m not so old after all,” but usually reading those is a harsh reminder of just how fast the years are going by. And yes, I do tend to gauge the years by the highlighted birthdays of musicians.
On Friday, even though he wasn’t included in that day’s listing in our paper, I learned that David Gilmour turned 74. His former Pink Floyd bandmate, Roger Waters, turns 77 in September. Another favorite band for me is the prog-rock group Yes, whose co-founding bassist Chris Squire died nearly five years ago. Keyboardist Rick Wakeman, who is still producing music, turns 71 in May. Longtime vocal frontman Jon Anderson, also still writing and recording, turns 76 this October while legendary guitarist Steve Howe turns 73 next month.
Of course it makes sense that they are getting older. Or, in some cases, dying. You don’t have to be a great mathematician to quickly figure out that the musicians you got hooked on at age 16 are well past your 62 years.
You get thankful knowing about the ones that are actually still alive. You get inspired when you learn they’re still producing new music and even touring. That’s the kind of stuff that lets you relive those younger days and believe you might still have a few good years left yourself.
I used to chuckle sometimes when watching older folks in concert videos or on the dance floor as they would swing, sway and dance to their music. I get it now. Music is life-changing, and at times, at least a temporary fountain of youth as we play our favorites and travel back in time. As Don McLean wrote, “I can still remember how that music used to make me smile.”
My co-workers did not realize on Friday that I was imagining myself back in my college dorm room with Pink Floyd cranking out of my JBL36 real wood cabinet speakers. They’re used to me playing tunes while working. Sometimes sharing those tunes too loudly, but they’re forgiving. We all care about each other, you know.
If you didn’t care what happened to me
And I didn’t care for you
We would zigzag our way through the boredom and pain
Occasionally glancing up through the rain
Wondering which of the buggers to blame
And watching for pigs on the wing
— Pink Floyd, “Animals” album, 1977