Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Old Rock & Rollers never die – in fact they’re finding it kind of tough to even ‘fade away’

If your memories of a youth, happily misspent like mine, include lazy days and blissful nights listening to all of the great songs of the 60’s & 70’s, then you might want to join me in raising our voices in one collective but heartfelt cry directed to all of those fantastic bands that made up so much of our young lives. And it is simply this: “Hey guys, we loved your music back then, and still do. But please, please … leave us our memories!

OK… let me back up.
My wife and I were channel surfing the other night and when she passed an old B&W clip of a ‘60’s - British Invasion’ rock band, I said, “wait, back up!”
It was one of my favorite songs and it brought back all of those great memories from forty years ago. After a few moments we were finger poppin’ and singing right along with the great old song – feeling all ‘groovy’ and ‘gear’ and ‘fab’ once more until… The clip suddenly switched to a – a bunch of old guys. They had gray hair. They were balding. They had potbellies. They looked like … ME !!! Eeeek !!!!
“Whoa – what’s up with this?” I turned to my wife in bewilderment and asked, “Who the bleep are those old dudes and why are they messing up that great old song?”
Well as if in direct answer to our rock & roll conundrum, another old guy (say, there are a lot of us aren’t there?) came on the TV and said “ Say Beverly (that seemed to be the name of the rather patrician looking woman posing as an aging hipster who was standing next to him and attempting to muster up the long forgotten look once brought on by rock & roll mesmerism) wasn’t that great?”
Well no actually it wasn’t – but we continued to listen.
“Yes, Bev,” he said smiling at her, “that was the ‘XYZ@%^*XX’ doing their unforgettable hit from 1965.”
“Hold on a second,” I said to the wife. “What is he talking about? And why are those old guys doing that great old song and trying to sound like the …” Oh-oh. I turned to her with a growing sense of horror as it slowly began to dawn on me. Those old guys with grey hair, pot bellies and whiskey-hoarse voices brought on from decades of screaming out those familiar lyrics were, that great old group – all grown up. Really, really grown up. Maybe grown up and out and looking ‘rode hard and put away wet’ as my old concert-going buddy from the wild old days used to say when we woke up the next morning and had the bad judgment to look in the mirror.
“It’s really them, isn’t it?” I said to my wife, mentally begging her to contradict me. No such luck. She just nodded solemnly and said “Yup.”

As we would have said back when that song, that band, and me were hip, cool and – young, “Bummer!”
Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against aging Rock & Rollers and former pop stars. In fact for a very short time and in a very limited way, I was one myself.
All right let me amend that while my wife who is reading this over my shoulder, rolls around the floor with helpless laughter, the optimum words in the above statement are ‘short time’ and ‘limited way’. I, like probably millions of our generation, belonged to a rock band. Actually several rock bands. And as typical of that era, we always had a tough time keeping any band together for more than a few months or until we got the cash from our first paying gig and had to decide whether to spend it on badly needed new equipment or blow it on a beer bash.
Yeah … Well why do you think all those ‘garage bands’ sounded like they were about to blow a speaker? ‘Cause they were!
Anyway even with my glancing brush with fame and fortune, I have an undying soft spot for all musicians, aging or otherwise. In fact, when the old crew and me get together and fire up the old Fender amps, nothing is more fun. Friends come over and we all drink beer and sing and jam - just like the old days.
So then “why” you ask (and you do. don’t you?) am I being such an old curmudgeon about the formerly rich, famous and talented, giving concerts and croaking out their old songs on late night TV? What’s the difference between me and my old buddies wailing away for friends, and the aging rock stars singing (or trying to) their old songs?
Well there’s one big one … Outside of a dozen-college campus’s, we weren’t famous!
No-one has been playing our few original songs for the past 40 years and connecting them with memories of their own youth.
Come on, be honest. Which would you rather do, run into you’re your ‘first love’ at the supermarket in sweats, or keep that memory as it was?
I thought so.
Well it’s the same way with music isn’t it? And especially for us – the generation that came to be defined by music.

So as one old rock and roller, let me make this heartfelt plea to my richer and much more famous brethren, maybe this is the time to just kick back and ‘let it be’. Take up gardening, fishing, golf – bird watching! But please – please… Leave us our memories!

Rock on.

Ric Wasley
Shadow of Innocence
Kunati - April 2007

New from Kunati Publishing: SHADOW OF INNOCENCE - The Newport Folk Festival provides a groovy backdrop for this fun and exciting mystery set in the music and drug soaked sixties. The Baby Boomers and everyone else are sure to enjoy this appealing mystery featuring a pair of musician partners in love and danger. Don't miss Shadow of Innocence! From Kunati Publishing. Available now for pre-order at; Amazon

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