Today’s column is self-explanatory. I think I’ve mentioned this before — Ten years ago or so, Robb Nansel of Saddle Creek Records told me something that a major label honcho told him. He said if you’re still involved with music when you’re 30, you’re going to be involved with music the rest of your life. Truer words were never spoken…
Column 208: Greasy Kid’s Stuff
Age and music.
I was feeling just fine about everything until Barack decided to join in with his “Let us set aside childish things” rant during the inauguration. What exactly was he saying? Who was he talking to?
After awhile, it does begin to pile up. The whole age thing never occurs to me unless someone else mentions it — directly or indirectly.
Last week a friend who works at The City Weekly pointed out that Mike Fratt “went after me” in his column. Really? By name? No, he never used your name, my friend said. He merely referenced “Omaha’s own aging indie-hipster blogger street weekly writer…” I was flattered that Mike would think anyone would even know who he was talking about (and without that knowledge, a reader would think Fratt was being self-deprecating instead of just snarky — he is, after all, considerably older than I am).
A week before that, I was at a local watering hole listening to a band when one of the city’s better musicians said, not off-handedly, “Why would a 20-year-old want to know what a 40-year-old guy thinks about new music?” He was making a point about himself, of course; about how he thinks no one cares what his favorite music was from 2008 (but we do). I’m sure the fact that I’m in my 40s and still write about indie music never crossed his mind. Did it?
And then there was the time I was speaking in front of a class alongside a former mover-and-shaker in local music retail. I asked him what he thought of Saddle Creek Records. He said he only listens to blues these days. “I outgrew that stuff a long time ago.”
It comes down to the notion that rock music — specifically new rock music — should only be enjoyed by young people. That people beyond their 20s (some say beyond their teens) should have moved on from listening to rock or any music for that matter.
I remember as a teen-ager listening to albums with my headphones on, wondering how much I’d miss it when I got older because, well, “old people” don’t listen to music. Certainly my dad didn’t.
That same backward thinking applies to rock shows — when are you too old to go see a band (other than a dinosaur act at the Qwest Center)? Is it when your friends quit going to shows? Or when you have kids and reprioritize your life so that music no longer plays a role? I can’t speak to the issue of getting married and having a family. I can say that a lot of people I know put music away when their children arrived, and use their family life as an excuse for not going out any more (or doing anything creative, for that matter). And that’s fine. Chances are even if they didn’t have kids they would have quit going to shows anyway. Rare is the person who can continue to “get into” new music after they reach their 30s. That’s just the way it is.
I made that point on my blog, and one reader took offense. He said he used to go to shows at The Cog Factory and Kilgore’s before moving to Chicago and getting involved in the music business himself. He ended up in California “…and then, I had kids. Now you can chalk it up as an ‘excuse’ to ‘quit’ the pursuit of music-passion (or other cultural endeavors), but I actually blame it as much on not only a re-prioritizing of priorities as I do finances,” he said in an email. “When you’ve got a young mouth (or in my case two young mouths) to feed, given the choice between buying groceries or going out to a club to see a band play and then proceed to spend $25 on drinks….well, the choice should be pretty clear.”
I guess it’s like those commercial say: “Having a baby changes everything.” I don’t doubt that. Still, this guy said he continues to subscribe to Magnet and The Big Takeover, and makes notes about bands that might interest him. That alone makes him a rarity. Because most people that I know who have kids go home after work and sit in front of the TV for five hours and then go to sleep. Every night. They feel entitled. They’ve worked hard all day, they want to come home and “unwind.” These are people in their late 20s and 30s (and 40s). And before they know it, they’re in their 50s and 60s and then they’re dead. But, dammit, they accomplished something. They raised those kids. And that’s more than I can say for myself.
Would I still be going to shows if I had kids? Well, not 80 to 100 shows a year, but yeah, I’d like to think that I’d definitely make it out at least a couple times a month. But we’ll never know.
Age isn’t so much a state of mind as it is surrendering to a state of mind. I don’t think my personal writing guru, former Village Voice columnist and now Rolling Stone critic Robert Christgau, who’ll turn 67 in April, thought for a second about what was appropriate for someone his age to listen to when he was reviewing the latest albums by Glasvegas (which he gave in A) or Jay Reatard (which he gave an A-). Is he worried that a 20-year-old might scoff at his opinion? I don’t think it crossed his mind. It certainly doesn’t cross mine when I’m writing about the new Animal Collective or Ladyfinger CDs or watching Stolen Kisses or Perry H. Matthews.
Nor should it. Rock was never meant to be only a young man’s game. Just ask this aging indie-hipster blogger street weekly writer.
There’s a show tonight at the Waiting Room worth checking out: Landing on the Moon and Anniversaire opening for The Envy Corps. $7, 9 p.m.
Meanwhile, folkie balladeer (when he’s not shredding in Techlepathy) Lincoln Dickison is opening for Son of 76 and the Watchmen tonight at The Barley St. Tavern. Techlepathy will be on stage tomorrow night at O’Leaver’s along with Domestica and Wagon Blasters.
Which reminds me, a reader commented on yesterday’s blog entry, telling me that record label Speed! Nebraska has Lincoln bands on its roster that play in Omaha all the time, including Domestica, Brimstone Howl, Ideal Cleaners and the Mezcal Bros. This reader also included The Wagon Blasters (whose members include Lincolnite Bill Thornton), but I’m not aware of any Wagon Blasters releases on Speed! Nebraska Records. Something tells me that that’s gonna change…
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