Monday, December 7, 2009

Trust No One Over 35..In a Ramones T-Shirt [January 26, 2007]

Nothing could be less hip than something intended to confer hipness automatically. In the Summer of Love, I, in the long hair for which I'd had to suffer (threats and taunting, but still), I seethed with self-righteous indignation when teens in the backs of station wagons flashed the peace sign at me. Now, many years later, I hate persons of A Certain Age (I've Goggled it until my guitar calluses cracked and bled, and still been unable to discern the origin of this phrase; can anyone help?) wearing Ramones or Iggy Pop or CBGB's T-shirts as emblems of their inextinguishable young-at-heartness. If The Ramones' or Iggy's was the last music to change your life, your young-at-heartness was extinguished a long time ago, pal; you're every bit as with-it, arty, and cultured (43 years after the fact, I still can't stop quoting A Hard Day's Night) as your old man was in 1969 when, in his matching white plastic belt and loafers, he insisted through the smoke of his menthol cigarette that Al Martino was the living embodiment of Real Music.

I was joking about the calluses. I haven't any, having realised early on that I had no aptitude whatever for stringed instruments (an ineptitude that sharp-earred listeners to my recent recordings will surely notice). But the other day at the gym, it dawned on me how it must feel for someone with genuine aptitude to realise he or she has it. I was on the Seated Leg Press machine, the only one in sight on which I'm likely to impress anybody, and decided to see if I could max it out -- do the exercise with the greatest resistance possible. I strained. I strained. I strained. And damned if the 335 pounds didn't ascend. It occurred to me that the sensation was probably very much like that a good musician experiences at some point in his early development. He tries to play something tricky, and his fingers rebel. He tries to play something tricky, and his fingers rebel. He tries to play something tricky, and plays it. And thinks to himself, "Whoa, I can do this."

It isn't a pleasure I've known often in my life.

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