A controversy raged the other day about why the middleaged are less passionate about music than when they were young. I am reminded of the John Lennon quotation about no music ever being as thrilling and inspiring at that which one loves at 19.
I think it’s biological. In some ways, we never live more intensely than when our endocrine systems are bellowing at us, “Go forth and multiply already! It’s what you’re on earth to do! Well? Did I say next Tuesday? Now! This instant!” Naturally, such bellowing commonly commences well before 19, but the shy among us very often don’t even begin to amass the social fluency to interact procreatively until we’re on the verge of our twenties.
It stands to reason, I think, that we’re going to have a very special fondness for the soundtrack of our sexual flowering. I know that no two pieces of music on earth thrill me to the marrow as do Petula Clark’s “I Know a Place” and Bobby Goldsborough’s “Little Things,” the best parts of the soundtrack of the evening I discovered how deeply pleasurable it was to kiss my first girlfriend for hours at a time, our tongues entwined, our hands exploring each other.
The other night while watching The Food Network, I saw the spot in which a gorgeous, thick-maned, British-accented blonde coos reassuringly about how impotence is something All Guys are prone to, and easily cured with Viagara. I found it very much less arousing than I’m finding the memory of that night in Outer Malibu with Pet and Bobby on the radio.
A problem arises (get it — arises (Viagra!)?) when a group of middleaged musicians decide, for the sheer joy of it, to form a band, as I and The Kiddo and Richard and Pete have done. In terms of attracting an audience, it matters hardly at all how good or bad we are, as our superannuation trumps all that. Persons in their twenties just aren’t going to come see a group as far as we are past fresh-facedness and snake-hippedness. This ain’t chamber music, or jazz. In this matter, looks matter. Paunch is a deal-breaker, and bald spots, and liver spots, and necks that scream, “Well over 60!” No matter how terrific we might get, only people around our own age will come see us.
I have been invited to audition this coming week for a local group comprising persons of vintage comparable to my own. One of them was apparently in Quicksilver (Messenger Service), a group of which no one under 57 has even heard. In a way, I dread meeting them, as I know just what will happen. I’ll enter their rehearsal room, think to myself, “Those pranksters, giving me the address of a convalescent hospital!” and then realize that I’m both in the right place and the eldest person in the room. A ghastly prospect.
I see on Facebook that many are excited about the prospect of The Rolling Stones’ forthcoming American tour, during which Mick Jagger, 71, will spend his nightly two hours on stage dashing frenziedly back and forth, gesticulating wildly, but not wildly enough to keep us from noticing that he is singing horribly. “Gosh,” one is bound to marvel, “71 and still so energetic!” Which doesn’t sound to me like a fabulous night out to me.
If I were Bruce Springsteen’s mentor, I would urge him to sing every third or fourth song without vein-jeopardizing fervor. If I were Jagger’s, I would urge him to calm down, stay put, and try to sing vaguely in tune every now and again. But I can’t get even the other Vexations to listen to me, so why should Mick Jagger?