This I Believe………………..
I believe I’m never too old for “That music”.
At the age of 27, I had been married and divorced at a very young age. After the months of hiding, feelings of utter shame over the divorce of a marriage that lasted only barely a year, I accepted a clerk position at a local liquor store. It felt good to be out of the house again, in and amongst people – but most of all the crew was young, and it was nice to be back with people my age again.
It was a nice place, set in prestigious Edina, MN, with all the amenities that people in ‘nicer part of towns’ grow accustomed to. One particularly slow shift we decided to channel surf the satellite radio. We came across a station playing one of my favorite Ministry songs, and simply feeling the mood of the song I began dancing around and singing. A fellow co-worker of mine – my same age and with whom I’d grown to quite like and respect quipped to me, “Lynn, aren’t you a little old to be listening to that kind of music?” TOO OLD? How, at the age of 27 years was I too old for anything, let alone a type of music?
And since when did music have an age?
Sitting at the Red Sea Bar in downtown Minneapolis, on a blustery cold December night in 1998, the crowd was plentiful and anxiously awaiting the start of young rap group by the name of Atmosphere. I had looked forward to this show for what seemed to be an eternity. The crowd was a mixed bag of colors and ethnicities, nothing unusual for this part of town. For this club sits on the skirt of the University of Minnesota’s campus, and attracts young college students as well as newer performers and their enclaves.
Prior to the start of the show a young gentleman wearing a hand knit, Rastafarian tam, clad in tie-dye and sporting dreadlocks came up to my date and I. We immediately assumed he was the bands manager or some type of promoter handing out fliers and chatting up the crowd. Now granted, we probably did look a little out of place with my being in my upper-20’s and my date in his thirties, probably looking nothing like college students at all. However, we’d left our shawls and canes at home, so we couldn’t have looked too out of place.
He greeted us with a warm “Hello!” and then asked how we were doing. He was a nice fellow, and we immediately began giving him credit for the difficult and sometimes thankless job of promoting young bands. He leaned in and asked, “You two don’t look like the normal concert-goers, what brings you to the Red Sea tonight?” As if we’d stumbled in from the street if only to escape the bitter cold. And after sucking my heart back up from its 80 mph journey to my feet, I replied sheepishly, “The band”. A mix of shame for being a 30 year old Caucasian seemingly out of place, and anger at still being a cd and ticket-purchasing consumer, ran through my blood. Immediately, I felt very old.
Sometimes I look over to see a teenager-packed jalopy with its passengers singing or rapping in unison, bobbing their heads to the beat, so thoroughly engrossed in the music. I recall when my friends loved the very same music I did. When music had a feeling, and wasn’t merely means of entertainment. When did my friends change? When did my tastes in music, which is the very same music I’ve loved all my life, become so unconventional? Have I not grown up yet?
What has happened to society when people begin to believe that as people age, so should their taste in music? While we wouldn’t for a second dream of questioning a child’s interest in Bach or Beethoven, why can’t I listen to college radio at work without someone snickering, “You’re not in college, you know.” For me, listening to non-commercial radio playing interesting music streamed through my speakers is my heaven.
What does it mean to be too old for music? While it is true that I am a veteran to listening to music, and in my own mind, knowledgeable of all that is good and bad about music, am I really too old to understand? As adults we are not given free will to display our anger and the misplaced angst that once consumed us during our youth. Seems to me that as adults we’d be better off dropping the needle down on an old Sex Pistols album while beating out our rugs than containing frustration within ourselves while listening to some “Light Favorites”. Music has the power to alter moods.
When I was 29 Neil Young played to a packed crowd at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis. It was my first experience witnessing a sea of balding, high on marijuana, air-guitar playing men reacting with emphasized emotion to every note played from his guitar. As though every note were words of a story being told by a buddy with whom his wife was leaving him for some other man. The wretched story of highs and lows of triumph and tragedy – all being told through a Fender.
Music is such a personal journey, and choices in music are just as personal. For those people who truly love and appreciate music it can represent a person’s individuality and identity. Bordering on genetic make up. Music defines who I am. My beloved stack of albums represent who I’ve been in the past, the moods I’ve felt, and the show’s I’ve been to. While driving I trust that if I see a Green Day sticker on the bumper of a car, that is a person whom I could get along with – no matter what age or race.
Because there is no sweeter experience than listening to an old X album while folding fresh laundry, popping in a new Atmosphere c.d., or a good stress-relieving Green Day album at the end of a particularly demanding workday, all while providing fellow commuters with my own idea of a really good performance.
So if I may offer any advice to those young or inexperienced garage bands and musicians of all types; when you look out in the crowd and see those who look slightly nonstandard; know that even though they may be a bit older, or of a different color or race than you’ve grown accustomed to seeing, know that they are loving your music and appreciating you’re work. For they are people like me, buying the c.d.’s, paying for the downloads and purchasing the tickets to come see you do what you do best, and loving every minute of it.
After years and years of apartment living with disturbance calls at all hours of the day and night, from angry neighbors and those who surprisingly did not appreciate my taste in music, I finally wised-up and purchased a farm. My music sanctuary in the middle of nowhere. Where I can listen to all the screaming punk rock, thumping rap or any type of music at any decibel I choose to. Any time of day and whenever the mood comes over me.
There will be no one to laugh or say the music I’m listening to doesn’t suit me. No one to tell me that I look out of place or that I’m not acting my age. Because your music, Mr. or Ms. Young Musician, of my generation or not, will be blasting out of my stereo. Please know that I am out there, feather duster in hand, feeling and living your emotions through your music. And right on your cue, I will throw my middle finger in the air at being too old for loving really great music.
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