What to Expect When You're Musically Middle Aged
"David Playing the Harp," a 1670 painting by Jan de Bray
Steve Wiley is Up on the Sun's resident Record Store Geek. He shares stories of great music and wacky characters from his continuing 27 years in Valley record stores and the always zany music biz.
What can I tell you? I'm middle-aged. Forty-nine to be exact.
I stopped my wild partying 20 years ago, so I don't know any of the new clubs, new bands, or new trends. I reminisce about things like The Gin Blossoms at the Sun Club
Never fear, because all of those extra years of experience allow me to write things like today's little ditty: What to Expect When You're Musically Middle-Aged.
Whattya gonna do -- fight the changes or go with the flow?
That is the question, isn't it?
From where I sit, that seems to be one of the ultimate questions about life. Period.
So obviously, it's an important question when it comes to music, which if you are like me, is a big part of life.
These changes are coming, and if you are heading into middle age -- which will begin sometime in your 30s, depending on marriage, kids, and that sort of definitive factor -- you will have to choose how to you'd like to deal with them.
I'm here to let you know what's coming, and let you know how I'm dealing with it.
You Are Going to Have to Defend The Music of Your Youth.
And guess what? A lot of it sucks now. No matter how cool it was then.
Time has a way of ravaging certain sounds.Like keyboards (see: Somehow I Still Found Some '80s Music That Still Sounds Good). Certain lyrics too.
I've chosen to deal with this moment's music critics the same way I did in that moment: I say, "Fuck 'em."
You think it's a hair band? I think it's a rock band. You think it's cheesy? I think it's pop gold.
To pull a phrase from even before my era, if it feels good, do it.
You are going to get lazy about new music.
It's out there, but it doesn't just fly into your ear. You have to work at it.
Like exercising. Without the sweat.
Which means you have to want to work at it.
You have to step outside of your comfort zone, which gets more comfortable with each passing year, and commit some time to giving something new a chance.
You have to listen to a radio station, terrestrial or internet, that will play new, or at least different, music. You have to find websites, or magazines, or friends that are trusted sites and act upon their recommendations.
Otherwise, you'll just sit around and say things like, "Today's music sucks", and musically die.
I really have a problem with this one, because I think after a (middle-aged) lifetime of music immersion, I'm a pretty damn open-minded cat.
But I don't know how many times I have to get up and shut the door to the room because it's bonehead rap or unbearable sap or digitally-recycled hilarity, and it's making me nuts.
I could come to the conclusion that his taste in music, like everything else in his teenaged brain, has been warped by certain brain-wiring issues that affect his kind...
... or I could try put the pressure on myself to try and understand and grow.
So I'm asking him to put together a playlist of things he thinks I'd like. He knows my tastes - after 16 years of listening to me ramble on about music, and playing music for him nightly (see: Music Parenting: The "Two Albums Before Bed" Rule) - so there's a good chance we can continue to find common ground.
And I'll be listening to new music.
You Going to Have Adjust Your Listening Habits to Your Family Life.
The old adage "A happy wife means a happy life" is rule number one in my book of marriage advice.
And in my experience, if you want a happy wife, you can't just carry on with the listening habits of a fuckin' teenager. At least not my teenage habits.
My wife is cool as they come. I wouldn't trade her for anyone.
But she doesn't do loud very well.
She doesn't do scronk (that's the old Hoodlums' word for music, like free jazz, that can get out there) very well.
And she ain't much of a punk. Or metal head.
I'm not deeply into any of the aforementioned genres either, but I've got my favorites within each one.
I just can't listen to them loud and proud when she's around.
That's right, I go with the flow on this one, and adjust. Because it makes her happy.
And I like a happy life.
You'll Be Able to Afford Going to More Shows, But You Won't Have the Juice.
This one is especially hard for me to fight because, luckily, my career in the music biz has made it possible for me to see nearly a thousand shows in my lifetime. So I've seen nearly every legend on my list. Many more than once.
So that incentive is gone.
Plus, I'm just as happy as a clam staying home with my aforementioned lovely (albeit musically-pupped) wife and my wonderful (albeit musically-perturbing) children. I can drink an adult beverage or two at a reasonable price, play the music I want to hear, and not have to worry about driving home over the limit when I think I just have a buzz.
So, admittedly, I haven't fought this one much.
But I do fight a little, via the old DVD/Blu-ray.
With today's TVs, and the outstanding array of available shows from every era, and all those comforts of home, you can have yourself a little concert at home... so I've been doing that.
How Ever You Decide to Deal with It, Enjoy the Music
Remember, getting to middle age is a good thing.
It's means you are still alive after all that crazy youthful shit.
From where I sit, smack dab in the middle of it, it's a good place to be.
As long as music is still a big part of it.
Thanks for reading.
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