Episode 07 Never too Old
Words and Music–Richard Allen
Produced by David Barratt at the Abattoir of Good Taste
Vocal and Guitar–William Thaumatrope
Ukulele and everything else–David Barratt.
I suppose this song really sums up why an old geezer like me is singing songs. Rock music is typically thought of as an idiom and pursuit of the young because it is premised on passion and energy, qualities sometimes thought to be missing in the middle-aged. Certainly the “rock lifestyle” is one not suited to aging bodies; indeed, rock music is enmeshed in the mythology of an early death: it is not supposed to last into middle age. However, the rock lifestyle is not intrinsic to the pleasure of popular music and the appeal of that music remains throughout life, as many aging musicians and audiences have shown. The reason for this is obviously the fact that in spite of what young people tend to think, grown ups are also full of passion and energy, even as we are less profligate in displaying them because our bodies are beginning to wear out and require ever increasing attention to diet and exercise to sustain and preserve themselves.
Modern music delivery systems may be killing the music industry that was centered around marketing a physical product, the “single” or the “album” vinyl record and then the CD whose cannonic format was designed to roughly mimic the album’s length. However, electronic music creation and delivery also have the potential to open up music to many more kinds of creators because music is now so easy to produce outside of the expensive recording studio. Furthermore, with the requisite social media networking skills (which, alas, I do not possess), it is possible to reach increasingly differentiated niche audiences that are different in kind from the mass youth market–the old fashion base of the music business in. Of course, like all sweeping technological innovations in the domain of art, something is gained and something is lost with the demise of the record in the wake of electronic music “publishing.”
You can still produce an album if you want, it has the appeal of the physical artwork and, at its best, it integrates the individual song into a greater unity of conception, as Sergeant Peppers taught us, that is, the album is not simply an artifact, it is an aesthetic idea. Yet there is today something old fashioned and hence nostalgic about continuing to make albums in the era of electronic reproduction where they are no longer a necessity. Furthermore, lets face it, most albums are simply collections of songs and hence they are an arbitrary format. Why this song order this and not another? Why this version of a song and not that one? And even the greatest albums like Gold Rush have their “A Man Needs a Maid” moment (sorry Neil) that you would prefer to forget. In electronic music production, the producer makes as many songs as he or she likes (though quality control becomes an issue) and is no longer wedded to a single definitive version that used to be enshrined in the physical recording. Meanwhile, the listener can pick and choose what songs to listen to and download, organize songs into groupings of choice, and change song order at will. In this new environment “the album” might still have a place as a musical delivery system of choice rather than necessity; it would become a singular and unique version of the songs with a particular band line up or instrumentation, and therefore a collectible item.
But to return to my main point, in spite of what is lost in new electronic delivery systems that work within social media networks, they give an old geezer like me the opportunity to easily express myself in popular music, render some tunes for the middle ages, and hopefully garner some kind of listening audience for the work. I am still trying to work out how to do that.
I feel too old to party
I feel too old to have fun
But you say your life at 50
Has only just begun
What’s that you have two children
And they are both fully grown
Oh mine are young and kicking
They’re always on the phone
I’ve always fancied older chicks
So please give me a chance
To take out all your garbage
And show you how I dance
You make me feel I’m sexy
Like that Rod Stewart song
You make me feel I’m in a place
Where I do belong
If you let me hold onto your strong arms
If you let me feel your brave smile
I will kiss the crow’s feet from your eyes
And file away your taxes
Look me up, let’s give it a chance
Look me up today
Look me up, let’s give it a chance
We’ll be on our way