Monday, February 13, 2006

Neil Young Can Still Kick Your Ass

Who knew getting old would take so much work? I mean, all you have to do is not die, and people like Jesse Helms do that every goddamn day.

But this is the second time in less than a week that Salon's Stephanie Zacharek has written something that's struck a chord. In a short review of Jonathan Demme's new concert doc about Neil Young, she begins with this:

When you're in your 20s, it seems incomprehensible that you'll ever reach the age where listening to music takes actual work. You can't imagine a time when the act of listening -- of making time for it in your life, and, even more significantly, of keeping yourself open to new things -- is no longer blissfully effortless. And sure enough, for most of us that day eventually comes: It may hit when you're 30; you may be able to stave it off until you're 40. But at some point, you find yourself casually asking the youngest people at your workplace, "So -- what are you listening to?"

Sadly true. Between 20 and 30, I moved sixteen times. Each time, the last thing packed and the first thing unpacked was the stereo. Today, it's the kitchen. Tomorrow it'll be my walker.

When Molly was born, I dug into my career, I stopped playing music and seeking out new stuff. Music magazines like Rolling Stones became celebrity rags, making it harder to keep up, but most of it was just getting older.

Then Molly went off to college and I started playing again. I play the blues, because it's what I love and, as Eric Clapton said, you can play the blues with dignity long after you'd look stupid playing rock and roll. The blues is a man's music - no B, no O, no Y.

But younger people do occassionally take pity and throw me a bone. I've been introduced to Jimmy Eat World, Jump Little Children, The National, the North Mississippi All Stars, Hammel on Trial and other terrific bands. I'm grateful because at my age new music is like terra incognita that I can see on postcards, maybe visit for a while, but I can no longer live there. My visa has expired.

But Neil Young still kicks ass. Rock on old man.

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