I can still sing almost all the lyrics every time I tune in to XM Radio Channel 6, home of the music upon which I was raised: the songs of the 1960s.
From the grammatically fractured Box Tops’ “Gimme a ticket for an air-o-plane/ Ain’t got time to take a fast train/ Lonely days are gone, I’m a-goin’ home/ My baby, she wrote me a letter” to the more serious and poetic lyrics of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Hello, Darkness, my old friend/ I’ve come to talk with you again,” they are clearly etched in my mind from the repetitions of my distant past.
For those of us in our 60s, such music speaks to us of our youth, always a pleasant place to revisit, at least until the bitter part of bittersweet takes over, and we begin to lament what is no longer and can never be again.
So, when I wasn’t listening to my beloved sports-talk radio during my considerable driving time, I was tuned in to Channel 6. Or, if I wanted to re-visit the music of my college days and early 20s, I tuned to Channel 7. To me, that was the new stuff!
But recently I’ve dropped the “Old Fuddy-Duddy” as my middle name and have actually tried to join today’s music scene.
Now, the last time I was really very aware of “new music,” I believe the predominant genre was rap, which rhymes with … well, you get the idea of my assessment of songs that artists spoke rather than sang.
Lyrically, the words I could make out spoke of a world that wasn’t my world. Even less did I understand all that turntable scratching of vinyl records that was in vogue for a while. I really didn’t get it, nor did I want to get it.
I was content to retreat back to my Roy Orbison; Crosby, Stills and Nash; and Simon and Garfunkel and the rest of my troubadours from long ago.
A few years ago, my attempts to modernize myself musically were helped considerably when I began paying attention to country music, music that was pleasing to the ear and lyrics sung by folks like Brooks and Dunn, Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith. The songs told stories, which was right down this former English teacher’s alley.
Just a couple of months ago, with more time on my hands than motivation to do anything more worthwhile, I found myself watching the Grammys. I’ve always been amused by those entertainment awards shows, for at least 30 minutes or so, watching all that self-congratulating that goes on with ladies dressed in attire that costs more than my annual STRS pension.
This year, I watched the entire show.
I suppose the reason I didn’t break off the viewing is because of the musical acts interspersed with all that back-slapping, acts comprised of young people about whom I knew almost nothing, with names like Bruno Mars, Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers and fun. And, I was so pleasantly surprised. What I heard were clearly articulated lyrics with music that provided the undercoating to the works rather than overwhelming the words. For me, the music was reminiscent of the music of my youth.
At the urging of a dear friend with whom I speak regularly, after telling her how impressed I was at the Grammy night performances, I began shifting my attention away from the likes of Dan Patrick and Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo and the other sports-squawk guys a bit more often and tuning in XM’s Channel 10, The Pulse, which targets contemporary music. To programmers of this station, oldies are songs that came out in the early 2000’s.
I discovered acts with names like Muse, Matchbox 20, Imagine Dragons and Maroon 5. I’ll admit that, initially, I wasn’t a real quick study when it came to getting with the current music scene. I needed the radio face to tell me the names of the artists and songs, and I had to take note not to reverse the two. Let’s see, is it “3 Doors Down” by Kryptonite or “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down? (It’s the latter) or is it “Six Degrees of Separation” by The Script or is it “The Script” by Six Degrees of Separation? (It’s the former.)
The way I figure it, with two daughters and two granddaughters, it’s probably long overdue that I try to become a bit more relevant in my interests, probably a pretty good lesson for all of us who pull an AARP magazine out of the mailbox each month.
Now, please don’t count me yet to be any type of expert on contemporary music. After all, there’s still much I don’t understand, such as why there are no women in the Goo Goo Dolls and why those supposed sons in Mumford and Sons aren’t really Mumford’s sons, but I’m trying.
As I age, while I still want to embrace where I’ve been, I don’t want to do so to the point where the rest of the world passes me completely by.
After all, doesn’t the world need another cooler Dad and Pa Pa?