Well, I’m not really an old man. Baby Boomers will never admit to being “old.” I’m seasoned and mature. Not too terribly weathered. Lots of good years left. So no, not old. But then again, there ain’t no hip hop on my iPod (but hey, at least I have an iPod and ditched my 8-track and Walkman already!)
Music is a part of me. I listen. I play (several instruments). I compose. And today I was listening to my favorite playlist while working out at the gym. Working out is this thing I do to try to put the brakes on the aging process. You see, after all those years of giving my body everything it wanted–relaxation, Coke, guacamole pepper jack cheeseburgers and ketchup-laden fries–it has turned on me! It’s a full rebellion, and now my body is blaming me for the weight gain, sluggishness, achy joints and asthma. Imagine!
But yeah, music. It’s so much easier to tromp on that treadmill when good songs are blasting in my ears.
Then I figured that if you are going to lurk around here in my blog sometimes, maybe I’ll help you get to know me a little more. So what’s playing on that not-so-young, not-so-skinny guy’s iPod?
The go-to playlist is called “Hot Guitar,” and it’s jam-packed with my favorites. Mostly instrumental, and the few with vocals feature extended guitar improvisation.
The set starts with Carlos Santana’s Europa. I’ve always loved that song, but even more since 2005 when it was my oldest daughter’s wedding march!
Next up is a long jam: the Allman Brothers’ live version of In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed. Perhaps my favorite song of all time. I used to fall asleep to that song in 1969. Not because it was boring, but because it was on late-night FM radio. I would always play it whether I was awake… or not. It soothed my soul. Still does.
Samba Pa Ti comes next. First the original–Santana’s sexy-smooth growling guitar (the guy was like 22 when he recorded that!) followed by Masayoshi Takanaka’s brightly upbeat cover.
A few songs later, Eric Clapton shows why people wrote “Clapton is God” on subway walls. While I do not agree with that statement as theology, the guy could really play the guitar (again, another one in his early 20s in those days). I speed up the treadmill, close my eyes, and drift to other worlds, listening to the live Sitting On Top Of The World, followed by the more familiar classic, Crossroads.
Zappa’s Son Of Mr. Green Genes and The Gumbo Variations follow soon after. Nobody ever accuses Frank of unimaginative song titles. People remember Zappa for his freaky lyrics. But his music was sheer genius.
Then I never get enough of Duane Allman’s riffs on Stormy Monday. This is blues the way it was meant to be.
I won’t bore you with the whole list (write for details, if you simply must learn more!) Anyway, you get the idea. But whether you think my music is dated and I’m some kind of relic or not, the point is this:
MUSIC STICKS WITH YOU.
The stuff I loved in 1969, before I could drive, before I started shaving… well, I still love it. It takes me back. Each bend of the string, each wailing note plays with my emotions just as it did all those years ago. I look back now and realize it’s no wonder our generation grew up and got into jazz. Our musical path was already set by the Doors’ extended instrumental masterpieces, the Allman Brothers, Santana, Zappa… shoot, even the Zombies’ Time Of The Season soars skyward with a long jazz solo on the keyboard. Much of what is called “Classic Rock” was really jazz in disguise.
Music takes you back. There are some songs I avoid, since they depress me or make me feel the unwanted tug of lifestyle choices I gratefully abandoned nearly 40 years ago. They want to take me back to places I never want to see again. But most of the playlist of my youth recreates all the positive feelings and joy I felt the first time I heard it.
A culture, an era, a whole world. It’s all reflected in the music.
Which brings me to a question: what music defines you? What moods and feelings and ideas are created when you listen to your favorites? Do you like where it takes you?
And if you’re still young, what will you be listening to 40 years from now and what memories and feelings will it evoke?
The comment box operators are standing by to take your call.
Don’t be shy…
(I was humbled and honored that An Old Man’s iPod was Freshly Pressed in March 2011. It continues to be my most popular post. But the discussion doesn’t have to stop. Please comment and tell me how you found it. What are your thoughts on music? You might also enjoy my post Smiles On A Jeepney, where I share about the shame I felt for judging a child based on physical appearance.)