Monday, November 12, 2012

officially old

Back in the day, 30 was the entry to old age.  I remember the saying"never trust anyone over 30."  I remember one of the anthems of my age cadre saying, "I hope I die before I get old."  I remember turning 30 and having almost as bad a time as I did the first time we bought a minivan.  I was seriously depressed.  I was old and I hadn't saved the world yet.

Of course, people do wear their age differently now than when I was a kid.  I am much, much younger than my parents were when our numbers were the same.   They were further along in the journey of life - when my mother hit 30, she had an 11 year old daughter, a 6 year old son, and a 1 year old daughter and had just purchased their second home.  I had a 2 year old, was living in company owned housing (a parsonage), and was still working on a degree (my doctorate).  They went bowling on weekends while I played guitar in bars. By the time they were my age now, they were struggling physically and, as a result, financially.  They felt old.  For the most part, I do not. Now I also don't feel particularly young.  My body reminds me that it is not what it once was.  I am very aware that the men in my biological father's family were mostly dead in their 30's.  Thanks to the wonders of modern chemistry, I am not.  Still, my joints creak.  Tendons are less flexible.  I carry a bit more weight... and not nearly as quickly.  I do have an AARP card although I still can't get the cheaper tickets at the movie theater.   In large degree I had dismissed the ideas of my youth regarding that boundary of 30 years... until...

Last week my daughter turned 30.  That has raised the question again.  She certainly doesn't look old to me and she is not as far along on her path as I was at that point.  She is still working to establish herself as a writer, talks about going back to school for her doctorate, and she and her husband
 are planning for children but haven't yet.  She doesn't feel that boundary like I did, but we're talking about a different one here - having a 30 year old daughter.

So... if turning 30 didn't make me old, does have a daughter turn 30 do it?  Am I officially old?  You tell me.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

"It's Not My Country Anymore"

I've heard that said by a number of my very conservative friends.  I guess they have to decide that.  Clearly it is not the same country anymore.  Romney won a near historic percentage of the white vote and still lost the election.  It isn't a country controlled by white folk anymore.  More women were elected to the senate than ever before and one state - New Hampshire - has elected women to all of their leadership positions.  It is not a country run exclusively by men anymore.  Billionaires spent incredible amounts of money trying to buy the election Sheldon Adelson personally funded 6 campaigns with huge amounts of money and they all lost.  Yes, money still talks, but it is no longer the deciding factor and the plutocracy doesn't have free reign anymore. 

It is a different country than the one I knew as a child in the 50's and 60's.  I embrace it.  I'm excited by that.  I believe this new country embodies the hopes and dreams implicit in the experiment called the United States.  Still, it is different and my conservative friends need to make a decision whether they are part of this new expression of the United States.  Should they decide to withdraw... that's OK, but they cannot call themselves patriots.  They may say, "Obama is not my president," but if they do, they are also saying they are no longer part of this country.

For the Republicans, it will mean they need to re-evaluate and decide on new directions or they will be relegated to being a small regional party with less and less national voice.  At least for a while, they will still have the power of obstruction, but their positive voice will become more and more marginal as the demographics continue to change.  You can decide whether they are racist or not, but this election clearly was about race and their party is clearly identified racially.  A majority of white people voted for Romney.  Everyone else voted for Obama.  Obama won.  It is a new America.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

solo gig

Last night I played a solo gig for the first time in a lonnnggggg time.  Years ago, I did the solo thing a lot but every since I began to perform with my daughter Alexis about 15 years ago, I've found myself playing the role of backing up a singer.  Being a side player is a very different experience.  It truly is a supportive role.  You listen to the singer and wrestle with a song that is the singer's choice, trying to enhance his or her performance.  It is a unique discipline to give your talents and skills for another's art.  The upside is that you are responsible primarily to the singer rather than the audience.  If a mistake is made or there was something lacking in the choice of material, that falls back on the singer.  At the same time, to some degree you lose the joy of making your own choices.  When backing up a singer, I clearly play my style, but there is always the possibility of the singer vetoing something that I feel works well.

As a solo performer, you are responsible for everything - the choice of material, the pater between songs, and all of the aspects of the performance.  There is nobody else to blame for anything that doesn't work.  All of that adds up to serious nerves for me.

In the two years plus of producing the Cambridge Drive Concert Series I have paid serious attention to which acts seemed to connect the most deeply with the audience.  While depth of songwriting, skill of playing their instrument, and quality of a voice all count for something, that was only part of the picture.  The best musicians and the best songwriters did not necessarily make for the best performances.  There is an intangible connection that characterizes some performances that really makes a special time.  The audience has an experience that enriches their lives.  The best performers consistently enable that kind of experience.

You'll have to ask someone who was in the audience whether I was able to create that kind of experience.  I do have to say that I felt that my guitar playing has been better when playing behind someone else.  Still, I felt very good about what happened.  I'll keep at it and try to do some more solo gigs.