Music can be a touchy subject to a grumpy old man and has been known to cause a great deal of verbal furor. As a baby boomer my mind is set on music I've grown accustomed to … music that makes me say things like, "I saw that band in 1973." This, however, draws attention to your age. We start off spouting out band names like Atomic Rooster, The Velvet Underground, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils and the 1910 Fruitgum Company and a blank look comes across peoples' faces as they try to figure out what the heck we're talking about. These were real bands and although they aren't household names right now, how many of today's artists will be remembered 30 years from now?
Bands back then usually had lyrics that commented on the social aspects of the time…well, OK, 1910 Fruit Gum Company "Yummy, yummy, yummy, I've got love in my tummy" doesn't exactly scream out for social change but most bands were voices of the youth at the time. Anything we thought unjust was promptly made into a song and some became anthems we thought could change the world. Well they didn't and now most are used to advertise everything from cars to candy and the bands behind them have long sold out to corporate greed. Nevertheless when one of these songs pop up it usually brings back fond memories and acts as a reminder of what it was like when you had more stamina, more vigour and more hair. Back then some of us had hair down to our waist and now what ever I have left either turns grey or commits suicide. In short I have barely enough to warrant the purchase of a comb.
Music has gone through changes over the decades and when rock was kinda dancing along to the song, which was secondary and the ability to play an instrument seemed better appreciated. That all died with disco. To a devoted rock-and-roll and blues fan disco was an abomination that corporate America cashed in on and all of a sudden polyester and platform shoes were the rage as well as perms. The fluffier the hair the better and you had to be some sort of dance master just to get noticed by the opposite sex. Remember Saturday night fever? I do and still have nightmares. Because of that movie and the whole disco era memorable lyrics became secondary and don't go trotting out ABBA trying to defend yourself. Before a couple of pairs of jeans and a tie dye T-shirt was all you needed to be in style. With disco you had to purchase a new overpriced wardrobe, learn all the latest dance steps, own a nice car and have a couple hundred 8-tracks on the back seat. Remember 8-tracks? You usually find them at garage sales these days and only other grumpy old men check them out. You better hope there isn't an 8-track player in that garage and that's more for others sake. No one wants to watch an old guy trying to dance to songs he couldn't dance to in the first place. If you want to REALLY embarrass someone, bring your kids with you and do that. If you want to scar someone for life bring your grandkids. If you want a divorce bring your significant other.
Now it may seem I'm coming down on dancing which is not true because I have known people who have danced professionally and they put a lot of work into it. What I have trouble with is when the first few notes of the Macarena or the chicken dance sound off or worse yet, YMCA, all three result in people flaying their arms and legs all over the place and oddly enough it usually happens at weddings or to be more precise the receptions. You try doing the Chicken Dance in the middle of a wedding and see how far that gets you.
When it comes down to it the best music is probably live music. By live I don't necessarily mean Pink Floyd live (Although they were awesome) I mean music you or any other musically inclined person can play in your home or in the back yard. You'll find that you're a lot more forgiving, when it comes to musical tastes, when the person next to you whips out a guitar and pours their heart out in a song, and you know what? You'll find out you don't need that expensive wardrobe, the latest dance steps or that really nice car to appreciate music. All you need is your ears.
Well-known raconteur Len Podbisky is a former Thompson Citizen and Nickel Belt News reporter and former new director of Arctic Radio CHTM-610 AM.