There is a landmark birthday looming, and for at least a couple of years I have regularly sprinkled in the phrase “creeping up on fifty” when referring to myself. Now, I am fixing to pounce.
I think about age a lot, and not only as a result of myself, (and many of my friends,) having half-century birthdays this year. There are good and bad things about aging. Downside includes slower metabolism, and my knees and hips get angry when I run or play basketball. On the upside, I am slow and rickety, creaky enough that I no longer need to wear a pesky bell on my collar while prowling around the yard.
Mary, a woman who has become as much a sister to me as a dear friend, is writing a book about aging. She has successfully written books on a number of diverse subjects: environmental stewardship; the experiences of immigrants in the United States; the importance of family. She started a national conversation about the complex, changing lives and societal pressures placed upon girls and young women with her book, Reviving Ophelia.
She is inspiring. If something interests Mary, she writes an essay, or an op-ed piece, or a good book about it, so I expect her book on aging will be terrific.
Mary and I were taking a walk recently and she was telling me about the interviews she’s been conducting for her book. As I understand it, she is asking mainly retired people to share their thoughts on aging, and some of the questions address the fears that some have of growing old. Not unexpectedly, high on the answer list were the loss of mental and physical capacities – frailty, pain, and dementia. Loneliness too.
My immediate answer would be that I fear irrelevancy.
This pretty simple quote from Mike Sager in a recent issue of Esquire really struck me.
“Aging is an enemy in some ways but a friend in others, and people who rely on their minds should get better and smarter with age – to a point. You don’t start understanding life well until you’re forty.”
I am a wickedly late bloomer in some ways, but in others ways I am old, old, old; and boy, do I rely on my mind.
I often use this space to do just that by reflecting on music as a form of time travel. So, I decided to look back at some of the music that has been most important to me, and most formative, since I was forty, and ostensibly started to understand life well. Here are some quick thoughts on records and artists from the last ten years and why they have been so important to me. Also – some links to a few of their fantastic songs.
By no means a comprehensive selection, I feel the artists featured below deserve more attention. Hopefully you will find something here that is new and loveable.
—Sincerity, ferocity, and commitment can come together to create beauty. Accept drama in art, but not in your life.
Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (2006 ANTI-Records).
—Lots of great, exciting ideas can fit into a compact space. Accept a little drama in your life, as well as in art.
Violens – True (2012 Slumberland Records).
—Still be available to rock.
Serena-Maneesh – S-M 2: Abyss in B Minor (2010 4AD).
—Also, be available to chill.
Destroyer – Kaputt (2011 Merge Records).
—It is okay to hurt, to be sentimental, and to swoon.
Hammock – Raising Your Voice… Trying to Stop an Echo (2006 Darla Records).
Scritti Politti – White Bread Black Beer (2006 Rough Trade Records).
—Actually, don’t worry too much about growing up. Things mostly take care of themselves.
American Analog Set – Know By Heart (Tiger Style Records).
19 may 2015