Monday, May 7, 2012

Old Guys Onstage...

Back in the 80s, when I was first starting out in the music business, attitudes were different.  People were out having a good time, seemingly less interested in impressing others (at least in the places I played), just wanting to escape reality for a little while.  Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but in general, less impressing and more funning.

One of the attitudes that has changed drastically from the 80s until now is the way people treat musicians and entertainers - in fact, artists in general.  We seem to get little or no respect these days, society looking down its nose at us, having lots of names for anybody with a guitar in their hand.  Of course, when an artist does somehow get to the "Big Time", people pretend that they were behind him or her the whole time - but that's a whole 'nother.

It appears to me that when an audience sees an entertainer who is in their 20s or 30s, they see them as an "Up and coming" artist, and sometimes look past their societal attitudes and forgive them for having such a horrid vocation as playing a guitar and singing.  A 50 something - well, that's a whole different story.  He is seen as a "Hasbeen", a loser, a lowlife, a bum.  Sometime in my 40s, I started to think that I was losing my touch, my appeal.  In my 20s & 30s, it didn't matter who was listening, I seemed to appeal to most, the comments I would get were most encouraging, and I offended most other musicians with my very presence.  From my 40s up until now, I mostly get ignored in places I play.  I'm not doing anything different - I can still play as well or better than I ever did, and same goes for the singing.  Yes, there are other factors, but for this sitting, I'm only talking about the youngster vs. the Hasbeen.  At 50 something years old, in most people's eyes, I'm a Hasbeen.  Even as recently as two or three years ago, when I broke out the fiddle, people's heads would spin around to see what was going on on the stage, and the room would be noisy after the fiddle song - not the case anymore - at least most of the time.

The funny thing about all this is that I'm ok with it.  It's fair that people don't want to see an old guy on a stage - playing ancient songs.  Yes, there will sometimes be a few oldsters who appreciate the old stuff, but for the most part, old guys onstage just isn't attractive.  So, as I've said a few times here at my place of refuge, I'm going after a different part of the music business - where the music is the only thing that matters.  Playing live hasn't been fun for me for quite a few years now, and I won't miss it when I'm finally in the position where I don't have to do it anymore.  I've half jokingly said many times over the past 20 years, "I'm just a burned out guitar player, still playing because it's all I know".

One thing I can say is that I never sold out, I always did what I wanted to do, never following trends, never trying to be hip or cool. I also never went on a stage looking to take something, only wanting to give some kind of enjoyment to the people who happened to be out there listening.  Yes, I had to make a living, and I somehow managed to do that for 30+ years, but again, never went on a stage to take.  I think I did most of what I set out to.  No, never made it to the "Big Time", and I spent my share of energy wondering why the hell not, but well, that's a whole different part of the story.  I detest most new music, especially new country, and Hip Hop, Rap, or whatever they're calling it.  With new country, with a very few exceptions, the stuff isn't selling, and people seem to be mostly ho hum about it, so that gives me some amount of satisfaction.  Rap, Hip Hop, I guess it's cool to be angry, vulgar, and full of hate, so the kids love it - sad state of affairs, but it's here and there's nothing anybody can do to change that.

Getting ready to make a major geographical change, so I'm kinda in limbo for now.  The plan is to start recording again as soon as I'm somewhat settled.  Who knows, maybe I'll be able to get another drum set so I can use real drums on my recordings - instead of that horrid drum machine.  It appears that nobody was offended by the thing - except me.  Over the past couple of years, I've even started to play for my own amusement - something I never did before.

Ok, guess I'll stop here for now, time to rest my tired old brain.

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