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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  1. You should see Paul McCartney on stage, boy, how old is he? like a hundred?, and he does these magnificent concerts, playing guitar, bass, piano, singing as the old man he is, and a audience of all ages go just crazy. I went to see Sting last year, and of course he is not a kid anymore, he is a "sir", bald with a coarse voice, and he did such terrific performance, playing with classic musicians, singing oldies goldies, doing acoustic, also he even dared to sing a song a capella!!! I swear that nobody was looking his looks, we were just loving him and having so much fun; it is a matter of perception, I think most of the people goes to this concerts to enjoy the music, and the atmosphere; so keep on choogling, people need to hear your fiddle :)

  2. I have no choogling left, I'm tired - tired of fighting with the system, and with musicians, agents, and others in the business who are offended by my very presence. Paul McCartney, Sting, Mick Jagger, Fogerty - those guys have nothing to be burned out about - for one thing, they all got to take breaks for YEARS whenever they felt like it, and didn't end up homeless, or living with people who only pretended to help them because they wanted something for themselves. They didn't spend years and years listening to drunks and envious musicians trying to take them down, didn't have to listen to endless insults and cheap tactics to try to destroy them. These guys live as they want, in fine houses, driving fine cars, dining in fine places, drinking fine wine, and don't have to work if they don't want to. You saw the story about the world renowned concert violinist (keeping in mind that concert musicians don't get any hype), Joshua Bell played in a subway station for hours, and nobody gave a shit - ya know why - because most people are too damn STUPID to recognize true art, great music, great anything - without the hype. Are you aware that the PR (Public Relations) people who worked the Beatles' tours paid girls to do the screaming and fainting thing? THAT is called HYPE, I call it BULLSHIT, and it's a cheap tactic. FTR, I was never a fan of Paul McCartney, and, only with his hype could he get away with doing a song that half of the lyrics were, "Doo doo doo doot doo, doo doo doo doo doot do..."; and that's not to mention all that acid bullshit noise that whole band made in the late 60s and early 70s. Sting? I could give a shit less about Sting - who appears to me to be nothing more than a glorified lounge lizard. You got Kenny Chesney - Mr. Fucking Cool, who, BTW, has now shaved his head to keep up with "being cool" - what a goddam idiot. Can't sing, can't even tune his own guitar, one of the biggest phonies I've ever seen, and he puts on "Wonderful" concerts - more bullshit hype. Same goes for Jason Aldean, Trace Adkins, Tim McGraw, Zac Brown Band, and most of today's "Country" music stars. I saw Tim McGraw in a live concert, the guy can't even hit half the notes, can't play his goddam guitar, and has the little girls swooning and sighing over him. Yeah, those guys have nothing to be burned out about, they enjoy the good life; I'd like to see how many of them actually earned it.

    Most great people are not famous, and most famous people are not great, there is so much truth in that statement. Me, in my burned out state, I'll keep making music to the best of my ability, I wonder how many of the great stars would still be kicking, or if they would even still be ALIVE, if they had to live way down here with the rest of us - the less than fortunate.