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Boomer Rock Gods Don’t Fade Away

image courtesy

image courtesy

Portland Baby Boomers like their rock and roll just so: in time, in tune, and loud.

It goes for all boomers everywhere.

Other music fans are no different.

Classical music reaches for different emotions but stays in tune. With so many instruments it must be challenging.

Bands returning to roots style music like Mumford and Sons use banjos and acoustic guitars and tricky timing that’s a treat to hear if not copy.

Music with universal appeal pumps us up. It’s the extras that bring us down.

Alex Williams, writing for the New York Times News Service, noticed the extras in Roger Daltrey’s shirt, Jon Bon Jovi’s hair, and Paul McCartney’s face. He said the 12-12-12 concert raised money for super storm Sandy victims and also “inspired debate about whether it’s possible to look cool and rebellious after 50 without looking foolish.”

If you went to rock concerts in the 70’s, then you know cool and rebellious. You saw Queen in Freddy Mercury’s prime. Was he cool or rebellious in his hot pants stage gear? Was Elton John cool or rebellious in his big glasses and fluffy costumes? The memory of their shows remain because they could play and sing and fill arenas.

In rock history, cool and rebellious checked out at age twenty seven. Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and later Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse all stopped playing music at twenty seven. They also stopped breathing.

The acts on stage for the 12-12-12 concert knew some of them when they were young. The early deaths must have felt like a warning to heed, but it didn’t kill the music.

Who guessed Roger Daltrey at age 68 could still swing a microphone, blast out the hits, and unbutton his shirt like a true Rock God.

He looked chiseled from the same stone as statues of Zeus. Instead of showing up bloated and confused, he came to do a rock concert, which means his shirt can’t stay buttoned.

Did he look foolish, or did he look like Roger Daltrey is supposed to look? What would Jim Morrison look like at 68? He had a head start toward being a mess.

Paul McCartney at seventy was the oldest rocker at the 12-12-12 show. With no lines on his face or gray in his hair, he turned in a virtuoso performance on bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and piano while screaming, crooning , and staying in key. He’s a star for the ages and proved it by sharing the stage with members of Nirvana.

His microphone always stays on.

For those who want the rockers of baby boomer youth to retire to a nice cottage and tend their garden, dream on. They’re still here and so are their fans. It’s called classic rock and it’ll be around for centuries just like Mozart and Beethoven.

Celebrate their presence, their music, then start working out so you can do the Roger Daltrey shirt trick without looking foolish. Keep practicing guitar so you can step up at the next party and sing like Paul.

It’s nice knowing the old folks of rock can still light a fire. Even more, it’s nice younger people don’t get it any more than elders did back in the day.

You can almost hear the same concerned words from parents in 1968 talk about rock: “They seem like nice young men, but why don’t they get a haircut and turn the sound down?”

Songs of boomer past still ring true today. Just close your eyes and let the music play.

The future of Rock and Roll might be here in Portland.










About David Gillaspie
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