Thursday, January 15, 2009

Joining the Ranks

I've tended to think of myself as young, though--heck, I was born in 1942, and that makes me 66. But I still think of myself as young. But, playing in the bands I'm playing in, I'm starting to adapt to the reality that I'm one of "those" people--people whom the really young, like I used to be, back in the day, looked at and hoped they would never become. I confess--I looked at old people and subconsciously thought, I'm not one of them, and they make me uncomfortable because they're old. Even some musicians, who are now friends, I looked at with suspicion--they were old, and I didn't want to be associated with them.

But I've become nicer to old people, more considerate, more supportive--I cheer them up (I think), I'm friendly, I listen to their tales. And I've discovered more of a fellowship with them. Some guys I thought were pretty alarming are funny. They may not be physically as spry as they were, and some move pretty slowly, but they're quick, witty, they want to be liked (just like me), and they appreciate being appreciated and treated like real people, not "old" people.

Truth to say, a number of them (especially the musicians) have been better than I will ever be--they've been first call studio guys, played with the likes of Maynard Ferguson and Stan Kenton. Now they do any playing they can just to keep playing, and they often still sound very good. A couple lament the loss of their chops--they sound good now, but when I tell them so, they say I should have heard them 20-30 years ago. I bet. They were monsters.

I used to think, wow, these guys are way older than me. But they're not. Maybe 10-20 years, and that's not sounding like much any more. I'm not that far behind them chronologically, though they out-experience me by light-years. The best I can do is keep my chops up to their current level and don't make mistakes they're going to look down on me for. But then, maybe they wouldn't anyway--they've been there too, and they're pretty generous-spirited. Maybe they've gone through the same transition I'm going through.


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