I hope I die before I get old sings 75 year old Roger Daltrey.
Age. Is it just a number. Does it not matter anymore ? When is too old?
Ever since I was a kid, I was taught to believe that music was a young man’s game. That if you didn’t make it before you were 24 then you’d be too old, over the hill, not relevant. It seemed as long as you were fresh faced, squeaky clean then that was all you needed.
But is that true? In today’s music world is that the case? I wanted to know and did some research and asked some questions.
It seems it’s been like this since the 50s. Maybe always. Pop music is for the young and fresh, it’s throwaway and disposable it’s not meant to last forever. Like sports people, your successful when your young and then you retire to run a pub or now appear on the never ending panel or reality shows.
But in recent years there has been a big change – mainly driven I feel by the initial demise of pop magazines – Smash Hits/Number 1 as an example, then music papers, Sounds, Melody Maker and the NME. But most importantly I feel the end of weekly music TV shows and the lack of interest in Music Videos has played a huge part. We have no TOTP (apart from classic repeats), no Kids TV to speak of, The Word, The Tube are long gone and the days of musicians spending millions on videos just doesn’t happen. We don’t seem to have the young popstars rammed down our throats everywhere we go (X Factor an exception). Maybe a bit but not like it was.
But we do have, lots of aging musicians still touring, still putting out music, still putting out decent music and they still have an audience – McCartney was due to headline Glasto, The Stones keep rolling, Weller is no longer the angry young man, but arguably is producing the best music of his career. My music heroes are mostly still around – those greats from the 90’s all in their 50’s and still doing it for the Mums n Dads. Us Indie Veterans love it – it makes us feel alive and hopeful and also a sense of smugness that the music we loved back in the day is still revered now – but what do the kids think?
So I asked Teenage Sensations – Revivalry for their comments and this is what they had to say:
Music is art and age is irrelevant. If you are good enough you are old enough and if you are good enough you are young enough. Quality bands and artists have longevity (eg Foo Fighters have a new album coming out shortly) and many bands are still producing high quality tunes after multiple decades and many 80s and 90s bands are very popular among our school friends. The music scene is very fragmented now so there is a space for everyone and whilst image will always play a part in popular culture the music consumer is ageing so the impact may reduce.
Wise words indeed from the young whipper snappers – I think they have a very valid point.
I then asked a couple of up and coming musicians – both are no spring chickens but hardly old in the true sense of the word – first up is Mark of Pocket Lint fame. He’s released a couple of great wonky pop EP’s last year and has been in bands since his youth.
Anyone can make music, at any age, but travelling in a van with no money, nowhere to sleep and no food, is probably a young person’s thing.
I found once I got to about 30, getting back to town after a gig at 3-5am and then going to work while possible just wasn’t that much fun. Aged 30 my band were doing 50 gigs a year and some live radio stuff. The issue was, I was working full time to afford it. (see the above about money and level of comfort. Totally possible if you can all afford to work part time or never due to musical income, but for me, music cost. Recording costs, rehearsal costs, travel to gigs.
During my early twenties, something happened and I started to be more interested in song-writing. The singer from my old band and I lived together and would write together a lot but by my late 20s I was the only person writing songs in the band really. The movement from musician to ‘artist’ happened for me as I got older
One other plus of being older is the degree to which negative feedback whilst crushing isn’t so bad. In our 20s bad reviews were terrible things. Even ones which were good, unless they were felt to be totally onside were viewed with suspicion. These days, I am calmer regarding it all. Possibly as it is not going to be my career, but my art and therefore what someone says about it while I will listen, isn’t going to alter my art. Back in the day, it was jeopardising my career.
I really like these comments – yes its great being young in a band and driving up and down the country gigging but there comes a point where it just isn’t fun anymore. However I sense that these life experiences have helped Mark understand what he wants to do as a musician and certainly how he wants to sound.
Paul Nixon is an aspiring singer song writer and released a number of songs in the last year including the excellent Coming to get you – he had this to say:
Unfortunately for an aspiring solo artist in his 30’s, who has a nine to five to keep up and lives on his own, working and paying the bills along with having some kind of life outside the four walls makes it almost impossible to put the time or money into things like equipment, rehearsals, merchandise, promotion, transport and constant gigging all by myself.
Mummy and Daddy aren’t gonna pay for you to live your dream when your almost 40 years old. When some kids form a band at college or university, still live at home and have all the time in the world, then it’s a different story.
When it comes to the tunes people SHOULD judge you on the songs and not your age or your look, but that doesn’t always happen. I’m writing my best stuff now after all those years of writing utter shite over and over again, and thankfully it’s now going down pretty well with people, but if they saw my hairline first they probably wouldn’t even press play! Of course music’s for everyone to dig whether it’s making it or listening to it.. But when it comes to starting a band or a career I reckon the youth definitely have the upper hand.
So interesting views from both my learned friends and fair comment from Paul that despite everything, image still plays a huge part in music attitudes and therefore age is a factor.
So that’s a view from the musicians – what about the rest of us that listen, write, buy the music and go to the gigs?
Well I think it has changed over the last 10 years or so, with no in your face magazines/TV influencing you what you like, we have all been free to explore what we want and decide what we like. My own personal tale goes back a few years where I was privileged to watch a then 76 year old Glen Campbell perform his then new album/old hits at the BBC Studios. It was triumphant in short – despite his advancing years and early Alzheimer’s that would eventually take him from us – it was a true testament that class is permanent – his voice may of been a bit off at times but his musicianship especially his guitar playing was top drawer – it was a magical night and I think from then it has changed my view on music as a whole. Since that gig, I have seen the likes of The Who (still great), AC/DC (Rocking it big time), ELO – (really good) and the great Stevie Wonder who despite a kidney transplant that was due shortly after was majestic and all I hoped he would be.
And what of new music that I actually write and shout about now? Well as I look down the Indie 100 I see artists such as Crimson Bloom, Moonlight Parade, Vela Incident, GreenCircles etc etc that I’m sure they are happy for me to say won’t see 30, or 40 again. But I ask myself do I gravitate to these bands because of my own age? Would I like them if I was 20 all over again? Well honestly I would and why? Well because the quality is there, the songs are good and I don’t care what age they are or what they look like. This makes me happy – maybe it’s taken me a while to realise this and probably because I care less now then when I was younger but it just means I get to listen to anything I want.
So on that note I leave you to ponder what your views on age in music are and whether you give a toss or not, I’m off to play some Iggy Pop and then Revivalry – separated by many years but closer to each other musically then you could ever want.
Live long and prosper.
Please check out the artists that helped me with this article below. You’ll enjoy it.
Pocket Lint – https://pocketlint17.bandcamp.com/