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Rock of ages

June 25, 2011

This is the time of year that the BBC treats us to the Glastonbury Festival. Hours and hours of music, some of it running late into the night. It has only been 24 hours so far, but I have already really enjoyed Mumford & Sons, been amused by Cee Lo Green, heard Noel Harrison sing his classic “Windmills of Your Mind”, been introduced to The Gaslight Anthem, and studiously avoided U2 (Why do people like them? Just horrid).

There are so many more people I am hoping to hear — Fleet Foxes (pictured), KT Tunsall, Pentangle, Elbow, Warpaint, Thea Gilmore, Paul Simon, 3Daft Monkeys, Dreadzone and on and on (hopfully missing Beyonce).

But all this got me thinking, Why am I not there?

The answer is that when I look at the crowds on TV I know that I would be out of place. The nearest person to my age I have seen was a guy who was maybe in his late-40s — and he stood out so much that the BBC decided he was worth a shot.

This is more than sad, it is wrong. I come from the generation that if not actually inventing rock at least refined it into the massive phenomenon is now is. Why have so many of my contemporaries given up discovering music and going to see it.

I felt this a few years ago when I went with my son to see Clutch play at the 930 Club in Washington. Clutch — “Hey there, what’s that smell? Smells like cornbread done too well” — are a medium heavy stoner rock band, right up there with the likes of early Free, Budgie and the bands that were floating around London in the early 197os. But with the exception of some of the band’s parents, I was the oldest there — and this was more than 10 years ago.

Now plenty of my contemporaries go to see the bands of their youth (as I do). But not many are willing to cross the road for something new. Perhaps they feel shy? Or too tired to reclaim the night?

There is also a degree of ageism involved in this in the sense that it is not very comfortable being 20 years older than everyone else around you. They think you are strange — or worse, sweet. People also laugh in the same way they do when they talk about greats like the Stones, Floyd, Clapton still playing into their 60s. As if Beethoven should have quit when he hit 30 or Rostopovich should have packed away his cello in 1957.

This is a nonsense. New music is just as good and bad as old music and if we like it, we should embrace it.

Which is why I have decided to give serious thought to going to Glastonbury next year. Any one want to come? Who knows, the BBC might focus in on us.

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From → Music

One Comment
  1. You’ll have to wait until 2013…
    I’m off to the Isle of Wight instead…(but then I’m only 42…)

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