Friday, February 19, 2016

T-t-t-alkin' 'bout M-m-my G-G-G-eriatrics

I subscribe to AARP magazine rather than Rolling Stone. It seemed to me, in hindsight, to be a rather logical progression from one to the other though I confess ending my subscription to RS decades before taking up with AARP.

I subscribed to Rolling Stone in its original form as a biweekly very cumbersome newspaper rather than as a glossy magazine. I imagine the Post Office hated processing the deliveries and sometimes the print came off on your fingers; that’s how newspaperish it was at the time.

It was all about music, pages, and pages of profiles, album and show reviews, new and notes. It seemed to a bunch of us at the time that rock and roll music really was important and we needed something that boasted it was the ‘counterculture's New York Times' to report on it. Hell, RS nicked the Grey Lady’s slogan for their own; “All the news that fits” and we went yeah!

Rolling Stone Magazine may have hit its high water mark in terms of journalism (about which I know now as much as I did then, that is to say, nothing)  covering the McGovern-Nixon presidential campaign in 1972, and only because it had Hunter Thompson as its national affairs correspondent. To this day, forty plus years on, I have no idea how much of what he wrote was true, but every word felt real to me.  

Later while I was in the Air Force stationed in Greenland in the middle Seventies, Neil Young’s mother was on the cover of the Rolling Stone (not that I’m suggesting cause and effect). Except it wasn’t actually his mother, it was someone named Diana Vreeland and she was the editor (publisher?) of a fashion magazine, perhaps Vogue. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I’d already guessed it was nothing good for me in terms of continuing my subscription. I stuck it out in the Air Force until the early Eighties, but I and RS had gone on our separate ways long before I was through going into the Wild, Blue Yonder.   

As the decades have gone on, some of rock music’s truisms have become truths in my mind at least. Rock and roll is, indeed, the music your parents love to hate. I knew that from my music with my parents and in case I forgot much of what our two kids listened to when they listened to anything was crap, of course. Why? Because it didn’t sound like what I had listened to. Are you paying any attention at all?

Now when I stroll through my stacks of wax, the thousands upon thousands of albums I have all cataloged alphabetically by artist and chronologically by release date, I flinch, almost but not quite, imperceptibly at some of the music I saved. 

Me at nearly sixty-four listens to Me who bought those records all those years ago with a barely concealed incredulity I usually reserve for the folks who choose to ignore that ‘no soliciting’ sign beside my doorbell, and when I respond to their ringing, try to tell me about how they’ve accepted the Lord as their personal savior.

Yeah. Those folks and Uriah Heep. Maybe the second album from Lothar and the Hand People or I can use  that on a night when the 2016 Republican Party Presidential Town Meetings are being broadcast and turn the TV volume down and the stereo up to eleven. I think I’m saving Arthur Brown (he of “Fire” fame) and his memorable solo album, Chisholm in My Bosom, for just that televised cat rodeo.

I opened the AARP magazine that arrived in the mail last night to a feature they have on Neil Young, again without his mom, as well as one on Dion of Dion and the Belmonts and a side by side comparison, taking up a whole page, on Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath, both of whom will be road warriors all summer long across these United States.

Ozzy is a decade older than I am (and looks like my memory of Neil Young’s purported mom on the cover of that long-ago RS magazine).  I guess my solace should be that someday my daughter will read about her favorite band, 5 Seconds of Summer, in whatever AARP chooses to call the magazine it will include in her generation’s membership and they’ll have a small section, Where Are They Now, on the inside back cover with one or more Kanye West factoids per issue. Maybe on his mom, too.
-bill kenny

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