I'm Gettin' Too Old For This Shit...?

By shane

So it finally happened. I knew it would one day... I just wasn't prepared for it this weekend.

I was sitting on the computer, doing my usual multi-task scenario of downloading tunes, talking to friends, and working on site-related stuff... when a random instant message came across my screen.

A girl named Claire. Who's pretty spiffy. Who saw my profile on some corny site or another and IM'ed out of the blue to say I sounded "funny."

Right off the bat, it was obvious that Claire was a bit on the young side. In fact, a LOT on the young side. I quickly asked Claire her age (16), and then told her I was 32 and an old fart.

Now, before you start thinking I'm REALLY pathetic, this column isn't about me seducing a 16 year old girl over the internet... sorry, it's just not my thing, and I quickly beat a retreat from the chat.

But, me being the quintessential music nerd that I am, and Claire being the junior music nerd that she made herself out to be, I told her before I left that I was an administrator of a music site, and that she should check it out from time to time if she wants to stay up-to-date on cool music.

Her response?

"Yeah, like I'd take advice on what music is 'cool' from some middle-aged guy."

I might as well hang it up right here, then. I'm officially old, and just got informed of that fact by a 16-year-old girl.

I've never wanted to be cool in my life, really. Well, maybe in high school. But even "cool" in my high school meant being on the football team and having a cheerleading girlfriend and what-not. So no, I never wanted to be cool. "Arty cool," yeah, I'll give you that. I'd love to be the mysterious rebel guy who sits in the back of the quad at lunch, making some wholly interesting piece of art out of, let's say... tin cans, Shrinky-Dinks, and cold, cold steel. Maybe a piece that speaks of the indignity of human life, and the frailty of the soul, and mankind's oppression by technology, and the exploitation of mass media, and... and...

And let's face it. I'm a shallow fuck. I couldn't have an original artistic thought to save my life. (See, I just spent like five minutes looking for a better analogy for that last sentence and came up empty-handed. That's how un-creative I can be.)

Point is, I decided long ago that I'm a non-artist. But I LIKE art. I'll freely admit that I don't understand it half the time, but I like art.

I can't be a literature nerd. I don't get into it enough to be able to pull symbolism out of the written word. I've never cried over a book. I remember discussions in high school along the lines of, "So what did that tree represent in Chapter 4?" And me thinking, "Fuck, I was pretty sure it was just a damn tree."

I certainly can't be a visual art nerd. Same thing happens: "See how the artist's use of shadow textures extends the hopelessness pouring from the center of the piece." That's what art nerds say. What I say is, "Ooh, that picture is pretty" or "Ooh, that painted man looks funny. Lookit the funny man" or let's not forget, "Wow, chicks in the Middle Ages sure were fat." That's really where my brain goes when I'm at an art gallery, I'll admit it.

I can't be a movie nerd, either. All it takes is one look at my DVD collection to get that point across. You've Got Mail, Spice World, Dawson's Creek, etc., etc., etc. I can tell you that I've got every David Lynch movie that's ever been released on DVD, that I've got all kinds of indie movies... but as long as that Dawson's Creek Season One box set sits on my shelf, I'm out of the picture on this one, friends.

Which leaves music. For some reason, it's my life. My release. MY art. I can't begin to explain it. Don't think I could, really. From the moment my mom handed me my first record (Jay and the Americans, "The Wax Museum," garage sale, 1976) to the first tape I bought with my own money (John Lennon/Yoko Ono, "Double Fantasy," 1980) to the first time I walked into a record store and left with one of those weird shiny compact discamajigs (New Order, "Substance")... music has seen me through the best of my life and the worst of my life.

And, yeah, when it comes to music, I've always been a pretty cool fucker, I've thought. The guy who turns all his friends on to cool new bands. The guy whose friends always wanna raid his CD collection. The guy whose columns make people laugh AND hopefully think a bit.

And now here I sit. At 12:30 in the morning. By myself (discounting my cat.) Feeling a bit silly.

A bit silly that my life hasn't particularly "evolved." That my CD collection has gone from "impressively big" to "wow, you must be completely pathetic and have no life." That my favorite current bands are YOUNGER THAN ME.

And now this. A diss, be it in jest but a diss still, from a 16-year-old, pointing out in one swift blow that I'm neither young nor cool. And that these two things add up to a non-credible basis for music opinion.

And she may have a point. Hell, when I was 16, I wouldn't listen to a thing a 32 year old guy had to say about music. I remember thinking bands like the Jayhawks were "old fart music." Today I listened to their new record and quite liked it.

So I've been thinking about all this for a couple days now. And the more I got to thinking, the more I realized that society can go and screw itself.

Yes, I'm 32. But who cares?

Music can still touch my soul in ways that no one or thing could ever hope to. Last night, a Cocteau Twins record almost made me cry. I still like to listen to music so loud it pins the speakers in my car.

And so long as I can still get THAT damn excited about something... you know I'm gonna babble about it. Coz I'm pretty sure I've still got something to say. Lemme psyche myself up and try something to see if I've still got the knack... ready?


THE NEW BLUETONES ALBUM IS SHIT! SHIT, SHIT, SHIT! It's an over-indulgent piece of garage rock poo, perhaps one of the biggest sell-outs in the history of history. It's Mark Morriss trying to cash in on The Strokes, the lo-fi music doesn't work with his sugary voice, it has absolutely nothing to say, the only hook to be found is the one reaching out to pull them out of the limelight, and this record's existence makes me violently upset. This album could, in time, prove to be the biggest personal let-down in the history of Shane.

Yeah, I've still got it. Right on.

So the moral of the story? I don't know if there is one, other than spiffy little Claire has underestimated this music nerd. And I hope... no, I don't hope, I bloody well DEMAND... that none of you reach an age where you suddenly think that music is "childish," and that you need to sell off your cd's and go raise a family or what-have-you. Keep music close to your heart... because at the end of the day, a good song can tell more about yourself than any mirror on Earth could.

Too old? Fuck, man, there's NO SUCH THING. I could give a shit about being "cool." Let me be the grey-haired freak the kids make fun of at concerts. Let me be the eccentric guy on the mailing list who equates everything to Captain Beefheart. Let them have to wheel me to the DJ booth, I don't care. Music is my food... music is my air... and God help anyone who tries to take away my sustenance and breath.

(p.s. and to spiffy Claire, should she ever read this, I know you were just taking the piss, and I still hope you check the site every so often. Just know you sent me down what I hope to be the only two-day midlife crisis of my adult life.)

(p.p.s. The new Bluetones really IS rubbish, you know. And I love that band like few others. But this one's crapadelic, I'm afraid.)