Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why old musicians are so fabulous.

After the gig last night (we sang/played early American songs and fiddle tunes for Revolutionary War reenactors at the Moore's Creek National Battlefield) we were supposed to go to the hotel the sponsors had reserved for us, but the notion of hobbling on my awful swollen leg up into a hotel room with all my gear and then hobbling back down again in the morning was so unappealing that I hopped in the truck and drove home.

On the way I heard this quote:

Every artist dips his brush in his own soul
and paints his own nature into his pictures.

Henry Ward Beecher, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, 1887

It immediately made me think of that wonderful movie I saw recently, Young @ Heart, octagenarians singing Clash and Cold Play, and the Buena Vista Social Club, ancient Cubans, re-united by Ry Cooder, and laying down the most fabulous groove, with no sense of hurry or grandstanding...

Young musicians are often so hungry, so anxious to prove themselves, to be something special, to make their fortunes; they make me weary with their striving.

Old musicians have learned the best thing they have to offer the world is their souls: they may get hoarse, their fingers may get gnarled a bit with arthritis, but they know what they've seen "out there" - in their lives and in their glimpses of the beyond - and it's in the music.

I want to be like them. I want to live a long time, and I want to keep singing and playing, and I want to be more and more myself, playing with my friends, offering anybody who cares to listen the sum total of what I've seen, suffered, loved, and wondered. I've gotten to the point where I hardly care if anybody's listening, it's the offering that's important.


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