It was 1993. It was a time when I could still fool myself that I was young (28), and the illusion of a whole, unrealized, boundless future seemed ahead of me. Why, I’m in my twenties, I could say then. I’m still practically a kid. It felt that I had barely started living yet. And I hadn’t even yet figured out what I really wanted to do with my life. At that time, I was working as a periodicals clerk in the public library, until I figured out what I wanted to accomplish with my so very valuable B.A. in psychology, which would surely open many doors for me, and provide for a rather illustrious career (It’s 17 years later, and I’m still working at the library, so you can see how well that worked out).
Two things happened to me on an otherwise beautiful Spring day which popped that brightly colored balloon. Taken separately they were trivial little occurrences. But put them together, and a synergistic effect took place that was like a sucker punch to the ol’ breadbasket, knocking all the wind out of my sails.
The first was overhearing a conversation a couple of my “younger” workmates were having that morning. They were talking about music, and mentioned “Dinosaur Jr.”
“Is that a group?” I asked, innocently. They both looked at me bug-eyed, incredulously, as if I had just said, “My name is Morgog, and I am from the planet Neptune.” After their initial shock wore off, they went back to their conversation, and continued pretending I wasn’t there. Which was good, as it gave me time to mull over what had just happened.
I had never heard of Dinosaur Jr. before. I didn’t know if it was a musical group, a singer in a musical group, or what. Not a clue. Apparently, this Dinosaur Jr. was something of a phenom. So why hadn’t I heard of it, him, them? I was finally able to put two and two together, and realized I had stopped listening to new music. I no longer had my finger on the pulse of the music scene. In my teens, there wasn’t a song on the radio that I didn’t know who the artist was. Now, it occurred to me, if I turned the radio on (which I also just realized I hadn’t done in years), I probably couldn’t name a single tune.
The second thing that happened to me later that day was being called “sir” for the first time.
“Excuse me, sir,” the little pimply-faced twit said to me. “Could you help me find this book?”
For a brief, fleeting second, I felt a rush of self-importance. Sir. A sign of respect. Admiration. But then reality rushed in, and with the remembrance of the morning realization, it hit me. I was no longer young. I no longer belonged to that world. I was old.
I could go on and on about the other jolts that brought my looming last years into greater focus: the loss of my hair, my fading mental sharpness, the only gains being those in my girth. But I’ll spare you all that.
Suffice it to say that although I’m still comfortably out of it, and not really minding too much, it occurred to me recently that I might be missing out on some really good stuff. So I’ve started trying to reacquaint myself with the current world. It could be said that there is something pathetic about a person of my age trying to keep up with the latest and greatest. But, then again, if I didn’t, then I would’ve never heard of Die Antwoord (thanks Amy), and had the immense pleasure of listening to “Ritch Bitch”. Although, I’m still trying to figure out what “Zef” means.
And I would be particularly appreciative if you would be willing to share some of your favorite new music. Or old music; maybe I’ve never heard it before. I have been out of it a while, you know. I’m particularly grateful to mellowpuma for turning me onto “The Magnetic Fields.” Great stuff, although I’m still trying to convince puma I’m really not Stephin Merritt.
So, if you have some more suggestions, I would be much obliged. Who said you can’t teach an old hound dog some new tunes?