How did we get to be the first generation of grandparents who love and listen to rock ‘n’ roll? Better still, how did the rock ‘n’ rollers we love and listen to get to be grandparents?
I went to see the Who the other night. Actually, I went to see Roger Daltry and Peter Townsend the other night. They’re all that’s left of the original Who.
They were brilliant. Their music sounded almost as good as it did the first time I heard it.
But I have to confess I had a hard time looking at the stage. Don’t get me wrong. They were both in great shape physically. And they were still exhibiting their tense relationship, that unspoken animosity that always made their pairing so wonderfully rock ‘n’ roll.
But I have to tell you—they looked ancient. Roger’s swinging microphone was more than a smidge offbeat, and Townsend’s famous sweeping circular guitar strum didn’t quite look real.
But if my idols were tarnished with age, they looked a sight better than those of us who were watching them. I have never seen so many bald, chubby and distinctly uncoordinated people in my life.
What passed for dancing in the aisles at this concert looked more like Elaine’s spastic dance episode on Seinfeld. Not a pretty sight.
But my guess is we will never stop rocking.
We were the first generation to go to big stadium concerts. The Beatles at Shea Stadium was my first memory of a stadium extravaganza. Up until that point in time, bands always played relatively small venues.
Then we went big time for festivals, usually on farms or big rural areas far from the trappings of urban life. Woodstock forever!
Kids nowadays are returning to smaller venues to enjoy their music. They don’t like giant stadiums where they can’t get up close and personal with the musicians.
But boomers still go to big stadiums and arenas to listen to their favorite artists. That’s why Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith are the highest-earning musicians year in and year out.
One thing that does confuse me is how did I get to be like my parents? I don’t know about you, but when I listen to any music put out by today’s artists, I get a nauseous feeling in my stomach and I hear my father’s voice speaking inside my head.
“What is that stuff?” I ask the youngsters, echoing Dear Old Dad. “How can you listen to that noise?”
Hip-hop makes me want to jump off a cliff. Today’s pop music makes me want to gag. And rock ‘n’ roll seems to have disappeared from the airwaves altogether.
But there is still hope. I bumped into a couple of 14- and 15-year-olds the other day and asked them what they were listening to these days. “Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and the Doors,” they said.
I do get some comfort from the notion that my generation’s music might live forever. And even though I know deep down that I won’t, there’s something inside me that clings to the eternal youth that is rock ‘n’ roll.
In fact, I tell myself, there’s still time to take up the guitar. I can be a rock star yet.
Andy Nibley has been a CEO in four different industries and currently heads up a marketing/advertising agency in New York.
Originally Published on GRAND Magazine in January-February 2007.