Bob Seger once said “Rock ‘n’ Roll never forgets.” I’m reminded of that because I caught Seger in concert a year or so ago, and true to tradition, that song figured prominently in his set.
But it wasn’t the song itself that inspired me. Actually, it was the sentiment that surrounded me. It was being at that place, at that time, at that concert, wholly and completely immersed in the music.
Among other things, I’ve come to the realization that I am now, have always been and will continue to be passionate about rock ‘n’ roll and the attitude that goes along with it.
It’s accepting all that’s precious to me — music, God’s precious creatures, family, friends, goodness and grace. Those are the ideals that define me… and to quote Mr. Seger again, in a line from his song “Traveling Man”… “those are the memories that make me a wealthy man…”
If this sounds like so much proselytizing, bear in mind that this is as much about affirming my own identity as it is trying to define anyone else’s. There are certain expectations that come with age – that you have to accept responsibility, shed the things of your youth, temper your dreams, act your age. There’s that thing about image – you’ve got to cut your hair, wear three-piece suits, behave more like a banker than a bohemian, and not let sentiment or sensitivity get in the way of ambitions and intents.
Consequently, I’m forced to confess that I rarely follow any of those dictates. For example, I’m hardly one to dress age appropriate. My hair extends down to my shoulders, I occasionally neglect to shave, tie dye still finds a place in my wardrobe and dang if I don’t consider the Beatles and the Stones perfect fashion templates. Yeah, I’m a retro guy, but I really don’t mind at all.
So what does this have to do with Rock ‘n’ Roll? Everything, actually. In the ‘60s, music became a mantra, a lifestyle, an overriding influence that defined the attitudes and mores of an entire generation. Suffice it to say, I’m a child of the ‘60s, and so those sentiments have always stayed with me. Mind you, there’s a fine line between being young at heart and emotional retarded, and yeah, maybe I could be accused of that too. Some would say I fearlessly cross that divide.
After all, I relate more to younger people than I do to someone intent on proving him or herself an old fart. Hearing a new album by, say, Elvis Costello or the Avett Brothers means a hell of a lot more to me that the cost of coffee in Argentina. It’s hard not to take things to seriously and keep an irreverent attitude, but I gotta say I admire my rock ‘n’ roll heroes for doing just that. And they seem happy to boot. No wonder then that those are the role models that I’m determined to follow… forsaking the obvious over indulgence that sometimes accompanies that commitment of course.
Rock ‘n’ Roll is about setting yourself free, as Bob Dylan once sang, “To dance beneath a diamond sky with one hand waving free.” Every time I hear those words I get choked up. It’s the ideal, isn’t it? As the Lovin’ Spoonful promised, “The magic’s in the music, and the music’s in me… Believe in the magic and it will set you free…”
This summer I’ll indulge that muse, as I do most summers, We’ll take in a music festival or two and literally lose ourselves in the music, hoping eventually that when we retire, music will set the course of our ongoing existence and the spirituality will seep through. We’ll be able to latch on to an enduring lyric, an infectious melody, all in the hope of that single possibility.
Am I being too simple, too naive? Probably, but I’d rather live my life with that one hand waving free then one where the weight of the world is dragging me down. Sure, I have an immature haircut and quite possibly, an immature attitude. Always have, always will. Hopefully, I’ll still be rocking the nursing home. But when the drummer kicks in a backbeat and the guitarist lays into a riff that resonates, I know I’ll always be in the right place.