Never Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll

tull

I have reached a new stage in life, and I’ve got to be honest: it’s really pissing me off.

I can deal with the “Everything pops or creaks when I bend over” stage, as well as the “I need a nap every day” stage.  Even the “Why did I come into this room” phase is tolerable.  But folks, this stage is intolerable.

I have now entered the “Today’s music sucks” portion of life.

I always swore I would never be that mom. You know the one. The one who tells her kids to turn down their music because it’s just not as good as the music from her generation. The one who takes over control of the car radio because she just can’t understand the garbage today’s kids listen to.

Yeah, I’m there.

I am the youngest of three kids, and I remember when my two older sisters sat me down sometime in the mid 1970’s and informed me that I was not a normal teenager because I still enjoyed John Denver. They would line up a stack of records on the record player, one after another, and hand me album covers and lyric sheets to study while I listened.

To digress for just a moment, if you are too young to understand the concept of a stack of records or don’t know what a record player is, just walk away now. There just aren’t words sufficient to describe the finesse involved in stacking just enough albums but not too many, and making sure that the quarter taped to the needle arm was in just the right place to prevent skipping.

And no, I am just not pretentious enough to say vinyl and turntable. They were albums and record players, damn it. Sure, kids today have an easier time downloading music off the internet, but that simply can’t compare to the experience of strolling up to Murphy’s Five-and-Dime on a Saturday morning to plunk down my allowance for a handful of forty-fives with their cheap plastic inserts that made them fit on a regular record player.

All it takes is a few notes from “Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die” or “Nights in White Satin” to take me back to those days, sprawled out on the bottom bunk in my sisters’ basement bedroom at two in the morning, listening to music and gazing at album covers while we hoped that mom really was a very heavy sleeper upstairs.

I’m not confessing to anything here, but there may or may not have been a few questionable substances consumed during those late-night listening sessions. Frankly, it was all too long ago to remember all the details. Yeah, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

As I got older, they would quiz me on music trivia, turning on me at random moments to demand things like,  “Who is the drummer for Cheap Trick?” “How many famous musicians died by choking on their own vomit in 1980?” “Who did the artwork on the inside of ‘Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die’?” (For the record: Bun E. Carlos, three, and Dave Gibbons.)

I was in high school before I dared to step away from my sisters’ opinions and started forming my own. My friend Kathy introduced me to songs from this little-known garage band out of Athens, Georgia, and my mind was blown. Couldn’t really understand a word that Michael Stipe sang, but that didn’t stop me from wearing out my homemade casssete of REM’s Chronic Town EP in a matter of months.

chronic

Kathy was also responsible for making me aware of The Replacements, The Jazz Butcher, Peter Case, The dB’s, Robyn Hitchcock, and oh, so many more.

That was music, man. Music that evoked an emotion, that took up residence in my brain and in my soul. Music that still sometimes wakes me up in the middle of the night with stray lyrics running through my mind, keeping me awake until I can remember who sang it and why it was important to me.

And in the morning after one of those nights, I’m left sitting here with my morning coffee, lost in the soundtrack of my life as I wonder whatever happened to that girl who used to know every word to “Bastards of Young”  and “King of Birds.”

She got old; that’s what happened to her.  She became that mom.

But she finally understands what Jethro Tull was singing about:

No, you’re never too old to rock ‘n’ roll
If you’re too young to die

Rock on, y’all.

 

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Totally!

My favorite decade was the eighties, of course!  The fashions, the music, the TV shows – what wasn’t great about the eighties?

Okay, I could have lived without seeing Don Johnson’s rumpled white suits and bare ankles.   And George Michael’s suntanned lips were pretty creepy.  And I could seriously contemplate self-harm if I ever have to watch a Toni Basil video again. But we also got MTV, Max Headroom and REM.  The eighties gave us Moonlighting and launched Bruce Willis on an unsuspecting TV audience. The eighties gave us leg warmers and pegged jeans and slouch boots.  Slouch boots!  Who didn’t feel gorgeous in slouch boots?

I wore earrings in the eighties that could have doubled as fishing lures.  Seven earrings up the left side, one super-long dangler on the right.  A big gold hoop with a spare key dangling from it.  The true question of the eighties is how on earth I managed to come through both earlobes intact.

And the colors.  Jewel tones and bright geometric prints.  Socks that matched the collar that matched the ginormous earrings that matched the bejeweled hairclip.  Color-coordinated matchy-matchy outfits that worked perfectly for someone with my fashion-impaired sensibility.   It was so easy to put an outfit together, like Garanimals for grown-ups.  I wore royal blues and vibrant reds and shades of fuschia that could be seen from outer space.

But my love for the eighties isn’t just about the fashions and the music.  It’s more personal than that.  The 1980’s were the decade when my life really started.

I started and finished high school in the eighties.  Started college, but didn’t finish.  I got my first real job, left home, got an apartment.   Lost my first job.  Hated the apartment and moved into my sister’s basement, got a better job.

I lost my Aunt Ida and my mother and my grandmother in the eighties.

I sold my first article in the eighties, to a now-defunct magazine called “Amazing Heroes.”

I became an aunt in the eighties.  That moment is still right up there as a close second or third behind becoming a mother (a nineties event, not part of today’s post).  Some of the most wonderful people in my life were my aunts; I still find it hard to believe that I have been lucky enough to be an aunt to eight little people.  Not so little, actually; only one is still shorter than I am, and I expect him to pass me in about three years.

And only three of them were born in the eighties, but I’m the kind of aunt who can never brag about just one niece or nephew.

We make fun of the fashions of the eighties now, but the truth was that I felt beautiful then.  Maybe it was because I spent my late teens and early twenties during that decade, and most women begin to recognize their own beauty at that age.

The big, big hair was perfect for me.  Even now, I still have enough hair on my head for a small village.  I wore it long and spiral-permed and pulled it back with scrunchies and bow-shaped barrettes.  And don’t forget the banana clips!  Oh, the banana clips!  Decorated with faux pearls and rhinestones and enough flash and sparkle to blind anyone in a ten-mile radius.

I only stopped wearing a banana clip when I realized LeVar Burton wore one every week as a visor on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

No, LeVar, that's not how you wear a banana clip
No, LeVar, that’s not how you wear a banana clip

Make up in the eighties was totally awesome.  Anybody remember the blue mascara?  Paired with blue eyeliner, it made my small, close-set eyes actually look big for once.  And the lip gloss.  Bonnie Bell Raspberry Lip Smacker was my go-to flavor.  Glosses and roll-ons with fruit-flavored glitter and sparkle that glistened like drool on a teething six-month old.

My sister referred to that look as “Cum-Lips.”  I didn’t understand that in the early eighties, but I caught on somewhere around 1987.  Yes, I was a late bloomer.

My sixteen year-old recently had to dress up for “Eighties Day” for her school’s spirit week.  I wanted to coach her in how to peg her jeans and do her make-up, but she seemed to figure it out just fine.   I wish she would have let me give her “Mall Bangs,” though.  They would have made the outfit.

I'm not sure if I should be proud or afraid
I’m not sure if I should be proud or afraid

15 Little Rules

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So I’m going to blatantly steal a fabulous idea from Awkwardly Alive and Pleasantly Peculiar’s recent post  about making up the perfect list of rules for life.  I enjoyed her list and decided to expand upon it with some rules of my own.

As a parent, I hope I do a good job of teaching these rules to my children.  Or at least of remembering them myself!

1.  At least once in your life, go to a beach in winter.

2.  Be nice to someone who doesn’t deserve it.

3.  Cry once a week, either tears of sorrow or of joy,

4.  Eat dessert first once in a while.

5.  Trust your instincts.

6.  Have fun. Life is shorter than you think.

7.  Find something to like in everyone.

8.  Go to bed angry once in a while.  It’s better than saying things you will regret.

9. Every so often, do something that scares you.

10.  Laugh at a few inappropriate moments.

11.  Find something beautiful in the mirror.

12.  Listen to “Nightswimming” by REM.  Alone.

13.  Never waste a chance to say “I love you” or “I’m sorry.”

14.  Know when to walk away, no matter how much it hurts.
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