Time to move on?
Too many baby boomers are stuck in the musical past..
OH, I believe in yes-ter-day,” Paul McCartney sang. This may be the Beatles lyrics heard most often. It might also be the mantra of baby boomers when it comes to their musical choices.
How many boomers were thrilled to see McCartney and Ringo Starr together on the Grammys last month?
On the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, the question is: Why aren’t boomers – and I’m one – more open to the music of today instead of being so obsessed with the sounds of yesterday?
“New music is the province of the studiously indolent,” noted Lin Brehmer, 59, a DJ for Chicago’s WXRT-FM.
“There is lots of great new music whether you have time to listen to it or not.”
Boomers are too busy paying their kids’ college tuition or babysitting their grandkids or taking care of their ageing parents.
Who has time to putz around with Pandora or Spotify to find new artistes? Who wants to sit through lame skits on Saturday Night Live just to see the cool new band your children are talking about?
Instead, many boomers take the easy route and shell out big bucks to go to the museumlike concerts of Fleetwood Mac, Elton John and the Who, or delve into the latest boxed set by the Beatles, Bob Dylan or Sly Stone.
Paying attention to the Beatles is somehow reassuring to boomers.
“They uplift us and we can say ‘We’re not that old’ as long as you avoid the mirror,” says New Jersey writer Penelope Rowlands, 62, who was at the airport when the Beatles arrived in New York City in 1964.
“We totally identified with them. They’re still cool. So maybe we’re OK, too, in the eyes of the younger people.”
Yes, we get insecure as we grow older, don’t we? Maybe we can see the end rather than the future. Maybe we don’t rule the world anymore. So we find comfort in our prideful past.
McCartney and Starr sure looked great on the Grammys, didn’t they? They’re older than me and don’t have one shade of gray.
“We want our heroes to be forever young,” says Barry Faulk, 52, author of British Rock Modernism, 1967-1977.
Don’t we all wish. “You hope your heroes and yourself age gracefully,” says Brehmer. “As long as Keith Richards is alive, he imparts immortality for baby boomers. And he’s still chain smoking.”
Rowlands, author of the new The Beatles Are Here! 50 Years After the Band’s Arrival In America, thinks boomers viewed the Beatles “as mythic figures, gods striding across the stage.” But she no longer worships the Fab Four. After all, she says, “Paul just married a Jersey girl.”
She now sees the Beatles as old friends whom we’ve welcomed into the intimacy of our living rooms for 50 years.
For many boomers, their music – or that of any other golden oldie – is like comfort food.
Says Brehmer: “When things are bleak and we turn to music, a side of the Beatles’ White Album is like a plate of mac and cheese to me.”
You can have your mac and cheese. And your TV dinners. And your music of your youth.
RACHEL Guerzo isn’t all about swinging jazz favourites and romantic numbers. On stage at Kuala Lumpur’s No Black Tie recently, Guerzo proved that she could also find inspiration from an unlikely source. Sitting behind the piano, she sang an emotive rendition of Sejati, which is local rock band Wings’ signature anthem from the multi-platinum Teori Domino album from 1990.
If anything, Guerzo’s version of Sejati, done at a glacial pace, was a fascinating listen. It’s amazing to think the tune – already familiar with its gamelan/guitar solo intro and Wings singer Awie’s big arena vocals – was reinterpreted as a deeply haunting piano lullaby.
She was also in fine form on Jerat from Harvey Malaiholo and Dia, made popular by Indonesian Vina Panduwinata and our very own Datuk Sheila Majid. The song sounded different, yet the same. The infectious Sabar Menanti, a hit by the late Broery Marantika, also got an airing.
I don’t go to my high school reunion simply to relive old times. I want to know: What’s new with you?
Likewise, I’d prefer to see living, breathing heroes who still make new music.
McCartney, Dylan and especially Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young are challenging themselves with new material. They are proving their vitality while still acknowledging their past.
“I think Paul feels obligated and responsible to not just be a Beatles legend,” Faulk said, “but to somehow keep on moving.”
Even if Springsteen’s new album High Hopes is a bit of a letdown, he’s challenging himself with new tunes and new collaborators – notably guitarist Tom Morello, a Gen X hero from Rage Against the Machine who adds new tex-
The fanfare never dipped through the night, and another delight was the Adam Ahmadpopularised Kau Pergi Jua. It was obvious that only those who grew up in the 1990s were most familiar with the tune, though.
Throughout the show, Guerzo retained her momentum with sublime versions of Malay classics Kau Pergi Jua and Sabar Menanti, performed intimately with her on piano and backed by two other musicians. All the songs she sang were very recognisable, though performed in the smooth jazz vein.
“I wanted to present this music in its most organic form, remaining true to and not straying too far away from my regular jazz format,” said Guerzo, 39, of Malaysian-Filipino descent.
The singer said she came up with the idea for the Sejati album to surprise her fans. “I have been planning to record a Malay album for sometime now. But I didn’t have a clear idea of how to go about it, in terms of song selection and concept. It was just an idea playing in my mind.
“As it happened, a couple of weeks after I met bassist Ruslan Imam, to discuss my new project, I bumped into my first boyfriend. That was kind of strange, but I would call it serendipity,” recalled Guerzo, the grand-daughter of Alfonso Soliano, the late legendary saxophonist and Orkes RTM leader.
“I always associate music with memories. For me, when I reminisce, it’s like I have a soundtrack for memories. So, when I saw my first love, can you imagine the soundtrack that was playing in my head?”
Guerzo and her team picked more than 40 songs for the album, and narrowed the list down to 12, with eight making it onto Sejati. But why would she bother recording an album given the absence of a recordbuying culture today?
“Producing a new album is the way to stay relevant in the music industry. We have to make sure we do something fresh,” she explained. Opting for minimalism on Sejati, Guerzo wanted to showcase her growth tures and dimensions to the E Street Band.
Or maybe, to carry the food metaphor further, it’s time for boomers to try some brand new, organic flavours.
“The Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons and Jake Bugg are using instruments and musical styles that are as appealing to 55-year-olds as they are to 18-year-olds,” Brehmer says.
Don’t think this musical nostalgia is limited to baby boomers.
Gen X-ers flock to see the likes of Journey, Guns ‘N Roses and New Kids On The Block.
My suggestion: When you get together with old friends, ask to hear what’s new – as long as they don’t talk about their health issues. We know we’re not half the man we used to be. McCartney already told us that. – Star Tribune/ McClatchy-Information Services as a pianist and singer. “Through my new album, I hope to showcase my growth as a musician, because my first album was dressed up with more instrumentation,” admitted Guerzo.
“I have chosen these songs specifically because they have a special meaning to me. I wanted it to showcase my personal touch on the songs. They are songs that listeners can identify with and relate to. They are easy listening and great to wind down to after work.”
She added that her late father, arranger and saxophonist, Salavador Guerzo, was her main mentor and inspiration, and was instrumental in the successful production of her debut album. However, for Sejati, she faced a huge challenge as she had to produce the material on her own.
“Personally, Sejati makes me proud to be a Malaysian musician as I am able to share my inner thoughts and personal feelings through my song choice and the way I present them,” concluded Guerzo.
Sejati can be purchased from www.rachelguerzo.my.
Moving music: When Paul McCartney and ringo Starr reunited at the Grammy awards last month, baby boomers were thrilled to say the least.