Time to move on?

Too many baby boomers are stuck in the mu­si­cal past..

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MUSIC - By JoN BReAM By AZHARIAH KAMIN en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

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.

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