INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY
Rick considers the past, present and future of a musician’s life.
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that we all get old. One day, after the old respiratory system has packed up, we’ll all head off to rock’n’ roll heaven or in some cases, rock’n’ roll hell, where I believe you’re forced to listen to early country and western for all eternity.
A musician’s life changes as the years go by and it’s interesting to reflect on how people’s attitudes towards us alter as we age. I’m sure some of this will resonate with those of you who are still young enough to resonate.
In your teens, you’re open to all kinds of music. It’s during these formative years that your personal taste starts to develop and move to the forefront of what you play. It’s all very exciting. Once you reach your 20s, you tend to focus even more on your preferred musical style and now associate with like-minded musicians. If you’re fortunate enough, record companies will clamour for your signature and your fanbase will grow by the day. You may even win a few awards for your craft.
In your 30s, you still play your music of choice but now you think that all other music has little relevance in your life along with the musicians who play it. Your record company is no longer so keen on your sound and you may even be dropped. You fanbase starts to dwindle and the awards begin to disappear.
Once you hit your 40s, it starts becoming difficult to earn a living playing the music you love, so you find yourself delving into styles you’d previously dismissed. Your record label might re-sign you for a pittance and you’ll end up making an album of their choice. There are no more awards and by the time you reach your 50s, you’re playing whatever and wherever you can just to pay the mortgage. You also bemoan the death of record stores and proper record companies, but there will still be a hard core of fans to keep your music alive. Just.
By your 60s, many of your peers are no longer alive and you’re simply grateful to still be breathing. You play whatever people want to listen to, anywhere that will have you and you might even win your first lifetime achievement award. But by the time you reach your 70s, every agent around the world wants to book you and every record company wants to sign you. Venues are full again, and CD and vinyl sales rocket. Disillusionment tells you that you’re in vogue again, but reality says that’s only because the audience now realise how old you are and want to see you before you head off to rock’n’ roll heaven or country and western hell.
As for me, I’ll keep going for as long as I can because I can’t stand country and western.
“By your 60s, many of your peers are no longer alive and you’re simply grateful
to still be breathing.”