The old Rocker wore his hair too long, wore his trouser cuffs too tight. Unfashionable to the end --- drank his ale too light. Death's head belt buckle --- yesterday's dreams --- the transport caf' prophet of doom. Ringing no change in his double-sewn seams in his post-war-babe gloom.
Jethro Tull - 1976
Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die, was the title track of a studio album released by Jethro Tull back in 1976 - the year that I graduated high school. The album was digitally remastered and re-released in 2002 and is still a part of my collection. The principle of the album is that although a style of music may go out of popularity, it will always come back again.
Today I want to talk about making a come back. About taking another stab at doing something that you have always wanted to do. You are never too old to have your dreams come true - this may sound cliche but it is true. I made my own come back when I was 40, and if I can do it, believe me so can you. You are older, wiser, probably have more money, more connections and better transportation too. The kids are most likely grown - or close to it and you have more time too. Seriously why shouldn't you reach for that brass ring? Come along with me on this magic carpet ride, start a love train, ride my see saw, fly like an eagle into your future!
My youthful attempts at putting a band together simply did not pan out. We were children, jealous of each other, unsure of ourselves. Stupid really - with no idea of what it really took to be in a band or much about life for that matter. Although my life long love of all things rock n' roll, was not affected by my early disappointments and delusions, pursuit of an education, marriage, divorce, single motherhood, financial hardship, illness and a series of ludicrous relationships seemed to get in the way of me trying it again. Devoted to my job, my kids, whoever I was seeing at the time, and financially always just getting by, as the years rolled by I never seemed to find the time. Lullabies, accompanying the school chorus, entertaining myself, and annoying the neighbors was about all there was to it. The most crushing blow came when the kids and I had to move abruptly, and I had to sell my beloved piano for moving expenses. I kept a stiff upper lip, while silently weeping.
I never gave up dreaming however. I knew deep inside that I could accomplish anything that I set out to - after all when it came to difficult situations didn't I always find a way of working things out? If I had learned anything, I had learned that the time would never be completely right, that I was never going to have all of my ducks in a row, and most of all that I needed to ignore the naysayers trying to convince me that I couldn't do what it was I wanted to do. I was after all an adventuress, a philosopher, and a dreamer, I had moved many a mountain when I had to, couldn't I do the same because I wanted to?.
Which is why I decided to learn to play the bass at the age of 40 - economically cheaper than replacing my piano. Although I was merely playing along to my CD's and jamming with my roommate Jackie, I was making music and having fun too. Every night after everything was settled down, I would be in my room with my bass, practice amp and little boom box.
Flash forward about a year and a half. I had been dating my husband Tim, an excellent guitarist who played in a working band, for just a few months when my first opportunity to play with a band arose. His band was playing at a party and the bassplayer didn't show up. Next thing I knew I had a bass in my hand. Although I barely knew enough of the songs on their list to get through one set, even though I had to learn a couple of songs on the spot, even though I was humbled by the superior musicians and my knees were actually knocking together, it was one of life's miraculous moments. I had never experienced that kind of natural high before - there was simply nothing to compare to it - I wanted more please.
I needed to be in a band. I needed to gain more experience in order to improve myself and to make performing a regular thing. So I signed on as bassplayer for a band (later to be) known as Dead Planet. Their Craig's List ad indicated that they were an original metal band, that didn't care what age you were, whether you were a guy or girl, they just needed a bassplayer dammit. So I exaggerated my experience, my love for all things metal and otherwise walked around as if I knew what the hell was going on. I played Crazy Train - the only thing close to metal that I knew and then a couple of classic hard rock songs and I got the spot. I was a nervous wreck at the first couple of rehearsals, but as Tim put it: if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Hell yeah! Very good advice from a musician who understood exactly what I was going through. Another musician had told him the very same thing a very long time ago. I was with Dead Planet for nearly two years.
Its funny the stupid little things in life that can give you an epiphany though. Mine happened in a somewhat annoying way. An ex-boyfriend - the kind of ex that you never really want to ever see or talk to again - having heard rumors of me being in a band and in a serious relationship with a musician, called and snidely remarked well, I heard the news, have a good time living your rock n' roll fantasy. I remember him repeating that phrase three times as if I had failed to hear him correctly, when I did not respond. Actually, I was completely dumbstruck with the realization that this was not a fantasy, this was my reality.
I have been playing out for 10 years now, in original bands, cover bands, and tribute bands on both bass and keyboards (on our first anniversary of dating, Tim surprised me with a Korg SP-500 keyboard - isn't that awesome?) Tim and I write and record our own original music in our own recording studio and our songs are being played on net radio stations all over the world, on CD's and podcasts. I am honored to have been invited on several occasions to perform as a guest artist for various bands as well. Currently I am in a cover band with a bunch of great musicians about my own age, who I really like a lot - its a lot of fun and I love our fossil rock ha! It seems the sky is the limit once you get the ball rolling.
So what advice do I have for you as to making your own comeback?
1. You are older, wiser and more capable of realizing your dreams now than you have ever been.
2. You can overcome those past crushing blows, the past is - well the past.
3. Tune out the stupid naysayers - they have no idea what they are talking about.
4. You have moved mountains in your lifetime - compared to that, this is nothing.
5. Start small, work hard and when those golden opportunities hit, take that leap, don't even think about bowing out.
6. Don't be afraid to take chances - what you want just might work out for you. If you don't take a chance, you will never know what would have happened if you did.
7. Seek inspiration and advice from those who know from experience.
8. Remember, if what you were trying to do was easy, everyone would be doing it! It's going to take a bit of work, be brave and don't give up - you are on to something real special.
9. Epiphanies come at strange times, in strange ways. Don't seek them, they will find you.
10. Don't be afraid at the way time flies! Relish it. You are going to have something to look back at and be very happy about in 1, 2, 5, 10, 12 years.
11. Don't stop once you've got the momentum going. It only gets better from here.
12. Last but not least remember:
You're never too old to Rock'n'Roll if you're too young to die.
Now go out and live your extraordinary life into the horizon and know that I love you!