By Joe Rector
Amy and I sat on the couch the other night and watch a program we’d saved from PBS. No, we weren’t viewing the latest “Downton Abbey” program, nor were we watching another Ken Burns documentary. My wife and I sat mesmerized as the Doobie Brothers rocked the stage. It was a good night to settle in and listen to some of that good old music.
The audience at this concert consisted of my generation. Plenty of silver-haired women and bald-headed men filled the seats. A smattering of young folks also managed to snatch up some tickets, much to the dismay of other old people who were too late to buy them.
I’m sure many of the television viewers were appalled to see grandmotherly types dancing in the aisle. With their heads back and their eyes closed, they gyrated at times and swayed at others as the band played from the nearly 50-year-old repertoire. The camera spotted one energetic grandad who danced on one leg as he balanced his cup of beer.
What Gen Xers and Millennials don’t understand is that those concerts serve as drinks from the fountain of youth to us Baby Boomers. We purchase tickets and sit in arenas or halls so we can listen to the sounds of our teenaged years. The hard beat of one song might recall times when carloads of us cruised drive-in restaurants in search of the opposite sex or chased young people from other schools with which we exchanged insults or, sometimes, punches. The slow tempo of another song might remind us of those slow dances with partners during high school or college affairs.
Years ago, when our children were young, we attended a Beach Boys concert as a family. The show began, and before long, Amy and I were on our feet and dancing as we sang lyrics to the songs we’d grown up with. Our children ducked their heads in shame and embarrassment; they didn’t get the good feelings that came with hearing those songs again.
My wife and I saw Chicago when they came to Knoxville a year or so ago. The early songs brought back memories of high school and the good friends with whom I spent so much time. One song brought back the time when I traveled to Livingston to help my brother Jim move. Chicago’s newest album at the time had just been released, and we listened to the record on his stereo while loading a U-Haul truck. The group began singing its best song, “Just You and Me,” and immediately my mind turned back to 1973 when Amy and I first dated. It became our song, and with each playing of it, I once again became a young man who was lucky to have married a 19-year-old beautiful girl.
These days, most of my generation live with aches and pains; some have more serious, debilitating conditions. However, when “our music” comes over the airways or pours over geriatric concert crowds, our bodies are once again young, at least in our minds. We return to the days of our invincibility with the confidence that we are immune to any ills. If you’re of a younger generation, try to understand all of this and the effects of this wonderful elixir of good old music on us who carry many years. Someday, you, too, will ride the tunes and rhythms of your music to your youth.