Still Teaching After All These Years


Saturday night at 8 p.m., I was home alone when my phone rang. It was Kay. “Listen to this!” she screamed. I strained my ears and mind to discern whatever patterns I could. I couldn’t make it out. But I did recognize the sounds of loudness.

Kay was calling from the Oakland Coliseum. She was at the Elton John and Billy Joel concert. Her friend Betsy’s company had bought a box that holds 12, but the day before the show, they only had 11 bodies. Kay got the call. I was way more excited for her than she was. Until I got the call. She was happily hysterical…

“I really really REALLY wish you could be here!” she shouted. “You should see these guys on their pianos! Wow! It’s amazing! They are having the time of their lives! It’s like they are little boys!”

And then there was Daltrey and especially Townshend at the Super Bowl. Pete Townshend, the definition of unleashed chaos otherwise known as rock and roll. His command of the force is no more or less than it ever was. And then there’s the Neil Young concert I went to not that long ago. A man who has never been pretty, but has always been beautiful to me. And there’s the Tom Petty concert a few years before that. I was so inspired I came home and wrote a book. And The Rolling Stones – Yes Mick, I do know that you know it’s only rock and roll, and yes, you’ve convinced me, you really do like it. And I love you for the reminder.

Much of what is me – my philosophy, my outlook, my artistic flow – came directly from the words and music of rock and rollers. When I was young, they were young, and they taught me how to be young. Now that I’m older, they are older too, so now they are teaching me how to grow old, by continuing to teach me how to be young. And that’s the lesson that never grows old.



  • Marilee Posted February 15, 2010 12:58 pm

    Oh, yeah. We are the lucky ones that grew up with them. Young kids like Mary listen to the rock and rollers and love them too, but the experience is so different. Thank you for reminding me of that!

  • Wayne Lively Posted February 15, 2010 2:38 pm

    If you think something new, our generation probably invented it.

    You’re never too old to rock and roll. We’re proving it.

  • Rich Grunenwald Posted February 15, 2010 2:49 pm


    Interesting timing on this post. Saturday night Kathy and I went to see Commander Cody at a dumpy little place here in Columbus. Excellent show, and I spent time after the show talking with him. He’s the one who got me into country, swing, country blues, etc.

    The years have been a bit tough on George, and if you listen to some of his old stuff with the full Lost Planet Airmen, the music is not quite the same. Still good, but a 4 person band is not going to keep up with the full 10 person band with the horn section.

    I talked to him after the show, and it was evident he was worn out. He’s got to be mid 60’s at least and shows every year. Walks with a cane now due (I assume) his car accident in 1987. But, when he started talking about his influence on my tastes, he was absolutely giddy. “If I helped turn you on to Bob Wills and the Playboys, then I’m happy”. We went from Bob Wills, to Asleep at the Wheel, to Emmylou Harris to Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe. My wife said it was like we were lifelong buddies, swapping stories.

    What they teach us is that the passion is still there, deep inside. We just need to fire it up every so often.

    Some pics with the Commander:

  • Spike The Cat Posted February 15, 2010 2:51 pm

    I remember wondering what was going to happen to these guys when they got old. In retrospect, it should have obvious. And, frankly, I think we’re all pretty cool.

  • Tommy Angelo Posted February 15, 2010 3:53 pm

    “What they teach us is that the passion is still there, deep inside. We just need to fire it up every so often.”

    Great story Rich. Thanks.

  • weau Posted February 15, 2010 6:29 pm

    They are all one of the blessings of being in our generation. My gratitude to them, and to Tommy.

  • Nick (Cloud) Posted February 16, 2010 3:16 pm

    I’m not of your generation, but I love those musicians, and I loved that post.

  • Dayne Posted February 20, 2010 11:23 pm

    Great post. The old teaching the old how to remain young… never gets old!

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