Monday, January 31, 2011

FTT Off Topic: Geezing Out

So a few weeks ago, I went into my favorite used CD store -- yes, I know, Ive already lost many of you with the fact that these places still exist -- in Princeton, NJ, Princeton Record Exchange. It's one of my favorite things in the region, and still my preferred way to buy music, because I'm old, and because I tend to judge a band or artist by their deep tracks, rather than their singles. Anyway, I digress. I go to PRX about 2-3 times a year, because I easily drop over $100 every time I'm there, mostly on newer stuff that I've heard on Pandora. As a low '40s guy who used to be a music journalist and has always kind of consumed music, it's important to me to have new acts in my player. Besides, listening to "the songs you grew up with," to quote one geezer rock station in the area, just seems dull as toast. And yet.


You see, there's this poker game.

I host it every three weeks; there will be 17 Friday nights in 2011 where anywhere from 12 to 25 people will be in my basement, shuffling my cards, stacking my chips, sitting on my chairs and leaning on my tables. It makes me happy, and I take pride in running a good game, getting the cash totals right, making the tournament run smooth, etc. I get a lot of help from my regulars, many of whom I consider very good friends. We've been running the game for over three years now, and it just keeps getting bigger and better.

And while they are there, they are also listening to my music. And many of them are bitching about it.

Now, a quick word. A poker player that isn't complaining about something is one that's pulling in a pot. Every other minute of the day, they are either bitching, or thinking about bitching. About blinds, antes, heat, cold, legroom, prize levels -- you name it, a poker player will give you grief about it. All while thanking you for running the game, bringing their friends, and filling your tip jar. Poker players are strange.

So when I'm filling my basket at PRX, some Geezer Rock finds it's way into the cart. Stuff I really loved 25 to 30 years ago, in high school, on prerecorded cassette in my proto-Walkman the size of a brick, as I delivered newspapers and rode my bicycle to and fro. You had your canon of the music that everyone else liked, you played it despite having heard it a few thousand times on radio stations, and by the time you went to college, you were so desperate for something new that you convinced yourself that REM was bitchin'. And so on.

Slowly and then with speed, I banished my geezer rock to the never play list; the more egregious things, I just plain got rid of. (My 16-year-old self would hate what my 41-year-old self thinks of Roger Waters and Jim Morrison.) But now that I'm hosting, I'm listening to the stuff that I haven't heard from forever... and some of it's pretty great, really. Mid '70s Rolling Stones, with the unrepentant misogyny that you just can't get nowadays? Yes please. Jethro Tull albums where the rhythm section is positively rollicking along, and the flute is something you can take or leave? Kinda nifty. Jimi Hendrix sessions in the BBC studios, where he's making "Day Tripper" his own and playing "Fire" in a way that sounds like guaranteed panty remover, if only it weren't hardwired into everyone's DNA?

Aw, you know what I'm talkin' about. Yeah!

So if you've got a band or six that you used to love, but wore your ears out on... well, go check 'em out now. See where your brain is with them. (But if that's all you've been listening to all this time, for heaven's sake, air out your brain and listen to something made in this century.) Moving on...

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