Friday, November 03, 2006

With age comes wisdom, right?

I've been listening to a lot of Willie's "Songbird" this week (and reading about his save the horses campaign). I've got to say, the new album is awesome. Especially the title track. And a lot of late career albums often are just plain bad -- there's only a handful of modern McCartney tunes I can take. But there's something about the aging musician's wit that I find almost more appealing than their younger selves. Maybe it's that they are more believable in what they're saying. I can listen to young Willie, young Neil, young Bob (who's new album I've been swishing around this week, too, and who I'll see live next weekend), and you can tell these are conscious gents. Smart guys. But when their voices grow more worn, I just start to take everything they say as the truth. Perhaps that's naiive on my part, but I don't care.

I remember reading a review of a John Doe album a couple years ago (whose author, publication, and exact phrasing I have since forgotten), but it went something like this: "With age, Doe's voice doesn't grow more scratchy, but is warmer than ever." This is also a good point. Is it just that we know these artists like family, and we know they're older, so we believe them? Like how we don't second guess grandparents?

Either way, I love where Willie's going on the new album. He's making music with a great band, the Cardinals, and doing music for all the right reasons. How so? Well, it's not that he's starved for cash. And he's already a legend, so he's not even doing this for legacy purposes. He's making music of songs he loves because he loves to do it. That's what it's about. Like Willie said long ago, "The life I love is making music with my friends," or like Neil said more recently, "I keep my friends eternally/ We leave our tracks in the sound." Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. They are doing this because they can, and they want to.

This morning, I watched a CNN interview with longtime Washington Post satire columnist and author Art Buchwald, who is now 80 and dying from kidney and vascular ailments, but chose to forego further dialysis and see where it takes him. Doctors said he'd have three weeks to live -- that was in February. Since then, he's been visited by almost everyone he's ever known, at his hospice. So, he wrote another book, entitled "Too Soon to Say Goodbye."

Now, see, I'm not saying Willie's on the outs, or Neil's on his deathbed (though it was close, and thank God he pulled through), but these are guys that have been making music so long that if they up and quit today, their body of work would still live on forever. Like I said, they're legends. Now, whatever they do, it's just icing on the cake. So, I've come to appreciate the late-career album, because it just may be the most honest music. Music made for the most pure reasons. Music made, because, yes, it is indeed too soon to say goodbye.

2 Comments:

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