Little girl ask me what I’m gonna do when I get old and blue and worn clear through. I say, “By that time I ought to be in my prime. I’m gonna strut like a cock until I’m 99.”
— Grand Funk Railroad
Regular readers of this newspaper often say to me me, “Dude, you must have some thick skin to take the abuse you get from y’all’s readers.”
They are usually referencing the paper’s Squawkbox feature and online comments — although some of them might actually be talking about dermis layers, who knows? — in which generally anonymous commenters seem to delight in pointing out my numerous flaws.
For the many people who’ve offered that observation, here’s my reaction to said squawkers and commenters: If they’re clever, I laugh. If they’re well-thought-out and offer constructive criticism, I consider them. If they’re mean, I ignore them.
There was one recent posting, though, that has managed to stick in my craw. After stewing over it for weeks, I now feel inclined to offer a rebuttal.
A poster — anonymous, naturally — surmised that The Herald needed someone younger to write about music, that having someone past the age of 50 do so was “creepy.”
Here was my immediate reaction: Go smurf yourself.
Here’s my reaction after several weeks of reflection: Go smurf yourself … repeatedly.
Before I get into the general idiocy of this comment, I think it should be pointed out that the musical event I had written about that drew the squawker’s observation was one that featured artists much older than I, musicians I had listened to when I was in high school. Thus: Who’s better qualified to write about the Allman Brothers Band, former members of Jefferson Airplane and other rock and roll survivors than someone who’s followed them throughout their career? Am I wrong?
But let’s put aside the fact that this particular musical event featured older musicians. Let’s look at the inane premise that someone younger is better qualified to write about or critique music. How does that even sound logical to any intelligent person?
Perhaps this squawker feels that people of a particular age can “understand” or “relate” only to music that was made during his or her generation. Which, again, makes about as much sense as a football bat. Music is an art form, and art “speaks” to humans on so many levels. And while persons of different ages, genders and nationalities might react to that art differently, the work’s impact is limited only by the person experiencing its capacity to relate to it.
I imagine some know-it-all bro out there presuming himself a musical genius because he knows who Dr. Dre is, has downloaded all of the Arctic Monkeys’ music and is hip to the fact that St. Vincent is a chick. There’s no room in his worldview for anyone outside his bro pack — who all wear the same bro “uniforms” and make clever sarcastic remarks about anyone who doesn’t look like them, but quietly if it’s someone who sports a rebel flag tattoo or has dark-colored skin. And since this caricaturish clique presumes it has cornered the market on musical taste, it’s time for everyone else to step aside and bow to its superior wisdom.
Thing is, though, I can name a dozen or so audiophiles I’ve met over the years while writing for this publication whose wisdom about music so far surpasses anyone else’s, I enjoy talking with them just for the knowledge I gain. I really hadn’t considered their age, race or gender, but I’d be willing to bet each and every one of them could teach this self-indulgent musical snob and others like him a thing or 78 about musical theory, history and beauty.
And, yeah, a few of them are older than I am.
You want to take shots at me for my inadequacies as a writer, have at it. That’s what these anonymous forums are for. You want to try and diminish my — or other music lovers’ — passion because I don’t fit your bro pack image … go smurf yourself.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.