Jun 192013


Happy birthday to me. I have turned 50 years old.


Before receiving my AARP card a couple of weeks ago, I had been thinking my 50th birthday would mark the beginning of my middle-age period. Statistically speaking, though, I should have gone middle-age crazy 10 years ago. I’m two thirds gone if I’m reasonably lucky. Shit.


So, I’ve blown my middle-age period feeling like an overweight man in his early 30s, but with the frequently curmudgeonly attitude of a septuagenarian. No sports car. No hot tub. No Tommy Bahama shirts. No island getaways. No golf. Just more records and guitars and rehearsals and recording sessions and baseball games and family and friends and food and Dugout Chatter on Rock Town Hall. There could have been worse ways to spend one’s 40s.

I’m 50, and despite the aches and pains of my first season with neighborhood friends in an over-35 baseball league I’m in consciously better shape than I’ve ever been in my life. Even when I was a kid and playing sports as frequently as the day allowed, I only played to compete. I was never conscious of my body and how prepared it was for whatever game. Stretch? Sure, when there’s a close play at first I’ll stretch like Willie McCovey. Jog? Only if the coach makes us. Lift? Sure, a hoagie or a cheesesteak—or both—to my mouth.

I wanted to share some really deep thoughts about reaching this milestone and how it relates to who I am as a music lover, but I’ve realized that no matter how happy I am with my life, when it comes to music I still hold to many of the same views about things that most people would not stop to consider. Even some fellow music lovers wonder how I can hold so deep a LOVE or HATE for specific musical details. Just last week my close personal friend and drummer, Townsman Sethro, was learning the arrangement for a new song with me when he stopped playing a rhythm on the ride cymbal and said, “Wait, you hate when I do that.”

“What do I hate?” I asked.

“You hate when I do this,” he said, as he tapped out a fancy, dancing pattern on the ride cymbal.

“Do I hate that?” I asked.

“You hate everything,” he said lovingly.

It actually sounded good at this particular point in the song, so I told him to carry on with it, but to avoid not getting too cute. Only in rare cases, I suddenly realized, am I cool with what I consider to be a “cute” pattern on the ride cymbal.

Much is made about the kinder, wiser, gentler moderator I’ve become since launching Rock Town Hall with a group of like-minded friends in November 2002 (when I was only 39 and probably acting like a mature 26 year old), but time has not broken me of some of my didactic approach to musical experiences. On this, my 50th birthday, I will share 50 didactic thoughts on the first 50 musical topics that come to mind. Enjoy, learn, and thank you for your part in making my life about as much as I could have hoped it would be.


  12 Responses to “50 for 50: Love and Hate Across the Wrinkles on My Hands”

  1. ladymisskirroyale

    At last, a Road Map To Mr. Moderator! This has been very helpful. I note your positive growth in the area of synthesizers, and send you a virtual high-five.

    Happy Birthday, Mod!

  2. BigSteve

    Hey I always thought the wheel in the sky song was by Kansas! Hanging with the Mod is so educational.

    I’m not sure I knew about this Afghanwhigophobia. Dreadful name, but I like them, perhaps because I can relate to someone who is sexy and dangerous and whatnot. Especially whatnot.

  3. BigSteve

    Btw the idea that Mod hates everything, combined with these ‘didactic thoughts,’ reminded me of these two clips I happened across yesterday. 10 things Noel loves/hates:


    10 things Liam loves/hates;


  4. High 5ive for High Fidelity, also my favorite by EC.

  5. Oops, meant that to be Get Happy.

  6. bostonhistorian

    A friend of mine wrote a song just for you, Mr. Moderator. Well, maybe not just for you, but still….


  7. I’m glad someone typed out the thing Liam hated 10 times. I thought he was saying “Monday night,” but it seems he was saying “Man United.” That makes more sense. I was wondering whether Monday night for rock stars was like Monday mornings for most of the rest of us.

  8. That was good. For my money, Elvis Costello’s dig on Morrissey just barely topped Paul Weller’s Freddie Mercury shot and Rick James’ Prince slam. Morrissey, to his credit, had a good one on the singer from Suede.

  9. misterioso

    Nick Cave on the Red Hot Chili Peppers made me laugh out loud it was so perfect.

  10. misterioso

    Mod, don’t worry about turning 50, I mean, for inspiration, look at all the great records the Stones have made since turning 50! When Jagger turned 50 the Stones put out an album called Jump Back that’s practically a greatest hits compilation! What’s that? It is a greatest hits compilation? Never mind. No, wait, Voodoo Lounge came out just before Mick turned 51! And that was easily their best album of new material since Steel Wheels, wouldn’t you say? What’s that? It was their only album of new material since Steel Wheels? Never mind.

    Like I was saying, bummer about turning 50, Mod.

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