I’ve had an ad up in the Neutral Ground for a while looking for a musical collaborator. I got a phone call from a woman the other day who was interested in the ad. We were talking on the phone and it seemed like it was going good, until she asked me how long I had been playing guitar.
I said, “Well, I’ve been playing since I was 13, and I’m 51 now.” “Oh,” she said, and then there was a dead silence. Something was wrong. “I hope that’s not a problem,” I said hopefully. “Well, it sort of is,” she said. “I’m 19.”
“Ah,” I said.
“I mean, I know that, you know, I don’t think you’re like that,” she said apologetically, “but people might think, you know, that it would be kind of creepy.”
I switched over into Professional Mode, that tone of voice that I use when dealing with Business. “I certainly understand,” I said. “Well, I hope you find what you’re looking for in a musical partner, and thanks for calling.”
And that was that.
Part of me understands, I think. And part of me doesn’t. That part of me that doesn’t understand is very angry at a world that assumes that an association between an older man and a younger woman means they are up to something “creepy.” It infuriates me sometimes that there can’t be anything that isn’t tainted by people’s filthy minds. The other part of me understands that there are, indeed, plenty of creepy 50+ year old guys who are trying to get younger women into their beds any way they can, and she has a right to be careful indeed.
Once again, betrayed by my sex – because there are men who can’t keep their fucking dicks under control, and I get blamed for their shit – and by my age – because our society regards anyone over 40 as a pile of dead meat who should disappear, and clear the decks for the shiny new children.
Very frustrated and angry about this. It’s been riding on my mind a lot this week, and it happened this past Monday the 13th. The last thing I want to do is come off as a creepy old dude. I guess I should change the ad in some kind of way to reflect how old I am? Or just take the damn thing down and learn to deal with the fact that nobody wants to work with a 51 year old musician except in conjunction with a bunch of other 51 year old musicians, in a cover band, playing “Mustang Sally” and “Brown Eyed Girl” till I puke blood from the sheer boredom of it all? Or buy a laptop and load GarageBand on it and say “fuck you,” to the idea of working with other musicians who are progressive and interesting? Because there are NOT ANY IN MY AGE GROUP.
My generation is thoroughly annoying to me. That kind of cover band thing, playing the greatest hits of another age, is what a lot of people my age WANT, and what they LIKE. Dullards then and dullards now. And most of the music that my generation’s dullards adore sounds as ancient and antique and irrelevant as Fabian and Frankie Avalon to me.
I don’t want to play in a cover band with a bunch of losers, to be honest, and if that’s all that’s offered to me then I reject it. I can’t change how old I am. I can’t change how I look. I also can’t change my restless mind or the fact that I want to make music that originates with me and has at least some sounds in it that haven’t been heard before in quite the way I do it. I can’t put aside the fact that I am an artist because I am not 20 years old, or because I am not famous, or because I am not attractive. Art doesn’t work that way.
Art is in you and it seizes you and it does not go away unless you try to force it to go away, and even then Art lingers and torments you until you either die or turn to making art again. The artist manifests art, he/she is a priest/priestess of the Gods. It’s a calling that doesn’t lessen with age or even with circumstances; limbless artists who paint with their stumps, artists with dimming sight who use bigger canvases and brighter colors, musicians getting operations and injections to beat the arthritis that threatens to stop them from playing their instruments, dancers who modify their art and learn to choreograph even if they cannot move, poets who memorize their work if they can’t write it down. Even movie critics who have to have their jaws removed modify computers to speak with their voices, so they can review again.
Art is a Divine Force of the Universe. It flows through the artist. The purpose of the artist is to express that art. Our society has trivialized and made art into a servant of our economy, or a servant of our soulsick morality, or held it in suspicion and abeyance because art will not be tamed, it will flare forth and burn everything down if it is contained too long.
If I have to do this by myself so be it, but if there is any chance I can meet like minds I want it. But the longer I go, the less I feel that it might be possible. And oh Goddess, do I always have to make music with men? Men are so tiresome. Where are the female musicians?