Hope I Die Before I Get Old

January 24, 2006 at 5:42 pm (Uncategorized)

With my 40th birthday starting to get larger and larger in the view through the windshield (and seeing my 30th and 20th receding small and distant in the rearview), I’ll admit it: I’m desperately afraid of getting old.

No, not what you think. I know that with each passing year, I’m getting closer to the time I’ll eventually shuffle off this mortal coil, and that’s what it is, and I’m fine with it, mostly. More than a few years ago I came to the stark realization that they weren’t going to cure death during my lifetime, and I think I’m cool with that. What I’m not cool with, though, is the trappings of getting old; I don’t want to be looking for early-bird dinners and blathering to friends about how great things were “when we were young”; when that happens go ahead and start shoveling the dirt on top of me.

Thing is, for us oldsters who’d rather not go gently into that good night, there just aren’t many rocking role models. Neil Young? Hmm. Ok, but he’s more for the generation before me. Robert Pollard? Yeah, I guess…but Pollard is carrying around enough demons and baggage that I’m not sure (as much as I love his music) that I’d want to emulate him. No, what I’m looking for is a role model who’s as old as me, knows he’s old…and doesn’t care. Someone who rocks as hard now as he ever has, someone who has aged magnificently and gracefully and, when need be, can still hang with the New Kids. I think I know who that person is: I give you Steve Wynn.

Maybe you remember Steve’s old band, The Dream Syndicate. Their first album, Days Of Wine And Roses is so good, everything Wynn’s done since then has been compared to it fairly or unfairly. (Imagine showing a girlfriend a picture of you when you were 22 and having her ask “Why don’t you look like this anymore?” That’s what Wynnie’s up against with every new album he puts out.) When Wynn released Melting In The Dark in 1997, it was my favorite record of that year…because it sounded like a return to that old Dream Syndicate swirl of noise.

So this year kicks off with the US release (Wynn and the Dream Syndicate were always bigger in Germany and The Netherlands, so they got to hear this back in July) of a new Wynn record: …tick…tick…tick. Recorded raw, almost-live sounding in Tucson, this might be the loudest and most rocking Steve Wynn has ever been…at age 45. It’s a record full of anger, resignation, fear, angst, hope and redemption. If it’s music chops you’re into, Wynn has never played guitar with more delirious abandon, and his backing band, The Miracle 3, match his passion note-for-note (Linda Pitmon might be the most underrated drummer in rock right now.)

So yeah. This is how you get old. You stay true to yourself and your vision. You smile and grin at the change all around, and get on your metaphorical guitar and play, just like yesterday. It’s very, very early in the year, obviously, but …tick…tick…tick is going to have a place in 2006’s Best of- list. Buy it, yo.

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