Of the ages, when are we?
Standing beside a scoffing twenty something last night, I kept hearing her mutter again and louder again “who brought the school bus? Pfft kids!” Apparently ageism doesn’t just swing up but down low. You see, there were about 12 kids in the pit with retainers and cute little awkward frenetic bobbing.
Let me paint a fairer picture, you see there were sixteen year olds from the local arts high school going understandably bat shit crazy at a seminal concert experience: James Blake, Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Waving their hands in the air, waving like they just didn’t care and gawking at every song, which was their “OMG, it’s my SONG!”
I had to chuckle. It was as if the moat of cool beside the stage barricades was being soiled by teenagers and all the sophisticated purveyors of the scene should get their mosh money back. But you can’t mosh at James Blake so I’m not sure what the fuss was all about.
Additionally, after the show an acquaintance of mine gushed about the show wowing and appreciating it but quickly quipping that “he’s only 24 years old, he doesn’t know heartbreak yet like mine.” I don’t know about that. Firstly, he’s now an old man at 25 years old now. He’s an insane talent and I don’t think one can cause mood and sway like he does without some vast understanding of what lies beneath. Yup, definite baby face but rich and textured heart, see my case in point:
WOW WOW WOW right?
So at lunch the next day, my jazz singer chanteuse friend and I began to discuss when someone is “old enough.” Old enough to sing a song, old enough to appreciate good music and have taste, to write, et cetera et cetera.
She was often told what she could or couldn’t sing when she was a young lass. For instance she was given some serious eyebrow raises for wanting to sing a haunting Billie Holiday song about bruised and battered eyes when she was 14. But she did it anyway.
When do you get validated as legit? When you’re legal?
I think I was way more dark and creatively sparked when I was in my teens and early twenties. I certainly had a wrenched heart ten times over by the time I was James Blake’s age. Wow, that made me feel and sound oldish. However, at 31 years old I personally can’t wait to be a sexy grandma.
I guess some things remain the same. What’s cooler than being cool? Being ice cold and nay saying. Better to be a Dorothy Parker super Debbie Downer than an applause giver I suppose but I’m just not. I’m a gushing thumbs up high fiver when I like something let alone when I love it.
- Fiona Apple began creating Tidal tracks at 17.
- Lykke Li killed it with her debut album Youth Novels at 22.
- Jeff Buckley recorded one of my favorite albums of all time at 27 and still is haunting me.
- Billie Holiday discovered at 18 years of haggard, hard youth.
- Frances Bacon started his four decades of brilliance in Parliament at the ripe old age of 24 (in 1584).
- King Tut
- Napoleon II
- John Keats (passed away at 25)
- Buddy Holly (died at 22)
- James Dean (lived to age 24)
Do I really need to list all the artists who were well loved and a part of the 27 Club?
To name a few who bloomed and left us too soon:
- Jimi Hendrix
- Janis Joplin
- Kurt Cobain
- Jim Morrison
- Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones
- Amy Winehouse
- Robert Johnson (pictured right —–>)
Historical Notable Youths:
1) The most notable over the years aside from Shirley Temple’s Oscar worthiness would be Wolfie Mozart as he began composing as a tot pre-adult teeth.
2) Malala of Pakistan, (pictured above) the latest nominee for a Nobel Peace Prize at gasp, sweet 16 and she’s one of the most well-spoken and profound hearts I’ve heard speak. Watch This Incredible Young Woman Render Jon Stewart Speechless.
3) Marie Curry discovered two unknown elements: polonium & radium at 20 or just shy of it.
4) Alexander the Great (although he was majorly in the category of “I know everything already”) founded his first colony at 16.
5) Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein at 16.
6) Joan of Arc got all God talky and led the French army into victory as a teen with barely budding bubbies all before turning 20 years old.
In a time where most of us LOL and hashtag while we text “cuz cant talk now, TTYL ” perhaps we may not be as literate or accomplished but hearts need no date of birth to be rendered useful or feeling.
Don’t get me wrong, Marianne Faithfull’s As Tears Go By has way more weight in her twilight years and Nina Simone seriously sauced it up after some years of spicy lovemaking. It seems to me that age is still JUST a number and doesn’t offer legitimacy as far as artistry and deep feeling/thought goes.
Feel it all,
P.S. I’m standing up in the bleacher seats with love for a Kiwi teenager who is bringing it down and brilliantly. Lorde. Peep her here on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic (MBE is my bible essentially).