It’s my birthday today (thank you). I know I’m not the only one to have reached the advanced decade of my 50s who is completely astonished by this and has no understanding how this could possibly have happened.
But it’s made me think. I’m now at an age where I have the experience, the knowledge and the equipment to make my music exactly as I want it to be. I’ve honed my writing and recording skills and feel like I’m doing my best work and continuing to develop and get better. I can’t be the only musician or artist who feels like this – that it’s taken a lifetime to get this confident at what I do.
Keith Emerson once told me that he enjoyed his 50s more than any other decade and I’m starting to fully understand that now. In the Rush song ‘Cut To The Chase’ Neil Peart wrote “I’m old enough not to care too much/about what you think of me/I’m young enough to remember the future/the way things ought to be” which I think sums it up well. It feels like a sort of equilibrium. (He was 41 when that album came out, by the way.)
Why on earth are musicians only valued when they’re young and up and coming? We celebrate Young Musician Of The Year in various disciplines, there are no end of bursaries and support for young musicians (which is good, obviously). Nearly everyone on the charts or visible on television or fêted in classical music is under 30. And if they’re not they’re the Rolling Stones. Or horribly uncool.
Looking back on my own early stuff, I can’t believe that we as a society seriously believe that the music created by people under 25 is the only music to be valid and valued. How many artists are there over 40 creating amazing, mature, sophisticated and fantastic work that is just being completely ignored? Where are the bursaries and support for someone of older years wanting to get their work out there and keep developing their skills?
In any other area the more skill and experience someone has in their craft the more respected they are. But not in music. Once you hit 30, or heaven forbid 40, you’re irrelevant, past it and not interesting. It’s ridiculous.
I’m glad that streaming platforms do allow unknown and unsigned artists to put their work out there, whatever their age (it would just be nice to be paid decently for when it gets listened to). But even there it’s almost impossible to discover unsigned musicians of a certain age.
There are older musicians not doing the nostalgia rounds and producing excellent work. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a recent convert to Gary Numan’s music – he’s a brilliant example. He’s in his 60s and doing the best, most interesting music he’s ever done in my opinion.
I know this won’t change, as the main demographic for popular music at least is young people and young people don’t want to listen to old people. But I highly recommend seeking out music from lesser-known oldies. There must be some amazing stuff out there that deserves to be heard.
Anyway, happy birthday to me – I’m in the studio mixing some new music!
Kathie Touin 20 March 2023