“You’re lucky to be alive, asshole”
I wrote my first piece for The Toronto Standard last week. “No City for Middle-Aged Men” tells some funny (I hope) anecdotes about my experiences as a middle-aged guy who goes to lots of club shows full of lots of young people, while also trying to make a point or two about something or other.
And now, I see that Will Sheff, frontman of the indie band Okkervil River, and a truly fine songwriter, has told Pitchfork:
One of the most depressing things in the world to me is how people start to get frozen in their 30s. You’ll hear your friends say, “I don’t know any new bands,” or, “Oh, did you hear there’s a new record by this band?” And it’ll be some indie rock band where it’s like, “Really? They’re still around?” [laughs] Some people might snarkily say that about us. A music fan that doesn’t have it in them to find new music anymore is like absolute death to me. What are you even doing being alive if you’re not trying to constantly grow? And I don’t mean just in terms of music, but in terms in pushing yourself to try different foods and watch different kinds of movies. The world encourages you to lock into a particular routine. I fucking hate when I hear people in their 50s say, “I’m too old to change.” Fuck you, you’re lucky to be alive, asshole. Why don’t you try to grow? It’s a gift to get to be born and not suddenly die of cancer or get hit by a car. One day, you’re gonna be a rotting body in the ground and you’re gonna be like, “Wow, I kinda wish I listened to new music from ages 30 to 70.
I love that. Sure, you can dismiss those words as the self-serving comments of a 34-year-old musician and you can dismiss its resonance to me as a classic example of confirmation bias. But the truth is music, especially good new music, brings me so much joy. And I do feel lucky to be alive — especially after seeing two friends die from cancer in the last eight months as well as, this week, the death of NDP leader Jack Layton and the news that Steve Jobs is stepping down as the CEO of Apple. After all, I am, alas, not that much younger than those two men and, anyway, when I was a teenager my family told me I would be dead by 30 so I figure every day now is bonus material.
My motto used to be: “No guy on his deathbed ever says, ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office.’ I’m hoping to be the first.” Lately, though, I’ve been spending too much time at the office (enjoying it more than I ever thought possible, but still). That’s why I’m glad Sheff has reminded us all about the luck of the living. And tonight, to celebrate, I am going to the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern to see Justin Townes Earle.