Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll reflects on Alan Jackson’s THE OLDER I GET. She writes:

I know that Scott covers the music beat. I’m not trying to poach on his territory, especially since he does a darn fine job with it. But every once in awhile a piece of music just seems to fit perfectly as a theme song for what’s going on in your life. This has happened to me a few times.

When the Beatles debuted their “I was just seventeen – you know what I mean,” I was, in fact, just seventeen, although headed for 18 in a few weeks. The Beatles, the Stones and a number of Motown groups were the main soundtrack for my college years. Perhaps because I married so young, I never related to most of the popular chick singers (Joni Mitchell, Janis Ian, Carly Simon) crying about lost loves, bad boyfriends, or the difficulty of finding love at all.

Once when I was just driving to the grocery store in White Bear Lake from the modest little “starter home” in Maplewood where we lived for 30 years, I heard Bob Seger’s “Running Against the Wind” for the first time. “Wow!” I said out loud to nobody else in the car, “If that doesn’t sum up my life, I don’t know what does!” And I detoured to the Maplewood Mall record store and bought a CD of it before going to get groceries.

It was a perfect song for someone who was a loony leftist busy fighting racism, sexism and homophobia during the triumphant Reagan years and then became a conservative just in time to be called a racist, sexist, homophobic deplorable by a major, if losing, candidate for President of the United States. While I was paying insufficient attention, the “influencers” in the media, Hollywood, and The Swamp had lurched several miles to the left of where I HAD been when I WAS a leftist. Sigh. Never in synch. Always running against the wind. With these short little legs.

We weren’t even middle-aged yet. We were young working parents during the Disco Era. I took a class and then taught everybody I knew a few basic disco steps. During this time, we went with a co-worker from the print shop and his wife to see the BeeGees in concert and the strangest dang thing happened. At some point when Barry Gibb was singing, all decked out in his fluffy long hair and puffy silk shirt, an annoying woman in our section was screaming, “Barry! Barry! Barry!” And it turned out to be ME!! Boy, that shocked the daylights out of me.

Not too long ago, Joe was rummaging through YouTube offerings to play in our get-away-from-politics “wind-down” period before bed, and he came upon a relatively recent duet with Barry Gibb and Alison Krauss. And I was shocked, shocked I tell you, to see that in the mere 42 years since I had seen him last, Barry had AGED!! In fact, he was virtually unrecognizable. It was really kind of depressing and made me wonder if I had also aged. I asked Joe and he said, “No, not to me,” so that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Still, as the birthdays roll by with astonishing speed, it does make a person give a passing thought to the subject of aging. I have written in the past about the great Toby Keith song “Don’t Let the Old Man In,” but that is clearly aimed at MEN, not us ladies, right?

Here are the lyrics of Alan Jackson’s song “The Older I Get” (co-writers Adam Wright, Hailey Whitters and Sarah Turner):

The older I get
The more I think
You only get a minute, better live while you’re in it
‘Cause it’s gone in a blink
And the older I get
The truer it is
It’s the people you love, not the money and stuff
That makes you rich

And if they found a fountain of youth
I wouldn’t drink a drop and that’s the truth
Funny how it feels I’m just getting to my best years yet

The older I get
The fewer friends I have
But you don’t need a lot when the ones that you got
Have always got your back
And the older I get
The better I am
At knowing when to give
And when to just not give a damn

And if they found a fountain of youth
I wouldn’t drink a drop and that’s the truth
Funny how it feels I’m just getting to my best years yet
The older I get

And I don’t mind all the lines
From all the times I’ve laughed and cried
Souvenirs and little signs of the life I’ve lived

The older I get
The longer I pray
I don’t know why, I guess that I’ve
Got more to say
And the older I get
The more thankful I feel
For the life I’ve had and all the life I’m living still

That pretty much sums up my attitude and the attitude of most of the Geezer-Americans that I know. Many of whom will be gathering on Sunday with me and the famous novelist Max Cossack and Professor Hayward and Lucretia for three days of music, comedy, political discussion, and adult beverages in Mesa, Arizona. (Sorry if you aren’t signed up because it is now sold out…) After years of psychological – and sometimes physical — assault from the media, the government, and Hollywood because we are conservative or Christian or religious Jews who love Israel, sometimes you just have to gather with the folks “who always got your back.”

And, of course, along the same lines, Willie Nelson’s “It Gets Easier” is another poignant song about aging. By the time you read this, Willie should be just days from turning 90. Apparently the key to a long life is to marry several times, have many children, spend a portion of time in Paia, Maui, smoke a lot of weed, and fail to pay your taxes. Bless his heart.

“It Gets Easier” is one of my new favorite songs, with some perfect lyrics like, “It gets easier as you get older to tell the world ‘Not today!’”

It is all well and good to tell the world “Not today!” until you realize it’s Wednesday and your editor is looking for a column. Or it’s 4:30 p.m. and your husband is asking “What’s for dinner?” Sometimes it is necessary to interact with the world and even in a timely fashion. You know, that sense of RESPONSIBILITY that some obese woman in a leotard will tell your corporate reeducation seminar is “white.” Well, it isn’t. It’s what SUCCESSFUL and PRODUCTIVE people of any and all colors do. But you don’t snag five-figure speaking fees for saying THAT!

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