I’m 35 years old, which is no age really (or so I keep telling myself). With a bit of luck and good health I hope to have a good 50 years in me yet. In fact, secretly I’m hoping to make it to 100. Even more secretly I’m hoping to make it the 22nd century, although that would mean living to the age of 120, so it may be a little optimistic. But, still, in the grand scheme of things I’m not very old. So, why do fatherhood and music keep conspiring to make me feel like I am?
With fatherhood it’s thinking about how my daughter’s world will be different to mine that makes me feel old. In particular it’s strange to think she will never know a world in which computers and the internet are not a major part of life. I did have a computer (a Commodore 64) from a fairly young age, but it was just a device for playing games, a diversion, nothing more significant than that. I barely used computers at school, whereas I suspect my daughter will be astonished to learn that we used to have write out all of our work with pen and paper. I didn’t access the internet until I was 17, and my daughter will wonder how on earth we used to find or share information. In fact, I struggle to remember myself. Books? Newspapers? People making stuff up? (Of course, that never happens now we have the internet).
Unsurpisingly, when I did start using the internet it was music that I first used it for. I remember how excited I was to download a low-quality, 30 second clip of a Soulfly track (I was going through a brief metal phase at the time). So different from my daughter’s world, where almost the entire history of a recorded music is available at the touch of a screen. Or more likely beamed directly into her brain by the time she is old enough to take an interest in music. The argument that being able to access music so easily devalues it is an interesting one, but I’m not sure I agree (and I’m not going to get into it right now in any case).
It’s not just the method of music consumption that makes me feel old though, it’s the music itself. When I first got into music the Beatles seemed like they were as old as music could get, but they only split 10 years before I was born. Kurt Cobain died 20 years before my daughter was born so Nirvana will seem positively ancient to her, which in turn makes me feel ancient. It’s hard to think of bands from my youth as old bands, or worse ‘classic rock’, but I’m sure that’s how my daughter will see them, if she thinks of them at all.
This week’s specific example of music making me feel old was seeing an advert for the ‘Now 91’ compilation. A two CD compilation of pop hits from the last few months seems kind of outdated in the age of downloads and streaming, but the series seems to be still going strong. What makes me feel old is that the last in the series that I owned was Now 23. Just looking at the tracklisting makes me feel a) supremely nostalgic for the cassettes I listened to in my youth b) suprised at how truly terrible the tracklisting was. They release three Now compilations a year. If they’re currently on number 91, and I last bought number 23, that makes me (if my maths is correct)…old