Age as a WeaponBefore signing on as Executive Editor at EQ, I’d been talking with a media company about joining a project that covers the groove/DJ scene. Several people at the company wanted to get me involved in a big way, but the gig fell through. When I talked to someone “on the inside” a while later, he felt pretty sure that the problem was age discrimination — that I was older than the intended readership.
Publish date:
Updated on

And that got me thinking . . . would their audience actually care? Some people would, I’m sure; and frankly, that’s not entirely without justification. As some people age, at some point they become frozen in time. I know plenty of people who think that music ended when the Beatles broke up. They don’t even know that soca music exists, never heard Public Enemy, and don’t realize there’s a thriving indie rock scene. Some of these people are in bands, and keep playing their hits; some are engineers, using the same mics and EQ settings they were using decades ago, on the same kinds of music.

But then you have a Miles Davis, who wasn’t just on the cutting edge: He often defined it, even after being in the music business for decades. You have a guy like Bruce Swedien, who actively solicits the opinions and ideas of people young enough to be his grandkids. And jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli’s life transitioned from the Hot Club de France in the 1930s through Duke Ellington to Jean-Luc Ponty; he was still touring the USA, Europe, and Japan a year before he died — at age 89.

But the age issue also cuts both ways. Rock and roll was not a passing fad, “what those kids listen to these days” isn’t the dreck some old-timers so firmly believe, and youth is perfectly capable of making grand artistic statements — just ask Mozart. Lack of experience doesn’t preclude creative brilliance.

In the end, we all have something to learn from each other. Youth provides a continuous flow of new ideas and fresh perspective to invigorate those who’ve been around for decades, while the young can learn a lot from those who’ve amassed a lifetime of experience.

“Hope I die before I get old?” No way. I prefer “Hope I die when I run out of ideas.” Because then I really will be old!