Enough Old Stuff

One of the several “throw or keep?” decisions I had to make when emptying the house was about my CD collection. As I came late to the Digital Revolution (21st Century version) — and some say I still haven’t joined it — I haven’t started downloading music from Amazon Musik or whatever they call it, simply because I have most of my favorite music on CD already, and with a very few exceptions, I find modern music unappealing.

Unfortunately, this also means that I’ve become sick of all the old music, “old” being defined as 60s-70s music of my rock star (uh huh) youth. I mean, if I hear “Sweet Home Alabama” and anything by Led Zeppelin one more time, I’m going to slip the safety off the 1911. Even longtime favorites like Genesis, Steely Dan and Jethro Tull are beginning to pall, and needless to say, I have every album of artists like the aforementioned as well as the Beatles, Joe Walsh and Wishbone Ash on CD, so the collection of my favorite musical genres is extensive. But I never listen to it anymore because I’m bored with it. I ended up keeping almost all my old CDs, but have yet to unpack any of them, let alone listen to them. The problem is that music has always been a major part of my existence, and I have to listen to something.

So what am I listening to, at the moment? Classical, mostly, because it doesn’t seem as though I can ever get sick of it. Lately I’ve rediscovered several old favorites like Saint-Saëns and Dvorak, and of course there’s always the perennials (Chopin, Bach, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven etc.) that can be relied upon for listening pleasure, as always. It also helps that their music is being interpreted differently by the various conductors and musicians (Lisitsa, Grimaud, Mutter and so on) — and just as I’ve veered away from Classic Rock, I’ve also lost interest in classical artists like Gould, Rubinstein, Horowitz and even Barenboim (the “Old Guys”, as I’ve heard them described). I like the freshness and verve that virtuosos like Valentina Lisitsa and Olga Kern bring to the old favorites like Beethoven’s Pathétique and Rachmaninoff’s Piano No.2, and the effect of that is almost, as I said earlier, a rediscovery of classical music.

In similar vein, I listen to the old standards like the songs of Rogers & Hart, Carmichael and Gershwin — they never grow old — but I have to say, I also enjoy the interpretations given their music by “modern” artists as well: people like the incomparable Harry Connick Jr. and equally-brilliant Norah Jones. Even Willie Nelson and Eric Clapton have started to reinterpret the standards and to my mind, are eclipsing the “old guys” like Fred Astaire and Julie London, who actually introduced me to this genre. (It’s not that the latter are bad — of course they aren’t — but I’ve just heard them so often, it’s starting to get stale. Yes, even Astaire.)

There’s a common thread to the above which I’ve just realized at this moment: it’s not the music I’m sick of, it’s the original versions thereof. Nobody is reinterpreting Classic Rock, other than as cover bands like American English (Beatles) and Zepparella (Zep).

So maybe that’s what Classic Rock needs: for new guys to reinterpret their music (as opposed to just reproducing it), much as Dred Zeppelin did to Led Zeppelin (I love the Dred, by the way). Let’s hear Dream Theater do their version of the White Album (minus the excruciating Revolution No.9, please), let’s see what Norah Jones does to Suite: Judy Blue Eyes and let’s find out what Samantha Fish does with Blowing In The Wind and Harry Connick Jr. with Only One Woman.

But if I can ask for one, and only one favor from all this reinterpretation activity: we do not repeat not need another version of Free Bird. Don’t make me slip that safety off the 1911…

Update: This wouldn’t be a decent post without an example of the “old” music, and a totally gratuitous pic of what I’m talking about. Here’s Samantha Fish:

…and here’s Only One Woman.


  1. You have come to far into the modern era, most all of my classic rock is still on vinyl. And yes I do have to have a walker to get around.

  2. I enjoy many different types of music, but on a “some” basis. Some but not all of many types and many artists. Folk, country, rock, classical, popular. But, mostly the older recordings.

    Back in the days of 8-track, I recorded a couple of each of favorites from 1960s rock and roll. Buddy Holly, Fats Domino and such. Genre, but not just one artist for the length of an entire LP record.

    I doubt that I’ll ever quit enjoying the music of some Texas musicians like Allen Damron, Steve Fromholz, Tim Henderson or Billy Joe Shaver. Timeless, IMO. But, classical is called classical for very good reasons.

    “Beauty is in the ear of the listener.”

  3. Another good one for today is Dianna Krall. Her album of the classics is outstanding. And Michael Buble’ is another example of a singer of today who is not afraid to explore the classics.
    As to Freebird, I used to play in a band, and always said, if I started with a different bunch of people, we would never, ever again play the song Takin’ Care of Business. I could not stand that song, whether playing it, or hearing it. And every single bar band, and wedding band that I heard played it. God take me now, if I hear it coming from my horn again.

    1. I’ll second Dianna Kroll, though Melody Gardot and Madeleine Peroux have better voices. You could also try The Andrews Sisters. I’ve converted my 18 yo daughter time them.

  4. I own David Gilmore’s “Remember That Night”- mostly him playing his “On an Island” album live at Albert Hall. He plays a fair amount of Floyd (plus they had Richard Wright on keys for that tour), but usually shakes things up enough to keep it interesting- the version of “Shine on you Crazy Diamond” is particularity interesting.

    And on the flip side, bluegrass covers of Pink Floyd is apparently a thing.

  5. If I never hear “Stairway to Free Bird” again I’ll be a happy man. Also, whoever said Bruce Springsteen was a talent smoked way too much wacky weed.

    1. Ditto on the Springsteen. A true talent like Eric Clapton can do a show solo with an acoustic guitar (or piano) and be amazing. I saw Bruce attempt that, and it was just painful.

  6. Oh, I dunno. My 7 year old LOVES Bachmann Turner Overdrive and ZZ Top, and earlier we were jamming out to some old Bad Co in the car. I had bought her this silly little star pillow at Wal Mart, and she was waving it around and singing “Don’t you know THAT YOU ARE A SUPERSTAR…”

    Yeah, I still love the good old shit. And I’m doing my damnedest to pass it on, too. When we got home, we watched Roy Orbison’s “Black and White Night” vid, and she loved that as well. Good is good, whether it’s “Smoke On The Water” or the Emperor Concerto. If it’s solid, it will remain so, no matter how much they try to water it down or wear it out. Can’t wear down diamonds, baby. They’re forever.

  7. Program your own musical experience, subscribe to Pandora-One!
    From Baroque chants to the latest iteration of contemporary noise.
    On significant holidays, I play my “John Phillip Sousa Station” as loud as the speakers can take it, with all the doors and windows open. The rest of the time, mostly “Big Band” and “Cool Jazz”, no matter the era.

  8. I hear you. I used to think it was a sign of getting old when the music of your youth was playing in elevators, not completely true. I was surfing the radio for something new and listening to the local “mostly” metal station. I’ve heard several covers to old music that seem to redefine how old I am. “Cinnamon Girl” by some metal band with a Zero in its name, or “Bad Company” by Five Finger Death Punch. Even heard an old Beatles tune redone as metal. And to be honest, they didn’t sound too bad.

    After my wife died I wallowed in a lot of the old masters, ahh Beethoven, the 9th especially. Haven’t in sometime now. Classical is generally sad music and I’m worn out of sad.

    Discovered Japan rock/metal. Once you get passed the weird that Japan brings to everything they touch, the sound is solid rock. One that really surprised me was Band Maid. All girl band that dress as maids that can rock with the best and you cant sit still listening to them. Several youtube vids of their stuff.

  9. I developed a taste for Lindsey Stirling’s violin work a while back. They call it ‘dubstep violin’, but it’s surprisingly good.

    Pentatonix and Peter Hollens do some interesting acapella work, although they do a fair number of covers as opposed to original music.

    And of course I enjoy Two Steps From Hell. Trailer music hooray! (by which I mean movie trailers, not tractor trailers)

  10. I’ve been spending a lot of time with the end of the Big Band Era on Pandora and Marlene Dietrich on Spottify.

    At the end of the day, though, in 100 years no one will know who Lynyrd Skynyrd are, but in 1000 years people will still be playing Beethoven.

  11. Kim, what I did was buy a hard drive and copy all my cds on it. Now that we have high capacity “sticks”, the same can be done cheaper and smaller. Oh, and get on YouTube and see what classical musicians are doing with the old Genesis stuff.

  12. “Classical, mostly, because it doesn’t seem as though I can ever get sick of it.”

    I don’t know about “sick of”, but you can get bored by it. I went through a classical period in my mid-20’s to mid-30’s. I thought it offered a great alternative to being burned out by the 60’s and 70’s pop/rock music I grew up on. So, I began purchasing everything. From Bach to Beethoven. Even some other 19th century composers, although I found that after Beethoven, there was not the quality of Baroque or Classical. Sure, Schubert, Rossini, Tsychovsky, and a few others had some decent stuff, but not as much. Anyway, I listened and listened. I suggest you listen to it as background music to avoid getting burned out. The Lude Dude (Beethoven), Johnny Bach, Moe Zart, even Billy Handel and Joe Haydn are still great, but do it in moderation so you won’t feel the same as you do about the music you used to love. Beethoven’s 9th is “gorgeousness and gorgosity”, to quote Alex from a Clockwork Orange.

  13. Ha! Another Samantha Fish fan here! I ‘discovered’ her when I was googling one of my favorite old John Hiatt bluesy rock songs, “Tennessee Plates.” Found the Samantha Fish version and was hooked.

    That girl can jam. The fact that she’s pretty easy on the eyes is a nice bonus.

  14. Bruckner? Mahler? If you still like Heavy Metal then I have in my advanced age started getting in Finnish Heavy Metal (trivia: more Heavy Metal per capita in Finland than any other country). Under Operatic Heavy Metal, you could try a listen to Night Wish. The band has a complicated history with trading lead female vocalists out.

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