Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (And Whimsy)

Posted on April 3, 2024 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with no comments yet

Tunes for the young… and the young at heart


“There’s something happening here,

What it is ain’t exactly clear.”

For What It’s Worth – Stephen Stills

What will they sing?

It seems like my life consists of one long soundtrack. If I’m not listening to music, I’m humming a tune or playing my guitar. Oxygen. Water. Music. The three key components of my life.

Rather than let rust creep in, I’m trying to stay active in retirement. I do chair yoga every morning and I try and walk at least 90 minutes a day. But most importantly, I try and keep engaged. On average, I substitute teach three days a week and this allows me to interact with today’s young people. I have developed a bit of a reputation as the teacher who sings and plays guitar. Just about every day, I am asked if I know a certain song. I confess that I don’t know any modern music. Taylor Swift and Morgan Wallen are not on my set list.

The good news is that most of these young people have grandparents who are my age, and it is obvious that they are influenced by grandpa and grandma, grand- mere and grand-pere, Oma and Opa. In recent weeks, I have been asked to play “American Pie”, “Hey Jude”, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” (Apparently this John Denver tune is often played before a tug-of-war match in 4H), “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” (CCR) and “I Want it That Way” (Backstreet Boys).

Last week, just before classes started, an 11-year-old boy came up to me and asked me if I knew how to sing “For What It’s Worth”. My head swiveled. Of all the requests I received, this was the most unusual. I wasn’t 100% sure that he was referring to the old Buffalo Springfield protest song released in 1966 so I sang a few bars a Capella to make sure this is the song he meant. Indeed, it was. I didn’t have to ask him where he heard this song. I always thought that this was an antiwar anthem but apparently Steven Stills wrote the piece (in 15 minutes) about a youth gathering in L.A. (Los Angeles – not Lake Ainslie!) protesting anti-loitering laws and the closing of a popular Hollywood night club. Not sure if there are many nightclubs in Lake Ainslie!

On or around that very same day, I was asked to play some songs for the folks at the R.K. MacDonald Nursing Home. Several years ago, I had a regular gig at the home, performing music five afternoons a week. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Of course, in the five years since I performed there last, there was an almost wholesale turnover of residents. I did notice, and not surprisingly, that more people my age, are starting to show up. There’s no doubt that we are in the “on deck” circle. If you’re not a baseball aficionado, it refers to the next batter up.

Most of the residents were older so I stuck to many of the old standard war era tunes, a few religious songs and some country and western. I was told that one of the “younger” residents was a big Stan Rogers fan, so I sang “Forty-Five Years”. Overall, I had a great time, but it was also sobering to see people of my vintage, robbed of their memories, staring into space.

All of this got me to thinking, which is extremely perilous.

The Boomers will soon flood if not inundate nursing homes in the very near future. Not all of these folks will remember “The White Cliffs of Dover” or “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree”. There will be new troubadours coming to play at nursing homes in the years to come.

What will they sing?

Boomers can be a pretty cynical lot. If I was performing, I might be tempted to open the first set with “Stairway to Heaven”, followed by “Stayin’ Alive”. Or how about Ray Charles’ classic “You Don’t Know Me”? Or, possibly “Heaven’s Just a Sin Away”!

There is no doubt that the soundtrack will be very different than the one our parents knew and loved but that doesn’t matter.

Music moves the soul.

For what it’s worth.

Have a great weekend.






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