Geriatrock- The Rime of The Ancient Musician

By Eamonn Keyes

For most of us, music framed our youth, becoming the source of memorable markers through life, with the power to instantly bring us back to a moment decades past, evoking the emotional responses, the attendant memories and the joy and sadness of the times.

For many, those songs become frozen in time, and as we get older we tend to hark back to them, ignoring the vast majority of current music, and often with good reason.

Popular music seems to be primarily designed for the young, the market that will eagerly gobble them up and look for more whilst forming their own soundtrack of life. They reflect the beginnings and endings of their relationships, sometimes frustration and anger, and very occasionally protests against society and injustice. Music is a young person’s game, and we tend to see the power of musical creation wane as we succumb to age, with people like the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney depending on the longevity of their previous work to carry them through as a sing along pension whilst still turning out regular but largely immemorable work. 

It is entirely understandable that popular music is an important means of expression for the young.

The pain of love, separation, longing, betrayal, desire and anger are all reflected in a few minutes of notes and rhythm. Mind you, some choose music to warn others that they’ve got theirs coming to them, usually for dissing the singer, and an impressive body count has also been a feature of urban music and people with large gold chains. 

But say you’re getting on a bit. Life for an older person can be full of the same emotions experienced by the young, although usually with added responsibility to boot, but noticeably fewer drive-by shootings and stabbings. So why shouldn’t we put this into a musical format?  Maybe there’s not such a resonance about ‘The Car Needs Four New Tyres Blues’, ‘Incontinence Rap’ or ‘My Right Knee Is Playing Up When I Walk’, or even the ultimate first line in a Blues song- ‘Didn’t wake up this morning’.

What’s my point, eh?

I’m definitely getting on a bit. I’ve not long retired, and I’m sure there have been people tortured in medieval dungeons who suffered less pain than I do on a daily basis.

However, I’m currently at the most musically prolific point of my life. I’m full of ideas, I’ve written or co-written, recorded and produced four or five songs in less than 12 weeks. And I’m pretty happy with them.

The subject matter varies, but they are reflective of how I am thinking and both my optimism and pessimism in life. Old folks’ stuff, often reflective on earlier life, and that is the bonus we have. We’ve been there and we’ve done that. We can look back and decide what was stupid and what was wonderful, what we should have done and what surprised us. Experience and experiences, and with my excellent collaborators Ross McClelland and Dougie Bendall I get the chance to dream and then bring the dream to life in musical format, with their generosity allowing me the freedom to experiment and to go places where I haven’t been before.

Given the fact that I’m no longer young and that music requires genres to indicate origin and content I’ve decided that I’m now claiming the invention of geriatric rock- Geriatrock.

The songs are about using the years left to us wisely (The Third Age), all the things we can be (Human Heart), losing religion (Live At The Mustard Seed}, the crushing stress of work (Peace Of Mind) and even moving somewhere new alone and starting all over again (Turn Left), difficulties in communicating with children {Space}, just getting on a road and driving {Drive}, the inherent lies in our media and society as a whole (Shansham), and musings on Death (Wishing We Were Here).

We can also bring our take on relationships, such as still being in love with a partner after 30 years (Love Story), or just heading out for a Saturday night on the town with more than just a drink in mind (Dance As Old As Time). 

I’ll occasionally be throwing up a piece on some of these songs, with your permission and tolerance, talking about how I got there and why I did what I did to achieve what I wanted.

It may be dull, but I claim an ultimate old man’s right to bore an audience, just like the Ancient Mariner, but with somewhat more synthesisers and guitars and less albatrosses.

The Defence rests, M’Lud.

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6 replies »

  1. Eamonn! It’s good – more than good to see you writing in TON again – and with your usual humour and slant on life.

    I want to hear the songs – how do I do so? As a not-on-Social Media-t’internet-confuses-me old person? And also – someone who, due to mankiness, doesn’t go to indoor gatherings – such as music gigs.

    This resonates with me – getting mankier and mankier as I go along, but still feeling 18 inside.

    It’s a rum do – ‘Got them nothing works like it used to Blues.’

    I’m going to put your piece in m’blog….

    I’m not sure who my readership is, but they probably include some geriat rockers.


  2. You’ve inspired me…..

    Got Them Nuthin’ Works Like It Used To Blues

    Can’t see without ma’ specs
    Rough ground calls for a stick
    Rich food and I’m reaching
    For the reliable Rennie

    Still dancing to Prince
    Tho’ in the kitchen
    Still fancying Robert
    Tho’ Circa 1974

    An old lady looks back at me
    From the mirror

    When did that happen?

    BB – 2023

  3. Thank you for your kind words, Bernie. I’ll be doing a sort of song story thing, I hope, for some of the songs which will include the song and describe why I chose to do it as I did, including those ‘happy accidents’ that can completely change the direction I work in. I know you’re a Blues person so they’ll be if limited appeal to you.
    It’s nice to sit and write again. It flowed like it used to.