On Turning 40

I’ll be 40 soon. I’m not shy to admit it. All things considered, things are going pretty well so far. For starters, I’ve outlived Hendrix, Momma Cass, Charlie Parker, Mozart, Jesus, Gershwin, and the recording career of the Spice Girls.

And I don’t feel much different to when I was 20. However some of my opinions have changed, like, for example: I now think middle aged people are pretty cool.

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The interesting thing I’ve found as you get older, is that the world changes around you, without it being considerate enough to tell you it was doing so. Case in point: you know that slightly racist old relative you avoid at family get-togethers? It’s not necessarily that they’ve become more racist with age, it’s that the world has become less so. I’m writing this article on a phone. A phone. If you’d have told me that in the 80s, I would have thought you meant you were scribbling on a landline with a sharpie. The world evolves quickly, and it can be hard to keep up.

On the plus side, one of the benefits about getting older is that you get to complain about how much better things were when you were younger. My grandparents did it. My parents do it. And guess what—I’m about to do it. And if you’re reading this and thinking, “he’s not old enough to have anything to really complain about,” I say to you: when I was young, people used to respect other people’s opinions. So shut your pie-hole.

And here’s my age-qualified complaint of the day:

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The decline in value of recorded music.

Aside from the obvious financial loss effecting musicians from lack of recorded music sales, the way people appreciate music has also changed. I can live with the financial hit—musicians and artists will always find a way to make a living (don’t worry about me folks, The Syncopated Times keeps me in the lifestyle to which I’m accustomed). More importantly though, it’s the cultural value of recorded music that’s diminished.

Do you remember waiting for that latest CD to come in at the store? (If you’re old enough to need glasses to read this: please substitute the word record for CD.) Sometimes it would take weeks. And when you’d get it, you’d soak up the cover and read all the liner notes. Remember the smell of the booklet? The CD would finish, and you’d put it straight on again.

Or how about making mix tapes? I used to sit in front of the radio, and when my favorite song came on, hit record on my tape player, and voila, like catching a bird in the wild, you’ve captured (most of) the song. Recorded music had value because of its relative elusiveness, something that’s missing these days for music instantly accessible with the click of a button.

Getting back to my original point (anyone else noticed that you tend to ramble on with age?), things always change, and that’s something that will never change. So, what will the next generation of musicians complain about when they get older? Here’s my best prediction of the rant of today’s youth in 40 years’ time:

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OMG..these young people..like..totes don’t appreciate music IMHO. When I was young, we had to actually.. like.. search for music on the Internet <3 We had to use a keyboard! :O LOL
All kids have to do 2DAY is plug their brains into internet consciousness, and download the entire history of music..instantly! SMDH #kidshaveit2EZ

I literally can’t even. It makes me 🙁 TBH

DAE remember waiting 4 that song to download on YouTube? Sometimes it would take seconds!..and that’s character building 😉 These young PPL have it 2 easy IMHO #ungrateful

OAN all hail Grand Emperor Trump The Fifth, supreme leader of planet Earth. #letsmakeearthgreatagain

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And me in 40 years? I’ll be writing Syncopated Times articles from my studio apartment on Mars about how many more gigs there were on Earth when I was young. I’ll be touring the galaxy playing clarinet duets on my Apple E-Clarinet with a bionically enhanced Ken Peplowski.


Reedman extraordinaire Adrian Cunningham is the leader of Professor Cunningham and his Old School Jazz Band, based in New York City. His most recent CD is Ain’t That Right! The Music of Neal Hefti issued on the Arbors Jazz label. Visit his both his sites on the world wide web: www.adriancunningham.com and professor cunninghamjazz.com.

The Professor is delighted to field your questions regarding jazz, the music business from a musician’s perspective, and a variety of other germane topics. Write him at oldschool [email protected]

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