A Musical Fountain of Youth
Taking oldies but goodies to another level
It has been said that music stands as one of the most artistic achievements of civilization and modern humankind. People all over the world enjoy some form of this art in one way or another, which encompasses and reflects their unique, individual cultures and mores. It's been happening for centuries. Dance runs a close second, as a result of music. Art reflecting life, life inspiring art.
Published on LatinoLA: July 7, 2003
When you consider the diversity of music and dance in our modern world today, you have to admit, it's come a long way since our ancestors first picked up some stones and sticks and started rockin' out under the moonlight.
People, music, dancing and memories. Beats having a war. Better than hating. Keeps you young. Habit forming, but no calories.
Every generation has it's music that defines it. Each generation gradually leads to the next. Popular music from each generation is promoted and made popular by the young people of the time, gradually replaced by the young people of future times.
A friend of mine from high school, who sometimes forgets how crazy he drove his parents playing his Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones and Led Zepplin, does not understand how his children can enjoy today's hip hop and rock-n-espa?ol music, which drives him crazy.
My kids, and now my grandkids, tease me about my Oldies music by calling it "dinosaur rock" or "too, too old school". I remember driving my parents to irritation with my Wolfman Jack and KGFJ Oldies, East L.A. Revue sounds and Tower of Power music. They would've preferred to hear Mariachi or 1940's-50's big band sounds.
All of this music is available today on CD or tape. It is preserved the way it was recorded, by young people enjoying the music of their times, staying forever young despite the advances of time. Music is truly immortal.
As a mobile DJ, I am frequently asked to play, along with great Oldies, more progessive music, which evolves to early Disco, Soul, and Latin Soul dance music. I see happy people get on the dance floor and boogie down, their smiles and laughter a testament to the good times they've experienced, and are experiencing at the time. I see these people and I happily wonder what party animals they must have been, and what kind of friends they might have made, "back in the day". It is the music that keeps them young.
Recently, I was asked to go the other way, which is what this story is all about. Instead of being asked to go forward in time so people can enjoy more recent sounds, I was asked to go back in time, so people could enjoy themselves and hear some older sounds. Older than I usually play.
Being fortunate to have been exposed to music all my life by my parents and older family members, I was able to accomodate a very special group of fans. It has been one of the most enjoyable gigs I've done in a long while.
I was recently asked to do a show at the Jewish Family Services Adult Day Health Care Program in North Hollywood, for their 4th of July celebration. Being asked to musically entertain an older audience is always a privilege, and a sign of respect. To perform in front of people who represent some of the most significant generations of our times, the WW II and Korean War eras -- my Parent's generation -- was my way of giving some respect back.
At first, I didn't think the crowd would be so lively, being mostly in their late 70s, and early 80s. I started off mellow and slow, with Glenn Miller's "Moonlight Seranade".
The crowd of about 60 senior citizens, many in wheelchairs or needing a cane or walker, welcomed me warmly with applause and smiles after my introduction. After two or three slow ballads, a young guy of 88 (yes, eighty eight) named "Alex" walked up to me and said "Hey man, can't you crank it up?"
He had the biggest smile on his face, and it was obvious I had touched a nerve with the music. I picked "In the Mood" by Glenn Miller, and "Chigas Patas Boogie" by Lalo Guerrero, as my next two plays. The sight of at least six couples getting up to dance, and the smiles on everyone's face told me I was in the "zone!"
For those who couldn't get up to dance, their smiles, clapping and gentle rocking of their heads and shoulders touched me to tears. I kept it going with dance tunes by Ella Fitzgerald, Lalo Guerrero, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton and Glenn Miller (some serious Oldies, ?Qu? no?).
Some of the lovely ladies were having such fun dancing amongst themselves that I, along with the staff members from the Center, could not help but join the party on the dance floor. Many staff were amazed at how many of their senior citizen clients, who are known for being quiet, aloof and/or depressed, seemed to come alive and awake. They were smiling, clapping, and singing along like teenagers from days past, not unlike teenagers enjoying music today . Many of the audience would share memories from their past with me, of their youth, of good times, of younger days.
The music had brought them back, and they were ever so grateful. My show had been a fountain of youth for them. Music is like that. That's why people like me work hard at "bringing it back and keeping it alive."
At the end of the show, many of the audience came up to me, struggling with their wheelchairs, canes, walkers and physical pains to personally tell me how much they enjoyed the music, how good it made them feel, and how much they miss hearing it. They, like I, lamented how they don't play the 'Good old stuff" on the radio anymore. So I will continue to share the love and art known as Oldies music. I had a truly wonderful time that day. These people showed me how immortal music truly is, and I am forever grateful!
People, music, dancing and memories. Truly a fountain of youth. I invite you to take a deep drink, mi gente. It's all good!
Frankie Firme hosts the "2nd Time Around Show", the most listened to Oldies but Goodies show on the World Wide Web.