Aging Disgracefully With Rock’n Roll


When you’re on the wrong side of 50, like I am, it’s not all about dat bass. It’s more about dat basic need for a comfortable chair. As the years have unspooled, our focus has changed, and I don’t just mean our inability to read the print on a box of Mueslix. There’s a ton of great music out there, but we elder specimens either can’t hear it or can’t relate to it.

Back when Sir Mix-A-Lot was ruling the land with “Baby Got Back (I Like Big Butts),” we sang it loud and proud. Now we’re singing “Baby Got Back Pain (Oh, My Sciatica).” What can you do? People age. So should their music.

It would be great if some of the artists that provided the soundtrack to our youth went back in the studio (I know, it’s a long shot—they’re even older than we are) and recorded their hits with new titles and lyrics befitting our middle-aged, broken-down, mortgaged-up, get-off-my-lawn, cranky-ass selves in the late afternoon (if not twilight) of our lives.

We’re not just old; we’re pathetically out of shape. I always think of the Rolling Stones when I climb into bed at night. I’m sure it’s annoying to Barb when I start humming, “Can’t You Hear Me Wheezin’”.

Maybe it’s in poor taste to bring AC/DC into this, considering the news that rhythm guitarist and founder Malcolm Young has left the band to be treated for dementia. They might think about recording “Have An Ensure On Me” or “Whole Lotta Rose Hips.”


Chip: “Hey, you remember that one song by those guys about that place with that thing?” Bob: “Ha ha, yeah. No.”

Geriatric rockers Aerosmith have to get in on the action. “Dream On (I’m Not Changing My Will)” would go over big at the retirement home raves. Or maybe “Dude (Looks Like a Little Old Lady)” or “Walker This Way.”

Nowadays I can’t hear that great, funky Talking Heads song “Burning Down the House” without changing it to “Turning Up the Heat.” Hell the lyrics are ready-made for us graybeards and their aging old ladies: “All wet, you might need a raincoat. Hold tight, we’re in for nasty weather.” Doesn’t it sound like somebody’s grandma trying to stop you from going out to get your hambone boiled?

Right-wing crackpot/attention whore Ted Nugent’s solo debut album is never far from my turntable. I love every song on the record. Especially the breakneck rocker “Just What the Doctor Ordered: Prunes.”

Sheryl Crow is younger than I am, but she’s old enough to relate to a song like “All I Wanna Do (Is Not Pee When I Cough).” I believe that was from her hit album Tuesday Night Canasta Club.

I can’t help but come back to the Stones at this point, seeing as how they’re older than all of us but still out there rocking. Sometimes in a chair. On the porch. Even us old-timers still shake our money-makers to “Start Me Up (Clear!)” and “You Can’t Always Go Where You Want (On This Rascal).”

It could be that the Stones knew they’d be around for fifty years as a band, so they built in some room for updating with songs like “Sympathy For the Advil” and “She’s So Cold (Get Her a Shawl for Pete’s Sake).” I mean, “Ventilator Blues” and “Stop Breaking Down” from Exile On Main Street? Yeah, they knew something.

By the time they got to Goat’s Head Soup they were hitting their stride. Everyone loves the great ballad “Angie (-oplasty)” and their raw slice of life from the rough side of the nursing home, “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heart Defibrillator).”

The Red Hot Chili Peppers (which we can no longer eat without suffering a major gastric episode) are at least a generation younger than the Stones, but some of their hits can easily be retooled for us geezers-in-waiting. “Hump de Bump” sounds more like a call to action from somebody with hyperkyphosis than a simple dance groove. “Under the Bridge” would be about where all the water of 40 years of a bad relationship has gone.

Remember Quiet Riot? They had the very first heavy metal record to hit #1 on the Billboard charts. I can see a big comeback with their hit, “Cum On Feel the Goiter.” Or maybe “Metal Health (Careful, Don’t Bang Your Head).”

I’m sure we all have a copy of Pink Floyd’s classic Dark Side of the Moon. Remember the song that starts with a whole clock shop full of alarms going off? It’s called, simply, “Time.” For some of us it might be more relevant to call it “Time (For Your Enema).” They have another song that would be fitting if most of your stories feature some kind of surgery or medical procedure: “Whine On, You Crazy Diamond.”

How about a little Buffalo Springfield? “For What It’s Worth (I Ain’t Paying Retail)” would work. And the lyrics are already there: “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.” I don’t know how many times a day I whisper those words to myself.

The collection wouldn’t be complete without the Jimi Hendrix classic “…And the Gods Made Applesauce.”

Perhaps the king of rock and roll himself (sorry, Elvis), Chuck Berry could once again be the spokesman for a generation. Yeah, we’re all young punks to him, but the Father of Rock ’n Roll could surely do some duck walking to “Reelin’ and Rockin’ (Vesitbular Disorder),” “Back In the AARP,” and our favorite weeknight singalong, “No Particular Place To Go (’Til After Jeopardy).”

Still holding out hope for the Creedence? How about “Who’ll Stop the Pain” or “Leakin’ Out My Back Door.” For those of us who have been called “a large gassy planet,” we can boogie to “I Put a Smell On You.”

Got some suggestions to add to the list? I’m all ears (let me crank up my hearing aid first). I’ll be over here, rocking out to Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright For Napping.”

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.


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