Southern Sounds

I don’t enjoy halftime shows anyway. Never have. Not marching bands and high stepping majorettes; not fireworks displays and Up with People; not parachuting mascots and washed up rock and roll legends. I would prefer to watch someone throw a Frisbee to his dog while people leisurely stroll from one side to the other, just to see who is over there.

I especially dislike overblown, massively choreographed, vulgar halftime extravaganzas, designed by someone who likely never held a brand new football on Christmas morning, inhaling the scent of fresh leather, waiting for the sun to rise so you could pass to your dad.

The product we have today, whether the Orange Bowl Celebration of Excess, or the latest Roman Numeral NFL Championship, seems to be a result of either anti-football forces trying to wrest attention from the game itself or a Dan Jenkins parody.

Last night’s Black Eyed Peas concert didn’t break ground for overproduction, overabundance, or sheer magnitude. It did bring me to a sad conclusion about myself. I am getting too damn old.

We’ve seen The Who; geriatric has-beens, The Rolling Stones; still rock and roll but past their prime, Janet and Justin; who caused all this consternation about scheduling risky acts in the first place.

I’ve listened to groups no longer relevant but safe to a conservative audience gathered to celebrate freedom and Jesus in the best way we know how, gaudy and excessive. I’ve listened to new groups I enjoyed and established groups who were at the apex of their popularity. I’ve also listened to my own amateur strumming or a keyboard clacking because I didn’t want to participate in this theatrical display of opulence while the players took a twenty minute break.

Last night I felt like one of those living ghosts in horror movies; an ancient specimen who turns into a skeleton when exposed to air, leathery flesh falling away to reveal a screaming, eyeless skull.

When the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan the first time, my father’s television was unable to pick up that station. No matter where he slid the aluminum foil on the cable or which direction I pointed the roof antenna, we only viewed snow. The folks next door allowed us to watch with them.

Mr. Youngblood sold insurance and was a tall, clueless pile of self-importance. He was among the few people in Tuscaloosa who sported a mustache, although it was a very conservative one. He was very much a man of his time; the Ward Cleaver prototype. In comparison, my father looked as cool as Dick Clark, or maybe even Pat Boone.

Our two families watched the Beatles performance in silence. I’m not sure what the four Youngblood girls thought. They didn’t scream or cry or throw underwear at the TV screen. Rick and I agreed it was the most impressive image we had observed on the small screen, except for Annette Funicello.

My father and Mr. Youngblood took turns offering disparaging remarks about the four Liverpool lads; their hair mostly, but also their clothes, their gestures, and their singing. I was ashamed my father had joined with Mr. Youngblood in the enemy camp. Two old guys who were completely out of touch with modern tastes. I only forgave him decades later after he developed an appreciation for U2.

During the Sunday Black Eyed Peas’ performance I found myself thinking back to that night in 1964. I couldn’t get into the music, didn’t enjoy the overall vibe, and realized this feeling was entirely my fault. I have moved into the netherworld of old people.

No longer able to understand the current musical offerings, I am doomed to wander the planet clenching my teeth, shaking my fist, and calling anyone under forty a whippersnapper. Longing for the Good Old Days when Leslie Gore and Chad and Jeremy gave us music worth listening to.

God I hate getting old.

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Mike Cox

Mike Cox

Mike Cox currently writes a weekly column in South Carolina for the Columbia Star called "It's Not a Criticism, It's an Observation." He is trying to grow old as gracefully as possible without condemning the current generation in charge to doom. Each day this task gets harder as the overwhelming evidence mounts. He currently has two published books; Finding Daddy Cox, and October Saturdays. His columns have won three South Carolina Press Association awards since 2003. Mike has three sons and two grandchildren and lives in Irmo, Sc, just outside of Columbia.