I’m a rock-n-roller from way back. When I was really young, I resisted the siren call of R&R for a while, but it was no use. The music took me and nothing has been the same since. My tastes were eclectic, to say the least, from bubble gum to R&B to psychedelic to art and everything in between. As Mr. Joel said, “It’s all rock’n’roll to me. ”
Among my faves were (and are) the diverse likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Steely Dan, ELP, Three Dog Night, Bread, Yes, Stevie Wonder, Beatles, Chicago, The Guess Who, Temptations, Moody Blues, and a whole lot more where they came from.
(Brief digression: Music is an interesting phenomenon. It seems to have little practical value and, were it never have been created, it’s not clear anyone would miss it. But imagine life without it. For my part, I take it as tangible evidence of God’s grace, even if we abuse it too often.)
One glaring omission from that list is The Who. That’s because they’re the inspiration for this post. The Who is arguably the most important, most intelligent, and greatest rock band of all time. They rallied an entire generation with their aptly titled anthem, “My Generation”. With its anguished stutter, it spoke to masses of disaffected youth, not only in their UK home, but in the US as well.
I heard this song a couple of times in the same day recently. As usual, I was taken aback by a line that might be the mantra of the rock and roll culture: “Hope I die before I get old.” That turned out to be prophetic for the band’s rhythm section: Mad drummer Keith Moon died at the untimely age of 32. Enigmatic bassist John Entwistle only made it to 58. Mike-swinging singer Roger Daltrey and the brilliant Peter Townshend are still out there, though, and believe it or not, are still touring. Rock on!
But I haven’t been able to shake that line from my mind: “Hope I die before I get old.” Did they really hold that death wish? Maybe, but maybe not. I’ve come to the conclusion that I subscribe to the same philosophy.
Shocked? You should be. By many standards, I’m chronologically old already. But the calendar only tells half the story. Let’s talk about attitude. I’ve met 50-year-olds who are less alive than my 90-year-old father. They’re content to chuck it all and sit in front of the TV watching reruns and “Wheel of Fortune” (and reruns of “Wheel of Fortune”) simply waiting until their bodies follow their minds into a lifeless state.
Not me. My plan is to be young till I die. As someone wiser than I once said, “You’re only young once, but you can be immature forever.” More appropriately, one can maintain a childlike outlook without being childish. That’s where I want to be, although I might stray into the childish more often than I’d care to.
Emit Rhodes, the one-man Beatles, sings it this way: “You must live till you die.” I’m not the only one who agrees. I sincerely believe Jesus wants the same from us: to be actively living as long as there’s breath in our feeble bodies. After all, He’s the one who says we must receive His Kingdom like a child if we ever want to enter it.
A youthful attitude is also good therapy for those of us with MS and many other chronic illnesses.
So, yeah, I hope I die before I get old, cuz I don’t plan to get old for a looooong time.
To paraphrase Browning, “Stay young with me, the best is yet to come!”