Seniors rock!

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 17, 2015 – 12:00am
(Sorry. Somehow, I can’t get the to appear. I will fix them soon)

Troggs guitarist can still bash it.

I recently watched the British Invasion concert at the Resorts World Casino. It was a nostalgia show with some of the old British bands that rocked the music scene some 50 years ago. Performing were Marmalade, Troggs, Tremoloes, the Animals and Mike Bender of the Searchers. For the opening act, we had the Philippines’ own RJ Jacinto.

I was amazed that some of these seniors still sounded remarkably good. Even if some of the original group members in the bands have been replaced with young blood recruited to take over the missing , they could still rise to the expectations of the audience.

It was quite a show in many ways, although I had mixed reactions.

It was absolutely great to listen to the old songs knowing some of the performers were the originals who sang and played them. It didn’t make a difference that some of its old members were now missing (or passed away). The songs definitely had not lost their luster and appeal. While I am not exactly a teenager anymore and it’s been five decades since I first heard their songs, I felt the beat and the angst I used to feel as a teen in 1965 as I watched the bands perform them.

Music can really move you. Music is the “soundtrack of our lives,” as Casey Kasem put it, and can bring us back in time when we felt the emotional pull of our youth and all its aches, pains and awkwardness. We were young, unformed as persons, vulnerable, shy and angsty and trying to make sense of the burning teen love and raging hormones that made us feel alive, even though we were mostly troubled and sad.

The songs somehow encapsulated our feelings. The lyrics resonated inside us like gospel truth. It made us feel that we “fit” in some isolated universe but in the company of other people like ourselves. At least we were not alone.

Tremoloes sing Silence is Golden and other hits.

The Animals have lost their lead singer and songwriter Eric Burdon. But they got a younger man to replace the very voice that gave them so many hit songs. It took two songs before I adjusted to the new lead man. He sang with competence and his voice was close enough to Burdon’s that I began to really enjoy the performance. The songs Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, Don’t Bring Me Down, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place and House of the Rising Sun had everyone singing out loud. Their 10-song set was excellent. No drag. The playing was tight. And they performed without trying to pull you into some nostalgic orbit. They did the songs fresh as if they were a current band playing for a new audience.

The Troggs, which had very youthful, edgy songs like Wild Thing and I Can’t Control Myself among their hits in the ‘60s, gave quite a performance, too. But it was quite ironic to watch these senior citizens still singing about teen love. Sometimes, they hammed it up, but the shrill power of their sound 50 years ago, with its screaming guitars and loud beats, was still there. It was actually quite amazing to see their only guitarist, who was old and balding, strike the guitar with bravado, passion and competence.

“When The Searchers came to Manila in 1965, we could hear a lot of screaming girls. We don’t get that anymore,” said Mike Bender of The Searchers. While he was trying to be self-deprecatingly funny, he also underlined what 50 years had done to the rambunctious wildness of their youth and time itself. The world they created for themselves then as pop icons had all but retreated into the smoke of nostalgia. But it was still potent smoke and he still elicited quite an excitement when he sang songs like Love Potion Number 9, and Needles and Pins, two of my old favorites.

While watching them, I, too, experienced the passing of time. I thought about my own music career. Time was when APO and the artists of my generation ruled the airwaves, TV channels and stage venues. Not anymore. While people look at us with some fondness and respect, we are no longer on the radar screen as public personalities.

Many entertainers, including myself, still love performing. I, as solo performer, or sometimes with my APO buddy Boboy Garrovillo, will never lose the thrill of hearing the audience sing our hits. It is a great and humbling feeling to know that our songs have indeed become the soundtrack of Filipino lives.

A new artist wants nothing more than to be discovered, praised and loved by the audience. He will do anything to achieve it, including performing for free. A senior artist past his hey- day wants nothing more than to be remembered.

Many senior artists like myself and others in my generation who still enjoy what we are doing will continue to write, record and perform every chance we get.

People are inclined to ask why we continue to perform when the cult of youth has always ruled the world of pop. Shouldn’t we retire and give way to the younger set?

The answer is simple. A dog barks. A cat meows. A writer writes. A painter paints. A singer sings. A creative creates.

We are happy doing it. We can’t help but do what we are meant to do.

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