The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #63460   Message #1031183
Posted By: MikeofNorthumbria
07-Oct-03 - 08:55 AM
Thread Name: Are there any OLD folkies out there?
Subject: RE: Are there any OLD folkies out there?
Hi everybody!

Here's a possible explanation. See if you think it fits the case.

The 17th century philosopher Francis Bacon wrote "Hope is a good breakfast, but a poor supper." Young musicians and singers who are still at a fairly basic level of competence, or who are good, but unappreciated, may survive on hope, and not much else – while they are young.   Eventually, a few will achieve the success they yearn for, but those who grow older without doing any better find that hope soon withers.

Some of us give it up altogether, blaming the Usual Suspects (Marriage, Mortgage, Career, Kids). And some just keep on thrashing the same old chords, and bawling the same old choruses – perhaps because this helps us survive the stresses which the Usual Suspects can inflict on us. But even if some of us keep our ears open to new sounds, and our minds open to new ideas, our fingers are often too clumsy, and our memories too unreliable, for us to pick up any novelties that take our fancy. So most of us make do with nostalgia, and bid farewell to hope.

Even when we're playing and singing relatively well, there can't be much for the young in our sessions and sing-arounds – it's yesterday's news, and they're already looking for tomorrow's.   Can we wonder that they usually prefer to walk away from a bunch of has-beens, might-have-beens, and no-hopers like us?   Especially if the more perceptive youngsters fear that they might turn into something a bit like us, if their reservoir of hope runs dry in a decade or two.

So, to conclude, I find it pleasantly surprising that cross-generational music-making does sometimes break out spontaneously at festivals and other gatherings. Rather than struggling to explain its scarcity, I think we should be encouraging it - very gently – to spread and flourish where we can. But don't expect too much. Heed the words of the poet Belloc:

The young, the lovely, and the wise,
Their face is set towards their going.
They pass me with unclouded eyes
And leave me in a wild surmise
About my losing, and my owing.
The young, the lovely, and the wise,
Their face is set towards their going

Wassail!