My brother Billy is a terminal Beach Boys fan. What can I tell you, nobody in the family agrees on music, except maybe for the Beatles. I don't think anyone hates/hated the Beatles. But for what each of us really likes we're all pretty far apart in taste. 50s music makes me pray for death. And pretty much most anything done after 1995 leaves me wondering what to make for dinner. I don't hate it but it bores me and sounds very alike. It's rap/hip hop or 4/4 time. I could use either for a sleep aid. I know.
Anyway, I was working on things online last night and left the tv running for the background noise after Wendy's radio show was done. And at some time I heard what I thought was the Beach Boys. I look at the screen. Holy crap. It's Brian! He has some form of Ozzyosis, doing strange things with his hands and face, but it's definitely him. He's singing the whole Pet Sounds album, the only BB album I own. And damn for all his permanent weirdness, he sounds good. He's hitting notes, he has wind. He is Brian Wilson.
What the hell happened to him and Ozzy? Yeah, it's practically impossible to believe that either of them are alive at all. But this particular brand of damage seems limited to only Ozzy and Brian. A sort of Wilson-Osbourne Syndrome. A marked lack of appropriate facial expressions for what's being said. Shaky hands are held in Ken doll positions. Arms go in nursery school conductor-ish moves between head and belt. And they have a strange sort of little run while on stage. Again, reminding me of 3 year olds zipping around in those sprints only little kids and some standup comics do. They don't look as old as you'd expect them to, either. They did the same substances with the same determined excess as Keef or Mick but they don't look like the Cryptkeeper. I mean, they aren't Dorian Greys, but they don't have that Keith Richards look, that Strolling Bones look. They're just older, staler, fatter versions of themselves. The Keef or Mick standards are very particular and must be as involved a procedure as the monks who mummify themselves by degrees. Steven Tyler is working on making it to a Keef level as I type.
Then there are those who go thru a metamorphosis that leaves them nearly unrecognizable. My beloved Greg is in this group, though not in a horrifying way. He's just turned into a tall Buddy Hackett. But look at Eddie Money, whom I just saw on a commercial and have been hoping won't be in my nightmares. Or Daryl Hall, who looks like The Vampire Lestat after being turned into a zombie.
My friends and acquaintances are sorting into these types now that we're joining the grey crowd. Some are going to be plain scary looking in another 15 years, you can tell. Features already doing things and reshaping in ways that won't be good in the end. Some are going to be your standard old white people in neutral colors, fading away before our eyes. And a couple of us will be of the Wilson-Osbourne Syndrome folks. Herky-jerky, able to sing but not talk straight, hands frozen into scoops.
But when I reflect on all we've done, all we've seen and ingested and had foisted upon us, we didn't take it too badly. We were the guinea pig generation. We had vaccinations, pollution, food additives, chemicals sprayed on us, experimental everything done to us. We played with mercury and ate lead paint, wore no safety gear nor seatbelts. We were thrown in water to see if we could swim. Every game we played, everything we used or made was dangerous. Our toys had small parts. We played in traffic and gave the finger to creepy men trying to get us in their cars. We smoked and drank as soon as we could get away with it, buying both by saying it was for our parents. We engaged in "risky behaviors" and hung with "bad company". Each of us could be dead a hundred times over but we aren't.
And right now Blind Faith in Hyde Park, June 1969 is playing. The next big concert there would be the Strolling Bones (who would do a small remembrance of the recently-dead Brian Jones) with the opening act, brand new band King Crimson. Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood both have that peculiar aging-man-begins-to-look-like-an-old-woman deal going on these days.
It's about here that I remember that old Burns line, "O wad some power the giftie gie us, tae see ourselves as others see us," and think, God only knows.