Author: Karsemeyer, John


“Getting old is not for sissies,” has been said more than once and not on just a few occasions. Much of that statement is true when thinking about dealing with aches and pains, loss of friends and loved ones, and the kick-you-in-the-teeth impact of the loss of your youth.

Many people in our culture look down on old people as being almost worthless and no longer making significant contributions to our society. I used to look at an old person and with some stupid, nonsensical thinking, view that person as always having been that way; fixed and suspended in time and space. And now when I look at a young person I have to remind myself that they were not always that way, and that they are on their own personal journey to becoming old and in the grey (hopefully not old and in the way).

In the music world we give a great deal of value to things that are old. Show a guitar player a 1935 Martin D-28, and their enthusiasm will be off the charts. Show a mandolin player a 1924 F5 Lloyd Loar mandolin and they will go nuts. Show a fiddle player a 1700’s Stradivarius violin, and they would beg, borrow, or steal to own it; maybe even just to play it.

Those old instruments have a long history, and if they could talk they would tell us unbelievable stories of their lives. Talk to an old person and they often will do the same, if you give them the chance.

Those old instruments have scratches, holes, dings, splits, and all kinds of imperfections; but they sound great. Old people have the same infirmities, but what they have done and seen, and the stories they can tell you is often almost unbelievable.

The next time you feel like you’re too old to matter and get to feeling down, just think of yourself as a fine old guitar, or mandolin, or fiddle, or banjo, or bass that shows some scars and mileage lines, and consider yourself valuable. Then discover someone to strum your strings. Obtain your eccentricity license, and practice often. You’ve seen a lot, you’ve done a lot, and you’re not ready to “get low.” If you’ve never done it before, sit down and write a story about your life, just ten pages will do. You may surprise someone, even yourself. By the time we are seniors we have a lot of baggage; we just need to learn how to travel light.
Oh, and if you are a young person reading this, enjoy your youth. It is a gift that will slowly be taken away. Seize the day, seize the moment, seize your musical instrument and make this day count, no matter what your age.

And just now I’m thinking about “Kids On Bluegrass” (KOB). So why don’t we have “Seniors On Bluegrass?” For short we could be called, “SOB.” Whoops, maybe not….

P.S. “Honey will you love me when I’m old, overweight, and wrinkled?” “Yes I do.”

Posted:  10/13/2012

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