Author: Alvira, Marco

Miley, Me and Old Jeans

So what do Miley Cyrus and my old jeans have in common? Nothing. My old jeans just donít fit anymore. As I found a pair buried in my closet. These jeans must be fifteen years old,and Iíll tell you what: no matter how much weight I might ever lose, those old pants just wonít ever fit right again. Iím built differently now. Gravity has done itís work on my chest, waistline, and butt. So what in blazes has this to do with Miley? Well, nothing really...except no matter I try to embrace the open mindedness of my erstwhile youth, I just canít seem to wrap my mind around her performance at the recent Video Music Awards. (If you havenít seen the video, I apologize in advance for peaking your curiosity.) Her act was as uncomfortable and ugly as my 55 year old body trying to fit into a pair of those new skinny jeans or that pair of size 34ís back in my closet.

To be honest, I have yet to meet anyone aged 15, 25, 35, or 55 that has seen any merit in Mileyís tour de farce at the VMA. The former child star strove to demonstrate her transition from adolescent idol to contemporary adult performer. The problem lies, of course in oneís interpretation of ďadult performer.Ē Was she an edgy, youthful Lady Gaga, or was she an adult performer of the San Diego-sailorís-bar-on-Nimitiz Blvd-variety? Either way, her act didnít sit comfortably with me. Evidently, neither did it sit comfortably with her father, who canceled his appearance on the View the next day. As Miley burst from the belly of the giant teddy bear on stage, her tongue wagging from her face in a grotesque homage to Gene Simmons of Kiss, I felt like I was wearing one of those new tailor cut dress shirts designed for hip 25 year olds with a 6 foot , 145 pound frames. The reality is, her act was one of those fantastic Parisian runway designs that are as practical as wearing a bird cage on your head to keep off the rain.

The thing about old clothes--when they still fit-- is that they are comfortable, and are also like a time machine. A coarsely stitched patch on a faded wool plaid shirt is a reminder of an old high mountain adventure in a year far in the rear view mirror. The faded, rough pattern on a T-shirt is the last vestige of a wild night at a Zepplin concert. To be honest, Iím not one for sticking to old styles. Nor am I one for the trendy, either. Like most folks my age, itís enough if something is neat and comfy. That about sums up my taste in music lately. Iíve been listening to that new VInce Gill release, Bakersfield, a lot. I have it mixed with some Dwight Yokum, Travis Tritt, and Marty Stuart, on my iPod. Itís all old music with a new twist. Thereís something familiar in that playlist that just feels right, but enough of the novel to hold my attention.

People choose to listen to music like they wear their clothes. No matter what the choice in attire or tunes, one has to feel comfortable with what they have. Those of us in the bluegrass world are accustomed to the ďbig tentĒ versus ďsmall tentĒ argument. Itís an existential exercise--Sisyphusí rock, being the definition of bluegrass eternally rolling back on ourselves. Itís like arguing about the appropriateness of tucked versus untucked shirts on stage. The debate simply boils down to taste. It is no surprise however, that at the end of the day, when a group is just flat out smoking hot on stage, regardless of its place on the bluegrass spectrum, most fans will acknowledge the bandís chops and acumen. Whether one has one foot out the bluegrass tent flap door, or both feet planted firmly within, the bluegrass aficionado will tip his hat to a band that can really pick. The thing that has me curious is whether there can ever be an agreement on the outer limit of the genre. WIll it take a bluegrass Miley Cyrus to define that parameter for us?

Posted:  9/1/2013

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