“I hope I die before I get old.” At least that’s what Pete Townsend said when he wrote “My Generation” for The Who.
“I can’t see me still doing this when I’m 30,” declared Paul McCartney in a 1963 interview when asked about how long he thought he’d still be playing rock and roll. Little did anyone suspect how long his act would go on.
As for me, I don’t know. I vacillate depending on several factors. It depends on how the show went the night before. If it’s a small, unmotivated crowd who just sits there acting as if I’m interrupting the basketball game on the bar TV, and I end up with two bucks in the tip jar, then I may start thinking it’s time to hang up the guitar and get out of the business once and for all. The next week the audience may really get into the act and request all kinds of songs and fill the tip jar to overflowing. Then I’d think I could do continue playing until they wheel me away on a gurney.
I played my first job with my first band on June 28, 1966. By the time June of 1986 rolled around I’d played some eight-hundred plus band jobs and started making plans to “retire” from the music business. I remember telling the other guys in the band, “twenty years is long enough.” Well, the twenty-year marker came and went and my new goal was one thousand jobs. I rationalized that by then I’d be ready to make the transition from performer to audience member.
Since that goal passed without being fulfilled, my band has disbanded and my duo has gone their separate ways, leaving me to play out my remaining days as a solo act. I saw this as a good transition into musical retirement until one day I stumbled upon a new procedure called sequencing. This allowed me to use midi files to replace the missing band members and continue with the full band sound. But just like some musicians, who are schleps that can’t hold a beat or a tune, I found there were schlep midi files that sounded just as bad. Then one day I found a midi site called The Midi Station and immediately something dawned on me—there ARE differences in midi files depending on who sequenced them. Well, the files on this site were sequenced by a guy calling himself Flash. You got it. It’s the same Flash we all know from Cybermidi and The Midi Station eventually fell by the wayside and was replaced by the current Cybermidi site. That was all the incentive I needed to push my goal ahead into infinity.
Last night I played job number 2,278 and I have a new goal. That goal is to break Paul McCartney’s record. And seeing that he played is first job in the summer of 1956 and is still going strong at 61 years of age, that means that if I intend to break his record, and if Paul stopped playing today, I’d have to keep playing until the year 2013, at which time I’d be 63 years old. But we all know that Paul’s not about to give it up just yet.
Looks like I have at least ten years and another thousand jobs before I can sit back in the audience and yell up at the performer, “Freebird!”
©2002 Bill Bernico for CYBERMIDI.com Downwind Publications
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