81-Year-Old Man Walks into a Guitar Shop & Starts Playing a Sublime Solo: Ignore the Talents of the Elderly at Your Own Peril

Last spring, I caught a Who con­cert in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia, on what hap­pened to be songwriter/guitarist Pete Town­shend’s 71st birth­day. Five songs into their set, the band played “My Generation”–yes, the song best known for the line “I hope I die before I get old”–and I could­n’t help but think: Town­shend’s play­ing with more inspi­ra­tion now than when I first saw The Who play in 1982. Bio­log­i­cal­ly, he’s sup­posed to be over the hill. Musi­cal­ly, he’s still play­ing a very fine rock gui­tar.

The same thought crossed my mind at Desert Trip, the Octo­ber mega con­cert held in Indio, Cal­i­for­nia. Fea­tur­ing The Rolling Stones, The Who (again), Paul McCart­ney, Neil Young and Roger Waters–in short, musi­cians all over the age of 70–Desert Trip became more col­lo­qui­al­ly known as “Old­chel­la.”

Even, Mick Jag­ger called it “the come and see us before we die tour.” And yet. And yet. Despite the jokes, they’re all still play­ing with verve, putting on tight, rous­ing shows. (I’ll admit that Bob Dylan is the notable excep­tion.)

So what’s the take­away? We can’t stop the clock. Even­tu­al­ly, we get old. Noth­ing we can do about that. But if you’ve got your health, if you’ve got the desire, if you’ve spent decades refin­ing your craft, then there’s no rea­son you can’t still do great work. That applies to musi­cians. (Wit­ness 81-year-old Bob Wood above). It also applies to oth­er parts of life, includ­ing our pro­fes­sion­al lives. Our cul­ture hasti­ly writes off the tal­ents and accu­mu­lat­ed expe­ri­ence of an entire gen­er­a­tion of peo­ple. But stop for a sec­ond. Watch the video above and extrap­o­late it to oth­er parts of life. Then think about all that gets need­less­ly lost.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

How to Age Grace­ful­ly: No Mat­ter What Your Age, You Can Get Life Advice from Your Elders

This Is Your Brain on Exer­cise: Why Phys­i­cal Exer­cise (Not Men­tal Games) Might Be the Best Way to Keep Your Mind Sharp

Demen­tia Patients Find Some Eter­nal Youth in the Sounds of AC/DC

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Comments (7)
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  • Mike says:

    Sit­ting in arthri­tis coun­try (Swe­den) watch­ing with awe.
    This dude is more nim­ble than most 18 year old guys.
    Do they have a stu­dio around that you can get him into?

    All the best from the cold.

  • Ray Chagnon says:

    That is a song called Besame Mucho…covered by the likes of Dean Mar­tin to the ear­ly Bea­t­les

  • Joao says:

    He’s per­form­ing Besame Mucho.For those who did not iden­ti­fy the song.

  • Mazzy says:

    Great arti­cle. Prej­u­dice is rife when it comes to old­er peo­ple unfor­tu­nate­ly. They are pen­sion­ers, elder­ly, etc and thus labelled are writ­ten off. How­ev­er tal­ents abound in this gen­er­a­tion. I know more than one “pen­sion­er” who plays amaz­ing rock gui­tar, writes and sings with star­tling tal­ent, is a tech wiz­ard. We are all Aging but we’ve don’t feel any dif­fer­ent inside.

  • Nadanada Nadadamnthing says:

    Here’s the orig­i­nal. Nev­er mind the bit about the “grand­fa­ther walk­ing into the gui­tar store” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CAuLeSmcR8

  • Maxim Gurnemanz says:

    I do hope this fel­low teach­es.

  • Leslie says:

    Beau­ti­ful gui­tar play­er. I don’t know why peo­ple are sur­prised when an elder can do some­thing like this. As if they are a dif­fer­ent species or some­thing. If you can play like that when you’re young, you’ll play like that when you’re old. All our favorite musi­cians will be 80 some­thing one day and most like­ly will still be able to bust it out in a big way. Why does this blow our minds? As if an elder has no tal­ent? We for­get that elders we once babies, tod­dlers, teens, adults just like the reg­u­lar life span of a human and what­ev­er tal­ent a per­son cul­ti­vates dur­ing their life­time will be there through­out the ages.

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