Queens or Whiny Jeans?
I watched a TikTok video of a woman responding to someone who posted a very annoying comment about Joni Mitchell’s return to the stage at the Newport Folk Festival (July 2022).
It was Joni’s first live performance in 20 years. She’s had some major health issues, including an aneurysm that left her in a state where she had to relearn how to 1) speak, 2) walk, 3) play guitar, 4) sing.
Joni performed live sitting on a gold throne chair and it was spellbinding. And she also stood and played her guitar. (“Car on a Hill” from Court and Spark. Look it up!)
Again, spellbinding. She’s JONI MITCHELL for some higher deity’s sake.
So someone got on TikTok and said, (exact quote) “These damn baby boomers just refused to go give it up your time is over”
First of all, learn how to write.
Secondly, why such hate for us old folks?
Thirdly, you try recovering the way Joni did.
(Full disclosure: I’m a baby boomer—as if you couldn’t tell.)
And so someone posted a rebuttal video—praising Joni and defending her legacy—and I got to read the hundred or so comments about this topic.
I never knew some young people had such strong feelings about us old people getting up on stage and performing.
I’ve heard snarky comments over the years about the Rolling Stones and how they keep touring even though they’re grizzly old wrinkled men.
And yet, you get up there on stage like Mick and Keith (pushing 80 now) and do what they do. In 2022! Over 55 years after they started! Still going.
Mick Jagger running around the stage at 79 like he’s 23. Yeah, you try it and then get back to me.
Paul McCartney sill cranking out the mojo at 79.
Keith Richards, for all his hard living and wild life, still up there smiling and pouring out his magic.
Should these “baby boomers” give it up?
Is their time truly over?
If it is, then how about you new, young folks getting up there and topping what they do?
(Sorry, the coffee was quite strong this morning…)
But to be so snarky about a woman who re-learned the guitar and how to sing at 79 years old after an aneurism and got up in front of thousands of people and sang live is just going to far.
It wouldn’t be so bad if the new crop of performers, artists and female vocalists were as good or better than Joni Mitchell, Chaka Khan, Dionne Warwick and any of the other “damn baby boomers”—but they’re not. At least as far as I can hear.
Joni Mitchell is the Mount Everest of female singer-songwriter-musicians. A veritable gold mine of talent and feel and mojo.
Show me anyone who can top what she recorded. Even 50 years later, there hasn’t really been any female artist that topped what she did. Singing. Playing. Writing. Music. Lyrics. Performing. The whole enchilada.
It’s laughable that someone (probably young) got on TikTok and said such a snarky thing about the legendary Joni Mitchell.
No matter that the people on stage with Joni at the Newport Folk Festival could hardly hold back tears for being on stage with her and watching her comeback.
I’m not just an old baby boomer holding onto the past. I just want to be knocked down by real, raw, monumental NEW talent.
And I haven’t been. Not the way I was (and still am) by those old baby boomer QUEENS.
I want my jaw to drop when I hear someone new pouring out mojo as rich and thick as Aretha or Chaka or Joni.
There is a general trend in music and music production to dismiss the past and focus on the new, trendy and current; all the while watering down what we hear.
Popular music production is becoming more and more anemic, thin-sounding and it feels (and sounds) as if all the mojo has been drained out and thrown in some imaginary “baby boomer” garbage can.
The singers sound thin. The drums sound thin. The songs can’t even compare to what came before.
You can’t even compare most of the new popular female vocalists, performers, and “artists”—the ones hugely popular on social and mainstream media, streaming platforms and winning the big awards—to Joni Mitchell, Aretha, Chaka Khan, Janis Joplin, Etta James, Laura Nyro (look her up!), Patty LaBelle, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick, Carol King, Sharon Jones, Bonnie Raitt, and lord knows a whole slew of other QUEENS.
What I’m trying to say is simple:
Sports players get measured up against the game and the legends who came before them. They have to score points and be unique and spellbinding—they have to truly be as good or BETTER than their predecessors.
Tiger Woods is not legendary simply because he has a hit song, video or is cranking on social media. He’s legendary because he kicks ass at the game and has outperformed everyone who came before him.
Lebron James is not legendary just because he won a few games or did a few cool commercials. He’s measured up (in actual playing ability, technique, mojo) against Kobe, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Shaq.
You show me any of the new musical stars supposedly at the top of something (I don’t know what)—the ones who are topping the charts and getting the awards—the ones everyone is raving about—you show me one of those who can send chills down your spine and through your entire soul like Aretha, Chaka, Etta, Janis, Joni…
Are they scoring the same points as the QUEENS who came before them?
So what gives?
Why do we idolize the new performers and hold them in as high a regard as the “damn old baby boomers” when many (not all) simply don’t measure up?
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t enjoy the new, fresh sounds, talent and current wave of performers and artists.
I’m simply saying don’t throw away history.
Especially not with Spotify, Tidal, Amazon, iTunes and the jaw-dropping ease with which we can listen to all recorded music from the beginning of time—for the monthly price of less than what this cranky old baby boomer had to pay to get 40 minutes (or less) of music on one album from ONE artist.
For Joni to get up there and re-learn everything and perform in front of all those people is simply a monumental achievement. A slam dunk.
And I just don’t want to go shopping in the big box stores and hear all that whiny new music sounding like someone unzipped a pair of designer jeans and the jeans started singing.
Gimme Court and Spark (look it up!).
Gimme Chaka Khan and “Tell me Something Good.”
Gimme Donna Summer for god’s sake, singing “Love to Love you Baby”—it’s still light years ahead of the crap I’m hearing today.
(Yeah, I’m cranky and jacked up on the joe…so what?)
©2022 Bruce Palma. All rights reserved.