This very hour might be a really good time to re-read this editorial by Paul Jones. It appeared in newspapers, one day after The Beatles first appearance on Ed Sullivan, sixty years ago tonight.
The cultural historian in me wonders: Did anybody ever go back to Jones later, and see if he changed his mind?
It doesn’t really matter. My point is not what happened to him.
My point is what all of this should teach all of us “old farts” today.
As an added bonus, I’m throwing in this truly hilarious screaming headline from the Cincinnati Inquirer. This almost made milk come up my nose.
My Father would have been living in Dallas by the time these events happened in Cincy. And, as I’ve noted, I would have been a small baby. But even today, my love and affection for Cincy remains, and knowing what I know of them, these headlines seem completely unsurprising to me. I can imagine the copy editor, writing this in complete, and earnest, seriousness.
“Bless their hearts…”
But here’s the deal. Whether we are Boomers, Generation Jones, or the older part of Gen X, these images call back to us, a message to all of us old farts, as we pause to remember events, sixty-years-ago tonight.
Here is MY hot take…
I have now lived long enough to see the truth of this statement: Old people will always shake their heads and grumble about the music of the young.
Sixty years from the dawn of Beatlemania, some of those screaming young people are now old farts, shrieking a Paul Jones-like “Get off my lawn” at anybody younger than them.
Nobody in their right mind would pan The Beatles today. But I sure hear a lot of folks who watched Ed Sullivan that night now trashing Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Lil Nas X, Billy Eilish…and more.
They have become the very same old farts they once despised as teenagers.
Sure, there are always exceptions. There are always “cool” older people.
If you’re young, hang out with cooler old people, and make them your friends. They have wisdom to teach. Promise.
And if you’re old, BE them…be the cooler old people… hanging out with the young, learning from them. This is how we stave off this seemingly inevitable cycle. This is how we keep from becoming bitter. We do it, as I’ve been harping on lately, by taking “joy in the joy” of the young.
I’d like to believe that, to be the best of my ability, I am trying to live as an “exception” too. It’s hard, because the truly cruel hands of time, the inevitable bell curve of death, and the absolutely real specter of populist fascism…well, they make it hard to want to listen to anyone, young or old, really.
We just want to curl up in a ball, and put on some classic rock.
I know I do.
But, you laughed when you read those headlines, didn’t you?
“Teenagers revel in madness…”
“Young fans drop veneer of civilization…”
As we laugh at this, as we remember the joy of events of sixty years ago tonight, maybe we old farts should also look in the mirror too?
I’m just sayin….