September 13, 2013
You Know You’re Getting Old When the Gray-Haired Barber Listens To Music You Know
As someone who stays quite active, I wear my hair short. I’d never be confused with a hippie, but some have suggested that my haircut of choice resembles a prohibition era gangster. And yet I don’t have a wardrobe of pinstripe suits.
It actually used to be that when I was younger, the barbers who cut my hair might have known music from the era of prohibition, even if it was their “parents’ music.” The old men barbers I have frequented used to listen to Benny Goodman, the Andrews Sisters, Frank Sinatra (the early stuff) and big band music. Anything post-World War II to them was considered noise.
Over the years, I’ve moved and I’ve had barbers that were from Russia (and who listened to Russian techno) and plenty of barbers in Harlem in New York City who listened to music that seemed to consist of nothing but lyrics of “bitch” and “ho.” I quickly found a new barber after hearing one too many Alexey Romeo and DJ Smash remixes at the Russians: and didn’t like that my gangster haircut was veering more towards gangsta.
So, I ventured back to the old men barbers. The problem with having an old man for a barber is that sooner or later he won’t be there when you walk in for the haircut. On a good day, you’ll hear he’s retired and has moved to Florida; on a bad day, you hear it was a lovely service.
Now I live in ‘burbs instead of the big city, and I found a new old man barber shop. These guys look like the same old guys I’ve always encountered; they complain about their kids, chat about old friends who have passed and just share stories about the old days. Some things are a little different, such as if they talk about “the war” they mean Vietnam not World War II or even Korea!
But the music is what is really different. There is no big band with the latest crop of gray haired barbers these days; it isn’t post-World War II Perry Como, Dean Martin and Tony Bennett – the music the “younger” old guys liked.
Now when I go for my haircut the old guys are listening to The Who, Jimi Hendrix and even a bit of Led Zeppelin. It seems odd that as I’m waiting for a haircut I hear The Animals’ The House of the Rising Sun, or Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells.
So, you know you’re getting old when the old man giving you a haircut says “I saw Jimi Hendrix when he opened for the Monkees.” It used to be that the old guys would take about events that happened LONG before I was born. Now I hear, “I saw The Who with Keith Moon” or “Yeah, I caught Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust tour.”
Those events weren’t exactly last week:Bowie’s Ziggy days were in 1972 and Moon died in 1978. But that just reinforces that these old guys are actually young enough to be the old, old guys sons! That means I’m on my way to becoming an old guy.
It also means that in another decade I’ll have to endure old guy barbers who listen to Van Halen and Run DMC, which to my ears are worse than Russian techno. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find an old guy barber who likes The Clash, the Sex Pistols and New Wave.
And then, instead of feeling like I’m getting old, I’ll feel young again!
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