Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

….It’s those changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes

Nothing remains quite the same

With all of our running and all of our cunning

If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane!”

Jimmy Buffett

It’s true that our winters in Western Washington can be long, cool, damp and … gray. We are infamous for our rain, which starts in October, and ends the day after the 4th of July weekend. The Hoh River rainforest can get up to 170 inches of rain a year; even though our winters are pretty mild by most standards,  the dampness can just kind of creep into your bones and settle there. So, it’s not surprising that many of us like to travel to desert or tropical climes to remember what the warm sun feels like on our skin.

It’s also not surprising that at a certain point in one’s life, finances permitting, many like to relocate to warmer, drier climes (the converse, weird as it seems, is also true – I often see people who have lived in, say, Arizona, come up here for our lush landscape). All that is well and good, except …

I will admit that while I feel I am a friendly guy, I don’t find it particularly easy to make new friends. A few years back we connected with another couple, and quickly established a warm, close bond. We go to dinner, check out local wineries and breweries, take weekend trips and even occasionally vacation together. We even just hang out, telling each other our stories over a glass of wine or two. They had made their home and yard a beautiful, park-like setting, have family locally, participated musically in the worship team at church, and loved the area. But. Our weather was increasingly becoming an issue, and one day they just up and sold their home, and moved to California, both for the weather and to be closer to their aging parents. Suddenly there was this huge gap in our lives.

To top it off, even as we are becoming closer to some mutual friends (love you guys, you know who you are), they bought a lot in Montana with the intention of moving there (at least during the snow-free months) once they retire in a few years. And other close friends I’ve know most of my life are dealing with health issues, so the times we’ve stayed with them, and trips we used to take with them to sunny southern locations may no longer be an option. Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, nothing remains quite the same.

On the plus side, we always have a terrific time with my wife’s youngest sister and her husband, and with my cousin and her husband up in B.C.. We’ve made some new connections with couples that love to hike, and who love live music. We even enjoyed a family reunion with my four siblings, and created new and stronger bonds there.

Our new challenge is to build and nurture the relationships we already have, and to accept, embrace, and move forward in a quest to find new people with whom we can share our journey. Wanted: couples who love to laugh, love the blues and rock’n’roll, enjoy an occasional glass of wine (or beer), and are  willing to share their story with us as we share ours with them. They say staying flexible as you age is important; I guess that applies both physically and relationally. Time to start stretching!!

When the Blues Turn Gray

I’m not too proud to admit that I own a couple of old Big Band albums (remember vinyl?) and that for some inexplicable reason I used to tear up when I heard Glenn Miller play “String of Pearls”. Absolutely no idea why, but there you go. Pretty sure my parents listened to it as they started college after WWII. I remember finding a huge stash of 78 rpm records in our basement, back when we also had a hand-crank record player, and listening to so many of them. Quite a hodge-podge of styles, from proto-country to big band to opera.  I remember being SO embarrassed when my dad ridiculed me in our kids church-school class for listening to Elvis Presley (so sorry, but I didn’t, and never developed a taste for him. So sorry.)

No, I was totally into the new phenomenon of Rock’n’Roll, and couldn’t get enough of it. Then along came B.B. King, and I started to develop a taste for the blues. Time changes everything, and before long big rock bands started taking old blues songs and making them, well, rock. Eric Burden, Canned Heat, Humble Pie, Led Zepplin, and so many more borrowed very heavily from the blues. Meanwhile, interest in the blues started a whole new movement, and you can now find very well attended blues festivals from one coast to the other.

We met some friends recently at a smallish venue not too far away to celebrate a mid-60’s birthday. Very funky place; basically a barn with an addition on the front. The addition houses a kitchen, maybe half a dozen tables, a bar, and a verrry small stage. There is a larger stage and seating area upstairs; so what they do is have a lesser-known band open downstairs, then patrons can move upstairs (with a cover charge) to hear the better-known band.

The Love Dealers opened up – a tight little group, lead guitar, bassist, drummer, and female singer. They played the blues. Their own songs, but they were really easy to listen to – the lead was really good, the bassist was as well (even did a bass solo that was great), drummer did a good job, and the singer performed with passion and humor. But this blog is not about them.

It’s about the crowd. Not for the first time I realized that at virtually every local live music event I’ve been to for the past few years, the preponderance of attendees has been … gray. Gray like me. (I AM gray, you know).  It can vary, but between 70 – 95% of the crowd at a blues-centric event is between 60 and 80 years old. The realization hit hard this time, and I started thinking about what this all looks like going forward. The cycles of life and music danced around a bit, and I could plainly see that while the blues may never die, they will continue to shrink and become less and less relevant. When we are all gone, the blues may well be just another footnote in the history of music.

We are all products of our generation; even though I now like jazz, country, and much of the “new” rock, my musical soul will always resonate to good old rock and blues. C’mon out to one of our local venues and join me as I lift a glass to salute this iconic American born-and-bred music. I’ll be the one who has obviously forgotten his age, and is rocking out to the band.