Bob Seger Reminded Me What Rock 'n' Roll Means

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions and observations about the local scene. This week: The world and its realities often intrude, but music remains my mantra. 

Bob Seger once said "Rock 'n' roll never forgets." I'm reminded of that because I caught Seger at the Orlando Calling concert extravaganza a week or so ago, and true to tradition, that song figured prominently in his set. But it wasn't the song itself that inspired me. Actually, it was the sentiment that surrounded me. It was being at that place, at that time, at that festival, wholly and completely immersed in the music.

This column isn't about an encounter with anyone else -- it's about recognizing that age, beliefs, and circumstance will never come between many of us and the music we adore.

I am now, have always been,

and will continue to be passionate about rock 'n' roll and the attitude

that goes along with it. To quote Seger

again, in a line from his song "Traveling Man"... "Those are the

memories that make me a wealthy man..."

I'm far from being alone in this way of thinking. There are certain expectations that come with age -- that you have to accept responsibility, shed the things of your youth, temper your dreams, and be "grown up." You've got to cut your hair, wear three-piece suits, behave more like a banker than a bohemian, and not let sentiment or sensitivity get in the way of ambitions and intents. 

I rarely follow any of those dictates. For example, I'm hardly one to dress age-appropriate. My hair extends down to my shoulders, I've begun growing a beard since the festival, tie dye still finds a place in my wardrobe, and dang if I don't consider the Beatles and the Stones perfect fashion templates. Yeah, I'm a retro guy, but I really don't mind at all. 

So what does this have to do with rock 'n' roll? Everything, actually. In the '60s, music became a mantra, a lifestyle, an overriding influence that defined the attitudes and mores of an entire generation. Suffice it to say, I'm a child of the '60s, and so those sentiments have always stayed with me. Mind you, there's a fine line between being young at heart and emotionally deranged, and yeah, maybe I could be accused of that too. Some would say I fearlessly cross that divide. After all, I relate more to younger people than I do to someone intent on proving him- or herself an old fart. Hearing a new album by, say, Elvis Costello or the Avett Brothers means a hell of a lot more to me that the cost of coffee in Argentina.

Rock 'n' roll is about setting yourself free, as Bob Dylan once sang, "To dance beneath a diamond sky with one hand waving free." Every time I hear those words, I get choked up. It's the ideal, isn't it? As the Lovin' Spoonful promised, "The magic's in the music, and the music's in me... Believe in the magic and it will set you free..." 

Orlando Calling brought these feelings rushing back. I had two solid days of fun (wrap of day 1, wrap of day 2), festivities, and freewheeling, and frankly, I could have taken a third... or a fourth... or an entire life where music sets the course and the spirituality seeps through -- in an enduring lyric, an infectious melody, in the hope for possibility. I'd rather live my life with that one hand waving free then one where the weight of the world is dragging me down. Sure, I have an immature haircut and quite possibly an immature attitude. Always have, always will. Hopefully, I'll still be rocking the nursing home. And when the drummer kicks in a backbeat and the guitarist lays into a riff that resonates, I know that no matter where I am, I'll always be in the right place.

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Lee Zimmerman