Older is not necessarily better

I’m all for historic districts, Mozart, Caravaggio, and Shakespeare. There are plenty of things from the past that are just as wonderful today as they were a century ago. And of course we should protect the best of it to show how things both change and even more importantly how they stay the same. Much of my immediate group of family and friends are directly involved in such pursuits at museums and cultural foundations and the like.

However, not everything from the past is better. Some things that are old, are just that; old. My grandfather passed away about 2 years ago. Yes, he was old, but that’s not my point, wiseass. He was a wonderful musician and a fan of big bands and standards from the 30’s and 40’s. Basie, Gershwin, Rodgers & Hart and the like. And constantly complained about the songwriters of today, “Everybody thinks he’s a songwriter, nowadays”. Now, I love his music. “Over the Rainbow” and “My One and Only Love” are two of the best songs ever written. But during those years, a myriad of bad songs were also written. If you add them all up, the 50 or so songs from that era that are well known standards it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the total. To hear him say it, it was like everything the Gershwin’s wrote was pure gold, but I’ll tell ya, there are some honkers in there too.

The same is true of every era. How many songs from the 50’s and early 60’s are still played all the time. My guess is about 50. Listen any classic rock radio station and they cycle through the same stuff over and over and over again. “Satisfaction”, “Stairway to Heaven”, and “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas. And I’m sure we could come up with a list of 50 truly great songs from the 80’s and 90’s too.

Also, just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s automatically important. Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday in an effort to unify the country during the Civil War. And Christmas wasn’t always the 25th of December. Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate it on January 6th, I think. In fact, I read that shepards wouldn’t be in the fields until the spring near where Jesus was supposedly born, which would make Christmas in the spring. Doesn’t everybody else find it strange that Christmas and Easter line up with the winter solstice and spring equinox, respectively? Apparently the early Christians thought it was a good idea to stick with Pagan tradition.

Anyway, as you can see, I’m not one for tradition. I think if you want to pass something on to your children, it should be because it came from you; not because it’s what your great great great grandfather did. That way it really is your tradition and would mean more to the people involved. The past can be great, the future fanciful, but in the end it’s all about the here and now. Make it count.