Actually I am not quite 48, but after watching Wednesday night's CMA show, I am convinced that life is all downhill from here. Before I offer up my reasoning for this revelation, I must provide a little background info. I have been playing guitar and singing(mostly country music) since my early teens. I even had some brief professional experiences in my late teens and early twenties. I did it long enough to realize that I did not want to be a professional musician. At the end of those few years it became too much like work for me. The fun just got sucked right out of it. I was always a pretty good singer, but have forever been a hopeless amateur on the guitar. I do still play on occasion just for fun.
I must also submit that my musical tastes were formed in the 70's. I recall watching the Johnny Cash show around 1970, and telling my parents I wanted a black guitar just like Johnny's. So that Christmas I got a brand new shotgun with my name carved into the stock. It seems my father had already purchased this, so that became my "major" gift for that year. It also could have been that my parents wanted to see if I was actually serious about the whole guitar thing. So, after a solid year of pestering them for a black guitar, the following Christmas I got... a standard wood colored student guitar with rosewood colored back. It seems they did not make a black guitar for young folks like myself, at least not one in our income range. In later years, I learned that Johnny Cash's guitars were handmade, and cost into the thousands of dollars. Oh well, my trusty little Sears and Roebuck guitar would have to do. And it did do, all the way up until my sixteenth birthday when I used my own money to buy a full sized classical guitar from a music shop at the local mall. This gave way to various other acoustic and electric models over the years to my current weapons of choice, a Peavy Axis model electric, and an Ibanez Day Tripper electric/acoustic. Since I no longer play professionally, I just have a small Behringer Blue Devil amp, and a couple of cheap Sony microphones to complete the ensemble. To this day, I have never owned a black guitar of any sort.
As I progressed into puberty later in the 70's my musical tastes also expanded. My mother was a huge fan of Englebert Humperdink and Tom Jones. My father was more a fan of instrumentalists such as Pete Fountain, Herb Alpert, and Acker Bilk. And of course, they were also huge fans of country music, hence my introduction to it. My older brother was more into heavy rock and roll such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Santana, and the like. I never could really get into those other than learning to play "Stairway to Heaven" on the guitar. No, it seemed my main musical tastes tended more towards pop and light rock. I could listen to my folks stuff as well, but my favorites were bands such as ZZ Top, The Eagles, Queen, and pop stars such as The Carpenters, James Taylor, and Jim Croce. I cannot forget to mention two other huge favorites, John Denver, and Barry Manilow. There was still some country music in the mix, but it really did not come back for me until the early 80's when Urban Cowboy was all the rage.
One other thing I realized was that I was not so much a fan of any performer per se. I was really more a fan of great songs. Now my definition of a great song may vary from yours. To me a great song happens when the right song comes together with the right performer and the right arrangement. It may be just a single person singing a capella such as Judy Collins did with "Amazing Grace", or Elvis Presley doing "Love me Tender" with just a lone guitar backing him. It could also be full blown orchestrations such as Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", Herb Alpert doing "A Taste of Honey", or even The Boston Pops doing "2001: A Space Odyssey". I could easily fill a hundred or so pages with all of the great songs I've heard, but hopefully these few examples will suffice. And being a fan of truly great songs, my musical tastes have grown to cover a wide variety of genres. A few such as Heavy Metal, Rap, and Alt Rock have never struck my fancy, but just about every other category in every musical era has made my play list at some point. Although I have not really followed music more modern than mid 80's, I do hear an occasional "great" song on the radio or some TV show. Some more recent examples would be Christina Aguilera doing "Beautiful" or "Candy Man", Union Station performing "A Man of Constant Sorrow" from the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?, or KT Tunstall and "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree". Once again there are countless others, but you get the point.
Which brings me in a round about way to my original point about being old. I watched the entire CMA telecast for the first time in many years. I was just in total disbelief that I did not hear at least one great song. For that matter, I did not even hear a pretty good one. What I heard was more of the modern era, manufactured, formulaic drivel that passes for music these days. I mean seriously, anybody with a computer and some songwriting software can create a song these days, not unlike a lot of TV and movie scripts. It is all made to be cranked out like so many bottle caps, on time, and on budget so the big music corporations can meet their quarterly projections. It was a huge disappointment to say the least. In all good conscience, I cannot single out the country music industry for this lack of creativity. It exists in all forms of entertainment these days.
Even the nights biggest winner, Taylor Swift, was a major disappointment not only with the quality of songs, but the fact that the kid just cannot sing. It is clear that she receives some "electronic help" in the recording studio, but they obviously left that in the tour bus last night. And I am cursed with "perfect pitch hearing", so I do know what I heard. To be fair, Miss Swift is a very attractive young lady and hugely popular with the tween and teenage crowds. I am also confidant she is either set for life financially, or soon will be, and more power to her. Even still, I just don't get it. Female Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year? Give me a break! It seemed more like a pathetic attempt by the CMA to be young, hip, and relevant. You could clearly tell Miss Swift was the featured star of the night, even before she won an award! The popularity of manufactured pop princesses like Miss Swift and Miley Cyrus(can't sing either) are just beyond my comprehension. I guess I can understand the business angle on all of this. Most entertainment is targeted at kids because they are the most likely to rush out and buy the latest and greatest. It really does not have to be "that good".
Or could it be that I am just too old to "get it" anymore. I do recall a time though when even "manufactured" singers could carry a tune. I am just thankful that my music archive is all digitized, backed up, and hidden in a bomb proof shelter somewhere. And by the way, I don't get the whole vampire craze either.