J. T. and the Boomers

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(Pictured: James Taylor, 2005.)

When I was a kid, I sometimes imagined my life as a book. Each day was a page with part of the story on it. Each year was a new chapter. I can’t remember if I ever thought about who the author was (or if I ever considered that I was the author). It wasn’t something I spent a lot of time thinking about. It was just an image that popped into my head sometimes, at the end of a day, or the start of a day, on January 1, or on a birthday.

To the extent that we think about it at all, each of us has a story. Each of us could tell a tale that describes how we got from There to Here, a tale made up of angry confrontations, comedic set pieces, dramatic close shaves, and perplexing mysteries, with a supporting cast of heroes and villains and ourselves at the center, as the star.

Thinking of your life as a story and you as the star can have a side effect that’s something like the Heisenberg Principle: the idea from physics (grossly oversimplified here) that just by observing a phenomenon, you change the way it behaves. If you think of every day as a page in your story, or a scene from your movie, with you as the star, isn’t it possible that you start playing the part of You, as you imagine You to be, instead of just being you?

There’s a very good argument that we already do this, every one of us. I’d read about the phenomenon but had never seen it up close until I spent an evening with James Taylor, among 22,000 people playing the part of prosperous middle-aged boomers on a big night out. That realization and that night make up part of my latest podcast episode, which also wades into the question of why boomers keep listening to the music of their youth, and why Gen X and Millennials, for all their current OK-Boomer self-righteousness, are likely to keep listening to theirs. The episode is below:

This and earlier episodes are also available at Apple Podcasts, Google PlayTuneIn and Stitcher. I appreciate your earholes wherever you point them, and I also appreciate likes, positive ratings, and reviews if your listening platform allows you do to any of that. And I thank everybody who voted for this post in last week’s poll. If you voted for one of the other options, fear not. You’ll hear them eventually.

One response

  1. JB: Looking forward to listening to this over the weekend. I’ve always liked James, but only saw him for the first time maybe three years ago in San Francisco (free radio tickets). Eight months later, he came to Sacramento, we were offered seats and didn’t hesitate.

    There are really only a handful of artists I grew up with that I stay current with. JT is one of them, Herb Alpert (who has done some neat jazz stuff since TJB) is another, as are Paul Simon, Van Morrison and Donald Fagen.

    I think I probably hung in there with hit music longer than most of my peers (probably radio training)—but at 63, I’m not making that effort—if I hear something and like it, great. The radio part that hasn’t left me is that even the stuff I don’t like—I can hear why it’s a hit.

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