Hey Mr. Bass Man

You can still rock after 40, right?
You can still rock after 40, right?

By: Peter Gerstenzang

Although it’s just a hobby, I’ve been known over the years, to get up onstage and rock. Bang my guitar and sing as intensely as Elvis Costello. However, in recent years, I began to gain weight and started lumbering around up there. Until the only Costello I resembled was Lou.

Around this time, I took stock of myself. I wasn’t 19. My waistline was nearly the same size as my IQ. So, was it time to stop rocking? Or take desperate measures before hitting the stage. Like putting on a pair of pajama jeans?

I didn’t have to choose. There was a way I could age gracefully and still rock. Instead of acting the crazy frontman, strutting and howling like a rooster on Methamphetamine, I could play bass, stay in the back and keep the groove. As well as my dignity. The bass has always struck me as something made to be played by older guys. Heck, this big, ungainly instrument looks like it was born middle-aged. It’s the Charles Durning of musical instruments.

So, I decided to buy a bass and teach myself to play it. It felt right. As if I’d acquired a new hobby and a way to keep rockin’. As hobbies go, that’s pretty good. You don’t get the same feeling learning how to play Yahtzee.

Once I’d learned a little bass, other wonderful benefits accrued. I made new friends. I found two other ‘older’ guys who also played for fun. We got together and jammed. Admittedly, at this point, my skills were pretty rudimentary, so we wound up playing “Louie Louie” six times that first day. But the real boon? Because of our collective fear of tinnitus, we kept the volume low. When we were done playing, we weren’t so deafened, we didn’t have to sign to each other. And look like the road company of Children of A Lesser God.

Time has gone by. I’m still plunking away. And it suits me. Sure, I’m no longer the frontman, jumping and shrieking like Richard Simmons hawking Deal-A-Meal. Instead, I’ve bowed to time and allowed younger guys to front the band. This is so good, I think it’s written in the Book of Ecclesiastes. It’s time for the kids to take over.

As time passes, I think this decision will go down as one of my best. Like eating more fiber. Or not voting for Chris Christie. Clearly, this aging thing is going to continue. As other, clueless frontmen get older, they’ll all eventually end up in the ER and have to be cut out of their leather pants. And not even Obamacare will cover that. Us bass players? We’ll be alright. Okay, we won’t be as sexy as Billy Idol. Then again, neither will Billy Idol. Still, we’ll be keeping the beat. I’ll still be rockin’. And, sure, some folks will be mumbling, ‘He’s hot! But what’s with those pajama jeans?’ Still, If that’s the worst thing they say about me?