Brett Jolly’s Daily Thought (topic: The Twilight years)

The “Twilight Years”… and how they affect us…

My father is a Gospel singer and he performed for 60 something years with his long time group called “The Pearly Gates.” When I was younger, I used to love to watch this group perform onstage and my father had such great stage charisma. Pop really knew how to work the audience. Pop had one of those voices that whenever he sang at a funeral you would start crying (whether you knew the deceased or not). When you see artists and performers during their prime years, it is often difficult to think about how they will fare during the “Twilight years” of their lives. My father, who is 80 years old now, often needed a chair to sit down during his last performance. Another member of the group struggled to sing notes that he used to hit effortlessly 10 to 15 years ago. The bass player for the group was having problems playing, so I took over for him after the second song. If we all are blessed to live long enough, then we all will experience some depreciation of our performance abilities. No one can go strong forever, and sometimes it is tough to watch someone’s skills decline over time. I remember a couple of years ago when I was part of a concert that featured the “Funk Brothers.” For those of you who don’t know, the Funk Brothers were the musical catalysts behind the big hit recordings for Motown records. They recorded the music tracks for hit tunes like “Ain’t no mountain high enough” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (just to name a few).” Back in the day these guys were phenomenal musicians and they actually wrote a lot of the riffs that made those Motown songs famous (even though they never got credit for it). When I watched them play the Stevie Wonder classic, “Signed Sealed Delivered” I was in awe and yet I felt some degree of sadness as well. You see, I was watching history when these guys played. However, these guys are a LOT older now and it was so tough to see them try to move their hands with enough speed and dexterity to play the songs like they used to. I then realized that these guys don’t owe anyone any excuses. They were a part of music history and what they accomplished as a unit will never be matched again. They didn’t deserve my pity… they deserved my “respect.” When I watched part of the last Grammy Awards I took notice when they introduced the Beach Boys. I had not seen this group is so many years but when they came onstage they looked “soooooooo ancient.” The first thing I noticed was that they could not sing the song “Good Vibrations” and for a moment they looked so old that they couldn’t properly “lip sync” it either (and definitely the song was lip synced). From my observations, the “years” had finally caught up with them and they were mere shadows of their former selves.  I remember Frank Sinatra during his last years. He still sang live but his notes were “dangerously off.” He sang loud and he sang wrong (out of key), but the people still loved him because to them he was still “Frank.” As old as Glen Campbell is it was great to see him perform at the Grammys and he still had it going on (just not like it was many years ago). It is inevitable that father time will take away the things that God originally blessed us with. We need to realize that the true measure of one’s career may not be in how they are right now, but rather in what they accomplished during the journey of their “prime” years. No one wants to get old, but no one seems to want the “alternative” either. As tough as the “twilight years” can be for artists, we still need to support them, because their “greatness” deserves our continued support. Your favorite artist will one day “get old” and will lose the ability to perform at the high levels of standard that he or she is accustomed to. If she lives long enough, Beyonce will one day “become” Etta James during the twilight years. I just hope that people will still support and patronize their concerts, because they are still giving it “their all.” A little “respect” can go a long, long way…. Please have a great day today, and if you happen to see a senior citizen today, please make sure that you say hello to him or her with a smile. You might just make their day and what goes around might “come around” when it comes to “your” twilight years. Feel blessed today… You’ve “earned” it…

 
Vintage shot of Billy Paul (He sang “Me and Mrs. Jones”) and Brett Jolly in concert in Tunisia, Africa
 
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