How I know I’m old

May 22, 2014

Doo_Wop_Drive_In_by_deeminllamaWhen we bought our new Subaru Outback last summer we decided to get Sirius/XM radio. Mostly because we love our oldies–music from the 1960s and also from our earlier childhood in the 1950s.  How nice to be able to listen (mostly) without the intrusive patter of DJs and the noisy chatter of advertising.

70ddf4f70f341b5554ce0ef2a32003f9Once in a while I’d tune in to the music of the 1940s on Channel 4 because 40s on 4 reminded me of my mother. She was a huge Sinatra fan and loved Big Bands as well. Her cousins lived in Brooklyn and danced so well they competed in the annual Harvest Moon Ball. I used to love to hear her stories about those days.

A few weeks ago I hit Channel 4 in the car and got –Billy Joel.

The channel devoted to the Big Band sound other 1940s music had been hijacked to make room for several months of Billy Joel interviews and music.

Say what???

Oh, subscribers could stream the 1940s music channel on their smartphone or computer, but that would require a separate subscription. Most people subscribe to satellite radio to listen in their cars, not on their phones or computers.

Sirius/XM has been largely silent on the subject, too, mostly ignoring the campaign of tweets, Facebook comments and other expressions of dismay from their subscribers.

radioIt seems that the audience for 1940s music–our parents’ generation–is expendable. That’s because it’s very small. And therefore considered insignificant.

My father would have been 95 this year, my mother 89. Both are gone now and so are so many of their generation. So Sirius/XM took a gamble that hijacking the ’40s music channel wouldn’t be more than a blip in their business and would be outweighed by the benefits of three months of Billy Joel.

“That’ll be us, one day,” M said, as we talked about it.  “Our music will be just as expendable in the not too distant future. In fact, you can expect that the audience for doo wop and other 1950s music will be next on the chopping block.”

In today’s modern world, this is how we know we are old: when the cultural evidence that we existed starts to be archived.

I hope I’ll be getting in my car for decades to come–two, at least–and I don’t want to hit XM5 or XM6 and find that the soundtrack to my life has been co-opted for a Kanye West channel. Or worse: a Justin Bieber feature.

But it’s inevitable, just as aging is inevitable.

Our generation is old now.

“But I don’t FEEL old!” I want to cry out. “I have youthful attitudes! I have no grey hair! I like hip hop and contemporary alternative music, too!”

time_marches_on_by_jackalswarlock-d4p2s8gNo one’s listening. The heavy footfalls of time marching on drown out my protests.

47 comments on “How I know I’m old
  1. I’m always astonished at how old I am when I see myself in pictures. I think I’m still 25 (in my head). Recently when I mentioned Bob Dylan, my kids said “He’s still alive? He’s so old and crusty, we thought he was dead by now.” I almost passed out. Argh.

  2. Karen says:

    I was born in ’57, but I still love swing era jazz…and earlier. We used to subscribe to Sirius/XM, but cancelled after a year as we found they kept doing what you describe: hijacking the channels we liked best to make room for “lowest common denominator” stuff. That’s not what we paid for, so we got out.

  3. How awful. Luckily, I let my subscription to XM go the way of the Dodo long ago, when I realized that the comedy channel cycles, and after about 3 months, starts to repeat itself, with the occasional new thing thrown in. That was all I used it for, anyway.

    Now, I use my iPod and listen to what *I* want. 🙂

  4. Joan Stommen says:

    Yikes…this is scary. No matter what city I’m in there’s an oldie channel on the radio! But like everything else….may not be dependable in years to come. Glad I have my old oldies CD collection!
    AND…..I have my playlists on my phone, Ipod and Pandora….yaaaaaay for me! As long as my grandkids keep me cooly updated….I’ll age just fine….hopefully! Great post, Carol!

  5. kim tackett says:

    I could do a channel of just Carole King, James Taylor and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young…

  6. Ruth Curran says:

    Oldies stations now play music from the ’70s and ’80s…. Arrrggghhh. When did our music get to be before “oldies”???

  7. Haralee says:

    I like the 60’s music and it is beyond oldies, elderly tunes! 40’s music is ancient melodies I guess!

  8. That’s terrible. The whole point of Sirius/XM should be to offer all those different genres and niches instead of top 40 which is all over regular radio. Yes, it definitely makes me feel old, too, that they’ve totally dismissed the generation above us and make us feel like we’re next in line.

  9. Ellen Dolgen says:

    I love all of these “oldies”! Especially the music! But, I still feel ageless!

  10. Diane says:

    And Time keeps good rhythm . . .

  11. Kimberly says:

    I don’t know….there are a lot more of us than people our parent’s age. And I bet a good number of us will still be subscribing to Sirius/XM…which will keep our era’s music on their system, dontchathink? Maybe not. But I think it’s all about marketing and advertising. If they don’t get a lot of listeners on the earlier-era channels, I can see why they’d use them for the short-term to promote something else more profitable. May not be “nice,” but it is their business. My channels of choice are 70s on 7, and Studio 54, btw. 😉

  12. Our oldies station plays music from the 60s and 70s. I guess those years will soon be on the chopping block.

  13. How sad. I grew up on the music of the 40s and still have many of the albums that I listened to as a kid.

  14. Thankfully we don’t have those options here – so it’s good old CDs with the good old guys belting it out and me singing along loudly with them!
    So Kayne can go West or North……:P

  15. Lana says:

    Bad business decision – and I’m sure they will regret it (but they’ll never admit it)!

  16. I enjoy the Oldies music too. Can’t handle the rap music stations.

  17. Mark Fine says:

    Carol, only for a while these cultural icons become expendable, but I’m delighted to witness (even in our lifetime, and reflected in the enthusiasm of my children) that the quality (or quircky) greats of the past are happily resurrected, and enjoyed by a new generation. There has been this dramatic up-tick in sales of vinyl albums–kids are scouring library sales bins and digging up Herb Alpert, Ray Conniff, Al Martino, Andy Williams, Johnny Cash, et al [our rejects,otherwise these LPs wouldn’t be in the discard bin] in order to “feed” their turntables. So it is merely a blip, I am confident in that “cycle of life” which ensures the Greats are never really forgotten….but are merely “rediscovered” again and again…it just takes a bit of patience and seredipity.

    • I think it’s great that other generations are tuning in, but advertisers just don’t see it the same way. It’s not so much the artists as it is the marginalization of an entire generation.

  18. pia says:

    I’ll always be between 18 and 39 in my head. I ididn’t know that when 50 would hit so would the weight big time!

    Anyway we have a 1950’s diner here next to a kid’s amusement park and the beach. My friend from home and I meet at “you know the diner….” Neither of us can remember the name (Hot Diggity Dog–just googled it.) She uses it as an example of my impending dementia. I don’t point out the obvious

  19. That is awful. I cancelled my subscription to xm and just plug my ipod in or pandora on my phone.

  20. I don’t know how much longer I can stay in denial about this aging thing.

  21. Yeah, it hit me that when people younger than me are hitting their 30s, I’m definitely waving goodbye to my prime years. That being said, I like the wisdom and perspective of my age. I wouldn’t rewind my life.

  22. I love Frank Sinatra, my parents had me late in life and this was the normal for me. But I enjoy everything from Bluegrass to Lawrence Welk. Music has always been such a huge part of my life…a life that’s old, there I’ve said it are you happy now? Great post Carol as always!

  23. Don’t worry, they will bring back the 40’s on XM! Do you remember when the first time you heard The Beatles muzak? OMG I was still in my teens. And that was 40+ years ago. yeah, I’m old.

  24. I have discovered most of the crew of A Walk in the Woods (average age of 28) have no idea who Robert Redford is…

  25. Carol Graham says:

    I think we should all get one RESET button per lifetime! Don’t you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow Carol


Here you’ll find my blog, some of my essays, published writing, and my solo performances. There’s also a link to my Etsy shop for healing and grief tools offered through A Healing Spirit.


I love comments, so if something resonates with you in any way, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on my blog. Thank you for stopping by–oh, and why not subscribe so you don’t miss a single post?


Subscribe to my Blog

Receive notifications of my new blog posts directly to your email.