I’m a Boomer. In the summer of 1969, I was 15 years old and I lived in Connecticut. Unlike thousands who went, I had an actual ticket to Woodstock, but I didn’t go. I couldn’t find a ride. I’d bought the ticket at my local record store, the same one I’d lined up outside 5 years before for my first Beatles record. I bought the new David Bowie album on iTunes, and the new Bob Dylan, Rosanne Cash and Bonnie Raitt offerings, but few of the artists on my iPhone are younger than me.
The point is, rock ‘n’ roll has been a vital part of my life forever, it seems. You know what they say about the Boomers, we lived for sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Well, the rock ‘n’ roll has stayed, as you can see. I’ve seen Dylan live at least 3 times across the years, charting the passages of my life, as he got better and worse, and better again.
As for the sex, we were the lucky generation. We squeezed all our fun in between the invention of the pill in 1965 (the end of the Baby Boom) and the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in 1982. During those 17 years, sex was fun, fearless, fabulous and free. Everyone was allowed to have a good time, with whomever they liked, at no real cost except (possibly) hurt feelings. Pregnancy or death were not the probable outcomes. My generation took full advantage of this uniquely libidinous window, and it fuelled a hectic and lasting burst of literature, music and art. By the time AIDS arrived, we’d found our one-and-onlies, married and settled down. No more need for the abundant free sex, but we were better practitioners of the art as a result. The sex nowadays is like a vintage car; smooth and gracious as long as you don’t push it. Viagra use isn’t as common in our demographic as the ads lead you to believe. It’s really more the province of the stressed-out 30 and 40 year olds, and that’s what I mean by pushing it. To be fair, their stress is mostly caused by striving to get into the jobs we’ve been sitting on for so long.
Then there’s the drugs. I smoked pot when I was 15, before I ever really drank. When I was a kid, booze was hard for a teenager to get, but pot wasn’t. You could grow it in the back yard, and no one’s parents knew what it looked like. By the time I was old enough to drink, I didn’t really want to, because smoking pot was so much more fun. Our parents drank hard liquor, and the younger adults in their 30s and 40s are reigniting a hard liquor trend today, but it skipped the Boomers. Wine was our drink (remember Blue Nun? Egri Bikaver?), and beer for hot afternoons and nights at the clubs. And I’m not saying everyone continued smoking pot into their 50s, but there is a demographic bulge in cannabis usage that corresponds with the baby boom, and they’re going to be getting high at the retirement home in the coming years.
So there you have it; sex (still happening, just not as frantically), drugs (still happening, just a better grade of product) and rock ‘n’’ roll (still happening, and still one of the most important things in life). The holy trinity for the Boomers. For some, the sex has become hot yoga, the drugs have become Paxil and the rock ‘n’ roll has become Norah Jones, but we’re all riffing on the same tune.