Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Health Check

I recently had a physical and learned that I still have most of my original parts and they still work. Some rust here and there, of course, and I could stand to lose several hundred pounds, but basically, I am, according to the doctor, in much better shape than most of his patients who are considerably younger.

Now, that sounds good at first blush, but then I returned to the waiting room and saw some of his patients. Omygod! Am I really 64? Are they really in their 50s?

Overall, the message I get from these annual events is that even though I have been through a lot and a lot has been through me in the past several decades, I am doing ok.
Many years ago, when I was on the cusp of deciding whether to choose music or media as a career path, I had several people point to the classic cliche ''Live hard, die young and leave a good-looking corpse.'' The fact that I chose the journalism path over the rock 'n' roll path does not dilute the fact that I lost a lot of the high end of my hearing by either playing at or being at some serious guitar sessions over the years. But at least I am still hearing something, and I revel in the fact that every day above ground puts me ahead of Jimi and Keith and Buddy and Richie and many -- way too many -- others.
The fact that I am soft in the middle (Thanks Paul Simon) when the rest of my life has been pretty hard not withstanding, I am still above ground. And that, thank you, is a nice feeling from where I sit.
I am grateful to be alive when so many of the people I came up in this with are already gone. I don't want to go all maudlin here, but I like to think I made the right choice in being a scribe, rather than a musician.
My gratitude comes at least in part from a recent study that shows American and British rock stars are at least two to three times more likely to die young, mainly because of drug and alcohol abuse. The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health published a study by researchers in Liverpool and Manchester, England, of the mortality rates among 1,064 musicians, which lends support to the long-held impression that rock stars have below-average life expectancies, especially within the first five years of becoming famous.
Drug and alcohol problems accounted for more than one in four of the early deaths, according to the study. Even when I was growing up with the shift in musical tastes, I was lucky. Because one in 10 kids in the U.K. aspire to be rock stars, and I can only imagine how much influence Paula Abdul and friends have on the aspirations of American kids.
``Fame and money protects stars from the social consequences,but it doesn't protect people from the long-term health consequences,'' Mark Bellis, a professor at Liverpool John MooresUniversity's Centre for Public health and co-author, was quoted as saying in an interview about the study findings.
I know, I know. Some of you will say you know you are too damn old when your favorite song is elevator music. I also like what's out there now, in case you think I gave it up decades ago when I had more hair and brain cells.
So, Keith and Uncle Bob and Steve Tyler and gun-abuse and transplant survivor David Crosby have managed to defy the odds, although there is reason to wonder how or why. I'm sure grateful they have, not only for their music still being out there, but for what their survival says about defying the odds and living large.
Nobody gives a shit about my music, but so have I.
But then again, I rock to a different set of standards these days, don't I?
Now, where's the kiff and the wine?

P.S. There's another metaphor about the ''Anything worth doing is worth doing to excess'' metaphor. But let's save that for a later Blog. Read more about the study and wave as you go buy:

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