Home / Happy 50th Birthday To Me. So What’s Next?

Happy 50th Birthday To Me. So What’s Next?

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I turned fifty today. So let’s take stock of the situation shall we?

Where am I after fifty years on God’s Green Earth? I’ll tell ya what. Truth be told, I’m not a happy camper. I guess I shouldn’t bitch too much about this. After all, at least I made it to the big 5-0 right? And I know of more than a few folks I’ve met along the way who weren’t so lucky. So I promise I’ll try not to make this too much of a downer okay? But be forewarned, my beer is in hand and I’m probably about to cry into it.

Quite a bit actually.

I celebrated my 50th birthday today alone. Lets make that alone and unemployed while we’re at it. Actually, that’s not completely true. My parents, God bless em’, did take me out to a nice lunch at Azteca here in Seattle. Because God knows I love my Mexican food. But it’s not exactly like ten years ago, when the very tight knit group of friends I had back then decided — against my wishes at the time I might add — to make a huge deal out of my 40th birthday.

That particular night was an all-night deal that took place over dinner, several bars, and several more rounds of drinks. By the end of the night, I was in pretty rough shape. Despite my initial reluctance, the night was well worth it. But I was already working off a pretty severe hangover from the night before. A friend and I went to see Elvis Costello and met up later with a lady I hadn’t seen in quite a while for aftershow drinks high atop Seattle’s Camlin Hotel in the infamous Cloud Room. The lady was a concert promoter of some local renown in Seattle in the seventies and eighties. And we got pretty drunk reminiscing about the old days that night.


The Cloud Room. The scene of so many memorable nights, usually either before or after a show at Seattle’s Paramount, back when it was one of the West Coast’s best rock palaces. One of the many places and faces from Seattle’s golden pre-grunge rock era, now long gone.

I miss those days. I miss them a lot. So much has changed.

Not long ago, I went to see a show at the old Paramount with another good friend of mine. The show itself, by a great band called Wilco, was decent enough, but I was positively haunted by the ghosts of the old Paramount of the rock era that night. The building still stands of course. In fact, they’ve done a wonderful job of restoring it to most of its old glory. But there was still something missing. And that is what haunted me so much that night. It haunted me to the point of a very good show by a great band taking a back seat to the fading ghosts of this storied theatre’s glorious past.

While the well-dressed concertgoers sipped drinks in their designated areas — all completely smoke-free of course — I found myself flashing back to the hundreds of shows I’ve seen at the Paramount. Springsteen. Bowie. Dylan. Neil Young. Bob Marley. And countless others.

Back then, the lobby of the Paramount would be thick with smoke and the conversation of the various scenesters gathered for the event that particular night. The punk rockers in spikes and leather stood side by side with groupies decked out in boas, spandex, and what Bowie once called “fuck-me pumps” in an old song lyric from the Diamond Dogs album. And I realized that’s all gone now, too.

The Paramount may still stand as a building. It even hosts the occasional rock show, like it did that night with Wilco. Of course that’s in between the off Broadway musicals and more “high brow” fare that makes up the bulk of the Paramount’s schedule these days. But the Paramount’s days as a glorious rock palace rife with spandex, spikes, and smoke in it’s lobby are long gone. That type of riff-raff would be considered way too gauche for today’s “upscale” Paramount.

So what does all this have to do with my 50th birthday?

Well, in case it isn’t already apparent, celebrating my 50th alone today has put me in one of those reflective, nostalgic frames of mind I get myself into from time to time. I know all of these things I find myself wistfully remembering today have long since been consigned to the scrap heap of a forgotten era. I know this all too well. I know that the days of discovering new bands with the potential to change the world are pretty much over and done with. I realize that in the short attention span of a universe where the delivery systems of music are cellphones and MP3 players, masterpieces of studio craft like Dark Side of The Moon or Born To Run are, by and large, a thing of the past.

I understand that the days of maverick music-fueled record labels and executives, like say Ahmet Ertegun and Atlantic Records, are probably forever lost in an age when every corporate monolith from Microsoft to Starbucks is tripping over each other to get into “the music business.” But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Did I just say the Music Business? Holy Shit! What Music Business? It doesn’t exist anymore. At least not the way it did when I knew it. When it actually was about music.

Which once again brings me to my 50th birthday.

At a time when pretty much everybody I know is busy getting married, having babies, buying houses, and generally pursuing the American Dream, I find myself in this weird time warp. It’s not that I can’t change. Hell, I think change can be a very good and healthy thing. Somewhere during the past ten or fifteen years, when everything I knew in both music and the music business started to change, I basically got off the bus.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it happened, but there are a number of likely scenarios. My exit from American Recordings in Los Angeles and subsequent move back to Seattle in 1994 would probably top the short list. Closing my record store in Seattle some five years later would be another likely one. Since that time — again, whenever it was — I’ve found myself in a state of nonstop flux. I know that the music business as I knew it back then is gone forever and isn’t coming back anytime soon. At least not in what’s left of my lifetime. I have long since resigned myself to the fact that it is over and that I had a hell of a ride while it lasted. But that’s where the big question comes in:

What’s next? What in the hell is next?

For the past ten years or so I’ve found myself drifting from shitty job to shitty job in between periods of unemployment. What kills me is that I know in my heart of hearts I haven’t been doing what I’m supposed to be doing, what God put me on this earth to do. The question is, if it’s not music anymore, then what is it?

So on my 50th birthday, unemployed once again, I ponder these things. And I thank those of you who are still actually reading this for indulging me this far. So I’ve been hitting the streets pretty hard for the past month looking for work. What I’ve found is that the job market is pretty much the same as I remember it. The job boards — Monster and the rest — still have as many scams posted there as they do legitimate jobs. You know the ones: “Discover your dream job working from home. It’s all yours for an investment of only $1595.” As for the legitimate work out there, just this past week I’ve had some decent interviews. And one of those will probably lead to a decent job that carries me through until the next pink slip in a few years.

One question that keeps coming up in the interviews really bugs me though. And that is “the Music Business” question once they see my stellar resume. For the answer to the “Why would you ever leave that?” question, maybe I should just refer them to this article. Speaking of which, one good thing that has happened this year, through both my blog and the reviews I’ve been posting here at Blogcritics, is that I’ve rediscovered my writing muse. This has definitely been a good thing.

Now, if I could just translate that talent into the sort of legitimate work I could really pour my passion into. Because it is still very much still there. That would truly be a blessing from God Himself.

In the meantime, let’s drink to my 50th Birthday shall we? Yeah thats it.

Happy Birthday. Happy Fucking Birthday To Me.

Thanks for indulging me tonight. I’ll be okay in the morning. Promise.

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About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, Ultimate Classic Rock, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.
  • Ruby

    How was the night after? lol I’ve just checked when you posted and saw it was 2006 so maybe you’re feeling better now. My 50th is coming up, don’t know what to do about it. I’m single, have two children, one who has two little boys. My son lives with me, nearly 17 years old and can, at times, be awful to me. My daughter, who lives away from my area with her fiance, has also had times of not being the kindest of people. Now, do I share my day with my children when I know in my heart that they are only doing it because it is expected of them or do I do my own thing and be alone ( with my ever faithful doggie) and not get hurt again. What memories of the day do I deserve? On my 40th I was with the love of my life, but he was somewhat younger than myself, and the relationship eventually finished because he wanted children and I didn’t and couldn’t. I had been married previously to the children’s father for 19 years, mostly unhappy due to violence which I eventually left him for. My son has told me that he is using me until he can go to university. My daughter has set her wedding date but doesn’t want me to give her away or make a speech. Her father has not been in her life since we divorced when my daughter was 13 and she’s 26 now. Even before that, when I was married, my husband was a shift worker so I practically was a single parent then also. So do I pin on a smile and share my day with the kids or take off with the dog to the park with chicken and cake? 🙂

  • lol–you seem to be more than just agreeable. This place is fun and it should be like that. Wish more people had your attitude. Good night.

  • No worries Mark. I just prefer it if I am actually PRESENT when a comment of mine gets…lets say “misapropriated” (hope I spelled that right).

    But no worries.

    The more you get to know me, the more you’ll learn I’m basically a pretty agreeable guy.

    Just don’t corner me…thats when I can show my teeth. LOL…


  • Glen, sorry if I misunderstood your comment. But that guy is attacking me for days and that in the worse ways.
    He came to my blog and created some let’s say tension.
    Just wanted to clear that up.
    I hope you don’t feel that I am unpleasant now. But I still have no idea what is going on in that guys head. And I honestly have no urge to ever find out. I appreciate a good discussion, but if it is getting personal and very nasty, that is bad.
    Good night and Best.

  • Mark,

    I’m not sure I’d know it even if you described the cover. The only Eno CDs I own are the Bowie/Eno Berlin Trilogy (Low/Heroes/Lodger) and the one he did with David Byrne “My Like In The Bush of Ghosts”. That one is as trippy as it gets…it includes recordings of exorcisms…all kinds of weird shit.

    There we’re a couple of albums he did with Robert Fripp that are also pretty cool, lots of ambient sort of texturing on those.

    If you like ambient sounds, you should also check out Radiohead’s Kid A and Amnesiac…some very interesting, experimental music on those two CDs as well.


  • I was really upset in the beginning when my sister told me about her trip to teenagehood, but it is her life. Why not, right? I think the sound of those horns were used in some of his songs and I believe one is on the album cover if I remember–I went to the Standard in LA and the DJ was playing this cool song and he said it was Brian Eno. I don’t know more. sorry.

  • Mark,

    Not sure I know the Eno piece you are referring to. Switzerland Horns? Yeah that does sound pretty trippy…even for Mr. Eno.

    Anyway tell your Mom, she doesn’t know what she’s missing. I may be 50, but I still have the stamina of at least a 40 year old…LOL…

    All that rock and roll ya know? Keeps ya’ young!


  • Hi Glen! I asked my mom and she said that you are too old her her anyhow. So sorry–but she likes them young now.
    I love that old Brian Eno stuff you were talking about–there is this before trance ever existed piece–with those horns from Switzerland–do you know the title of that one?
    Was a pretty trippy piece. Anyhow. Seems like I was not the only guy who had some sort of run ins with this particular guy here on our beloved BLOGCRITICS…weird.

  • Awesome Chantal. We need to get Jet over there for a listen as well…glad you like it though.


  • I’m listening right now Glen…..love it, this is so cool

  • Jet,

    See comment #28 for the answer to your question about the underground tour.

    What I’d recommend for a Radiohead CD Jet, is that you also take a look at the stream I’ve got up on my blog. If you prefer something a little more spacey and ethereal…I’d go for either Kid A or Amnesiac, those two CDs are kind of similiar to what Bowie was doing with Brian Eno on the Berlin trilogy (“Low”, “Heroes”, and “Lodger”).

    OK Computer is the one most fans will tell you is their best though. It’s kind of like a progressive rock opus…similiar to somebody like Pink Floyd or Peter Gabriel era Genesis.

    But like I said, if you scan through some of those clips on my blog, you can get an idea before you take the plunge and buy one of their CDs.

    Hope that helps Jet.


  • The live Radiohead clips I’ve assembled there are awesome Chantal. You gotta go to the bottom of the page to get there, but once you are there you can scroll through a menu and pick out whichever songs you want to check out.

    I discovered Radiohead by seeing them live and I’ve been absolutely hooked ever since. They are arguably the best live band on Earth in my opinion…with their only real in concert rival being Bruce Springsteen.

    So yes Chantal, do check out the stream.

    And I’ll take off my televangelist’s uniform for now. LOL…


  • Okay, knowing my musical backround, which Radiohead CD should I chance buying first?

    Did you catch the question about the Seattle Underground tours?

  • Glen….
    I’m kind of late to the Radiohead party, only just recently getting into them so I’ll definitely check out ur blog….thanks.

  • Jet,

    I’ve never been on the underground tour but it absolutely does exist. It’s a tour through the old Pioneer Square downtown. They built a “new Pioneer Square” on top of the old one somewhere around the turn of the century I believe…hence, “the Underground tour”.

    I’m embarrased to say, as a born and raised Seattleite, that I have never taken the tour though.


    Chantal–glad to hear you’re loving Radiohead. If you are a big fan, I invite you to check out the video stream on my blog. I’ve got 28 clips on a stream, including several brand new unreleased songs they debuted at a concert in Europe two weeks ago. I’ve got those up now.

  • Sorry if I got a bit carried away about Radiohead back there. I just really, really love that band.

    They have a tendency to bring out a bit of the televangelist in me.


  • Glen, have you ever been on the “underground tours” in Seattle or was that all fiction from the 2nd “Night Strangler” movie?

  • I’m loving Radiohead right now.

  • Thank you sister Ray for that tidbit about Dolly, I knew I’d heard it, I just couldn’t believe I’d heard it.

  • Hey Sis (and is it okay if I call you that? Sis?)

    You need to check out Radiohead. That song “Creep” doesn’t begin to tell you what Radiohead are really about musically. Radiohead’s music can be at times equal parts etheral, multi-textured, and hypnotic. Thom Yorke’s vocals are some of the most haunting you’ll ever hear.

    The stuff I like best is their real experimental stuff. Kid A and Amnesiac are the best places to start if you like more ethereal sounding stuff. If you’re more of a rock person, OK Computer and The Bends are also excellent.

    I have a video stream of some of their live concert clips over at my blog which I’d invite you to check out if you like.

    Radiohead are awesome. I’m traveling to the Bay Area to see them next month (one of only a handful of U.S. Dates they are doing), and I can’t wait.

    Oh, one more thing…I wasn’t serious about that lying thing. I understood what you meant completely.

    Now go check yourself out some Radiohead Sister Ray. I promise you’ll be glad you did.


  • I wasn’t accusing you of lying, Glen…just an expression :-> I think I’ve heard of the bluegrass Radiohead. The only song of theirs I really liked was “Creep,” though. One of those bands that just got by me.

    From Wikipedia:
    “The popularity of “Stairway to Heaven” has led to covers in many other genres. Singer Dolly Parton recorded a country-bluegrass version on her 2002 album Halos & Horns.”

  • B5 Dorks? Say what? Not sure I understood that one Jet.

    By the way, we sure know we are in dire need of a social life when we start exchanging all kinds of messages on a computer on a Saturday night don’t we?

    Barry’s right. I really DO need a girlfriend.



  • Thank you, from someone who’s suffering from clinical depression, that means a lot…


  • Not to worry Jet. I just returned the favor over at your “Obsolete at 51” post.

    Because, after all, “You’ve Got A Friend” right?



  • Yeah, you stealing all my customers!

  • Now see what Barry went and started with that Hollyridge Strings crack?

  • Haven’t heard of a Dolly Parton version of “Stairway” yet. I do recall a particularly hilarious mix of Gilligan’s Island with Stairway though. It was called “Stairway To Gilligan”. Freaking hilarious, and quite possibly in the Top 5 novelty records of all time.


  • Who said anything about lying? I actually saw that Radiohead bluegrass tribute in a record store the other day. Not 100% sure if it was for OK Computer though.

    But I’ll tell ya what? I think AC/DC’s music would lend itself to a bluegrass tribute far more than Radiohead’s would. Radiohead are just too damn cerebral for that. Now something with real balls, big ones like AC/DC’s…now that be some damn fine potential shit kickin’ music.

    I think I’m sold Sister Ray. Yep. Sign me up for that one.


  • Have I lost my mind or did Dolly Parton actually do a country version of “Stairway to Heaven?”

  • No lie, a group called Hayseed Dixie has a great bluegrass AC/DC tribute.

  • I’ve been eyeing a bluegrass version of Radiohead’s OK Computer myself.

  • Like I said though, I’m done crying in my beer for now. You’ll be hearing from the music snob you normally find parked next to my byline here real soon.


  • Barry: “I pulled out my Hollyridge Strings Play the Hits of the Beatles to accompany your thoughtful article …”

    I just ordered a string quartet version of the banana album…I can sit around and listen to it in the senior center, if nothing else.

  • Thanks Jet.

    Your article on musical obselescence (I hope I spelled that right), is actually what inspired me to post my own 50-something blues up on the site. Normally, something this personal would only show up on my personal blog…the place I usually dump my personal garbage. So I appreciate your words.

    If I do actually make it to 71, with all of my bad habits, I suspect I’ll be thankful just to be still kicking.

    Anyway, thanks for commenting Jet.


  • Glen at 51 I feel for you. I get through mine by telling myself that at 71 I’d sell my soul to be 51 again. It’s of little comfort, but it’s something…


  • So is your Mom available Mark? After all, Barry says I do need a girlfriend…

    Just kidding of course. Thanx for the reassurances though.


  • Happy Birthday Glen! I know a lot of people who have a particular problem with their own age and you may heard the saying “age is just a number” but I would really support it. I know some 20 somethings and they are literally over the hill already.
    So keep on rockin and rollin and continue to write wonderful articles for us and that will keep you young and in shape–a bit of exercise and good food will do the rest and trick you into eternal youth.
    The only fair thing in life is, that we are ALL aging. Some might hold the effects with Bottox and PS, but I believe that every age has it’s particular beauty.
    That fact will picked up by our society soon, as the Baby boomers will be the majority we the people and our society also must accept that we are not dead when we are 30+!

    When I grew up I heard the saying: “Don’t trust anybody over 30!” And I believed it. Once you hit 30 yourself, you are ready for the coffin, I thought, but now I think different, of course. lol

    Ask my mom–she just (May 16th) celebrated her 72nd and she feels younger than ever, seriously wants to date a 40something guy. If that guy just wouldn’t have a wife already, I might find that even funny.
    Happy Birthday again.

  • Barry, you are so right. I do need a girlfriend. Bad. LOL…

    As for your choice in music, I’ll take the original version of Strawberry Fields over the Hollyridge Strings version. Hey, I may be old…but I’m not that damn old.

    Chantal and Sister Ray, thanks so much for the kind words. I don’t normally post my personal crap up here on Blogcritics, and to be perfectly honest I’m a little embarrased that I did just that this time around.

    But after I put this article on my blog (the usual dumping ground for my personal crap), I realized I hadn’t put anything up here in about a week. Plus it was a fairly well written, if somewhat maudlin piece that I thought the 50 somethings who read Blogcritics might be able to relate to.

    Kind of like the article Jet wrote about being 51 and musically obsolete. That was an article I personally really did relate to, which inspired the courage for me to post my own 50-something blues up here on the site.

    So I’m done crying in my beer for now.

    But thanks for listening. The regular music snob you’ve come to know and love will be back in action here soon enough.


  • I pulled out my Hollyridge Strings Play the Hits of the Beatles to accompany your thoughtful article – nothing like an easy listening version of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ to turn a boomer all mushy.

    Dude, you need a gal to keep you busy.

  • At 43, I hear you. It’s hard figuring out what to do for a second act.

  • Happy Birthday Glen!!

    and for what it’s worth, consider yourself lucky in this respect: at least you know your passion–music. Far too many people lead empty lives, searching for something to feel passionate about. You’ve got that part already, and that’s half the battle!

    Best to you! 🙂