Nancy Roman

How To Be Old

I’m normally not much of a concert-goer.  I don’t like crowds and I don’t like crowded parking lots, and I especially don’t like crowded ladies’ rooms.  I put up with all of the above for the love of my life, James Taylor.  Everyone else, not so much.

Recently, however, I went to two concerts in the same week, in the same theatre (shout-out here to beautiful little Infinity Hall in Norfolk CT).

The first concert was Judy Collins. My longtime friend was turning sixty, and we had attended a Judy Collins concert together forty years before.  So it was a nostalgic outing for us, celebrating not only sixty years of living, but our forty-plus years of friendship.

Judy Collins performing in Bradford, PA (2-5-2009)

Image via Wikipedia

Judy is now 72.  She is still lovely.  Tall, slim, long silver hair, aristocratic features.  She is the perfect example of growing old gracefully.  She wore a black pantsuit with a black sequined top – more the Fifth Avenue soiree hostess than the folksinger who inspired us with her voice, and inspired other hippies to write songs like “Judy Blue Eyes”.

She had aged beautifully, if imperfectly.  Her voice was sometimes flawless, sometimes wavering.  She spent long intervals tuning and re-tuning her guitar, rambling a bit.  Worst of all, she forgot the words in several of her most famous songs.  We loved her and forgave her, because we are with her in this aging ordeal.

Through a fortunate circumstance (a deal on the tickets), two days later I went back to Infinity Hall, this time with my husband, to see Buffy Sainte-Marie.  If Judy Collins was my girlfriend’s favorite forty years ago, Buffy was mine. My husband was clueless, but willing.


Image by sidrguelph via Flickr

A Canadian Cree, forty years ago Buffy was raw and fierce and angry.  And when she stepped out on stage in 2011, she still was.  Dressed in jeans and leather and feathers, her songs were wild and furious.  When she threw up her arms with delight or passion, her shirt rose up too, exposing a very attractive belly-button. She sang with a much-younger backup band of Native American men who were crazy and energetic, and Buffy, at seventy, out-rocked them all.

Whereas Judy showed us the sweet passage of time; Buffy made time stand still.

Judy and Buffy – two different approaches to aging.  Graceful and Defiant.  Sometimes I am one and sometimes I am the other.  Mostly I am the other.


  1. I just saw Judy Collins on the Anderson Cooper show and was just amazed at her grace and I could see what you meant about her. I imagine the concert was amazing. She sang Amazing Grace on that show and even tho it was not perfect it was heartfelt and wonderful. I remember Buffy Sainte-Marie and am going to have to YouTube her to hear some of her stuff as I was not a fan but I do remember her! Great post about 2 different styles—I totally agree—I would like to have some of both!


  2. bigsheepcommunications

    Just goes to show you can be beautiful (and amazing) at 70+ whether your hair is silver, purple, or something else.


  3. I would LOVE to see Buffy Sainte-Marie! That is how I want to age. Not this whole “becoming-a-marshmallow” thing I currently have going on.


  4. an attractive belly button. now THAT i want. ;o) loved your last sentence.


    • My husband was certainly impressed with that belly button!


  5. I am envious that you got to see both of those amazing women! I always liked Judy Collins but I absolutely LOVED Buffy…had her records (yes, records) and played them and sang along to them at the top of my lungs…my kids did too when they were little. I want to be like her!

    A few years ago I had the opportunity to see Willie Nelson in concert..he was 73 I think, at the time, and he was wonderful. His voice was perfect and his guitar playing out of this world. My whole family went–husband and two adult children and me and we were thrilled with the performance (of course you have to be a Willie fan to appreciate this).
    I also saw Roger Whittaker perform when he was in his early 70s and that was more like your Judy experience…his voice just couldn’t do what it did before and his age showed, but you know what? Kudos to him for getting on stage and still doing what he did as well as he did. Better than being in a rocking chair, right?
    Maybe if I can learn my ukulele really good I’ll start giving concerts! Wonder how many people would come to that? LOL

    Sorry for the long comment…once I get started I can’t seem to stop…


    • I loved Judy, but left the concert feeling nostaligic and wise. I left Buffy’s concert feeling like I was still twenty!


  6. I’m not really a concert goer either but wish I had seen these!


  7. All of the sudden, I feel young. I hate to admit it, but I don’t know either of these artists. Please don’t stone me. I promise I’ll google them. 🙂


  8. 🙂


  9. It must have been so much fun going to those concerts. We should do what makes us happy!


  10. I, too, think I am a bit of both. Maybe gracefully defiant.

    The best compliment I have been give was by a young 20 something friend who looked at me and said, “Sometimes I forget you are old. You are always just you.”

    Works for me.


  11. What a joy to find a kindred spirit! You hooked me with your confessions: “I’m normally not much of a concert-goer. I don’t like crowds and I don’t like crowded parking lots, and I especially don’t like crowded ladies’ rooms.” I am so with you on this…a reality that keeps we away from a crowded mall, the grocery store before a hurricane, and the bus!

    I love the contrasts here between the two performers and your beautiful closing passage: “Judy and Buffy – two different approaches to aging. Graceful and Defiant. Sometimes I am one and sometimes I am the other. Mostly I am the other.” Me too and I like it that way! Thanks, ~Dawn


  12. Snoring Dog Studio

    I, too, would enjoy seeing and hearing Buffy St. Marie. Years ago, I went to hear Annie Lennox in Minneapolis. I love these older women who’ve remained relevant and strong. I can’t stand much of what seems to be popular coming from these 20-somethings who sound all alike. Katie Perry bores the jeans right off of me!


  13. Neat post. I’ve been to Infinity Hall–great place. Sounds like you had some great times. I love hearing about wonderful women who are aging authentically, enjoying themselves, and making their mark on the world.


  14. By the way, I subscribed to your blog. I really like what I see! 🙂


  15. I myself am planning to grow old dis-gracefully…


  16. Judy, ah, Judy! Love it! Thanks for sharing!!!


  17. “Whereas Judy showed us the sweet passage of time; Buffy made time stand still.” Love this sentence.


  18. I remember both of them well…and it’s hard to believe that they’re now in their 70’s. Such icons – both – in ‘our’ time. And – when I think about it – as we age we are really some of both sides of that coin of ‘standing still..and time passing’. Thank-you for this ageless post!


  19. I know Cher has her share of detractors (mostly because she’d had ‘help’ keeping that face and that figure) but seeing her in person four years ago (I, too, took my husband) was a total rush. She’s a consummate professional and so amazing on stage (lots of wardrobe changes; awesome sets; terrific voice and persona), especially when you consider she’s over 60. I also envy Tina Turner (those legs, that voice), although I’ve yet to see her in concert. We should all grow old as well as people like Judy, Buffy, Cher, Tina and others like them. Long live the sixties and seventies (and I don’t just mean the decades!)


    • I actually saw Tina Turner. It was probably twenty-five years ago, but that would still put her over forty. I never saw a woman (or man, for that matter) so completely secure and proud in her own sexuality. It was awesome.


  20. Amen, sister, to letting both our inner biker chick and our outter Girl Friday blend and flow. You know what gives me inspiration? That Judy Collins would stand in front of a group and forget the words to her song, but still go on. If that isn’t a lesson for all us to hitch up our big-girl panties and keep moving forward…I don’t know what. Thanks for sharing.


  21. They don’t make ’em like they used to that’s for sure.



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