Nancy Roman

How To Be Old

A post from September 2011:

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. Outstanding! Bet the second one was as stomping loud as the first one was elegantly quiet.
    You are one lucky duck!


  2. They bring back memories. Was it that long ago? Infinity is a premier showcase for these amazing women. Class acts, all around.


    • I was listening to “The Bridge” on Sirius today, and Joni Mitchell was wailing her “Woodstock” – and it got me to thinking about all that great music – and I remembered this post.


  3. I still listen to both, love them both but like you I am mostly other.


  4. Personally, my plan is to I grow old disgracefully….


  5. Wow…two great concerts in one week…What fun!


    • It was terrific – and it’s a beautiful little concert hall too.


  6. The other is more energizing. Go kick ass. 😀


  7. Loved this! We were never one for concerts though we saw Barry White who was absolutely Brilliant and Neil Sedaka who was also good (he was in concert on the radio a little while ago and is still good!). We were ‘terribly disappointed’ (being polite) with Whitney Houston and an off day/performance doesn’t come close to touching it.
    Always like Buffy though, and Nina Simone and Joan Armatrading.. They had class, style, and a voice!


    • I don’t go to enough concerts. It is a special experience when someone sings to you.


      • Oh, and I agree, there are occasions where you are disappointed. (for me, Diana Ross) – but it is so worth it when they thrill you.


      • Oh indeed.


  8. me too–graceful is my wish, but defiance my go-to


    • I have never been defiant (except over the aging process itself). But I think I am finally ready.


  9. This is a wonderful perspective. I believe we have to be both…sometimes at the same time. I can picture you gracefully kicking ass for a long time to come. 😉



  1. Going Gentle | notquiteold

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