Slippin’ and a Slidin’

I bought a new pair of topsider style deck shoes recently. They are boat shoes actually. I’ve been buying the same brand for 20 years - Sperry. They work great in the summer, being both dressy and casual and can be worn with or without socks at the beach, at a restaurant, or even on an actual boat deck with jeans or shorts. Easy. The most important thing is that the soles of this casual footwear are designed for the wet decks on boats. They are non slip. When you get to be in your 60s, or any age, that’s a useful thing.

However, this time I saw a cheap deal for a generic pair at a J.C. Penny store and bought them, figuring I’d save $30. Epic fail! I put them on at home, took a few steps and promptly skidded across the wooden floor in our house. Then I tried navigating the stairs. Same thing, but this time almost broke my neck. These things were actually totally skid-worthy. In fact, the absolute opposite of the non skid function was exhibited. In all other respects the footwear looked identical to the real deal, but that one fundamental principal of the world famous deck shoe, the non-slip sole, had been side stepped, literally. Needless to say they ended up in the bin.

What has this to do with Wishbone Ash or music in general you might ask? I was at a gig the other day and the sound man was laughing with me at how, despite the rebel nature of rock & roll, guitarists, to a man, are generally extremely conservative types, even the heavy metal dudes with their tattoos and piercings. This sound man pointed out to me how they / we often play the same instrument for decades, dress as we always did, and are generally personable fellows, revering old blues artists and classic rock guys for their tonal abilities on the instrument ..... and so on. Then, as we were both remarking on this, I suddenly I thought of my deck shoes. Certain things just work. They are classic designs, like the Gibson Les Paul, The Flying V, The Stratocaster, Fender amps, Marshall amps. Often imitated but rarely beaten.

So two things come together here. Always pay a little more for something that is road-tested and design-proven, whether it's a piece of kitchen equipment, a pair of Raybans, Levis or an instrument of your choice. I know a lot of our fans are the same with bands and music. They trace the lineage of music back and often look for the roots of a style. I guess the theme here is that old is not always great, but give it the classic design test….and generally if it's hung around that long, it’ll hold up and serve you well.

Don't get me wrong, I’m always checking out new musical acts but I’m also continually revisiting the catalogs of my favorite artists and assessing why it was that THEY became well loved in the first place and I’m totally interested to hear if they still stand the test of time.

The classic popular music of our youth, probably served a purpose whether to protest events at that time in society, to push an accepted musical boundary further, to enhance an emotional event or memory. In fact, no matter what happens with the delivery of music and whether musicians can make a living off it, there will always be a need and a love for it, it seems to me.

And you know what? It’ll keep you young at heart and on the right track, much like those carefree deck shoes. It’ll anchor you and it’ll stabilize and enhance your life, especially when things are are changing and fluid all around you.

Stay safe out there ~ A.P.

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