Eliot was wrong; May is the cruelest month, at least here in the Center of Universe this particular year.  Lingering winter infirmities, a miserable San Francisco spring and, of course, the mixed blessing of having passed that peculiar threshold where one becomes officially old.  I am now a card carrying member of the Medicare set; I am invisible to young women; the next fishing license I buy will not expire until I do.  When I was younger–which seems about 20 minutes ago–I subscribed to that great philosopher Neil Young’s credo:  “It’s better to burn out than it is to rust.”  Now, I’m thinking rusting has a certain appeal; it works for Richard Serra.  Fair warning to all; I plan to be a rage, don’t whine kind of old person.

You know who I think is underrated?  Terry Riley.  A lot of people think of him as a one-hit wonder but I’ve been listening to a lot of his stuff lately and it brings me great pleasure.


9 Responses to “Read to By a Boy”
  1. zeno says:

    “When older people can no longer remember names at a cocktail party, they tend to think that their brainpower is declining. But a growing number of studies suggest that this assumption is often wrong. …. Instead, the research finds, the aging brain is simply taking in more data and trying to sift through a clutter of information, often to its long-term benefit.”

    SARA REISTAD-LONG “Older Brain Really May Be a Wiser Brain” NYT May 20, 2008

  2. Sarah Cahill wrote:

    “In 2003, I asked Terry to create a new version of A Rainbow in Curved Air for the Berkeley Edge Fest.”

    Boy howdy, I’d love to hear that!

  3. There’s a Terry Riley discussion list: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/Terry_Riley/?yguid=70544219

    Join us and talk about Shri Camel, the man.

  4. Sarah,
    The comment from Tom Constanten is wonderful! What a way to be recalled by people who know you.

  5. Sarah Cahill says:

    As for his personality, I think it was described best by Tom Constanten, an early (and extremely adventurous) keyboardist for the Grateful Dead: “If you spend any time around Terry Riley, your soul will get a tan.”

  6. Sarah Cahill says:

    Don’t worry Jerry- There will always be younger women who are interested in older men.

    It’s funny that people imagine Terry Riley still writes pieces like In C, because a lot of his work is so complex and wide-ranging, and often dense and contrapuntal. If he’s underrated, it’s because he’s deeply misunderstood. And he’s busier now than ever with commissions and performances.

    In 2003, I asked Terry to create a new version of A Rainbow in Curved Air for the Berkeley Edge Fest. He’s since performed it all over the world, and modern technology makes it much more portable and dependable. It was wonderful to see him perform that piece in Scotland last year, where crowds of twenty-year-old admirers just went nuts over his music.

  7. paul bailey says:

    i wonder how he would perform shri camel or a rainbow in curved air today using a laptop and max/msp or ableton? after seeing pictures of his solo setup i always wondered how much it was a hassle to get from concept to performance.

  8. david toub says:

    I know how you feel—the bloody AARP sent me a mocked-up card a few months ago. Just what I wanted to see, a preview of when I turn 50 in a few years.

    And yes, Terry Riley is way underrated. I have tons of his stuff, much of which doesn’t get any airplay. But it’s really amazing. Not all of it, of course. But when Terry is good, he’s incredibly great. Some real gems: Olson 3, a concert he did in Rome in 1999, Persian Surgery Dervishes, Salome Dances for Peace, the two Keyboard Studies, Songs For The Ten Voices Of The Two Prophets, etc. I’ve met him 2-3 times and once interviewed him, and he’s just the nicest person. No anger in him at all.

  9. Tom Myron says:

    Rage on, daddy-o.