On Thursdays, I drive my gentleman associate to work so that I can go swimming. As soon as we pull into the yard at his work, I switch the radio channel from the morning show he usually listens to on his drive to the CBC. I don’t listen to the CBC very often anymore, since we’re a one-vehicle family now, and I work from home every day.
So, on one particular day, there was a segment on the CBC about how a fellow somewhere in Atlantic Canada (pre-COVID) used to take his Uncle with him to long term care facilities where there were residents with varying stages of dementia. While many of them couldn’t recognize their families anymore, they could sing every single word of wartime songs by Vera Lynn and Glenn Miller. The segment was about how, since Covid is a jerk and long-term care facilities were mostly locked down, there could be no visiting for Friday Afternoon Piano Singalong. No Ditties with Digestive Cookies and tea in this new world order. The enterprising musicians got around this by recording YouTube videos the residents could watch at any time and by Zooming with the residents. And while Technology offers some interesting substitutes, it just wasn’t the same. Music carries an amazing capacity to stimulate damaged brains, improve mental health, and encourage community.
So in the strange way that my brain joins together two things that are very tenuously linked, I had a moment of laughing right out loud in the YMCA parking lot.
Thing #1: There was a meme that crossed one of my social media feeds that said that we are presently as far from our beloved Gen-X 1980s as the 1980s were from the Second World War. I’m kind of incredulous that things like Thriller (Michael Jackson) and Avalon (Roxy Music) and Upstairs at Eric’s (Yaz) are 40 years old. How did that even happen?
Thing#2: 20 years from now, folks like the fellow from the CBC segment and his uncle will be playing peak euro-new wave for aging Gen-X residents in long term care. No actual instruments were harmed in the original versions of peak 80’s tunes in WaybackLand, so how they’re going to play all that glorious synth-pop and cousin genres of the era on ancient upright pianos, I’ll never know. Casio Keyboards are going to have a huge resurgence. You heard it here first, friends!
And personally, I can’t wait for some young person to sing Bitchin’ Camaro or Rock Me Amadeus or Mirror in the Bathroom for me in my dotage. And we can all sing If I could Turn Back Time and I’m the one who wants to be with you together until someone sets off the fire alarm with their contraband Zippo and we all get soaked through to the granny-panties like we’re at the encore of the Live Aid concert.
So how does hosting geriatric karaoke help my journey to Easter? If I can see a way to comfort someone, may I always choose the most compassionate option. May I always be so willing to use my skills to improve the lives of others.
And with that, I give you the song list for a future Synthpop and Snickerdoodles at some Old Folks’ home 20 years from now (YMMV):