(On Sundays, Career Calling looks at intersections of work and life which are not necessarily related to jobs, layoffs, and unemployment statistics.)
Today is the Super Bowl, which has become an unofficial national holiday. When you think about it, this game generates work. Not just the passing and tackling on the field, but also in kitchens all across the country where people are preparing for parties. Stores have to stock extra pallets of beer, pop, and snacks. Some of the most interesting work on this day will be done by advertisers who are buying very expensive commercial time to put their products in front of the largest TV audience of the year.
Put all this aside, let’s talk about music. When I was much younger, Super Bowl halftime shows were milk and cookies with sugary feature acts like Up with People. Over the years, the halftime shows grew more elaborate and staged as mini-concerts. This trend crashed with Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction.” That’s when the NFL chose to be safe by booking rock bands that had passed the greatest test of acceptability – being played on classic rock radio stations. The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, U2, and Tom Petty have all played during half time of the “big game.”
This year the act will be the Who. I grew up a big fan of this band. They were angry rebels. Now, like the Stones, they are a nostalgia act. Roger Daltrey might still sing, “I hope I die before I get old,” but he’s doing so as sixty-something rock star. Pete Townshend’s hearing is so profoundly damaged that he can only play a few concerts each year. They are old now, but we have to admire them for continuing to work, especially the effort they make for charity.
The same can be said for Mose Allison, who at age 82, still cheers the hearts of fans with his bluesy southern jazz. Today, while most of America is being entertained by the Who, Colts, and Saints, Allison will be playing three sets at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago’s South Loop. The Who covered Allison’s Young Man’s Blues on their classic album (what a CD was before everything went MP3), Live at Leeds. Allison’s version was whimsical and poppy; the Who’s snarling and dangerous.
On this Sunday, this Sabbath day, in Miami and Chicago, fans will be treated to the music of three men who could be retired (though I bet Mose has not banked as much as Roger and Pete). Why do they go on? They love their what they do. A week ago, I wrote about the Dalai Lama who describes himself as “doing nothing.” I’m sure great musicians feel the same way when they are on stage. They are in the minute, loving what they do. As the great jazz standard goes, “nice work if you can get it.”
To see a video of the Who singing Young Man’s Blues, click here.
To listen to an MP3 of Mose Allison singing Young Man’s Blue, click here
To hear Billie Holiday sing Nice Work, click here.
Whether or not you enjoy the game or the music, enjoy this day!