22 September 2015


I don’t think it matters what age they are: some people wonder if they can contribute. Young people wonder if they’ll get their shot. Mid-career people wonder if they’re making an impact. Older people wonder if they’ve still got it.

Some people do their best work early. Einstein’s “miracle year” was when he was about 26. As Tom Lehrer once said of another musician:

It is a sobering thought, for example, that when Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years.

Then you have slow burners like Charles Darwin, who published the On the Origin of Species when he was 50.

I think you look for those examples of people who have success at different ages to convince yourself that there’s still a shot for you to stay creative and productive and vital.

So I was amazed and pleased to learn that last night, the Polaris music prize for independent Canadian music was won by a 74 year old. It was Buffy Sainte-Marie, whose music career started before I was even born.

Holy crap.

Frankly, I was never familiar with her music from when I was younger. I was never a fan. But I defy anyone to listen to “Power in the Blood” and tell me that they’d have guessed that song came from a septuagenarian. It’s got as much punch, nerve, and energy as songs by artists a third her age. It freakin’ rocks.

Huge congratulations to Buffy!

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