Back in the hazy crazy days of vinyl, when we purchased a record, we were blessed with two musical compositions to enjoy, and perhaps compare.
The A-side was the record company’s preferred track, the subject of the 45’s title and star of the cover artwork. The B-side was there too … well, something had to go on the backside of the disc.
Occasionally, popular artists scored praise for both sides from passionate fans. Rarely, the B-side defied the infallible genius of the record company executives and won the hearts of some critical listeners.
I would always play the B-side often and loudly to give it every chance to impress myself, my friends, and the neighbours. The hard-working artist deserved that much respect.
Under the right conditions the track eventually grew on some of my audience and off they’d go to procure their small piece of history.
The guy at the local record store would laugh when they asked for the record by the B-side name and say, “you’ve been around at Charlie’s place haven’t you?”
The record companies like all fat cats and establishment Bourgeoisie were fair game in the ‘70s. Who were they to tell me how to live my life?
Today my heckles rise when people, old and young, ask me why I haven’t retired, just because I’ve passed the magic 65 years milestone.
I could be rude and tell them to mind their own business, but I tend to diplomatically smile and say something like, “…unfinished business man.”
That’s my way of saying that I haven’t finished listening to the other side of the record yet. Sure, the A-side is good but to do the production justice, the B-side deserves a fair hearing. Besides, when I bought the record I paid for both sides.
An unrecorded single which could be titled Retirement Rumba presents both arguments for retiring punctually versus playing on.
Side A encourages the listener to put down their tools and take up the opportunity of a life of endless leisurely bliss, the hook being “you’ve worked hard for this …”
The B-side challenges the status quo proposing that the best years are ahead, hooking with “do your best work in your 70s …”
With typical B-side subtlety, “work” might mean engaging in active employment, learning a new hobby, writing a book, travelling extensively or starting a new enterprise. Listen to the track and make your own decision.
Retiring at the earliest opportunity could be like packing the record away after only listening to one side. What might I have missed? What if this recording is one of those ‘70s gems that plays a clandestine message when the turntable is reversed?
I won’t be ready to quit until I’ve played my music from front and back, loud and soft, forward and backward, and I’ve studied the cover artwork for hidden clues.
The retirement A-side is an easy listening, conventionalist tune, but I’m a B-sider!
I like it unrefined and mysterious, and I’m going to play it as loud as I can, for as long as I choose. It might sound a bit weird played backwards, but I just have to know…
Charlie Griffiths is a certified life coach dedicated to helping fellow Baby Boomers achieve their full potential. He invites comment at runawayretiree.com/say-what