Reading the paper earlier this week, I came across one of those little columns where they list famous people and their birthdays. I haven't paid much attention to them for a while, just another timesuck, I guess. Although a few years ago, I was bemused to see that The Spouse shares a birthday with Benito Mussolini. No resemblance, whatsoever! (She told me to say that. I never disobey Our Exalted Leader). But this week, one name in particular stood out. I had to laugh when I saw it.
"Rock musician Flea, 46."
That's right. Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea is 46. 46. Wooo! Suddenly, I didn't feel so unsettled by my impending 43rd. This is a guy who as recently as 1999 played shows NAKED. This is a guy in a band whose earliest memory I have is a photograph in Creem(?) magazine, showing them onstage wearing sneakers and tube socks while playing. Nothing else, just sneakers and socks. The socks were on their feet and their, er, junk.
For me it was a defining moment in my late teens and early adulthood, and the music I was listening to. The Chili Peppers' version of "Higher Ground" (the Stevie Wonder tune) was a revelation to me. I really, really dug the funky bass groove. As a shy dork with no musical talent, but with secret musical ambitions, that kind of stuff was powerful. Years later, I heard a quote, attributed to Flea where he said something like "You gotta play bass like you got a big dick." I could never really conceive of being able to play bass guitar (or any instrument for that matter) with that kind of energy and abandon. And as to the size of certain things that could give ones' playing a boost, let's just say I would have made a modest bass player. Of course, I should have listened carefully at the time: it was "play like" you have a big one. So, in that case, dear readers, I would have been the All-Universe Prime Overlord Bassist! Really! (Thonk,thonk,bowmpa,bowmpa,bowpma...)
Flea is 46. Ha. I read that he has recently started taking music classes at USC. Encouraging that he is still looking to learn, gain some knowledge. This is great. I hope to learn to play bass sometime; it might happen. Who knows? Someday, SOMEDAY, even if only in my head, I'll get my chance to play bass on stage, in front of a crowd, wearing nothing but Chuck Taylors and a tube sock on my unit.
Happy Birthday, Flea!