I wish I could come up with some title as conspiratorial sounding as “The Bourne Legacy,” but I suppose “The Generation Factor” is descriptive enough. This title may suggest that I might relate an incident at a recent concert with some young person, around 10-15 years old, saying something inane (at least inane to us) such as “You’re my grandparents’ favorite group but I’ve never heard of you….but that’s okay, you sounded fine.” But that isn’t the case. Perhaps the title may suggest that a casino’s young Entertainment Director, recently hired, chooses to ignore the fact that The Kingston Trio had sold out every show during our week-long engagement there but she has chosen to “Go in a different direction” with a rap group she’s heard of. But that isn’t the case.
As true as these situations are, I’m going to write about something far more sinister in application and humorous in implication. I’m going to relay a story that, years later, still makes me scratch any available body part in wonder. That’s because it concerns an organization whose demographic literally belongs to The Kingston Trio – AARP.
As happens to all of us, turning fifty several years ago brought with it those automatic and repetitive invitations to join AARP. I actually began receiving such invitations about the time I turned forty-eight, adding insult to caducity (look it up – I did!). Deciding that embracing this statistic would serve me better than ignoring it, I joined AARP, and began receiving the monthly periodical with its interviews of celebrities over the age of 50. These articles were actually quite enjoyable since many of the celebrities fell into that category of “where are they now?” I was delighted to read of their continued work in the entertainment industry and of their philanthropic work outside of the industry.
So, the seed was planted: I thought it would be relevant to both the mission of the magazine and the interests of its constituents to propose that they interview The Kingston Trio. I wrote to the AARP Magazine administrative office to let them know that the Trio was still performing regularly and would be happy to make ourselves available for an interview. I told them about the manner in which our audiences embrace the music, singing along on songs like Tom Dooley, M.T.A., Greenback Dollar and Where Have All The Flowers Gone? et al as though time hadn’t passed and we were all still the innocent teenagers we once were.
I continued in this vein with my letter, describing the innocuous yet inspirational times during which the music began and our love for and commitment to the continuation of the music. I felt comfortable in having written a thoughtful letter that would be successful in encouraging AARP to embrace the idea of implementing a comprehensive interview with The Kingston Trio.
AARP was fairly quick with their response, which I thought was courteous. I will leave it to the reader to reach whatever conclusion you might concerning the age, position, and viability of the AARP staff person who responded. Here is their response, the stating of which will be the zenith of this blog: “Your little group sounds like fun. We hope you have some measure of success one day.”