How to Trick Old People

Today I’m going to teach you how to trick old people into listening to Jeff Buckley without grousing.

Every day at lunch I read a little thing I throw together called On This Day in History to the assisted living residents in the retirement community where I work. I try to find things that they learned in history themselves, as well as things they will either totally remember, sort of remember happening, or just funny, weird, strange events.

(E.g., I’m kind of infamous for telling them about someone’s birthday in history just because that person has an uncommon name. Like, on November 2 I can’t wait to tell them about the birth of Calder Buffington Shammo, born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1873. I might make a joke along the lines of, “He was a politician who should have been a magician with a marquee that read: ‘Shammo Blammo, the Whammo Stage Hammo!'” They’ll laugh at that, but not because it’s funny [it certainly is not]; they’ll laugh because I said it and they love me and never want me to be discouraged about my talents. It’s like hanging out with 10 grandparents every day.)

Anyway, today was the 25th anniversary of the release of Jeff Buckley’s album Grace. Of course, to people of a certain age, the release of this album filled a void we didn’t know existed and created a musical highlight for our mid-20s that would keep us weeping into our 40s.

I was in the mood to hear something from the album, so I cued up “Hallelujah” on Spotify and told my residents it was a song “about how David wrote the Psalms.”

They loved it.

But not as much as a group of dementia residents I was with one time loved “I Go Blind” when I played it on Darius Rucker’s birthday. I’m still perplexed by that–the fact that I deigned to play a Hootie and the Blowfish song, and the fact that those residents honest-to-God cheered and clapped so hard after it ended.

Hmmm. Maybe they hated it and they were glad it was over?