Dion's latest album, Blues with Friends, was released today and it has received a lot of positive press. Most stories note the impressive list of friends (Bruce Springsteen, Jeff Beck, Paul Simon, and Van Morrison), the quality of the new material, and the understated support of his friends. In most cases, you have to look at the credits to identify the special guests. Clearly this is not the case of the stars propping up the over-the-hill has been.
And everyone says that Dion sounds fabulous at 80.
But there is something bigger going on here. One of the founders of rock and roll is still making new and vibrant music at the age of 80, and it wouldn’t sound out of place if you heard it over the PA system at Home Depot. What ever happened to “Hope I die before I get old,” and “It’s better to burn out than it is to rust?” Pete Townsend and Neil Young - I'm glad you didn't!
Dion has blazed a new trail. The trail of LIVING (and living generously) until you are old and what that looks like. It looks pretty good. But what is his secret? How did this happen?
I only talked to Dion once, but this is my guess. Almost 10 years ago I interviewed him for Catholic World Report. It left me feeling like the rock star.
We talked like friends for over an hour. Dion makes you feel like you are the most important person in the world. It isn't a put-on. He indulged me with stories about some of my heroes - Waylon Jennings, Bruce Springsteen, Buddy Holly, and Rev. Gary Davis. (I’m interviewing a member of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I’m asking him about Waylon Jennings? I cringe. What was I thinking? The conversation just flowed that way I guess.)
At one point in our discussion on Gary Davis he stopped and said, "Wow. You know your stuff. I should be interviewing you." I'll never forget it.
If you wonder how he got all the stars to not only play, but to play with such subtlety - it's Dion. He is a model of class and generosity. He sets the example and everyone models it right back. Imagine that. There's no reason to be insecure. Nobody is getting slighted. He cares about you.
So I say, Good for you Dion. Thank you for your example. Continuing to pursue your passion for music with class and grace.