The first time I saw Aaron Lewis sing live was in 2001, a small venue in Hartford with the post-grunge metal band Staind. I was there to see the opening band, a weird, somewhat goth alternative band called Cold that has since descended into obscurity.
Not long after that show the songs “It’s Been Awhile” and “Outside” turned Staind into one of the biggest rock bands in the world and I’ve seen them play countless times since, Aaron Lewis becoming one of my favorite rock singers as the band’s sound and lyrics matured, marriages and kids mellowing them and mirroring my own life. After leaving the band to pursue a solo career he became one of my favorite country music artists. At a recent concert I remarked to one of the people that I was with that he and I “were growing old together.”
I’ve never cared much for “celebrity culture.” I don’t care who’s dating who, who’s feuding with who, what anybody famous is doing in their spare time. I have some athletes that I refuse to cheer for, others that I do. Sometimes the reasons make sense, other times they don’t.
Sometimes there are just people who’s careers seem to be on similar timelines with us. Ice Cube has gone from angry young rapper to cuddly curmudgeon, Will Smith from novelty act to Oscar nominee, Sylvester Stallone from action hero to grizzled mentor.
This weekend Tiger Woods will continue his attempt at another comeback from multiple back surgeries, playing a Masters tournament that he first won in 1997. He’s 42, has a fused back that will never allow him to hit the ball as far as he did when he was dominating the tour, hasn’t won in five years, and has had some pretty well documented personal struggles. Vegas odds makers currently have him as the favorite to win.
Should he be? Probably not, but wagers are what move that line, and there are a lot of people my age with more dollars than sense, those of us that picked up a club because of Tiger and now have a hard time swinging it. Golf is still considered an old man’s sport, but I think that the reasons for that are often overlooked. You can play with your friends, three if you are lucky, or you can play alone as I usually do, competing against nothing but your usual score. Its great if you can do better than your buddy, but more than that a good day golfing is about improvement. I no longer need to be better than anybody else, just a little bit better than I used to be.
I’ve never met Tiger, never met Aaron Lewis, but I want them to succeed, to overcome their demons and their ages, to reinvent themselves and maybe to think for a minute that I can do the same.