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Master works

Master works
Master works
Dr. Wayne Willis

I admire the old masters, especially those around my age, who are still out there plying their art.

A favorite is Bob Dylan, who, at 78, is out there still ripening. This year at Olympiahalle, Innsbruck, Austria, he performed show 3,000 of what others have called his Never Ending Tour. It began more than 30 years ago, back on June 7, 1988. A critic at a recent concert wrote of Dylan’s performance, “Is it worth nitpicking an artist whose work shaped generations and legitimized a genre more than any other? Probably not. Why try to change him now?”

I admire Sir James Paul McCartney, two months older than I, one of the original Beatles who has of late performed in sold-out concerts from Buckingham Palace in London to the Coliseum in Rome, from Perth, Australia to Moscow’s Red Square. He calls it his Freshen Up tour. He sometimes plays nonstop for three hours.

Shakespeare wrote, “And so from hour to hour we ripe and ripe, / And then from hour to hour we rot and rot; / And thereby hangs a tale.”

Garrison Keillor, 77, creator of the radio show “A Prairie Home Companion,” which he hosted for more than 40 years, recently wrote a piece titled “Ignore the noise, sing for the ones in back.” He writes about a concert in an outdoor amphitheater in Atlanta where a bunch of drunks in the corporate seats down front clanked their wine bottles and heckled throughout an excellent performance of Verdi’s La Traviata. The soprano just lifted her chin higher and sang beyond the drunken administrators to the 6,000 people out in the distant, darkened cheap seats. Keillor quoted dog Latin, illegitimi non carborundum: “Don’t let the illegitimate ones grind you down.”

A great gulf separates a gift from a job.