Bah! Kids today don’t know who Andy Rooney was, but several generations of Americans, including my own, grew up watching him complain about things every Sunday at the end of 60 Minutes. His name became synonymous with the word “curmudgeon,” and he was funny. When I adopted the moniker “Indie Rooney” for my own attempt at a curmudgeonly series of humorous essays about indie music, my intent was surely understood. By anyone over thirty!
Andy Rooney and the music world didn’t intersect much, but they did at least once, notoriously, when Kurt Cobain committed suicide. Andy’s essay the following Sunday was full of judgment and vitriol toward the singer and his fans. It was not pretty. He was not exactly wrong, but he also wasn’t right, and the public’s reaction resulted in one of the rare on-air apologies of his long career.
An old man can be forgiven for not understanding a young person’s perspective, and I for one — an old man and Nirvana fan myself — don’t hold it against him. You can’t spend several decades expressing your opinion in public without ruffling a few feathers. You also can’t do it without being able to admit when you’re wrong.
I’ll leave it to others to describe the man’s extraordinary career and his impact on writing, journalism, culture, and humor. I will say that even if I hadn’t watched 60 Minutes in many years, it was nice to know Andy Rooney was still around, doing his thing. It’s sad now that he isn’t.