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Meet Alan Tripp, America's Newest 102-Year-Old Recording Artist


Sometimes music takes a while to make, like a century. Alan Tripp dropped his debut album last month at the age of 102. Tripp collaborated with his friend and fellow resident at a Pennsylvania retirement community, Marvin Weisbord. The result is titled "Senior Songbook."

Well, we read about it in The Washington Post and could not wait to get Mr. Tripp on the line to talk about it. When we did, I asked how all this got started.

ALAN TRIPP: What happened was, I wrote a poem called "Best Old Friends." And it was published in our local paper. And Marvin Weisbord - he's my junior partner, by the way. He's only 88.

KELLY: (Laughter). OK, a young upstart.

TRIPP: He took that poem, which he saw published, and wrote music for it and gave it to me for my 100th birthday present. That was his mistake because I had four or five other lyrics in the drawer. So I began to write more until we had a dozen. And we said, golly, we've got to do this right. So we got Marvin's little jazz group that's called the Wynlyn Jazz Ensemble. And we got some good singers, and we hired the best recording studio in Philadelphia, called Morning Star.

KELLY: So this is all sliding into place for me now because there are different voices on this album, including a female voice, which I knew wasn't you. But this is - it is you singing on a bunch of these songs, is that right?

TRIPP: I just did the introduction on "Best Old Friends."


TRIPP: But life, life is not a slippery slope. Best friends still bring us love and hope.

KELLY: There's songs on here about all kinds of experiences in life - the misery of breaking up, the joy of finding your true love. And then there's my personal favorite, "I Just Can't Remember Your Name."


UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) I know I ought to kiss you. But baby, there's an issue. I just can't remember your name.

KELLY: So that is a member of this jazz troupe singing there. But these are your words. This is a poem you wrote.

TRIPP: Yeah.

KELLY: Yeah.

TRIPP: I wrote all the lyrics. When you say I just can't remember your name, you think you're aiming at an older audience. But I have talked with people in their 30s and 40s, and they've had the same experience.

KELLY: (Laughter) Yeah, I think it's a problem for my teenage sons and some of the girls they've kissed. It's universal.

TRIPP: Incidentally, may I give people some advice on retiring?

KELLY: Please.

TRIPP: People ask me how did I live so long and have my mind clicking away. The answer is you do not retire from something. You retire to something. And your life will continue with any luck.

KELLY: Well, I have to ask you then, at the age of 102, having done this, having released your debut album, what are you retiring to? What's next?

TRIPP: I was writing a book when this thing came up. It's a mystery book. I've written several other books, but never a mystery. So when I'm done with this, back to the computer and write that mystery book.

KELLY: I love it. I can't wait to read it. Promise you will come back on and talk to me when your book is out.

TRIPP: I would be more than happy. You're a delight.

KELLY: And it has been a pleasure speaking to you about this current project.

TRIPP: Thank you very, very much.

KELLY: Thank you very, very much.

That is Alan Tripp talking about his debut album at the age of 102. It is titled "Senior Songbook."


UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Now if we get lucky as we're growing old... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.