06 March 2006

Too Old to Rock & Roll

… but too young to die. Or, for that matter, to retire.

The truth, however, is that music hasn't been ruled by the young for years now. More than half of all CDs are bought by people over 30; Mojo, the magazine for the greying fan, outsells NME; even big-selling young bands settle on a sound that is reactionary (Oasis), retro (the Kaiser Chiefs) or colossally reassuring (Coldplay). It used to be assumed that rock was like football or chess, offering its best players a brief blazing heyday followed by an inevitable decline. Lately, it has looked more like golf, promising 40-year careers and only a slow fade. Now it may be shifting again, to become more like writing or painting. Some stars will burn out, others will flicker, and a few will shine brighter with age. What is the formula for rock longevity? Asked how he had managed to keep going into his 50s, Iggy Pop replied: "I'm not bald, I'm not fat, and I'm not safe." Many stars manage to adhere to at least two of these criteria. Strangely few rock singers are bald (has toupee technology secretly moved on?), and those who are wear a hat, like Van Morrison, or divert attention with comedy braiding arrangements, like Keith Richards.

Tim de Lisle, "Sexagenarians, Drugs and Rock'n'roll," The Guardian (06 March 2006) (fake paragraphing removed for clarity).

I can just see another prominent band of the 70s doing a reunion "tour"… hard hat and all.

Old man, there's no need to feel down.
I said, old man, pick yourself off the ground.
I said, old man, 'cause you're in a new town
There's no need to be unhappy.
Old man, there's a place you can go.
I said, old man, when you're short on your dough.
You can stop there, and I'm sure you will find
Many ways to have a good time.
It's fun to visit the A-A-R-P.…

And on that discordant note, I'll escape while I still have some chance to survive the backlash.