OPINION – There’s a lot of buzz right now about The Stones rolling it out for their 50th anniversary tour.
Mick and the boys are wowing the crowds, putting out some of the best music of their careers, according to some reviewers, and sprinkling their shows with some pretty good guests. Former Stone Mick Taylor is aboard for the tour, trotting out on stage every night for a turn on “Midnight Rambler.” Keith Urban jammed with them the other night in Los Angeles, Tom Waits stepped up to the mic in the Bay Area.
It’s fairly epic stuff going on as rock ‘n’ roll’s bad boys continue to moon authority and rock it at an age when the best a lot of guys can do is rock a rocking chair.
They aren’t the entire story, however.
Paul McCartney, a contemporary of The Stones, is touring and will hit the States soon. Tom Petty is a week away from heading back on the road. And, of course, we get The Beach Boys at Tuacahn on Friday night.
Now, nobody will ever accuse The Beach Boys of being as heavy as The Stones, McCartney or even Petty, but, they are one of America’s premier bands and have left us a catalog of fun-in-the-sun songs, as well as “Good Vibrations,” which ranks as one of the best rock songs of all time.
I must admit, the timing of these shows hits home as I’ve been wallowing in the primordial ooze of rock ‘n’ roll for some time now as I put the finishing touches on a book I’m writing about my days as a rock critic for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the time I spent in the record business.
Some of the people I write about are gone, from my old friend George Harrison to Frank Zappa. Some, like Peter Frampton, are no longer the cute, but immensely talented, teen idol rockers of a bygone age. Some are damaged, some repaired. And, some are still kicking it, like The Stones, Petty, Bruce Springsteen, The Beach Boys, Steve Tyler, Willie Nelson (yeah, I consider him a rock star), Carlos Santa, and many others whose lives intersected, even if only for a brief time, with mine.
The point of it all was driven home recently by a piece in the Los Angeles Times where the writer suggested that, perhaps, The Stones were too old to rock ‘n’ roll.
Amazing, really, when you think of it, on both counts.
You see, we never really thought much about whether we would still be listening to this music as we approached the Social Security years. To be honest, there were times when the odds were against a lot of us surviving to that age.
But, we have and, at least a fair number of us, still get a shiver up the back when Keith Richards fires up the opening riff to “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”
The writer didn’t address the issues of relevancy or the quality of performance, instead dwelling on the fact that The Stones are, well, fairly old guys.
Yeah, so what?
I mean, really, at what point do we cease to have a purpose, a usefulness? I mean, are we supposed to pack it all in at a certain age and wait for the Grim Reaper to knock on the door?
I don’t think so.
Mick and the boys, The Beach Boys, McCartney, Petty, Springsteen, and all of Chuck’s children who are out there gigging the sticks have every right to take the stage and plug in their guitars as long as people are willing to come through the door to see them. The old blues guys — Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, and the other blues masters — kept it going until the very end. Some of the country guys, like Willie, stay on the tour bus until the wheels fall off. Why should the rockers be any different? Or, writers, as a matter of fact? In that regard, I don’t plan on stepping out of anybody’s way at any time, ever. As long as I can run my fingers over a keyboard and see the screen, I plan to punch out stories until I run out of words, even if they are for my own amusement, and I also plan to run those same fingers over a guitar fretboard as long as they stay nimble and there’s somebody who wants to play along, even if it means we have to turn the amps up to 11 to hear what we’re playing.
Of course, I think it’s because we were all influenced by a guy named Dylan, who borrowed the name of the poet who wrote:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And, as far as rockin’ into the golden years?
Well, it’s still only rock ‘n’ roll, but I like it.
No bad days!
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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