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Why Don't You All F-F-Fade Away?

I find aging rock and rollers creepy. There's something very disturbing about a 50-60 year old men still jumping around on stage in spandex pants, smashing guitars and crooning metal ballads that were written with 15 year old girls in mind. I look at Roger Daltrey, Steven Tyler and Gene Simmons and I'm reminded of that lecherous guy at the end of the local bar, the one who looks like he's been sitting there since 11am doing nothing but drinking and degenerating. And when he winks at you, it's with an imagined confidence of someone who still insists on believing he's sexy and seventeen. If the Who (or what's left of them) want to put out a new album, more power to them. It's not the agonizing prolonging of a stale career that bothers me. It's the inevitable tour that makes me cringe. Roger Daltrey is 60 years old. Sixty. 6-0. Now imagine him standing on a stage, facing an arena packed with thousands of others who can't let their youth go, and this man who has been eligible for AARP membership for ten years already starts singing about....his generation? People try to put us d-down/Just because we get around/Things they do look awful c-c-cold /I hope I die before I get old .. Well, so much for that idea. Old has come and gone for both Roger and Pete. The real bite is taken out of "they're all wasted!" when you look like this instead of this. It's not just the elderly rockers that have this age-image problem. I can't help but giggle when 30-something Fred Durst sings about doing it all for the nookie. Does Marilyn Manson ever feel silly when he's dabbing on his makeup, getting ready for another night of snarling at an audience made up of kids young enough to be his own? Do the guys in Slayer ever thing, gee, we're grown up, we have families and minivans and pets and man, faking this primal anger thing is getting old? Maybe there should be a mandatory cut-off age for people to able to rock out on stage. Is there anyone out there who still wants to stare at David Lee Roth's crotch as he attempts a balls-defying split? In leather pants? Hey, these guys can make all the records they want, but I think we need to put a stop to the full-on stadium shows the Viagra generation of rock stars are still putting on. Fifty year old men should not be singing lyrics like She said 'I'll show you how to fax/In the mailroom, honey/And have you home by five' to throngs of barley dressed, barely teen girls. Fifty year old men should not be stomping around a stage in ten inch heels and make up while exhorting the crowd to rock and roll all night and party every day. It's just wrong. Oh, yea. I know what you're thinking. And you're right. I'm a hypocrite. While I find it loathsome to see grown men prancing around in leopard striped pants and too-high hair squealing about doing it in the old man's Ford, I have no problem still listening to the stuff even though I am loathe to watch the artists perform it. But it's different. Because when I'm driving in my car, banging my fists on the steering wheel and summoning up righteous teenage anger as I moan that all I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi, Mike Muir and I are both young again. I don't have to stare mortality in the face by looking at him on stage and forcing myself to recognize not only are we old, but that freaking kid should have moved his lazy ass and gotten his own dam Pepsi. Which all reminds me of a previously blogged conversation between DJ and myself: DJ: Mom, it's kinda weird that you're 40 years old and still listen to Anthrax. Mom: Hon, Scott Ian is 40 years old and he's still in Anthrax. It's real easy for me to summon up the angst and anger that made all these songs so important to me. I can relive an entire decade by singing just one lyric. But I'm not wearing fourteen tons of anti-aging cream and standing before 10,000 people of some other generation while I do it. Some day the old guy at the end of the bar will accept the fact that he just doesn't have it anymore. I'll kind of miss him winking at me, but we'll always have the jukebox.

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» Hope I die before I get arthritis from dustbury.com
Oops, too late. Meanwhile, Michele wants an upper age limit on rock performers on stage: Is there anyone out there who still wants to stare at David Lee Roth's crotch... [Read More]

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Michele and I usually agree on things and in this case it's no different. Even so, our differences of music tastes put her cleanly in Sarge's category. DJ: Mom, it's kinda weird that you're 40 years old and still listen... [Read More]

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Comments

I think the last ten years of Rolling Stones tours are nothing but tributes to Mick's massive ego, but I will defend the right of Keith to continue playing until the flesh falls from his bones.

And why is it that we have no problem with a 60 year old bluesman singing basically the same sentiments as a 60 year-old rocker? (In fact I don't trust any bluesman under 50.) I think it's because they're sitting down.

Maybe there should be a mandatory cut-off age for people to able to rock out on stage.

I hereby propose the Benny Mardones Into the Night Act of 2004 (aka Benny's Law).

I keep reminding myself that Peter Gabriel nearly won an Oscar for singing high praise to a pig and Richard Starkey played a miniature conductor talking to toy trains.

Eric brings up a good point..

Heck, crooners ala Sinatra can slip into a tux and do a show a night in Vegas to packed crowds until they no longer can balance on the barstool

Maybe the music has something to do with it...blues, crooning, etc is not youth oriented..the lyrics rarely speak to flipping off the parents, cutting school and wreaking havoc on the community.

I promise never to go on tour... unless you wanna be my go-go backup dancing girl? wink

From my vantage point, at least, what it means is all the blues (and therefore all the life) was squeezed out of rock and roll some time back.

I have never ventured to comment on the musical taste of our Hostess, but I wonder what she would truly have to say about the blues.

I recently caught REM in Chicago. I started listening to them back in the mid 80's (I'm 36), and have seen them live twice before (86 and 87). Here it is almost 20 years later. After the show, which I thought was mediocre, the one feeling that struck me was, "I've really outgrown this". I felt like I was trying to hang on to something that should be let go. The band also looked a bit on the aged side as well. Michael Stipe, who I would assume is well into his 40's, looked goofy prancing around the stage like he was playing to a college crowd. The median age of the crowd was probably 35. Time to hang it up for all of us, I guess.

If the old folks have to quit playing it, does that mean I have to quit listening to it too? And, just because I look like a dirty old man doesn't mean I think like one. I read somewhere that your mental age is about 15 years behind your physical age, and in some of us the difference is more pronounced than in others.

I think you have to be willing to discriminate. David Lee Roth desperately squeezing the last remaining dollars out of his long-faded fame can't be placed in the same category with bands that are still attempting to make great music.

The Who, once great, now seem to have fallen to the side of cynically raking in some more dollars without making any effort to create anything new that's worthwhile.

The Stones, on the other hand, may not have any more great songs left in them - but you know they're damn well still trying. They take their music seriously, and they're not going to do anything to disrespect it. Not as long as Keith is in the band, anyway.

When someone really loves what they do, it's hard for them to voluntarily give it up. I'm not sure they really need to. As long as a band like The Rolling Stones keeps making an honest effort and playing their collective asses off for us, I'll keep going to see them.

They get a lot of mileage out of their rock star status too. Mick Jagger can still get 20 year old beauties and look at him--YEEECCHHH!

Jagger is kinda like Al Davis' old line about how the Raiders had won Super Bowls in the 60s, 70s, 80s. Mick has been an ugly rock star in five decades.

Springsteen, of course, can still get the job done in his 50s, but Bruce doesn't wear tights, and he was singing mournfully about lost youth when he was 25. Ditto for similar artists like Mellencamp and Bob Seger (not that Seger's grown old gracefully). To pull it off, you really need to have started growing up when you passed 30.

Trust me, Michele: you think it's wrong because you never played in a rock band and you're not fifty years old.

I'm telling you.

You're simply doing a different riff on "I hope I die before I get old".

But you won't.

I give Slayer extra credit for clearly not being serious. Their music seems serious but when they are doing interviews it's all about the Slayer chip in their brains which turns everything they see into a Slayer song. That's cool.

As I understand it, in the elevator that decends to the Fifth Ring of Hell -- reserved for YFWB (Yankee Fans Who Blog) -- the Muzak selections include Blue Bus.

MikeR: I'd add Aerosmith into the category of still trying, and actually succeeding, to make good music into their 50's.

Eric, Darleen, Joseph Marshall: The blues is what happens when you quit hating your life because your parents and start hating your life because of your (ex)wife (or husband).

adB -- you're damned right about Aerosmith. Those guys are just happy to be alive, which fact is nearly miraculous. Their lighting director, Jim Chapman, is an old mate of mine (whose survival is also miraculous), and I know for a fact that they don't give a damn what anyone thinks of them at this point.

Think about it: that's a great big part of what rock's all about. And they're still living it, their way.

There is a crucial difference between consumers and people who take the step to the inside and live it. For the latter, the rock impulse suffuses their whole soul. Even people who give it up never completely escape: they live with the echoes forever.

I say: god bless 'em, and I repeat what my Ol' Man used to tell me about his fabulous guitar (although he was a Chet Atkins fan) -- "You can have it when you see my pine box lowered into the earth."

On this point, I'll grow old as disgracefully as I possibly can.

Now, look, the problem isn't so much the physical appearance, it's the incongruity between the song subjects and the advanced age of the singers. How 'bout some rockin' anthems about the concerns of middle age? Some suggestions:

"F.U.C.K. F.I.C.A." (For the 40-year-old rocker who wonder's if there's going to be Social Security when he gets old.)

"Today's Music Sucks (Sounds Like They're Strangling Cats)"

"Gonna Get Me a Trophy Wife"

"Gotta Get More Fiber in My Life"

"My Grandson's Girlfriend" (One of those songs about the hazards of being a rock star.)

"I Peaked Too Early" (Not limited to rock stars.)

"My Accountant, He Done Brought Me Low" (there's your blues)

"Silly Dreams of Youth" (When I was young, I dreamt of being a rock star, but now...oh, wait, I am one)

I recently saw Whitesnake at Hammersmith and he gave a better performance (as did his band) than when I saw em in '89. The fact the bloke is over 50 and still retains that range is just amazing (speaking as a vocalist disgusting). Another band that can deliver the goods at an older age is Iron Maiden. I think age is no barrier to a good rock show despite the fact that some people in business don't know when to quit.

"There is a crucial difference between consumers and people who take the step to the inside and live it. For the latter, the rock impulse suffuses their whole soul. Even people who give it up never completely escape: they live with the echoes forever."

Absolutely true, and not just about rock & roll. I'm still dealing with the echoes of my departure from auto racing - I know I'll never be completely free from the urge to strap in just one more time...

I agree with you guys about Aerosmith. I've never been a big fan, but I respect them and I do think they're still trying.

I agree with everything except for the Slayer statement. Metallica would pretty much fart into a microphone and sell it, Aerosmith will re-do "Angel" 9 times and sell it, Keith Richards will probably puke and die (for the last time) on an album and sell it, but I'm pretty sure those dudes in Slayer still have a bit of genuine primal anger.

"Disciple"

Drones since the dawn of time
Compelled to live your sheltered lives
Not once has anyone ever seen
Such a rise of pure hypocracy
I'll instigate I'll free your mind
I'll show you what I've known all this time

God Hates Us All, God Hates Us All
You know it's true God hates this place
You know it's true he hates this race

Homicide-Suicide
Hate heals, you should try it sometime
Strive for Peace with acts of war
The beauty of death we all adore
I have no faith distracting me
I know why your prayers will never be answered

God Hates Us All; God Hates Us All
He Fuckin' hates me

Pessimist, Terrorist targeting the next mark
Global chaos feeding on hysteria
Cut throat, slit your wrist, shoot you in the back fair game
Drug abuse, self abuse searching for the next high
Sounds a lot like hell is spreading all the time
I'm waiting for the day the whole world fucking dies

I never said I wanted to be God's disciple
I'll never be the one to blindly follow

Man made virus infecting the world
Self-destruct human time bomb
What if there is no God would you think the fuckin' same
Wasting your life in a leap of blind faith
Wake the fuck up can't ignore what I say
I got my own philosophy

I hate everyone equally
You can't tear that out of me
No segregation -separation
Just me in my world of enemies

I never said I wanted to be God's disciple
I'll never be the one to blindly follow
I'll never be the one to bear the cross-disciple

I reject this fuckin' race
I despise this fuckin' place

How about Robert Smith taking off all that makeup already. GEEZ.

I think the problem is exaggerated at the hard/punk/metal end of the spectrum. No one complained too much about the Grateful Dead being too old to do what they do. That's because their music had a range to it, and wasn't solely dependent on anger and angst as its motivating factor. You want to see someone who's incorporated his age into his music well? Joe Jackson. Just listen to "Look Sharp" back to back with "Blaze of Glory". Says it all right there.

Angie: You just know there has to be a guitar solo segue between "Gonna Get Me a Trophy Wife" and "Gotta Get More Fiber in My Life".

MikeR:
I'm still dealing with the echoes of my departure from auto racing - I know I'll never be completely free from the urge to strap in just one more time... perk
And I still haven't shaken the urge to get under the hood again.

I'm tempted to agree and lord knows I've found myself at arena rock "pension tours" where I walk out wondering "What was I thinking? What were THEY thinking?"
But on the other hand, ELP at the Warfield rocked that place to the ground. Even the grumpy prog-hating reviewer from the Chronicle grudgingly admitted it was a great show.
But yes, mostly it's true. You couldn't pay me enough to watch The Who on stage now.

"I think the problem is exaggerated at the hard/punk/metal end of the spectrum."

I think that's a splendid point, FJ, and from there I can see a concretized and valid rationale for "classicism" in rock music, which would have to be about a value that lasts for a person's entire life.

To my ethics, there is no question but that such values really do exist.

Incidentally, David Lee Roth just played at Mystic Lake Casino here in the Twin Cities.

No, I wouldn't go see him with YOUR eyes. I've had my fill of Diamond Dave, thank you.

Oh, and they played a Mick Jagger solo song at the movie theater last weekend, while we were waiting for "The Incredibles" to start up. It was fucking awful. All the soul and emotion of a cup of cold tea.

I never wear makeup or heels.

Billy Beck -

Maybe so, or maybe not. In any case, I don't see any reason that a person's music can't change along with their age/values/viewpoint. (Any reason, that is, apart from the inherent conservativeness of music fans and the industry. And by "conservativeness", I mean relucance to allow their heros the change.)

Oh, I don't see a reason why not, either, but that's a change of subject from the case of people whose values in music don't change.

The Who were great. And I would agree that they could have should have hung it up. But with the concert footage of them for the firefighters and police at MSG they have a measure of credibility to keep on trucking. IMHO.

AC/DC are still doing the same old stuff for the same types of crowds because it is what they do. Those dudes will probably be the oldest when/if they quit. Lots of their later albums can be mostly crap and I haven't bought one in forever. But, AC/DC likes to play live and thrash about and have fun with the audience. They have the same kind of beer hall concert longevity that the ageless country types have.

The Grateful Dead toured endlessly playing the same drivel they always played when they were younger. Never any energy then, so why would they "lose a step" when they turned 80-years old?

Honest effort? The Stones? Please.

You said it perfectly Michelle. However, I still get a rush, playing drums at 45 years old with a crowd of screaming teenage girls in front of me (of course they're there to see the 24 year-olds that make up the rest of the band, not me). They do it for the rush babe! As long as someone's willing to scream for them, they're gonna do it.

Speaking of Pete Townsend, I saw him on the Tonight Show about 10-12 years ago. The interview was first. He was wearing slacks, shirt and a cardigan. He even might have been wearing loafers. He looked like he should have had a pipe in his mouth, a newspaper tucked under his arm and walking a beagle. Then he got up to perform...

I could have sworn that was my dad on the stage rocking out.

Hell yeah, that Suicidal lyric brought me back. Remember this?

Before you go taking a walk in my world
you better take a look at the real world
Cause this ain't no Mister Roger's Neighborhood
Can you say "feel like shit?"
Yea maybe sometimes I do feel like shit
I ain't happy 'bout it, but I'd rather feel like shit than be full of shit!
And if I offended you, oh I'm sorry
But maybe you need to be offended
But here's my apology and one more thing...f**k you!

...from the same song that brought us "you wouldn't know what crazy was if Charles Manson was eating Froot Loops on your front porch!"

I slid into jazz a long time ago...thanks to my swing-era Dad.

Rock and roll will never die...but interest does.

Efilnukuesin

No, michele e: you will take the mascara tube from Robert Smith, and my tickets to watch him use all that makeup on stage, when you pry them from our cold dead fingers.

I've seen the Cure in 1996, 2000, and 2004 and I'm hoping I get to see them again (2008?). The band can still play, the singer can still sing, and we fans still love them.

Great piece, and great comments too. I really want a Pepsi.
Springteen (past 50) is the exception, though. Still vital, still on....

Hey Dave! I guess I shouldn't have implied that I rank the Cure along with those bands who should hang it up. I just think Robert Smith it kinda sexy underneath the makeup and the music is beyond that tired persona. Purely "cosmetic" thing. The Cure's music is ageless to me. I'd go for it when I'm 70. But if old Rob has red lipstick creeping into those fine lines, I may not want to watch the videos.

One word: Cher

It really gets down to integrity - and when you're a musician, you spell it M-U-S-I-C.

Do you think Aerosmith is out there making annd performing music with $$$ primarily on their mind? I don't.

How about the Who? Tough to say yet.

Do you think the new Nirvana stuff will rise to the level of what they made over 10 years ago? Or are they just caShing in on their 15 minutes of long-gone fame?

I'll tell you what... all of this isn't limited to age. In fact, age is meaningless - it's integrity that matters. How many of us here are REALLY dying to go see Britney Spears lipsync her way through a show tonite?

adB - My race team was essentially just me and my dad. I was the owner and the mechanic and pretty much everything else, so it really has been a radical lifestyle change for me to step away. Being out on the track was the most fun, but now that it's over I even miss the parts that seemed like drudgery at the time...

Re: 50 y/o Rockers.
OK, so I'm getting near baby booomer age, I'll admit to that. I'll never stop listening to rock or jazz until I'm covered with grass. I think that "they", the record company execs keep pushing tours on the US public is simple. Profits. Look, Mick Jagger's and Gene Simmons (real name, Chaim Witz, birthplace, Israel) ego's are so huge, they couldn't fit through the same door, together. Another point. Rod Stewart's new album is # 1 on the charts and he's touring. Great album. Tony Bennett was on QVC singing/promoting his latest. I don't see anyone complaining that Tony Bennett is on tour. Same for Rod Stewart. Both great vocalists, period. Both over 50. Some of the most talented bands and musicians are nearing/over 50. They love playing and performing. Is that such a bad thing? When they wrote songs as teenagers or 20-somethings, did they have any idea that they would still be performing 3 decades later?

Why should anyone voluntarily give up income just because others disapprove?

What is it!? What is it!?
CAUGHT.. IN.. A... MOSH!

You can't kill Rock n' Roll, baby.

You're ANTI! You're ANTISOCIAL!

Glad to see I'm not the only Aerosmith fan.
Although their later hits (not music, their CDs are still great) is a tad too schmalzty for me, I went to see them in concert in '01 and the highlight of the show was Draw the Line, where Joe Perry had a 10 minute solo in the middle of the song....and he's in great shape.

Eddie Van Halen is looking pretty ripped for a drunk cancer survivor.

One thing we can't change is time, Michele. As long as they can still rock, it's fine. The Stones obviously can't write any more music (or haven't in the last decade) but they can still play the classics, and I'd rather hear bands like Aerosmith & Van Halen than some of the stuff that's out there now. Anyone think Maroon 5 will be on top in 10 years?

curious. i LOATHE the music i grew up on. loathes it, precious. i loved it when i was in school. can't stand it now. music, to me, should be something that evolves, because music is about living and living things evolve...or become petroleum products.

take Sting for example. i don't listen to much of his music when he was with The Police, but i own every single cd's he put out since because his music is constantly evolving.

maybe it's those guys trying to pretend that they aren't whatever age they are now that grates so many folks, coupled with the fact that the music they make now sounds exactly the same. there's no evolution goin' on.

ymmv.

When I lived in Chicago back in th e mid 70's I saw Jethro Tull, last year I saw them when they came to Houston.
The music was still good but the energy they had 25 years ago was certainly lacking.
That said I am happy with them performing as long as they get people who are willing to pay to see them. I don't believe in growing old.

I think that since The Who lost their drummer and bass player, they should hook up with some guys who lost a guitarist and a guitarist/singer and form The BeatWhos.

Sadly, it would probably work. Imagine the set lists. Millionaires would follow them across the country in $800,000 RVs. Tickets would cost only $400. And they wouldn't even have to make an album.

"Oh, and they played a Mick Jagger solo song at the movie theater last weekend, while we were waiting for "The Incredibles" to start up. It was fucking awful. All the soul and emotion of a cup of cold tea."
Posted by Keith

Are you Keith Richards?

...

Q. What does a Deadhead say if you cut off his pot for a week?
A. Boy, does this band suck!

All of you have failed to mention another bunch of ageing rockers who routinely sell-out large arenas...Status Quo. Their music makes AC/DC seem like Dream Theater, but they still sell lots of records and fill concert halls.

I went to see Megadeth/Exodus over the weekend...

Dave doesn't look all that bad, considering.

the guys in Exodus, however....

to say they didn't age gracefully would be far, far, far too kind.

Speaking of David Lee Roth...

Does that qualify as fading away or is it just another try at publicity?