I bought the deluxe 40th-anniversary reissue of the classic Rolling Stones live album, Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out, the other day, and it's great to hear the guys--joined by friends B.B. King and Ike & Tina Turner--on my favorite live Stones album again. By sheer coincidence, at the same time someone forwarded me photos of Mick Jagger at the World Cup. Some people are remarking that Sir Mick is looking old, but I think he looks great, and the phenomenon of those widely circulated images got me thinking about age in the context of the Stones' music.
The band's first hit, "Satisfaction," was released in 1965, the year I was born. It's literally been a lifetime of music for me. I've stuck with the Stones all the way. I like 2005's Bigger Bang, and highly recommend the Jagger solo tune "God Gave Me Everything," from 2001's Goddess in the Doorway. The music really works for me.
Ageism directed at the Rolling Stones is at least 20 years old. (And we can't forget the "next dead rock star" list that Keith Richards has been on for even longer.) Even I am guilty of writing people off because of age. I was 29, sitting in something like the 10th row at the 1994 MTV Music Awards, and, I'll admit, more than a little skeptical before the Stones took the stage. And I have to say, they stole the show.
They played "Love Is Strong" and "Start Me Up." I never was a big fan of the latter song, only because it was on the radio so much in the 1980s. It reminded me too much of working on construction sites in my early 20s with the radio blaring. But at the show, I was totally rocking out to the tune, even singing along. Now when I hear it, it reminds me of that live gig and what an exciting band the Rolling Stones always will be for me.
As much as I love the Smashing Pumpkins--a band I saw tear it up a few times when Nirvana would play with them--they had the misfortune of following the "older" Stones on the MTV show. No matter who you are, what a bad break to get that slot!
I have a neighbor who's in his 90s. It's not uncommon for us to pass his house and see him mowing his lawn or up on a ladder pruning his fruit trees. We're amazed that he's so active at his age. But perhaps that thinking is itself "old" on my part. The man is living his life actively, connecting with his surroundings. I'm only 45--halfway there, age-wise--but as far as connecting to life, I'm right there!
The generation of rock that helped shape the 1960s are fast approaching their 70s. Y Not, the latest album from newly minted septuagenarian Ringo Starr, contains some of his best work. It's good to see them having fun and still rocking.
As for me, I still have my well-worn copy of Let It Bleed. This pressing itself is 40 years old, and the pops and crackles aren't so bad as to get in the way of Keith Richards' guitar as it tears through "Monkey Man." The notes on the dust sleeve in bold type read THIS RECORD SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD. Even at 45, I've still got it cranked up. Hey, if the music's too loud . . .