As Rock and Roll approaches 60 (“Rock Around the Clock” was released in 1956) and its legendary performers approach 80 (Paul McCartney is 72 and Mick Jagger is about to be 71 on July 26; teen idol Rick Springfield is going to be 65 on August 23!), many a live-fast-die-young star has outlived his own self-proclaimed paradigm. Pete Townshend, who told Roger Daltrey (now aged 70) to say “Hope I die before I get old” in the 1965 classic “My Generation” has been forced to live to 69 (so far). When Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson turns 67 on August 10 he will seemingly have a legitimate claim to being “Too Old To Rock and Roll but Too Young To Die”, although that won’t stop the once long-haired rock flautist from touring in September and October of this year. Somber chanteuse Lana Del Rey, old at 28 (a year older than her idols Kurt Cobain or Amy Winehouse saw), recently told an interviewer at The Guardian that she thought dying young was “glamorous” and she wished that she was dead already. Odds are that Lana will look back at that interview in 50 years and shake her head at the follies of youth, although I doubt she’ll be spending any time in rock arenas in those future days (if such venues even still exist in non-virtual space…)
Meanwhile, I’m “only” in my fifties, but it’s all I can do to stay awake past my bedtime to watch these septuagenarians rocking out. I can no longer do the all-day music festivals, complete with sitting cross-legged on muddy grass and breath-holding visits to the port-a-potty. Stranger still, I no longer find the experience particularly desirable. At a recent NYC Central Park Summerstage concert headlined by Beck, I couldn’t face the prospect of 2 hours of standing and retreated to compete for uncomfortable bench seating in the far back of the venue. At a terrific rollicking Old 97s show at Webster Hall a friend and I bribed a Security guy to go to the VIP area upstairs (where the only seats were); the resulting experience was awesome and now I highly recommend Security-bribing to all concert-goers of a “certain age” like me.
Still, I miss dancing to the music. When you’re sitting with the older fans, there’s a lot of head movement. Occasionally bodies sway (during a rousing encore). But as I look off in the distance at the mostly young people in the area by the stage, rocking out or otherwise transported and living in the musical moment, I sometimes feel inspired to aspire to more. Maybe a few months with a personal trainer would help me find the stamina to stand while watching soon-to-be 65 year old Bruce Springsteen run around the stage and wail for 3+ hours.