“I say get off your ass and get working while you can…
we’re still in our element and will go on for as long as
possible. We enjoy what we do and so do our fans.”
-Ronnie Wood firing back at internet trolls who say
The Rolling Stones are too old to rock and roll.
Age means longevity.
Ry Cooder just released a new album, his first in seven years. John Prine also has a new offering, after 13 years. Like The Rolling Stones, both of the American musicians are still in their element and, obviously, enjoy what they do.
I know I’m going to buy Cooder’s release this weekend, maybe Prine’s as well. I’ve got this thing for artists who continue making valid, substantial music. Both of these musicians have been around for a while; Cooder even played with The Rolling Stones before Ronnie Wood even joined the band.
Far from resting on their laurels, these musicians get off their ass and did what they love to do. They are working while they can. The Stones are touring the UK this year, Cooder is also back on the road (he’s even playing Toronto next month).
All of these musicians are all in their seventies. Who, really, is going to say that’s too old?
I haven’t bought the last couple of Stone’s releases. I don’t own all of Cooder’s albums either, but I’ve got many of the 17 studio albums the guitarist’s catalogue (1979’s Bop Till You Drop remains my favorite).
We’ve all got our favourite bands and artists. At some point in our lives a song, or an album, found its way into our heart, and we continued listening. As they aged, so did we. Some of those musicians have since left this planet, but their music lives on.
Isn’t it wonderful that some of those players who managed to capture our imagination still do? The same spirit that keeps the players playing, keeps us listening to the music.
Talent, creativity, or musicianship, has nothing to do with age. In fact, in so many cases, it improves with age and experience. Five years ago I watched Paul McCartney live, at age 70, and without even using the phrase ‘for his age’, he was amazing.
McCartney is a senior citizen, and surely lives through many of the ailments that come with age, but it doesn’t stop him. He still has a rock and roll attitude, like The Stones and many of his contemporaries.
Pete Townsend has not let his hearing problems stop him. Bob Dylan has all but stopped playing guitar because of arthritis, and Eric Clapton, who suffers from nerve damage, admits he has slowed down and has had to adjust his style. But he hasn’t stopped playing. His most recent take on the blues (2016’s I Still Do), sounds dirty and gritty, and oh-so-sweet. No, it is not the playing as it was decades earlier, but it is strong and identifiable as pure Clapton.
What it comes down to is, the musicians we admire, or worship, are just regular human beings, like the rest of us. They too get old.
Yes, there are scads of younger musicians who continue to introduce new styles and sounds, but rock and roll is no longer about youth, but about proof. Talent always wins out, and over time that talent needs to be appreciated.
Ageism has no place in music, or art, or theatre. . . or society for that matter.