Keep on rockin’ me, baby, and take it to the limit, you witchy woman, because I get around and, Roxanne, there’s a man downstairs, and he just might be Jimmy Buffett, I don’t know.
They’re back. They only look like they’re on loan from the other side. It’s no one’s fault. We all get older. Even, rockers. Maybe, especially rockers. Just look at their lifestyle – traveling, late hours, sex, and drugs. Come on.
These poor guys were young once. Hey, so were we. They made music, much of it great. But now, they’re back, touring, being featured on Public Television for fund-raising, on covers of magazines, whose reporters are astonished by their continued existence, and in business sections, where their bottom lines are making guys in suits jealous.
Everything changes. That’s what they all say, but, whether because of our refusal to let go or our need to revisit those thrilling days of yesteryear, or because of their need for money, it seems like every old Rock and Roller is out on tour this summer and nothing has changed. You can see everyone from The Allman Brothers to ZZ Top. From Barry Manilow to Neil Diamond. Just like 1979. Iam;I cried. I can't go for that. No can do.
Last week, on my way to see Steven Colbert, I passed Channel 6, our public TV station, and the words, Never my love, came softly toward the couch I was on. The Association!? No! Please! Please let them sink beneath the waves of memory! Their hair was perfect, but the rest of them had fallen and filled out. The lights were not helping. A close-up revealed their undiminished sincerity, but they were still cheesy. I would rather forget.
Some guys are always going to be worth seeing – Dylan, Santana, Aretha, Stevie. But, most of the others should leave our memories alone. I love the Beach Boys, but, besides half of them being dead, Hot Rods and Surfing just don’t hold the same interest they once did.
Oldies has a new definition. Antique. Even Old School is old. But it doesn’t change the music. There’s power there. There’s beauty. I love to hear it. The music has never stopped in my house. And, never will, but, please, everything in its place. There’s something disturbing about seeing Leon Russell hobbling, with a cane, across the stage or Stevie Nicks, shuffling up to the mike.
In other genres, age works. In jazz, Doc Cheatham, Count Basie, and Dizzy were all doing it, until they keeled over. Lee Konitz is still out playing and playing better than ever. In Bluegrass, Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers were/are revered masters. In Blues, you aren’t legitimate, unless you are seasoned by several decades, and classical players age well, just like their instruments.
But, for Rock and Rollers, the sound of rebellion, or Motown, the Voice of Young America, it just seems creepy when white-haired, wrinkled guys perform these songs. I hate it when the audience and I are praying that one of the original remaining Temptations will hit that ecstatic high note.
Hey, it’s only rock and roll, but I like it and I like it as it is: a moment in time, a sound that inspires memory and imagination, and a feeling that will never grow old, even if we do. The good guys will always be good, but, if you are reaching for a height that was never very high to begin with, please stay home and don’t tempt me to revisit those past moments of triumph, humiliation, and Three Dog Night.
Let the good times roll, keep on dancin’, and let’s twist again, like we did last summer.