November 27, 2012

Get out your puffers and walkers kids, and hop into the Toyota: It’s the Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary Tour!

You want excitement? Nothing to set the jowls a-quivering like a quartet of septuagenarian multimillionaires, with faces and bodies like piles of kindling, strutting and slouching about the stage while croaking I Can’t Get No Satisfaction, turning the song into an ad for Viagra.

As my Dad would have put it, You don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Surely, at the very least, this unedifying spectacle will put to rest any lingering notion that age is a guarantor of grace or wisdom or dignity. In fact, it’s hard to tell which is more grotesque – the performers who put themselves on display, or the people who pay hundreds of dollars to see them.

Why did the Stones agree to this? They’re not stupid. They don’t need the money, and must know they don’t play very well anymore. Their latest single, Doom and Gloom works only as a parody of a Stones song, while Mick Jagger is a shell of his former self - hold him to your ear and you can hear the ocean.

Maybe they just can’t resist the ego-boost, like Bill Clinton’s explanation for jumping inappropriate young women with big hair – Because I could.

Or maybe it’s even more pathetic: that when these men are not the Rolling Stones, they don’t exist as fully-functioning human beings; they clatter about their mansions like vampires, moaning with the boredom of the undead.

Meanwhile, what’s in it for their audience?   And let us not dwell on the Indy 500 phenomenon - people who come to witness a car crash, an historic demise in which a Stone crumples to the floor and stays there.

More interesting to mention the double-edged blessing music provides: that, more than the other arts, it gets bound up with memory.

The moment you hear a familiar tune, something from your past - a moment, an experience, an era - springs to mind. Problem is when the memory attached to the music gradually takes over, until it takes the place of the music itself; it gets to the point where you’re not listening to music at all, you’re walking down memory lane.

Of course like anything that causes brain-decay, a whole industry has built up around these necro-spectacles. McCartney and the Stones have inspired a whole generation of listeners to put on the same records over and over and to attend concerts that really function as a kind of “celebration of life” – in other words, a funeral.

The pity is, at a time when the musical gatekeepers (big labels, A&R men, hit-making DJs, the Ed Sullivan Show) have finally gone away, just when a generation of musicians and composers are producing authentic music again (music not geared to playlists and the theories of record execs), the generation that once worshiped musicians for their “authenticity” is too wrapped up in a geriatric fog to listen. They’d rather sing along with Satisfaction and remember a time when the Stones were real.

You know you’re really getting old when you don’t listen to new songs.

  1. thezolas reblogged this from johnmaclachlangray and added:
    dad’s blog (definitely worth
  2. johnmaclachlangray posted this