As the first and second wave of rock 'n rollers reach their twilight years, it raises the question, should there be a mandatory retirement age for rock musicians? If Elvis Presley hadn't sh*t himself to death 29 years ago, he'd be 71 years old. Roger Daltrey, the man whose lungs belted that mantra 40 years ago is now 61 years old. The former is currently making secret appearances at bowling alleys in Macon, Georgia while the latter is hawking golden oldie compilations on TV.
Culturally, we Americans give the venerable and primordial very little regard. Old buildings are abandoned in grand old cities as cheap, sh*tty office centres spring up in the suburbs. Our parents and grandparents are shoved into nursing homes. The perfecly good 32" Magnavox television that's provided our family countless hours of entertainment for the past 11 years is donated to the Salvation Army as the new plasma flat screen is delivered. Out with the old is the norm, here. So shouldn't this apply to geriatric rockers?
The past two Super Bowls, for instance, have featured Paul McCartney (aged 64) and the Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, both 63, Charlie Watts 65 and Ronnie Wood, a sprightly 59). Of course, this was likely in response to the exposure of Janet Jackson's 39 year-old t*tty, but regardless, when should these old horses be put out to pasture? I for one did not particularly give a flying rat's ass whether or not Jagger could get 'satisfaction'.
The argument could be made that these 'artists' still have a lot to offer. I'm sure they do, but very little in the way of the visceral, the disquietude and the bawdiness that are the essential elements of 'rawk.' When Elton John (57) sings about cartoon lions instead of kickin' ass and drinkin' beer ("Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting") a red flag goes up.
When the majority of your live repertoire is ten years older than your supporting tour guitarist, it's time to hang them up. When your children have voted in the past four presidential elections it's time to throw in the towel. When your daughter sees you in your leather pants to pick her up from middle-school, lowers her head with her hand on her forehead, while giving an embarrassed, "Daaaaaad...", it's time to head towards Exit Stage Left.
When you fall out of a coconut tree...
Eventually, all good things must come to an end. Sure there's money to be made in the county fair circuit (Styx's J.Y. 'Not-So' Young, 57 - REO Sh*twagon's Kevin Cronin, 56), but wouldn't it have been more dignified to burn out than to slowly fade away? I'm talkin' to you, Steven Tyler (56), and you, Def Leppard (Joe Elliot, nearly 47) and you, Brian May (59). Thank you for making my Jr. High School days rebellious, but I have a family to raise now, and you've got grandchilden to visit.
Then again, we should also establish an exam akin to law's Bar Exam to determine if some tuneless hack should even become a rockstar.
"Explain how each drummer in Spinal Tap perished?"
"During which interview did Gene Simmons use the word 'timbre', and in which context was it used?"
"Name at least six current artists who you might consider heavily influenced by Gram Parsons. On what basis have you drawn this conclusion?"
"When is it not okay to throw a groupie off the bus in Wisconsin?"
Perhaps then we could weed out sh*theels like Rob Thomas, James Blunt and Dave Matthews.
Rob Thomas: Um... Gene Simmons was interviewed by.... ummm. Oprah Winfrey?
Assessor: Eeeerrrrnnnnt. Sorry. Go back to Florida, you p*ssy.
Rob Thomas: Uh... but I can sing!
Assessor: Mmmm... no you can't. Isn't that right, Bono?
Bono: What did you shay, shonny?
Assessor: I SAID ROB THOMAS CAN'T SING!
Bono: Shing? Shure... "I know a girl... a girl named paaah-ty. Party girl..."
Assessor: (Aside) Can somebody please get this old f*cker out of here.