The other day, the Wall Street Journal’s article on “The Twilight of the Rock Gods” highlighted something that I have been noticing for years – that is… the megastars of the last 5o years are getting old. REALLY old.
But they have also been making a lot of money, so they have kept going, and their aging Baby-Boomer fans – like me – could not be more excited.
I don’t know about you, but I think it is incredible that so many of these bands are still going at it. Forty years ago, who could have imagined that these bands would still be around? On top of that, who would have thought that, after everything their bodies have gone through, they would still be able to crank out some of that “old fashioned rock and roll?”
Of course, some things have indeed changed, not only with the bands, but with those of us in the crowd. (First of all, everyone – the band, the audience, everyone – is REALLY old. How and why did we let that happen?!)
Here are some of my other observations…
(Then) The star seemed to be forever young and had a sexy rock & roll swagger.
(Now) “Yikes. Rock & roll has not been kind to his body. And he’s definitely had some serious work done on his face… looks a bit creepy. I know he’s singing, but can you see if his lips are moving?”
- Stories in the Press
(Then) During the turbulent ’60s and ’70s, you heard a lot of strange – but believable – stories about your favorite rock star – hotel rooms trashed, nights in jail, bad drug binges.
(Now) Today, the star is as mainstream and dug in as his fans – instead of trashing the his hotel room in a wild binge, he now spends his spare time on his iPad, returning emails, tweeting, managing his brand and his retirement portfolio.
- The Show
(Then) Back then, rockers would smash guitars, breathe fire, swing across the stage like Tarzan on a rope, and spit up fake blood.
(Now) Today the props of aging Baby Boomer rock stars include: eyeglasses, lyrics to the old songs taped to the floor, a cane, oxygen, a paramedic on call… and an assistant to help him stuff his old body into his old rock costume.
- Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll – Part 1 (The Star)
(Then) “I… wanna rock and roll all night… and party every day!”
(Now) Needs doctor’s approval.
- “Honey, have you seen my shark hat?”
(Then) Forty years ago, most guys had a favorite concert-wear… favorite funny looking hat and favorite shirt, which was usually old and worn, ugly, loose fitting… and rarely washed.
(Now) Same shirt… but washed.
- Thought I’d pack me a little sumpin’ sumpin’ under my clothes for the show
(Then) Many guys wore baggy pants to sneak in anything that was not allowed and needed to get past security…most likely bottles of booze and other contraband.
(Now) Those same guys just like wearing baggy pants.
- We’re sitting on the lawn – don’t forget the munchies!
(Then) For an outdoor concert in the ’60s and ’70s, the lawn essentials were a blanket and munchies. The blanket was the second priority, but the munchies were critical.
(Now) Today, sitting on the lawn is a major production, and everyone has an assignment: one couple brings the main dish, another the wine or beer, another brings desserts, and someone brings the foldout chairs. And don’t forget the candles! (Nothing kills the fun like forgetting the candles.)
- Don’t Trust Anyone
Over 30, 40, 50, 60…
(Then) In our youth, the thought of our parents coming to a concert was laughable.
(Now) Today, not only are our kids are over 30, some of these rockers have grandkids in their 30’s! If they’re at the concert, hopefully they’re also the designated drivers.
- Strange Smells
(Then) The air used to be filled with the aromatic smell of the “tobacco of choice” from that period.
(Now) Today, that over-powering smell is someone cooking up some great barbecue in the parking lot. (“Don’t bogart that sauce, my friend… pass it over to me….”)
(Then) The accessories in concerts during the ’60s and ’70s were the paraphernalia from that period – incense, cigarette papers, pipes, and, of course, a Frisbee or a beachball.
(Now) Today’s Baby Boomer accessories are phablets, bug spray, and ear plugs. Definitely ear plugs.
- “He’s passed out and I can’t wake him up”
(Then) The guy passed out next to you was most likely the result of too much partying.
(Now) That same guy is just an old guy who fell asleep because it is past his bedtime. (And his snores are so loud they ruin the acoustic set.)
- Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll – Part 2 (The Fans)
(Then) “Yes. Please.”
(Now) Can still “bring” it… if we have the right meds.
- Oldies But Goodies
(Then) Back then, the band’s best song would help sell a million albums, and it was often a soulful rallying cry about the Vietnam war.
(Now) That same song is used in a car commercial.
- The Band’s Next Project
(Then) The band’s next project might have been a live album, with a risqué, counter-culture album cover.
(Now) Today? Their next project is an “unplugged” collection of rock lullabies, dedicated to their grandchildren.
- “Scuse me while I kiss this guy!”
(Then) Back then, rock & roll fans were all in somewhat of a perpetual purple haze.
(Now) Today’s “purple haze” is the glow from smart phones in the pavilion as fans google the band’s lyrics. “What? Those are the words to this song?! I’ve been singing the wrong lyrics for 45 years!“
- The 20-Minute Jam
(Then) Incredible emotional moment of a great concert … the band jams non-stop for 20 minutes, playing a rousing rendition of their most popular concert song, featuring riffs from each member of the band. The fans would dance and sing every lyric at the top of their lungs. The longer the jam, the better.
(Now) Bathroom break.
- The Band’s New Songs
(Then) Back during the heyday of rock & roll, the band introduced their new songs midway through the concert to promote what they hope will be their next gold album.
(Now) Bathroom break.
- The Emotional Climax – “Get on your feet and dance!”
(Then) The band finally plays your favorite song at the very end, which you have been waiting to hear for over 2 hours. But it was worth it.
(Now) “Let’s leave now and beat the traffic getting out of here.”
- The Encore
(Then) Thousands of flames from matches and lighters, lighting up the night, begging the band to return.
(Now) Now, who smokes anymore? Now the night is “lit up” by people turning on their smart phones – some people to use their “burning match app” to implore the band to come back. But most of the light in the stadium is from people checking their email.
- “Just… One… More… Song!”
(Then) If the band didn’t play four encores, the fans felt ripped off.
(Now) “I hope they don’t play any more. I want to be in bed before 9:30.”
Yes, it is great to see the old bands come back. Many still rock it like they did 40 years ago. Many bands also look as old and worn out as their fans in the crowd.
And yes, we’re all old now. (Some of us are REALLY old.) But, like the bands, for one night we can still “bring it” like we did in 1970…
…if we have the right meds.