The other day, a musician friend of mine sent me a video of an event he attended at Chicago’s United Center. Was it a hockey game he saw? Basketball? A raucous political rally? The Midwest pit-stop on the Harry Styles concert tour?; (if that were the case, my 60-something friend could seem to be a lecherous interloper amongst Harry’s largely “pick-me-up” young women fanbase). But I digress.
None of the above. It was The Who. Well, the 2022 version of that iconic rock band that began in 1964. It now has only two original band members alive–Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend. That makes them half an original and half “cover band” then? Whatever. But realizing that those surviving rockers are now 77 and 78 years old can still get thousands of people into a 23,000 seat venue says a lot for rock and roll’s staying power. Hell, aren’t the Rolling Stones on tour, too? It’s youngest original member is a mere 74. Mick Jagger is 79, and had heart valve replacement over two years ago. It was 1962 when Mick and the boys started strutting their stuff.
Good for both of these age-defying rock acts. Hey, retirement is overrated, no? One is what one does. But refusing to walk away from an accountant profession is one thing, being a member of a touring rock act covering thousands of miles is quite another. Wasn’t it Neil Young–who turns 77 next month–who penned and performed the anthem Hey hey, my my, rock and roll will never die?
As for current pop-culture, that Harry Styles tour makes me wonder how someone so young as he–whom critics say is as much known for his performance fashion statements as his musical ability–stacks up against the zeitgeist of the 1960s: Youthful rebellion. Anti-war demonstrations. Civil rights marches. The women’s movement. Questioning authority. Rejecting the political status quo. Rocking in the free world (kudos to–again–Neil Young). Am I simply engaging in superficial, comparative, generational gravitas and its attendant musical expressions? Maybe, but today there is no shortage of socio-political angst for which its youth to confront. Each generation embraces its time and temperament–at least in part–through music, from classical to pop-performance, right? I would presume, at the least, in the current crop of young performers, the up-and-comers may be more activist in using its creativity than their superstar, mega-touring, grab the cash “elders”.
Does it even matter? To quote the seemingly immortal Stones again: Time waits for no one, and it won’t wait for you. So, just get out there and let it all hang out, baby! The Boomer bands had the legendary “groupies”. Harry Styles has the apparent updated version of those women flocking to feel the sexual–if not sociologically edgy–energy of the time: The “pick-me-up” contingent. See me. Feel me. Touch me. Heal me…
Whatever your music preferences may be, the least such should do is distract the mind and engage the senses for the better. Thus, beware the lyrics that inspire mass murder, though, okay? Helter Skelter! Whether that musical therapy comes in the form of Beethoven or “bubble-gum” pop or rock opera (initiated by the Who, arguably, via Tommy) the world would be a worthless place without music, regardless of generation.
Hmm. I wonder if Strawberry Alarm Clock is still together?
I just found the The Who on You Tube and it feels so good to listen to it – I will never delete it! The 60’s were so good for those of us there and “working” to be with people and make a good world together. I will listen and listen and listen…… Thank You!!