If you’re looking for a flash in the pan, there are plenty around (I think one beat up his girlfriend the other day). There’s a reason artists like the Paul McCartney and the Stones are still around: people want to see them.
Yes, rock was young when they came along, back in the days when artists played their own instruments, and the only thing pre-recorded was their latest album. You could tell they came up with their own material because there was a distinct style, something that is hard to find today. Can you deny that when you hear a Keith Richards riff, that you know it is indeed, Keith Richards? Where can you find that today? The current musical malaise is reflected in the slumping music sales, with record companies and “musicians” alike blaming everything from the economy to peer to peer music sharing sites for their woes. C’mon, who didn’t have at one bootleg cassette lying around the house in the age before computers? That kind of thing has been going on since home recording was possible, so trying to obfuscate the truth with that argument is disingenuous.
The fact is these bands are still around because they have appeal. They’re real musicians, real rock stars, not just the Jonny-come-lately who’ll be gone by June. Most people realize this though, and that’s reflected in the continuing popularity of the “old” rockers. Does a sixty-year-old man look ridiculous trying to be sexy? Of course he does, but keep in mind that rock has only been around sixty years, give or take a few, so this is really the first wave of rockers that have actually survived long enough to become seniors. I say survive, because you could make an argument that the rock life was much wilder back then than it is now. Free love, and every vice imaginable were available, and used freely by many of these older bands. As you know, not all of them survived.
You saw Springsteen at the Super Bowl. Sure he’s a little older, maybe doesn’t have the range he once had, but the energy is still there. That original energy that made you pay attention in the first place. The same goes for Mick Jagger. These guys are a presence, the kind of people you notice as soon as they walk into a room. That in fact transcends music, and is another factor that contributes to their continuing popularity.
The reality is that there aren’t that many of these older rockers around. Life has a way of thinning the herd. For those that remain though, the status of legend can be bestowed upon them, because they lived the life, they walked the walk, and came out on top. Don’t we all wish we could find something we loved so much that we would do it until we dropped? Indeed