On July 26th, 2013, Mick Jagger celebrated his 70th birthday. Having already publicly stated my dislike for handing out birthday salutations/commemorations here at The Huffington Post, I concede that reaching 70 years of age is quite the milestone and to do it with Jagger's spirit, fronting "The World's Greatest Rock N' Roll Band", is a testament to the man's talent and vigour. As someone who fronts a band too, Jagger is an inspiration to me.
So I was appalled after reading Andrew Romano's column for The Daily Beast titled, "Is Mick Jagger Too Old To Rock?" In it Romano implores Jagger to retire. Backpeddling, he quickly explains that it's not Jagger per se that should retire but "the costume he has worn for the last 35 years or so -- the hollow showbiz persona.."
He then has the nerve to advise Jagger to watch a YouTube clip of himself from October 29, 1964, when the Stones played "The T.A.M.I. Show", and to ape that version of himself from 49 years ago. Why on earth would Jagger, or anybody in their right mind, want to ape a version of themselves from 49 years ago? I don't even want to ape myself from last year.
Romano goes on to further suggest Jagger emulate what Dylan's done in the last 12 years by going back to the great American blues songbook and revisiting old stalwarts, even though Jagger does exactly that today. However, according to Romano, if Jagger would perform them at a quieter and more subdued pace it would add years to his profession. From my vantage point, it doesn't seem like Jagger needs any advice on how to prolong his career. Romano might as well be dishing out advice to Chris Hadfield on how to walk in space.
What's truly strange is the ease at which this unsolicited denunciation towards Jagger is tossed about, and on his birthday no less, without the slightest thought to how absurd is all seems. Growing up as a teenager, my Mom told me daily to turn down my stereo, and here's Romano in essence telling a 70-year-old man at the top of his field to do the same.
It's all disgustingly ageist. Forget for a second that he's "Sir Mick Jagger", iconic rock n' roller, and what you're left with is some writer telling an elder to "know his place" and stay there. Through Romano's words we see how our society is subtly conditioned to treat the aged -- they are not be seen or heard. They are to subsist at a half pace, quietly and in dark corners. If a senior seemingly acts out-of-line, they are jeered back into place. God forbid they're filled with too much vim and come off as spritely.
What Romano fails to observe is Rock N' Roll has always attracted a rare breed. And although it's been said to be a young man's game, as it moves into its golden years so too have its cunningly formidable players. Luminaries like Keith, Lemmy and Iggy always coloured outside of the lines. They never followed the rules they didn't write themselves. And at 70, Jagger is still defying, baffling and eluding, still garnering equal respect and reverence from people less than half his age and his peers. Gimps like Romano, who obviously stay well within the lines, are incapable of seeing this.
One thing's certain, after reading his ageist rant, I truly hope that when I'm 95 years old and all my body parts but my beating heart have failed me, I'll still have the ability to raise my middle finger up in the air and wave it in the faces of people like Andrew Romano.
Keep doing what you're doing, Mick. We are still in awe of you. Oh and Happy Belated Birthday too, huh?