If you were young in the 1960s when youth culture was still being invented, it was a social requirement of the highest order to declare a band choice: you were either a Beatles fan or a Rolling Stones fan and the twain hardly ever met.
I had seen, and met, both bands in 1966 and although I wasn't as rabid about my choice as many others, I tended to side with The Beatles. Until 1972.
That summer, I again saw the Stones' live show, this time from the fourth row center at Madison Square Garden and have forever after been transfixed. Not that I don't enjoy The Beatles – it's just that they have nothing to do with rock and roll and when that's what you want, the Stones have everything to do with it.
They have been playing and recording together without letup for 50 years now. Look at their ages:
Mick Jagger – 70
Keith Richards - 70
Charlie Watts - 72
Ronnie Wood – 66
I guess Jagger had to rethink his June 1975 declaration to People magazine when he was 32: “...I’d rather be dead than sing Satisfaction when I’m 45.”
It's easy to understand where he was coming from when he said that but I'm not tired of listening to it and, apparently, he's not tired of singing it.
The Rolling Stones were well into their “14 on Fire” tour this month when Jagger's partner, fashion designer L'Wren Scott, was found hanged in her New York apartment this week, a suicide. The remainder of the Stones' Australia and New Zealand tour has been canceled.
On his Facebook page, Jagger wrote:
"I am still struggling to understand how my lover and best friend could end her life in this tragic way.”
That event got me thinking this week about what a long time the Rolling Stones have been with us – for many, all our adult lives - and what has always been called The World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band is also now the World's Oldest Rock and Roll Band.
With three of them into their eighth decade, they continue to tour regularly and as much as I enjoy listening to their music, they have always been at their best in live performances. From the videos I've seen in recent years, they are not a whit less compelling on stage than at that 1972 concert I attended.
I highly recommend Keith Richards' brutally honest 2010 autobiography, Life. Yes, just for fun there are as much drugs and sex as all the reviewers concentrate on but better are the stories of how their extraordinary music came to be.
It's irrational, I know, but I'm sort of proud that they are part of our elder generation.
Here is a well-done, 18-minute documentary, including interviews with each of the Stones, broadcast last fall on the Australian 60 Minutes TV show. If you're a fan or just curious, it's worth your time.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavtt: Nothing Wrong With Being Old