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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Gail Collins, "Mick Jagger, Birthday Boy": May He Live to Be 120

The evening of February 23, 2003 at Madison Square Garden, New York City, is etched in memory.

A friend had given me two all-access passes to the 45th Grammy Awards, and there I was, together my 11-year-old daughter (she's no longer the same skinny little girl:, standing beside the likes of B.B. King and Elvis Costello. My daughter was thrilled by the arrival of Eminem and Avril Lavigne. Then Kelly Rowland approached us with her "posse" and asked my daughter how she was enjoying the Grammy ceremony. Overwhelmed, my daughter was barely able to utter an intelligible response.

I love rock and roll. Driving in traffic, I close the windows and listen to The Doors, The Who, The Byrds and The Rolling Stones at full volume. My hearing is not good, but it was destroyed by artillery barrages and automatic rifle fire many years earlier, and not by rock music.

My Grammy experience? Dustin Hoffman walked by and smiled at my daughter (she didn't know who he was). And then Simon and Garfunkel suddenly appeared backstage. I had first encountered their music as a teenager, watching Dustin Hoffman perform with Anne Bancroft in "The Graduate" at a drive-in movie theater in Maine. I had listened to their record album incessantly, and here they finally were, a yard away, and they were . . . ancient.

I was shattered, having come to think that rock and roll stars never grow old.

Apropos "Shattered," Gail Collins, in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Mick Jagger, Birthday Boy" (, observes the passing of Mick's 70th birthday:

"But about turning 70. A lot of the great stars of ’60s music were born during World War II, clocking in just ahead of the baby boom. So they’ve always been the senior citizens of their own, spectacularly youth-oriented generation. When they were young, they wrote songs about getting old. Paul McCartney was playful in 'When I’m Sixty-Four.' Paul Simon was affectionate in 'Old Friends,' when he mused 'how terribly strange to be 70.'

. . . .

There’s nothing more natural than denial. When he was 31, Jagger told People magazine that he would 'rather be dead than sing ‘Satisfaction’ when I’m 45.' That particular quote popped in my head a while back when I was sitting through a public hearing on entitlements, in which several young people got up to announce that they knew they would never collect Social Security. They were arguing about money, but I suddenly realized that deep in their hearts, they simply felt that they would never be 65. And Jagger was not actually commenting on the viability of the Rolling Stones as a long-term proposition, but simply expressing a determination never to be middle-aged."

Well, Mick can take "Satisfaction" in the fact that his music has never lost its relevance. There are those who measure aesthetic value by whether a work or works can stand the test of "Time." Mick has met that challenge.

Mick, may you continue making music until 120! Hope to see you at your next concert!

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