Dead Stars

…or near death, anyway.  Saith one Damon Linker:

Behold the killing fields that lie before us:  Bob Dylan (78 years old); Paul McCartney (77); Paul Simon (77) and Art Garfunkel (77); Carole King (77); Brian Wilson (77); Mick Jagger (76) and Keith Richards (75); Joni Mitchell (75); Jimmy Page (75) and Robert Plant (71); Ray Davies (75); Roger Daltrey (75) and Pete Townshend (74); Roger Waters (75) and David Gilmour (73); Rod Stewart (74); Eric Clapton (74); Debbie Harry (74); Neil Young (73); Van Morrison (73); Bryan Ferry (73); Elton John (72); Don Henley (72); James Taylor (71); Jackson Browne (70); Billy Joel (70); and Bruce Springsteen (69, but turning 70 next month).

A few of these legends might manage to live into their 90s, despite all the … wear and tear to which they’ve subjected their bodies over the decades. But most of them will not.

…and Jimmy Page is one of the better-preserved  ones.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit over the past couple of years — I think David Bowie’s death triggered the reaction — and while I would be sad about all their deaths, I will always be grateful that their music will live on.

The same can be said for musicians and composers of a bygone era:  singers like Jimmy Durante were replaced by Tony Bennett and even as Bennett and his contemporaries have aged, guys like Harry Connick Jr. and Peter Skellern took their place (although Skellern just died recently, too — now that  gave me a shock).  The big difference between the two types of music is that while the classics belonged to everyone, young and old, rock ‘n roll was always about young people — and younger musicians like Dave Grohl (age:  50) can carry on the tradition, but only so far.

The problem is not the playing of Jimmy Page’s music or the performance of John Lennon’s In My Life;  those compositions will always inspire future musicians into performance.  The problem, as I see it, is that there aren’t any composers stepping up to create new music;  and without new songs, rock ‘n roll will fade away, just out of pure boredom.  (Tell me you don’t ever consider changing the station when Stairway To Heaven  or Hotel California  come over the air.)  Instead, most modern music is so formulaic as to be unlistenable (see here for a really  good explanation why).

Even worse is that actual music is being replaced with illiterate doggerel (rap) in the popularity stakes.  I know that my parents’ generation bewailed the replacement of Rogers & Hart’s complex music with the simplistic melodies of rock ‘n roll — ’twas ever thus — but compared to Jay Z’s musical efforts, Lennon & McCartney sound like Chopin.  Like everything else, music is being dumbed down (and down, and down), just like literature, art and movies.

As much as we joke about Keith Richards outliving the cockroach, when Keef finally pops his clogs, his creativity will be gone forever — and I have to say that as rock ‘n roll gets smaller and smaller, and rap / hip-hop gets larger and larger, there will be few if any to take his place.  Let’s not even talk about real  genius like that of Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Harry Nilsson or David Bowie (both of whose talents are already being missed).  Musicians like Dave Grohl (another genius, but he’s only a decade or so younger than I am) are thin on the ground right now.

Fach.  The hell with it.  I’ll be gone by the time rock fizzles out and dies, but I just hope that my Son & Heir has found someone to replace Dream Theater (average age as we speak:  52).


  1. Rap Crap and Whinny Shit C&W, what the hell happened to music? I don’t think I could identify a single song from the last decade and a half because that stuff is just noise and jumbled stuff kind of like words. There is no common culture anymore, back in the good old days even when parents did not like Rock at least they had an idea what the songs were. You heard the Beatles music on the radio and saw them perform on TV, their music hung in long enough for it to become elevator music and we still recognized the songs.

    Anyway I was blessed to enjoy lots of various types of good music in my youth and for a few decades after.

  2. Here, on the family farm near the outskirts of Eugene Oregon, we occasionally listen to classic country-and-western on KEEN FM and KWD AM.

    Last evening, I sat in the truck after pulling in from the gym:
    Reba McIntyre doing SUNDAY KIND OF LOVE, and
    Ray Price doing HEARTACHES BY THE SCORE.

    Leading into those:
    George Jones doing WHO WILL FILL THEIR SHOES.

    The Dumbing

    I write to blog owners about rising above ‘idjit talk’ such as using ‘popo’ to refer to Law Enforcement Officials, the equivalent of screaming ‘wawa’ as they grab for their sippy cup.

    I notice some folks aim for the highest scores, others prefer to blend-in by sludging along with the minimum-requirements crowd.

    I blame soy.

  3. It is a conceit of baby boomers (and I am one) to think that “their” music has some inherent or enduring quality about it.
    Lets be fair, the vast majority of pop and rock is formulaic derivative rubbish. Twister Sister anyone?
    The complaints about current music not being even music would have my father laughing in his grave. He felt exactly the same way about rock fifty years ago. The reality is that rap for example is never going to resonate with most BBs its just not aimed at them.
    Most of my BB friends stopped buying music decades ago. They have stopped listening in the entirely immersed way we did when young. The serious audio market is dead. In 1980 I spent more on my stereo than my car. No one listens to whole albums any more. Most listening is done in the car or with earbuds connected to an iPhone.

    Face it, its going to die out with us

    1. I don’t know if it will die out with us or not, but Skippy does have a point. (I laughed out loud about his father spinning in his grave because mine is too.)

      A long time ago, I used to have some very high-end audio equipment. (I still have some of it. My Garrard turntable is over 40 years old.) But… I haven’t played a vinyl album in a very long time – probably more than ten years. Neither have I played many CD’s lately. I still buy CD’s. But when I get them home, I immediately upload them to iTunes and thence to the iPod and iPhone. And like Skippy said, I mostly listen to music when I’m driving or via the iPod and a set of noise-cancelling headphones when I’m mowing grass or some such. (Some of you may scoff at that and claim audiophile status, but I don’t care anymore. I’m an old-phart and my ears can no longer tell the difference.)

      As far as taste in music… Well, mine is more towards easy listening. I never liked the harder rock and roll even during the 70’s. I lean more towards artists like Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, or The Carpenters rather than groups like Aerosmith or The Rolling Stones. (The Beatles were a mixed bag.) However, like I tell everyone: Your tastes might be different than mine, but that’s okay. Free American citizens are allowed to have different tastes – at least for now.

      And then there is this: Most of the music I like came from my formative years – the 60’s and 70’s, with some early 80’s thrown in. Enough good music was made during those years that I could start playing songs from that era right now and never stop, and never repeat; and I would probably never run out of music until I die. At that point, I don’t care because when your dead, your give-a-s#%t factor is at an all time low.

      1. I think for many of us, you get programmed to the stuff you listened to as a teenager and never really leave it behind. Fifty year old friends are still playing the Police & U2.

        I had hundreds of vinyl records. When CDs came out I basically replaced all my favourite albums with CDs. The, when MP3s got going I ripped all my cds to my hard drive. I have many friends who did the same thing. We then swapped libraries and I now have like 25,000 albums on a hard drive and I just make up playlists for the car, phone etc.

        I make a concerted effort to buy new product, I download a new album about once a month from iTunes but I still tend to buy from people who started recording last century.

    2. > Twister Sister anyone?

      While I won’t defend them on the grounds of quality or taste (because I despise them), if you’re going to criticize pop/rock culture at least pick on a band who’s heyday was more recent than the Reagan Administration.

      In any era there are crap bands jumping on the zeitgeist, Twisted Sister just happened get a #1 hit while at the peak of the awful hairband era.

      1. Sorry William, you missed my point. I was suggesting that the majority of rock/pop music from any era was rubbish. I picked TS as an example. I could have just as easily said Alice Cooper, The Turtles, The Archies, Oasis etc.

        I should add, as Ive been feeling guilty about not disclosing this in my earlier post, um I’ve got form in this department. I’ve been a semi pro musician who has played pretty much exclusively in pub cover bands for a long, long time. I’d love to say we drew the line at TS for artistic reasons, but that would be a lie :-). I’ve played Katrina and the Waves Walking On Sunshine so many times I cant bear to hear it on the radio anymore.

  4. I love the ‘Big Band Music’ early Jazz and some of the fun stuff from the 50’s and 60’s along with some of the Broadway Musicals and Opera but for me most of the really decent stuff was written at least a century or two ago with Wagner and Dvorchak being the most modern I like, but what the heck, that’s just me.

  5. PS: Old Texan… Yeah, about whiney C&W, I am with you brother.

    I used to like CW – still do, but from an earlier age. (Think Grand Ole Opry, 1970.) I also like most bluegrass, mountain folk and gospel. But man, modern Nashville seems to have gone off a cliff. Maybe it’s just me.

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