Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Rock of Ages
"How terribly strange to be seventy."
Paul Simon penned this beautiful homage to enduring friendship in his twenties; back then turning seventy surely must have seemed as strange as an exotic, distant destination. But on October 13 the iconic singer-songwriter crosses over into that strange land. His "partner in arguments," Art Garfunkel will follow next month.
There was a time, early in Rock's hallowed history, when both the artists and genre were still so young, that many vowed to call it quits by thirty. Rock 'n' Roll, after all, was--and theoretically still is--a rebel art. But everyone, musicians and fans, grew older and many artists continued to toil in their chosen craft. Just like writers, filmmakers, visual artists.
Who says the best work is created by youth? It's true many rockers have burned out or faded away. Some still cling to the glory days, playing the golden hits at oldies shows. But there are a cadre of true artists who continue to create work that rivals their early output. Van Morrison, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen continue to make formidable stabs. But I think Paul Simon resides at the top if the list.
Think about this: Simon's first masterpiece the "Bridge Over Troubled Water" album came out in 1970 when he was twenty-nine. "Graceland, " considered by many his true masterpiece in 1986 when he was forty-five, already past his prime by Rock star standards. And his latest, "So Beautiful or So What," easily stands side by side with those earlier compilations. And let's not forget there's an amazing discography sandwiched in between the milestones.
Paul said in an interview a few year ago that he was surprised he could still work within a young guy's medium. I don't think his fans are surprised. Grateful. Delighted. But not surprised.
Happy Birthday, old friend.
Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.