Start me up, I’ll never stop

Published 10:29 am Thursday, August 17, 2023

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It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that Mick Jagger is 80. But there he is, still whiplash-thin with nonstop gyrations and flailing limbs (honestly, you’d think that sometime during the last 60 years he would have learned to dance) leaping around the stage for a 3-hour concert, night after night after night.

I give Mick all the props even though I have never been one to use those plucky phrases, “50 is the new 30!” or “70 is the new 50!” because, in Mick’s case, that would mean, “Dead is the new 80!” Instead, I think Mick is exactly what 80 could and should look like. 

I’m pretty sure Dick Van Dyke, at 97, would agree.

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In an interview last year with England’s Sunday Times Jagger revealed that he begins “six weeks of practice even before rehearsals for a tour start…dancing, gym, every day of the week.” He went on to admit, “I don’t like it much but it has to be done.” And after having undergone a heart valve replacement surgery in 2019, he also travels with a cardiologist—a luxury most of us cannot afford (I’m pretty sure Medicare wouldn’t cover that)—but it is a nod of acknowledgment to the life he leads.

My favorite quote from his interview followed: “Rock ’n Roll, or any kind of pop music honestly, isn’t supposed to be done when you’re in your 70s. It wasn’t designed for that. Doing anything high-energy at this age is really pushing it. But that makes it even more challenging. So, it’s like, ‘OK, we’ve got to do this right, but it’s got to be as full-on as possible.” Mulling his choices he continued. “Of course, you could do another type of music. We’ve got lots of ballads. I could sit on a chair.” Which would be impossible to even imagine. Phil Collins, his health frail, is reduced to doing that during his concerts, but who would buy a ticket to see a sedentary Stone?

Why continue to tour at all, I can hear you say. I certainly heard an acquaintance ask just that upon hearing that Jagger had become an octogenarian.

“I mean, it’s ridiculous,” she said. “Look at him—they look like cadavers. He’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars, he has no reason to keep touring. Why doesn’t he retire?”

“Because he likes his job?” I queried.

“But he doesn’t have to work,” she argued. “He just chooses to keep doing it. I think it’s all about ego.”

“We could say the same thing about Mitch McConnell.” I lobbed back. “81 years old, tons of money, still insists on going to work…”

“Mitch would never jump around on a stage looking like that.”

“Mitch couldn’t jump around on a stage looking like that. Or even walk around a stage. He spills his bourbon on the way to his table.”

For me, it’s far less about comparing the attributes of senior celebrities and far more about applauding longevity in any form. If Mick Jagger wants to spend his 80th year and onward, continuing to tour the world and perform his hit songs in front of legions of fans that pay to watch him, how is that possibly a bad thing? He’s simply continuing to do what he’s always done. Perhaps my steadfast support of him is rooted in the fact that lately I’ve been asked why I still continue to train and ride horses. It can be dangerous, is a very physical sport and I’m no spring chicken. My standard reply is “Because I can.” Maybe Mick feels the same way, I don’t know, but I never think about my age because, gratefully, I’m still able to do everything I’ve ever done. It seems to me that once we begin to focus on a specific number and say, ‘OK, I really shouldn’t be doing this anymore,’ then the moss begins to set in. 

And as we know, that is something a Rolling Stone will never gather…