Rock of All Ages

"The world fears a new experience more than it fears anything..."-- D. H. LawrenceUnemployment recently dropped to its lowest level since 1973. No great surprise, since every rock band that broke up around that time has reunited and is on the road again humping for gigs.Anyone who ever strapped on a Stratocaster or plunked a fat bass line or strutted across the stage in second skin pants while belting out a tune about some woman who done him wrong, is off the public dole and working again. Bad news is, the years have not been kind in many cases.Long in the tooth, thin in the hair, with prostates the size of cantaloupes and their musical chops grown creaky and dim, these are men in their late 40's and 50's. Certainly that's not old by most standards but this is rock and roll. Do we really need to hear the Grand Funk geezers singing about the joys of gang banging groupies? If they were to try that now, they could break their hips.Like Spinal Tap outtakes, these doddering druids criss cross the country hoping to rekindle the fires of their younger rowdier selves. And the money gushes in. The Eagles' Hell Freezes Over Tour grossed in excess of $200 million. When the Kiss crotch rock extavaganza finishes in December, they'll have topped $100 million in ticket sales, another $60 million in merchandise and CD's. Why? Because classic rock is a pointy stick used by baby boomers to poke at the Grim Reaper and keep him briefly at bay. Like the one Sigfried uses on Roy when he has a headache.As long as they're still shaking their ample booties to anthems like "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "Billy, Don't Be a Hero", boomers will never truly morph into their parents no matter what that lying mirror says. They are staving off death, one reunion concert at a time.Not to imply that death and rock music don't mix. On the contrary, they've been intertwined since the beginning, creating a pantheon of legends and icons. Living fast, dying young, leaving a good looking corpse was part of the mystique. All hail Hendrix!But when 56 year old Bob Dylan was recently knockin' on heaven's door with a bizarre heart ailment, fear gripped an entire generation. The glamorous days of choking on vomit are obviously over.This current crop of fossils dodged the early dangers of drugs, booze and ham sandwiches but could soon succumb to grandpa-type afflictions like clogged arteries, high blood pressure and ham sandwiches. Kiss's Gene Simmons is still spewing blood from stage but how long before he starts finding it in his stool?With the veneer of immortality stripped away, it's time to come to terms with the sad fact that rock and roll belongs to a new generation. The torch must be passed. Unfortunately, the heirs apparent are too young to play with fire.The same week Bob Dylan was hospitalized, the number one song on Billboard's pop chart was "MMM Bop", a chirpy bubblegum hit by those singing fetuses, Hanson.Hanson consists of three brothers, ages 11, 14 and 16. Their video which looks like a cross between a Mountain Dew commercial and an episode of The Partridge Family, is in heavy rotation on VH1. Their album, Middle of Nowhere, debuted at No. 9 and has climbed since. Yet the boys can't tour because they have chores. Groupies swarm around them but the fear of cooties forces them to abstain. No doubt they have a wealth of life experiences to draw from for their song writing, what with school and Little League and the Beannie Baby shortage and all.The Hanson boys are the most visible of the Puberty Pack but not the only ones. Silverchair, Noise Addict, Radish, Fiona Apple and Johnny Lang are all teens and teen fronted groups muscling in on the biz. The face of rock and roll now has Clearasil dabbed on it.This development can't be sitting well with the old guard - Rush, Journey, Cheap Trick, Emerson Lake and Palmer and their ilk - exposing them for the senile shams and decrepit hucksters they've become. What happens when the two factions cross paths out on the road, maybe even share a bill?Imagine Hanson opening concerts for the Rolling Stones. Members of both bands just a few years removed from diapers. What a hideous experience for boomers. Like witnessing their own life cycle compressed into a time lapse evening, stretching from cradle to grave, fast as the roadies can change the sets.No more staving off death at that point. Boomers would flock to the stadium bathrooms, fashion crude nooses out of their fanny packs and hang themselves from the stall doors faster than you could say "Jumping Jack Flash."

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