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Rock of Ageism

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Published: 26 Nov 2012

When longevity is a plus in the arenas of jazz, blues and country, do aging rockers face scorn? When Dave Brubeck last made one of his semi-regular appearances at the Montreal International Jazz Festival in 2011, he was 90. No one jokingly wondered aloud how they let him out of the nursing home. B.B. King, 87, played two nights at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier in May. No cartoons were published of his fans making their way to the shows with walkers. With rock ’n’ roll, it’s a whole different ball game. Why the double standard? […] McGill University communications professor Will Straw said the musicians who came up in the 1960s admired the longevity and wisdom of the older blues musicians who inspired them. And some of them, he said, are now reaping the benefits of similar regard. “The Neil Youngs, the Bob Dylans, the old travelling troubadours who tour, seemingly endlessly, are now getting respect,” Straw said. “Even 20 years ago, these people would have been seen with a certain amount of contempt. More and more, we now see pop music as a world of thin, shallow fads, so the durable values and the hard work of Neil Young and Bob Dylan — even if they’re millionaires — seem noble and authentic.” In Straw’s view, it’s post-boomer generations who are responsible for lionizing 1960s albums like the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. Odessey and Oracle by the Zombies and Forever Changes by Love have also been championed by young neo-psychedelic rockers and writers.

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