Satisfaction isn’t my favorite Rolling Stones song. I liked Last Time and Brown Sugar much better. But Satisfaction may be the most popular song by the greatest rock band of all time. It continues to receive more air play and is probably better known than any other tune by the scruffy British band.

As teenagers, we loved the Stones. They were edgy and irreverent, much more dangerous than their more popular counterpart, the Beatles, and grittier than other British bands like Herman’s Hermits and the Dave Clark Five. Their popularity and talent has endured for half a century.

About ten years ago I heard the popular Rolling Stones song in a place that nearly broke my heart. I was at the dentist and it came on through their bland, unobtrusive background sound music system. The most dangerous band in the world had become Muzak.

Being an old Rock and Roll fan isn’t easy. The nature of the music is to change. Anything that becomes comfortable is no longer relevant and must morph into new and exciting. My dad hated everything I listened to and now I try to keep up with my grandson’s tastes. He would cringe with embarrassment if I recognized something he appreciated in front of his friends.

My age demographic invented Rock and Roll. Little Richard and Ray Charles were threats to white teenager’s lives and Elvis, Ricky Nelson, and Pat Boone were destroying the very morality of a generation. Today these same artists represent a tame, safe, pop music from the pleasant past, not scary like what those darn kids are listening to now.

As if to underline that whole point, the NFL, that bastion of conservative thinking and staid advertising, has settled into a habit of featuring safe old guys as Super Bowl half-time entertainment ever since the unfortunate “wardrobe malfunction” made boobs of a lot of folks back in 2004.

It is embarrassing enough that Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson are considered edgy rock stars, too unpredictable to allow on live TV, but since that event, every performer has been some relic from my past, rendered safe by gray hair and testosterone leakage. And therefore a perfect fit for “The Man.”

Paul McCartney wasn’t too bad; he did what he’s always done. Bruce and Prince have evolved into more acceptable acts as time has passed so they were the perfect toe tapping respite for people reloading on guacamole dip and margaritas. The Rolling Stones looked and sounded much like they have for the last twenty years so they were an acceptable mix.

But last night, The Who brought the entire concept screeching to a halt. A couple of really old fat guys were trying hard to do what they did four decades ago and it just didn’t work. Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey haven’t aged well and offered only a sad relic from the past.

It is time for the Super Bowl to feature acts that don’t have AARP cards. There are many to choose from. Relics from the past belong in record collections and on the History Channel.

The dentist office doesn’t need help reminding me how old I’ve become.

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Mike Cox

Mike Cox

Mike Cox currently writes a weekly column in South Carolina for the Columbia Star called "It's Not a Criticism, It's an Observation." He is trying to grow old as gracefully as possible without condemning the current generation in charge to doom. Each day this task gets harder as the overwhelming evidence mounts. He currently has two published books; Finding Daddy Cox, and October Saturdays. His columns have won three South Carolina Press Association awards since 2003. Mike has three sons and two grandchildren and lives in Irmo, Sc, just outside of Columbia.

5 Comments
  1. It really is very depressing and embarrassing to see a group of aging rockers acting like they are still teenagers. If you don’t have it anymore then stop acting like you do. The Who just doesn’t have it! On the other hand I’ve recently seen Tom Petty and Jackson Browne and their shows were great. With my aging eyes and ears they looked and sounded like they did 30 years ago!

    1. Beth that would have been a good time to have seats in the top of the stadium ( I would have said cheap seats but I doubt there were any) and not watching on TV so you didn’t have to endure a closup shot and the loud music would have muffled any singing.

      1. I forgot to mention Pete Townsend’s wardrobe malfuntion! Holy crap!! Refugee from a nursing home.

  2. Hey! Ok – yes, like the rest of us, they have gotten older. BUT…don’t knock the old guys so badly!

    I don’t think they tried to act like young kids – I didn’t see Roger swinging his mic around like he used to. And Pete didn’t smash his guitar.

    I think they did pretty darn well for a bunch of old guys on stage – and Roger kicked butt with his harmonica.

    Long live Rock!

  3. Barry Hollander

    I loved the idea of The Who performing rather than the actual performance, but what the hell, hearing Pete wail a bit on the guitar, always worth it.

    My favorite Who song? “Water.” Performed live at http://bit.ly/vztEn
    Favorite Stones song? “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.”

    Seems to me the Super Bowl folks are obligated to finish the Brit Invasion thing by inviting Zeppelin, or Floyd, or maybe Clapton next. Of course, being in Athens, I’d also like to see Widespread Panic, but that ain’t gonna happen.

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