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.