What was so surprising and maybe refreshing about Robert Plant’s announcement recently wasn’t that a Led Zep tour wasn’t going to happen along with their upcoming UK reunion show, it was this quote:
“When I do come back from touring I’m shocked to find a lot of my mates tend to be going to bed far too early and that means I should probably be doing the same. Maybe I should stop having a good time and get old.”
Plant’s been as conscious about age as Neil Young from his salad days in the 70’s: he often referred to himself as “Old Robert” even back then. But to hear him talk now goes against the grain of most other long-time stadium-fillers. It wasn’t just the obvious lyrics to “My Generation” or the loss of their rhythm section that made the Who’s future shaky- Daltrey’s throat problems along sidelined them. Ditto the Stones not just when Richards tumbled out of a tree recently but also when Jagger had similar problems with his voice. At this point, both bands seemed like the types to tour ‘til they literally dropped but age kicks your ass no matter what your income bracket is.
Plant realizes it and not only says it but also lives it. Age is catching up with his peers whether they like it or not and one day, they’ll have to admit it too. But that doesn’t mean that they all should just pack it because they’ve hit a certain age. Obviously, everyone ages differently (my grandma is 90 and she’s able to still live on her own). Or look at the many jazz, country or blues musicians who live out their golden years on stages. The fact that rock icons were able to do this also took the stigma away for being over 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 and still doing concerts in that genre. Nothing wrong with that and in some cases, it’s commendable, especially when some of them still make good albums. But even the Godfather of Soul couldn’t do leg splits in his later years and classic rockers who reach the AARP threshold will have to make compromises too, whether they or their fans like it or not.