At the weekend I was fortunate enough to be at Glastonbury. I’m not going to deliver a blow by blow account of my time on Worthy Farm because:
a) other people covered it better already
b) I think I have a book on the subject in the pipeline (my head).
The working title is Triange: My Spiral Into Decadence. It might not come to anything but I’m going to hold stuff back for it just in case.
I am blogging today to talk about the more advanced (as in years spent on Earth) of those performers I saw, and the unnecessary comments I heard about them.
The obvious one is the Stones. It seems easy to pick on the Stones, but you watch Mick Jagger flail, gyrate, sweat, gurn, grimace and grin for two hours on the Pyramid Stage before you call them past it. There is nothing wrong with being in your seventies and still making great music, and performing it live. These people are due our respect. If it wasn’t for them, the majority of music we enjoy now would not have that edge. They set the whole bad boy mould, and it shouldn’t be forgotten.
Their live show, as headliners on Saturday night, was hands down one of the best I have ever seen. They absolutely destroyed it, and they pulled in the largest collected crowd at Glastonbury to date. That is not the work of old codgers. It’s the blood, sweat and tears of a band of rhythm and blues musicians who have been going for fifty years. In his book Life, Keith Richards said he saw no difference between what they were doing and the old blues musicians who inspired them, who would play until they dropped. John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters did just that, and they got the respect they deserved for it. Music and performance are not things that abandon you when you jowl, wrinkle and don’t fit the aesthetic anymore. If the Stones want to carry on, let them carry on. I think the 200k plus people bouncing to Satisfaction on Saturday night would agree with me.
Earlier on the same day I was fortunate enough to see (Sixto) Rodriguez, a folk/blues musician from Detroit who was the central focus of the documentary Searching For Sugar Man. If you haven’t seen it then stop reading here and go and see it, it’s incredible. It’s the kind of story Hollywood wishes it could come up with. Rodriguez disappeared after making just two studio albums including the seminal Cold Fact which unbeknownst to him became one of the defining albums of the 1960’s, particularly in South Africa where it was viewed as a call to arms against apartheid.
Following the documentary Rodriguez came out of retirement and is now back doing what he does best and what he loves, aged 70. Seeing him perform songs like Establishment Blues and I Wonder live was incredible. Despite needing assistance to get out onto the stage, once he was there he completely owned it. Dressed entirely in black, and backed by a band a third of his age Sixto Rodriguez received the much awaited applause he deserved and yet I still overheard the greying, desperate horndog in front of me in the crowd refer to his arms as being “bingo wings”.
Do people not realise we all age? Those same traits you point out in others, are just the passing of time. Those wrinkles are stories to tell, knowledge gained and respect earned and I think that is far too easily forgotten.