Mick Jagger turned 65 yesterday – thrust-out chest, strut, skinny jeans and all. In theory these defiantly virile rock dinosaurs, of whom Jagger is the grandaddy – the T Rex, if you will – ought to be horribly embarrassing in a “Put it away, gramps” kind of way. In practice they are rather marvellous, not least because chances are that if your dad in his sixties or seventies doesn’t necessarily do the pipe and slippers thing, he has Mick and the slew of lesser dinosaurs to thank.
I don’t know whether I say this because I am now middle-aged myself (I went to see the Stones at Wembley in 1982 and remember thinking they were quite sexy, for gnarled old people), but it certainly seems to be the case that leathery old rockers who would have been greeted with howls of derision 20 years ago are now an accepted part of the landscape, still thrusting away and putting it about and generally adding to the nation’s gaiety.
They have also, unpredictably, become role models for older people – and are admired by young people in a way that used to be inconceivable. When I was young, we no more bought music made by people old enough to be our grandpas than we wore Crimplene slacks. The Crimplene is still out in the cold, but rock bands whose collective age is 400 or so are now beloved of many teenagers.
It must be intensely cheering for their baby-boomer contemporaries, for whom Jagger, Keith Richards et al were raver role models and much-revered lords of misrule, to see that being pensionable… is no bar to bad behaviour or success, both personal and popular.
So Mark Steyn’s got this thing, somewhere (not that I can find it), that the fact that selfish Baby Boomers are forcing us to listen to their music 50 years later is just as if the hippies 50 years ago were forced to listen to ragtime and vaudeville music in every shopping mall, gas station, and hospital waiting room they went into. So, I mean, well done to Mick Jagger for not being thrown in a home by now, but does he have to be “intensely cheering” for his baby boomer contemporaries?