Rock Star Constellation
Longevity is what Rock Star has being about: they want to leave a mark (light) on history. But what should we do with the ‘mark’ when the Rock Star is not there anymore?
*’Light is really, really fast, but it still takes time to get from one place to another. When you ‘see’ anything, what you are really doing is using your eyes to detect the light that is either given off or reflected by it. If you look at the clock across the room, you’re not seeing it as it is now, but as it was a tiny, tiny fraction of a second ago.’
Now think about all the other stars up there- most of them are much, much further away: hundreds, thousands, millions and billions of light years away. If a star is a million light years away, and it died a million years ago, we’ll see it die now. If another star died four million years ago, but is a hundred million light years away, we’ll still be able to see it for another 96 million years.’
**’We’ve arrived at a tricky point in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. As of 2014, pretty much all of the genre’s golden-age practitioners are officially senior citizens. Many of the bands they formed back in the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s are broken up; many of the members of those bands are dead. Of the few who remain—the survivors—the most popular career path seems to be reciting the greatest hits live, over and over again, in an entertaining (and lucrative) display of musical endurance that nonetheless doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the kind of creativity that made them famous in the first place. The Rolling Stones, for example, have been relentlessly reissuing, repackaging, and touring on their back catalog in recent years, but they haven’t released a new LP in nearly a decade.
And then there are the holdouts—the AARP-aged artists who are still trying to stay in touch with their muse. Bob Dylan, 72. David Bowie, 66. Paul McCartney, 71. And, of course, Bruce Springsteen, who will turn 65 in September.
What do we owe these legends? How should we respond to their new material, as fans? Should we be grateful for whatever music they deign to release and grade them on a curve because of it? Should every new Dylan, Bowie, or McCartney record receive a Lifetime Achievement Award of sorts? Or should we hold these guys to the same, higher standard we held them to back in 1964, or 1971, or 1984: how good is the album itself, regardless of whether it’s their first or their 31st?’