On Sept. 1, I received an email from the Boston Globe opinion section. I have the bad habit of allowing these emails to build up like dust in my inbox, unread and unnoticed, but the headline — which addressed a nameless subject — caught my attention.
It read: “We can’t miss you if you won’t go away.”
Upon first glance, the headline brought to mind images of overbearing friends of friends who invite themselves to your parties, or relatives who overstay their welcome during the holiday season.
But rather than lamenting these trivial annoyances, the “you” this author was referring to was not an overeager acquaintance or a difficult mother-in-law. Instead, they were referring to a different kind of overstayed welcome: that of aging superstars, seemingly unwilling to step out of the spotlight.
This year has undoubtedly been the “Year of the Tour” — artists such as Taylor Swift and Beyoncé have literally boosted the economy with their massive, multiple-hour dance spectaculars, and on a slightly smaller scale, other former chart-toppers have been busy booking shows in the twilight years of their career.
Bruce Springsteen has been touring since early 2023, parading his way through a two-hour set that suggests memories of his glory days, and other artists of similar stature and age — like the Eagles, Stevie Nicks and Billy Joel — have followed suit, embarking on massive tours that rival those of their younger counterparts, albeit with far less dancing.
But in a year when many legendary performers have passed — such as Robbie Robertson, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Buffett — it’s a ludicrous concept to prematurely wish these all-time greats off the stage. It seems the author’s concern is less about what these performers can still do and more about an underlying societal issue our country is refusing to address: the aging of America’s leadership.
Age is a difficult topic to address. While it does suggest the wisdom of experience and well-earned respect, it also comes with risks: health scares, mental deterioration and an unfortunate inability to be relied upon in times of need. This is the cloud that hangs over many prominent figures in our government — President Joe Biden will be well into his eighties if he is reelected in 2024, and roughly 25% of Congress is over 70 years old.
The author of the article alludes to this phenomenon — he goes as far as extending a comparison between Biden and a “super-creepy” Mick Jagger, considering both to be examples of once golden all-stars who have stayed at the disco well after the lights have been shut off.
But there is a blatant discrepancy between these two that the author is turning a blind eye toward. While Jagger and Biden may be nearly equal in age, the power that they possess — over a crowd of rock fans versus the American public — has drastically different levels of impact.
In other words, the futures of millions of Americans will hang in the balance if the age of our country’s leadership continues to impair the way they govern. But, I don’t see any consequence in allowing Jagger to perform “Paint It, Black” for the millionth time — at least his dated moves will only affect his healthcare, not ours.
In an aging America, it may be time for us to turn the tide of our leadership. We owe it to both the aging politicians who have served our society and to ourselves, as our futures rest upon their jurisdiction and governance.
But contrary to this particular author’s belief, forcing rock stars out of the spotlight is not the way to progress us towards a more modern and youthful society. These farewell tours aren’t keeping us in the past, they’re giving a few all-time greats the chance to live the dream and ride the coattails of their hard earned success.
I suggest instead that the author of this article listen to the words of his “least favorite band,” enjoy the music while it can still be played and take it easy.