Maturity is poison for rock artists… right?
Rock is youth and madness; the Beatles’ wild years in Hamburg, Little Richard abusing a piano bug-eyed and sweaty, hunchbacked Johnny Rotten spewing furious bile, Iggy Pop reopening last night’s wounds with a broken longneck, that idiot Jim Morrison showing off little Mister Mojo Risin’ on stage in Florida, the mudshark incident, the dove’s head incident, the peach truck incident, the Chelsea Hotel, Eddie Cochrane’s beautiful corpse in a twisted snarl of broken wreckage… all those wild-cool refutations of morality and mortality that pass into legend and make rock awesome….Right? And “maturity” means bloated concept albums, greed, mediocre solo records, participation in dubious supergroups, and a slow creative suffocation as addiction, family or boredom takes hold. Right?
Well, no. Because if you accept all the above as “rock,” you have to accept the other side of the coin too; an army of talented and immature grown children all with poor impulse control, suffocating on vomit, shot by fans, shot by their own hand, watching as their friends convulse and die on sidewalks, fathering legions of children unloved and unknown, bringing bathtubs into the recording studio, breaking up by fax, breaking up by hit single, breaking up by certified mail, throwing gargantuan tantrums over green M&Ms, bickering in public over writing credits and creative control… all the tragic, dull, prurient, and tiresome outbursts that stuff the groaning shelves of your average bookstore’s music section.
And, okay, if U2 or the Rolling Stones construe “maturity” as figuring out how to stamp out a “Stones Record,” a “U2 album” on cue, fine. Often boring, but fine. But there’s another way.
Maybe it’s because I’m 35 and no longer plausibly a “young adult” in any sense of the word – (hell, I just bought a Persian rug and could probably stand to make an appointment with Dr. Coldfinger) but these days I’d rather hear from artists whose need to compose and perform music doesn’t presuppose a deathwish or a formal profit-sharing and trademark & likeness clause.