To the voters in today’s Wall Street Journal on who of our top aging pop stars should retire, I say, “I hope you’re convicted of white collar crime someday and sent to prison where you will die. Alone. In a cell. Underground."
Before I even read today’s WSJ article on aging pop stars, titled When to Leave the Stage, I clicked to the voting page, where I picked Carly Simon, confident I would be with the majority or at least close. (Just for the record, the choices were James Taylor, Carly Simon, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, and Paul McCartney. The voting results popped up and... WHAT? Dylan is the one most WSJ readers think should hang it up. Now, the WSJ is not what it used to be: I regularly see typos, I see “serious” articles that just seem flat out ludicrous (my fave was one about Sarah Palin on monetary policy, moose policy I could have swallowed, but c’mon, she’s a cavewoman) and I see less integrity, but today’s article truly makes me question whether I should remain a WSJ subscriber. Actually, the article was pretty good - but the voting results... Christallfuckingmighty, who are these people? Oh, right, they’re the type who support throwing out the fundamental principles of the country at the first sign of threat (Patriot Act, etc.). But back to music. In the article, Dylan is maligned for changing his songs during live performances, for not being able to sing as well a he used to and for, god save us all, taking chances. Never mind that he is the only one of the WSJ’s choices who can lay claim to having done truly great new work in the last 15 years or so (Time Out Of Mind, 1997). Here’s what it all comes down to for me: what would you do? If I were an aging rocker, I would absolutely continue to play and I would try my damndest to write new material and not trade on my past. Dylan is doing this, and I’m not sure I can say that for any of the others. And so, Bob, this is one instance in which you most emphatically do not have my vote.