Sharp Notes Monday: ‘(I Don’t Want To) Hang Up My Rock And Roll Shoes’

President Joe Biden’s age has raised concerns among members of his own party, and his opponents are questioning his ability to lead the nation as an octogenarian. Nevertheless, Biden is expected to announce plans to run for a second term this week. At 80, he is the oldest American to serve as president and would be 86 by the end of a second term.

Age also has been a topic in song.

As rock’n’roll’s popularity grew in the 1960s, young singers and songwriters showed little interest in aging gracefully. In The Who’s 1965 “My Generation,” 21-year-old Roger Daltrey boldly proclaimed “I hope I die before I get old.” Mick Jagger, in 1975 at the age of 31, told People magazine he would rather be dead than sing “Satisfaction” when he was 45, and in 1968’s “Old Friends,” 26-year-old Paul Simon sang that it would be “terribly strange to be 70.” Not to be outdone, Ian Anderson painted an unflattering picture of an aging rock star in “Too Old to Rock’n’Roll: Too Young to Die.”

Ironically, all of these artists, whose current ages range from 75 to 81, are still performing.

But not all of the lyrics written about aging in the days of classic rock were negative. Dylan suggested a more upbeat view, singing, “I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now” in “My Back Pages.” Likewise, the refrain of the Faces “Ooh La La” contained a similar sentiment: “I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger.”

If Joe Biden does in fact run for a second term, he can take some musical inspiration from a 1958 Chuck Willis tune, covered by the Band on their 1971 live album Rock of Ages: “(I Don’t Want to) Hang Up My Roc and ’Roll Shoes.”

As part of our “Sharp Notes, Sharp Thoughts” music and social media project, we share a song every Monday to start your week.

View previous Sharp Notes Monday selections.

Visit our “Sharp Notes, Sharp Thoughts” music and social media page to learn more about the project and view videos of our presentations.

Categories: Jandoli Institute, Music and Social Justice, Sharp Notes Monday, Sharp Notes Sharp Thoughts


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