(CNN) — What a drag it is getting old.
How many times has someone mocked Mick Jagger by using that lyric from the Rolling Stones hit “Mother’s Little Helper”? Jagger and Keith Richards wrote and recorded the song in late 1965, when they were 22, with Jagger alternately lecturing, alternately pitying dejected housewives and their pills.
Sir Michael Philip Jagger is going to be 70 years old on Friday, and if it’s been a drag getting old for him, he certainly hasn’t shown it.
The Rolling Stones are celebrating their 50th anniversary as a band with new music and an extensive tour. Jagger can still move like, well, Jagger, his sinewy dancing and endless energy showing little sign of flagging despite his grandfatherly age. (The man has two children in their 40s, for Pete’s sake!) He’s made classic records, kept the gossip columns busy and always maintained an astute eye on the spotlight.
Besides, Jagger is only the latest of the 1960s musical heroes — the backbeat of every classic rock station and baby-boomer record collection — to cross the three-score-and-ten age threshold.
Paul McCartney turned 70 last year. So did Brian Wilson. Bob Dylan hit 70 two years ago. Grace Slick, Paul Simon, Jagger’s bandmate Charlie Watts — they’re all in their seventies.
Sure, it’s easy to make fun of that. Pop music is a young person’s game, after all.
“Everybody that you mention looks like an old woman now,” says Chris O’Dowd, playing an employee of a record company specializing in heritage acts, in the movie “This Is 40.” “You’re just mentioning a bunch of Jessica Tandys.”
We should all be so lucky, though. Jessica Tandy lived until she was 85, acting until almost the very end. Better that than the alternative.
If you’re doing something you love, you should keep doing it. McCartney still tours. Dylan, who calls his travels the “Never Ending Tour,” hasn’t stopped in years. Why not? Most of the ’60s-era rock stars, believing the music was just a fad, had no idea they’d still be rockin’ and rollin’ as they entered their eighth decades. Asked in 1964 why they were so popular, the Beatles could only shrug.
“If we knew, we’d get together four boys with long hair and be managers,” said John Lennon.
So go ahead and sneer at them like the oldsters of their own youth did. Mick and his ageless friends are having the last laugh.
What can a poor boy do, ‘cept to sing for a rock ‘n’ roll band, right?
Happy birthday, Mick!