August 16, 2009 | HARMLESS UNTRUTHS

Aging Rock Stars

Speaking of poetry…

I have never written much of the stuff myself, but do write a lot of song lyrics which are kind of similar in some ways (as I mentioned in my last post). I like writing lyrics much more than I like singing, but sometimes the lyrics are pretty perfunctory or just thrown-together nonsense. And on very rare occasions I have started writing lyrics but abandoned the song, yet kept the lyrics around anyway, somewhere in my brain. What do you call song lyrics without the music? Doggerel. Usually.

I thought recently of the following charming bit of rhyme, an ex-song from around 1997. How awful that I called Michael Stipe and Bono old at the time! Michael Stipe would only have been around 37 — not old at all! Sorry Michael Stipe! And I don’t know why I claimed Lou Reed was not famous.

Here is a scan of this silly pseudo-poem, click through for a full-size legible version:

Aging Rock Stars

Here is a transcription, slightly corrected (i.e., “tinnitus” for “tinninitus”).

Michael Stipe, he shaves his head while
David Bowie follows trends
Neil Young, he never changes
Lou Reed never quite got famous.  

Thinning hair and aged appearance,
Rock stars looking like grandparents
Some sell out and some stay true
What's it mean to me and you

Comeback albums, comeback tours
Comeback hours, comeback whores
Rock 'n' roll was made for teens
So now what does Bob Dylan mean?

Bono doesn't seem to like us
Pete Townshend has got tinnitus
Springsteen's still an average guy
The Rolling Stones are just a punchline

When all ex-Beatles have been knighted
Will John Lydon get invited?
Who knew Patti Smith existed?
Rock 'n' roll is pushing 50

And what about that place in Cleveland?
Another building no one needed
Kids who tried to break the rules
Now end up trapped in exhibit halls

Background music in a bar's the
Last insult to aging rock stars
Music written from the soul is
turned to muzak, bought and sold

The critics say you've lost your edge
Or that the fame went to your head
Biographies full of attacks and
Your catalog's owned by Michael Jackson

So tell me now what are you feeling
When you play sold-out arenas
Where every single person knows
The words you wrote 20 years ago

Do those words ring true today
And do you still have something to say?
When you sling on that guitar and play
Is it for the future or yesterday?

Do you still believe in rock and roll?
I guess that's what I want to know

Ouch! Take that rock stars! Getting awkwardly called out by a snotty 20-year old, I bet that stung. Actually I mostly remember this “poem” from time to time based on the line about “thinning hair and aged appearance”… How quickly things change.