Make all the rock 'n' fossil jokes you want to about Mick, Keef and the rest of Mount Rushmore, but according to Pollstar the touring bible for the music biz these strolling bones snagged $162 million in concert ticket sales in 2005, becoming the top-grossing tour of the year and of all time. In fact, no one born after Altamont even cracked the top 10 this year, proving rock's now a game slanted toward survivors and Social Security collectors.
More telling, the band that once shaved six years off Bill Wyman's age for teen magazine coverage seems positively giddy these days about flaunting its members' advanced age at their boomer fans, who are simply worried about inching toward row 30, 40 or 50. Talk about "Winning Ugly" just look at 'em grinning like four gargoyles on the cover of A Bigger Bang with flashlight-under-face illumination that Mick never would've agreed to 15 or 20 years ago, when he was still chasing Peter Pan also-rans Michael Jackson and George Michael. The Stones may have exercised truth in advertising before when they titled an album Sucking in the Seventies, but naming one A Bigger Bang to suggest they were probably around to witness the first one? I'm telling you they care not a nose hair what we think about them anymore, whether they're too old, too greedy (average ticket price: $133.98) and not at all hip.
To prove that last point about how much they can't be bothered maintaining cool quotient with Strokes fans, they debuted their new single on the kindred 40th anniversary celebrating the soap Days of Our Lives. I mean, why didn't Mick and the boys just turn up under hair dryers at mama's favorite salon to pimp their new single, for the luvva Aqua Net? Fuck Jann Wenner, how about an exclusive interview with the AARP newsletter already?
OK, the Stones cared enough about offering some value for your cash by mixing Charlie Watt's bass drum louder than his snare on Bigger Bang for the first time since Sticky Fingers. And they finally let Ron Wood play slide guitar here like Ron Wood, this after 30 years. They also maintain a higher song-quality average than any collection since Tattoo You. The only duff cut is "Sweet Neo Con" didn't Mick learn his topical song lesson with "High Wire," the anti-Gulf War song they released the day the desert conflict ended?
Because the Stones are still eager to push the 40 Licks-40th anniversary celebrations into a third year, they agree to play Super Bowl XL (that's 40, for those of you who don't religiously collect Chicago albums). Cynics will scoff that doing a halftime show will be the only time the Stones have followed Aerosmith's lead since Mick shtupped Bebe Buell after Steven Tyler did. ("What do you want the fake Mick for when you can have the real one?" he reportedly asked her probably the same rap he laid on XL halftime producers.)
We could do far worse for a halftime show than the Stones, and, believe me, we have. Gen Yers, if you only knew the half of boring old fartdom. Space prevents us from running 'em all down, but here are some of the worst. Set your backfield in motion with us and recall Super Bowl's Forty Licks. Or, as we have a halftime mind of calling it, "Sucking in the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and Beyond!"
1967 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum: Universities of Arizona and Michigan marching bands get horny in front of guest trumpeter Al Hirt, a guy who looks like Mr. French and once made an album with Ann-Margaret called Beauty and the Beard. People, please refrain from screaming "Laaaamme!" until you've heard from all our contestants.
1968 Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida: Vince Lombardi quits coaching after this Green Bay Packers win. Could it be the piss-poor halftime show? Nah, he probably loved the Grambling University band or G.U.B. as the kids called 'em on the first live Super Bowl telecast, which, by the way, was cut off at the last 50 seconds so NBC could start the movie Heidi on time.
1969 Orange Bowl, Miami: Illustrating what an afterthought the halftime show was, they shot their star power wad for the pregame show with Bob Hope and his TelePrompTer saluting the Apollo 8 Astronauts and Anita "Fag Hag" Bryant singing the national anthem. By halftime, we were left with Florida A&M University and its "America Thanks" pageant. All of a sudden Al Hirt is sounding like Jesus with free merch.
1970 Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana: For a change, there's a star doing the halftime show. And the super suits in their infinite wisdom chose this most testosterone-charged day of the year to foist Carol Channing on our collective machismo, paying tribute to Mardi Gras. No word on whether she flashed anyone her tits.
1971 Orange Bowl, Miami: Because the battered woman's shelter must've received an alarming number of calls during last year's halftime show back by unpopular demand Florida A&M University. No thanks, America.
1972 Tulane Stadium, New Orleans: Showing a paucity of new ideas, Channing, Al Hirt and Ella Fitzgerald do a musical salute to Louis Armstrong, who died the previous July. Also on hand is the U.S. Marine Corps Drill Team, noted in jazz circles for their innate ability to swing, siiiir!
1973 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum: Many favored the Redskins to win the game because of their "Over the Hill Gang" veterans. Speaking of over-the-hill vets, here comes Woody Herman and the University of Michigan band to tell us what "Happiness Is." Please let a warm gun be involved.
1974 Rice Stadium, Houston, Texas: University of Texas band's tribute to American music. If there was a wardrobe malfunction, it probably had something to do with someone's chinstrap riding up his nose.
1976 Orange Bowl, Miami: The first of four Up with People halftime shows "200 Years and Just a Baby: A Tribute to America's Bicentennial" finds the persistently cheery group dressing as historical figures. Believe me, you don't ever want to see a buoyant Lincoln. Clearly baby America needs changing and fast.
1977 Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California: Disney produces the show so it can remind us ad nauseam that "it's a small world after all." The crowd is given color placards, the first crowd participation during the halftime show that doesn't include leaving their seats for a shit and a sandwich.
1978 Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans: "From Paris to Paris of America" featuring the Apache Belles Drill team, Al Hirt (not again) and clarinetist Pete Fountain, who Lawrence Welk once fired for jiving up a Christmas carol.
1982 Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, Michigan: Insanely, Diana Ross sings the national anthem while Up with People, who've been segregated from soul since birth, are allowed to butcher Motown hits right here in metro Detroit. Was that decided on the coin toss too?
1988 Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego, California: After 22 Super Bowls, a rock performer is finally invited to perform during the halftime show. Right, we would've guessed Chubby Checker too. Joined by the Rockettes and 88 grand pianos, The Rotund One does the limbo under each and every one. You wish.
1991 Tampa Stadium, Florida: ABC did not broadcast the Disney "Small World" halftime show featuring 2,000 children from different ethnic backgrounds and New Kids on the Block, choosing instead to air a special ABC News report on the progress of the Gulf War. Let's all sing: "It's a world of nerve gas, a world of fear ..." The halftime show was later shown on tape delay after the game. Anyone who cared was already tucked in bed, complaining of a Doritos tummy ache.
1993 Rose Bowl, Pasadena: Michael Jackson and 3,500 local children? Sure sounds like a punch line to me.
1995 Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami: Diana Ross performs "Take Me Higher" and is airlifted off the field, with the helicopter pilot given stern warnings not to look at her and to only address her as "Miss Ross." Or maybe "MacGyver" just this one time.
2000 Georgia Dome, Atlanta: A Disney millennium celebration, "Tapestry of Nations," narrated by Edward James Olmos, with Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton and an 80-person choir together? You don't think they'll sing "It's a Small World After All" again, do you?
2001 Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida: For MTV's first halftime show, they invite "The Kings of Rock and Pop," *N'SYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, Nelly and Aerosmith, all performing "Walk This Way." The vet rockers, who managed an unlikely comeback when they performed this song with Run DMC in the 1980s, have now come full circle back to sucking.
2004 Reliant Stadium, Houston: We've been living in the shadow of Janet Jackson's right nipple ever since Justin Timberlake tugged at her blouse not, incidentally, the last time the former N'Syncer would rip off a Jackson.
2005 Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida: Even with the eight-second broadcast delay, millions of Americans are mortified that out of the literally hundreds of Beatles songs at his disposal, Paul McCartney would choose to sing "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" And given that this was the first Super Bowl broadcast in high def, the least Sir Paul could've done for the kids would've been to hide the doobie atop his piano.Serene Dominic is a freelance writer. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org