Why can Jagger still do it, but McCartney can’t?

jagger

You younger folks will just have to bear with me for a few minutes. I’m a boomer, and to me this is a burning issue.

The news that the Rolling Stones are launching a new tour causes me to think again about something that’s been preying on my mind since last year.

Remember when Mick Jagger hosted “Saturday Night Live,” almost a year ago? Remember how awesome the two live sets he did were? He didn’t even have the Stones behind him — his accompanists were Foo Fighters on “19th Nervous Breakdown,” and Arcade Fire on the “The Last Time.” (I’d provide video, but for some reason — probably a complex set of reasons actually, having to do with multiple intellectual property issues — I can’t find any such clips.)

It was amazing. There he was, 69 years old and wrinkled as a prune, and he hadn’t lost a step. He could have done “Wild Horses” or “Angie,” but instead he went with high-energy songs from when he was a kid, and he was as good as ever. If anything, he was far more into the songs than he was in his 20s, when his stage presence was more on the cool side.

I know what you’re thinking — it’s drugs. Drugs that only a Rolling Stone can afford. Well, whatever it was, it was amazing.

And if it was drugs, then for some reason Paul McCartney doesn’t have access to them. Have you seen him the last couple of times he’s been on SNL? It’s really sad. The poor guy can’t sing anymore, which is tough to see. I mean, I’m rooting for him the whole time, because I know that no one loved being a Beatle more than he did, and he apparently wants so badly to have the same magic he had then, but he doesn’t. (He still had it when he performed here at Williams-Brice Stadium, and I’m glad I was there. But he doesn’t have it anymore.)

It hardly seems fair.

paul

17 thoughts on “Why can Jagger still do it, but McCartney can’t?

  1. Silence

    Cause Jagger is still alive, but the real Paul died in a car crash in 1967 and was replaced with a lookalike.

    Reply
  2. Phillip

    I have two theories on this. One is that Jagger’s singing style has always been (most of the time) more raw, less concerned with the niceties of pitch and phrasing than McCartney’s, which (though he could summon an edge now and then) was the “pretty voice” among the Beatles, the one who sang the most melodically sophisticated songs they did. (I didn’t say best.) So the effects of age on the voice would be more noticeable and obvious on McCartney than on Jagger.

    Another theory is pure physical fitness. Jagger is basically an athlete, if you think about how much energy he always put into live performance, how long the shows were, how many they’d do in a tour, how many years they’ve been touring. It’s not drugs at all, I think, it’s just plain aerobic fitness or however you want to put it. Putting that much energy into performing and continuing to do so that steadily for all these years hasn’t worn Jagger out, on the contrary.

    Reply
    1. Steven Davis II

      Yeah, it’s aerobic fitness… TMZ had a clip of Keith Richards coming out of pilates class last week wearing those recalled see-through yoga pants.

      Reply
  3. bud

    This guy still gets around pretty well too. And he has Jagger beat by 17 years! From Wiki:

    Anthony Dominick Benedetto, better known as Tony Bennett (born August 3, 1926), is an Italian-American singer of popular music, standards, show tunes, and jazz. Bennett is also a serious and accomplished painter, having created works—under the name Anthony Benedetto—that are on permanent public display in several institutions. He is the founder of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in New York City.

    Reply
    1. Steven Davis II

      Really, Tony Bennett… the guy’s about exciting on stage as Stephen Hawking if he could snap his fingers.

      Reply
  4. Kathryn Fenner

    Tony Bennett is da Man! Real songs, sung with finesse and panache….oh, there I go with those fancy French words…..

    Reply
    1. Silence

      I always thought that Tony Bennett was like a poor man’s Frank Sinatra. I’m not really sure what all the fuss about Frank Sinatra was about, either….

      Reply
  5. Brad Warthen Post author

    Speaking of Sinatra…

    There was a piece in the WSJ the other day marking 10 years since columnist Michael Kelly was killed covering the invasion of Iraq. I liked the part about how Kelly had trashed Ol’ Blue Eyes:

    Take his view of Frank Sinatra. Everyone loved Old Blue Eyes and mourned him when he died in 1998. Everyone except Michael Kelly.

    Kelly hated Frank because Frank had invented Cool, and Cool had replaced Smart. What was Smart? It was Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca: “He possesses an outward cynicism, but at his core he is a square. . . . He is willing to die for his beliefs, and his beliefs are, although he takes pains to hide it, old-fashioned. He believes in truth, justice, the American way, and love. . . . When there is a war, he goes to it. . . . He may be world weary, but he is not ironic.”

    Cool was something else. “Cool said the old values were for suckers. . . . Cool didn’t go to war; Saps went to war, and anyway, cool had no beliefs he was willing to die for. Cool never, ever, got in a fight it might lose; cool had friends who could take care of that sort of thing.”

    It never, ever would have occurred to me to make the distinction until I read Kelly’s column. And then I understood Sinatra. And then I understood Kelly, too.

    Reply
    1. Silence

      I never read that before, but I completely agree with it now. Give me Bogie over The Chairman of the Board anyday. I didn’t realize that Bogart was actually a WWI navy vet, very smart indeed.

      Reply
      1. Steve Gordy

        Sinatra may have been one of the most hated men in the U.S. during World War II because he declined to go on tours to entertain the troops. If Glenn Miller had adopted the same attitude, his music contributions might have been much greater than they were already.

        Reply
  6. bud

    Speaking of war, I was shocked, shocked to see that FITS actually supports a pre-emptive strike against North Korea. Not sure that I agree but it does suggest that the media seems to be downplaying this for some reason. Perhaps they have been instructed to be low key so as not to get the kid ruler even more riled up. Even for this isolationist this is scary stuff.

    Reply
    1. Silence

      I also think that the situation in Korea is scary. No idea where things will go from here, but we certainly haven’t been acting like we want to de-escalate the situation. Sending F-22’s to Korea, putting the fleet of the coast, that sort of thing. The media also keeps talking about the potential nuclear weapons, but hasn’t really talked about North Korea’s extensive chemical and biological stockpiles.
      I just can’t figure out what Un’s endgame is. He’d have everything to gain from slowly improving relations with the south, rather than quickly worsening them.

      Reply
  7. Sean Cargill

    Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End from Abbey Road was playing on the radio while I read through this thread. As usual, Sir Paul and Ringo were in lock-step unison all the way through that medley and I got goosebumps. I play bass (because I was watching the Ed Sullivan show on 9 Feb 1964) and that medley is a textbook model for bass and drum kit synchronization in a four-piece band. It sounded tonight almost as fresh as it did on the warm September afternoon in 1969 when I first heard Abbey Road played straight-through, both sides, on one of those brief-case shaped record players, while sitting in my high school newspaper’s editorial office. Not many stories written that afternoon. I say almost as fresh because of all that’s happened since then in the Beatles lives and deaths as well as mine, and because I was 17 then and 65 now. Geez Louise that was a long time ago. To me, anyway. So if Sir Paul doesn’t have the ability to sing like he did 48 years ago, go tell the Marines. Maybe they can do something about it. Nobody else but God can, and I haven’t asked him but I am sure Sir Paul has. Or maybe he’s asked Mother Mary to intervene for him, speaking words of wisdom. And yes, I think Jagger did indeed stand at the crossroads at midnight. Which is why I haven’t followed Mick or Keith or the Stones much at all since about the Aftermath album, which was Christmas ’66 if I recall correctly. Long live the Beatles and Sir Paul McCartney.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah… you want to say, “Retire, Paul — rest on your laurels; you did great!”

      But he enjoys it SO much. And I’ve always thought that’s one of the great things about him. While Lennon griped about being a Beatle, Paul gave his fans the gift of loving it as much as we loved did.

      So it’s sad to know he needs to stop, but he loves it so…

      Reply

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