Am I missing anything? I’m having trouble thinking what’s left for Elton to do to put his rock ‘n roll house in order. If he decides to never appear publicly again or if, god forbid, he leaves us too soon, I think he’ll have completed the difficult task of moving from mega-star to mega-joke to eternally comebacking veteran star to simply classy, veteran musician and seemingly solid citizen. I’m not sure how many musicians have completed this transition, have gotten their rock ‘n roll house in order. I sincerely commend John for having done so and ask you to help me identify other artists who are near completing this task—not to mention artists who still have some serious work to do.
Paul Simon may be there. He’s practically a rock ‘n roll goodwill ambassador by now, traveling the world like post-presidential Jimmy Carter does to this day. Bono should take notes.
Nick Lowe‘s gotten his house in order, but in the large scheme of rock ‘n roll excesses he doesn’t have half as much to clean up as rock’s biggest stars.
A major artist who seems to be working toward this task is Bob Dylan. His Chronicles, Vol. 1, for instance, was nothing if not an admission that he was a “regular Joe” like the rest of us. He would still benefit from an adjustment to his Look, maybe ditching the Vincent Price pencil mustache, but the guy seems to be making a serious effort to leave this world as a grown man.
David Bowie is almost there. He makes fun of himself on occasion. He dresses down now and then. He’s dropped pretensions to Glass Spiders and Tin Machines. It may help him to stop releasing overblown albums with space themes. Would a classy album of tunes from ’40s musicals be in order, or maybe a piano-acoustic guitar-drums with brushes album?
There are a number of musicians who try, at least now and then, to get their rock ‘n roll house in order. Paul McCartney comes to mind. For every good deed, for every reconcilliation with his past, however, he reverts to desperate, ego-fueled behaviors, like mounting major tours and firing off those stinking pyrotechnics every time he and his band play “Live and Let Die.” I think another simple rockabilly album may be in order.
What about Pete Townshend? He’s made major moves toward getting his house in order, even taking a job as a proofreader or something at a publishing house about 10 years ago, right? Like McCartney, though, he seems to have trouble resisting one more leap back into the forced spotlight. What’s it going to take for Pete to get his rock ‘n roll house in order, or will that challenge inevitably lead toward the difficulties in wiping one’s hard drive clean?
Then there are artists who seem to have little interest in getting their rock ‘n roll house in order, such as Mick Jagger. Right? Mick seems to have no interest in preparing for the Great Irrelevance, whereas Keith Richards has initiated the process of getting his house in order.