Why The Rolling Stones Still Don’t Suck

The Rolling Stones in concert at British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park, July 6, 2013. | Andrea Sartorati photo, CC-BY-SA-2.0

It really defies all logic. The Rolling Stones started crashing pubs in London when John F. Kennedy was alive. Six decades ago they were young and hot and wild—sitting on top of the charts. 

That was their moment. For most bands, that is their peak. They’ll never be better than they are in that moment.

But for whatever reason, this rule doesn’t apply to The Rolling Stones.

They thrived in the ‘60s. Survived in the ‘70s. Rode out the ‘80s. Continued their relevance deep into the 90s. 

Now, here we sit in 2023. They drop a new song and it’s a fuckin’ banger that I can’t get out of my head.

How, seriously, HOW does that happen? 

I’ve listened to this song probably 30 times since last week, and I’m befuddled. 

As we age, we deteriorate. Our joints begin to hurt, we get more tired, all while the young people grow stronger and smarter.

Bands, by that same standard, get old, too. The notes get harder to hit for singers. Drummers get tired. Week-long drug and alcohol-fueled benders that get the creative juices flowing make way for wheatgrass shots and early nights. In the entertainment world, age is the enemy.

Those damn Rolling Stones, on the other hand, have written, recorded and gigged great new music for more than 60 years. I’m not saying the new music is “the greatest thing they’ve ever done,” but it absolutely does not taint their legends. Plenty of bands can’t say that. Most bands, actually.

It’s like they’re the Clint Eastwood of rock n’ roll.

The latest single, “Angry,” is a prime example. Watching the livestream of its release, I kept asking myself one strange question.

Why don’t they suck yet? Shouldn’t they?

By that time in life, people are generally so far removed from the normal day-to-day life of young people. That The Stones are putting out music that isn’t just “to put out something new,” but is, in fact, in touch with the times is quite the feat.

From the driving riffs to the lyrics to the high-tech video, the song could just as easily have been released by a much younger artist.

This bunch of old rockers is still doing it. You don’t listen to them live or on a new song and think “well, you have to cut them some slack because they’re old.”

Maybe it’s the tight pants and skull rings keeping these old stones rolling? Maybe it’s because they’re playing when they want to these days?

The quite literal demise of streaming royalties that do little more than insult the artists of the past has brought plenty of people out of retirement. When physical record sales dried up, touring was the last way for these artists to earn a living. 

But, again, not the Stones. They’ve made their money. They don’t have to work.

They choose to continue making music together. It shows.

So far, we’ve only heard one single. It’s a killer rock n’ roll song. Now, we wait for the rest of Hackney Diamonds.

Then, once again, we’ll likely have another great Rolling Stones record to jam for years to come. 

Will it be the last time we can say that? That’s the same question we’ve been asking since the ‘80s. How great is that?