Some wag at Associated Press noticed recently that the Rolling Stones’ average age puts them older than the U.S. Supreme Court. (Did some one notice this before AP?) Franklin Roosevelt criticized the Court as “nine old men.” Women have improved the Court, but age sometimes makes us wonder, still, if new ideas wouldn’t help.
Maybe we should wonder about increasing the wisdom that comes with age:
Mick Jagger, 69
Keith Richards, 68
Charlie Watts, 71
Ronnie Wood, 65
Bill Wyman (rejoining them on tour), 76
Average age: 69.8 years (calculated from whole years only)
U.S. Supreme Court:
Antonin Scalia, 76
Anthony Kennedy, 76
Clarence Thomas, 64
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 79
Stephen Breyer, 74
John G. Roberts, 57
Samuel A. Alito, Jr., 62
Sonia Sotomayor, 58
Elena Kagan, 52
Average age: 68.4 years
A wise-beyond-his-teen-years camper at Camp Rising Sun of the Louis August Jonas Foundation, in the 1960s or early 1970s, observed, “You cannot be both young and brave, and old and wise.” Certainly one would hope to achieve the happier medium of brave and wise (not necessarily in that order), but humans being who we are and experience being the master teacher that it is, we find ourselves on one end of both spectra, either wizened in age, or brave perhaps because of youth.
The Stones, celebrating their 50th year as a band in 2012, probably rock better than the Court does. One can’t help wondering whether the wisdom of the Stones wouldn’t serve us better than that of the current court. Ironically, those most wise at the Court tend to be the younger ones (Breyer definitely excluded). I’d be inclined to swap out Alito and Scalia for any two of the Stones. Maybe Roberts for a third.
Thomas? Well, he’s almost a contemporary, and I had lunch with him a couple of times (Senate staff). I hate to criticize a lunch companion so. But comparing Jagger’s record at the London School of Economics with Thomas’s record in academia, yeah, I could be persuaded. I dealt with Breyer, too (not at lunch), and am inclined to think he could rock pretty well.
Perhaps the answer is that we need more rock and roll in the halls of justice. Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie and Bruce Springsteen, among others, would probably agree.
If both groups banned the use of hair dye, would it improve anything they do?
Which bunch would you rather have dispensing final decisions on justice? Which bunch would you prefer to see in concert?
- Just How Old Are These Guys? (huffingtonpost.com)
- On average the Stones older than US Supreme Court (kfwbam.com)
- Supreme Court To Take Up Two Gay Marriage Cases Including Prop 8 (lezgetreal.com)
- The Older the Rolling Stones Get, the More Expensive They Are (businessweek.com)
- Earlier this year the New York Times had a wonderful article on four musical groups hitting 50 years in 2012, the Stones, the Chieftans, El Gran Combo, and the Beach Boys:
In April 1962 the Beach Boys recorded “Surfin’ Safari” and “409” at Western Recorders in Los Angeles; the demo tape soon became their first single on Capitol Records. The following month El Gran Combo formed out of the remains of Rafael Cortijo y Su Combo, a brilliant band that had come to symbolize the new Puerto Rican popular music: black, working-class, Cuban-influenced, tight and urban but rustic at the middle. In July Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones gave their first performances, as the core of a band called the Rollin’ Stones, at both the Marquee and the Ealing Jazz Club in London. And in November the Chieftains, a group of virtuosos who sought to play traditional Irish music in a new way — in precise, small-group arrangements — started rehearsing at the house of Paddy Moloney, the group’s leader. [Go read the article!]