Rolling Stones at 50: A work ethic to raise kids by?

The Rolling Stones hit the stage 50 years ago and this mom loves their work ethic. After all, what can a poor boy do, 'cept sing for a rock 'n' roll band? For 50 years, and counting, she says, that's what they been doing. And they haven't been poor for at least the last 48.

First of all, let’s do the math.  Anyone old enough to remember the Rolling Stones first performance 50 years ago is probably a grandparent. Or a very, very, very old parent.  

This fact may make some people shudder and groan, not because being a grandparent is such a bad thing, but because baby boomers (and you know who you are), don’t want to admit to being any older than 29. But we are. A lot older than 29, and so are the Rolling Stones. But never mind that.

The Rolling Stones are on tour again and probably always will be. (This one is called “The Stones – 50 and Counting," and tonight HBO premieres the documentary "Crossfire Hurricane," which chronicles the band's start 50 years ago.) The Stones aren’t the ones who sang “hope I die before I get old.” That was The Who (no Abbott and Costello jokes please).  

And the Rolling Stones didn’t say "never trust anyone over 30." That was said by a member of the free speech movement in 1964, and then co-opted by everyone including Bob Dylan and Madison Avenue.

So what did the Rolling Stones say? They asked the rhetorical question, what can a poor boy do, 'cept to sing for a rock 'n' roll band? And for 50 years and counting, that’s what they been doing. They haven’t been poor for at least the last 48 years, but that’s only because they’ve never stopped working.  And that’s what makes them so remarkable to me. Not their fountain of youth like antics, but their work ethic. They have never missed a performance. Not once.

That’s impressive. They have never broken up. That’s amazing.

Sure Bill Wyman quietly left the band in 1993, but that was after playing bass with them for over 20 years. That’s more like taking early retirement than quitting. Mr. Wyman re-entered the work force four years later with his own more modest though eponymous band. Last month [October] after a 20 year hiatus, he performed again with the Rolling Stones.The band was all smiles and hugs, and not just for the cameras. Mr. Jagger, Mr. Richards, Mr. Watts and Mr. Wood seemed genuinely delighted to be playing with their mate again.

And so what if Wyman’s cohorts continue to rock on? So does Warren Buffett after all. I wonder if Buffett plays bass?  

When I was a kid, the Rolling Stones were the bad boys of rock and roll.The Beatles were the good guys. But it turns out that was only show biz, not reality. The Beatles did some pretty bad things, and yes so did the Rolling Stones. But on balance the Rolling Stones have turned out to be more than just survivors.

It should be said that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are also much more than just survivors. They have continued to contribute to the musical scene. But they aren’t the Beatles anymore. The Rolling Stones, love them or not, are still The Rolling Stones. They are the good guys at least from my way of looking at it.

They continue to work and play, at the same time. They act like they are having fun, even if they aren’t, at least all the time. They do what professionals are supposed to do. They work hard, they show up, they honor their commitments, to their fans anyway, and to themselves. And they aim for and achieve excellence. Most days.  

That’s saying a lot.

Forget if you can about their personal failings and foibles. Just look at the work. Or better still, listen to their music. Past, present, and future. It’s good, it’s consistent, and it’s never been more – or less – than what they said it was. It’s only rock’n’roll. But I like it.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Madora Kibbe writes a blog for Psychology Today called "Thinking Makes It So." She has also written a blog about the so-called Empty Nest Syndrome.

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