IF YOU CAN'T JOIN 'EM

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The Independent Culture
Not everyone wants to sign on with the Roadshow. So what other career paths are open to the ageing rocker?

MOVE TO A `MATURE' GENRE: If you want to stick with popular music without being a snake-hipped hellraiser at the same time, shift to a genre that's not so readily associated with adolescence: ie. the blues (Eric Clapton and Gary Moore can console themselves that they are children compared with John Lee Hooker and BB King) or country (Nick Lowe is much younger than his ex-father-in-law, Johnny Cash). "I hope whatever I do suits my age," says Lowe. "I'm a great admirer of people like Ray Charles, not just because they're great artists, but because they don't try to chase something unseemly and embarrassing." However, if even blues and country are too youthful for you . . .

BE A COMPOSER: Is it more worthwhile to write a bad classical symphony than it is to produce a good three-minute pop song? Of course not, but by your age you'll be tempted to prove you're a proper musician anyway. There's former Police drummer Stewart Copeland and his operas, Mark Knopfler & Co with their film soundtracks, and Paul McCartney's dreadful Liverpool Oratorio. Another option, although not a wise one, is to incorporate rock and classical music, as Elvis Costello did with The Juliet Letters. Pete Townshend has been writing rock operas for decades. In1989 he wrote a musical adaptation of Ted Hughes's Iron Man, and the revival of Tommy as a Broadway musical in 1993 marked his metamorphosis into Andrew Lloyd Webber. Townshend has also tried to . . .

BE BRAINY: Pretend that you only dabble with pop in between your more cerebral artistic endeavours. Be a Writer (Pete Townshend became a consultant editor at Faber & Faber, Lou Reed published his lyrics as poetry) or an Artist (David Bowie and Joni Mitchell have declared that they are painters). Brainier still are Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson, who favour "art installations". Their rock careers have granted them wealth and access to state-of-the-art technology, and now they have recast themselves as multi-media boffins, who prefer CD Roms to CDs, information superhighways to Highway 61.

GET A YOUNG BAND TO ADOPT YOU: If a young band like you, there's a good chance they can persuade their audience to like you, too. Your best bet is a full-blown collaboration (REM with the Troggs, the Smiths and Sandie Shaw, Heaven 17 and Tina Turner) but you can benefit just from having a young band admit your influence on them: Teenage Fan-club did it for Big Star, Suede for David Bowie, Blur for the Kinks. If you're really lucky you can find a fan with a welcoming record label. Prince invited George Clinton and Mavis Staples into Paisley Park. Alternatively, you could be championed by a film director: surf guitar god Dick Dale was helped back to the limelight by Quentin Tarantino, who used his "Miserlou" as the theme to Pulp Fiction.

REFORM: Never mind the cries of "cash in"; they will be drowned out by the cheers from fans who buy your solo work out of loyalty, and much prefer the old stuff. Recent recidivists include the Velvet Underground, Traffic, the Eagles, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Elvis Costello (with the Attractions), Bruce Spring-steen (with the E Street Band) and Meat Loaf (with Jim Steinman). Even the Beatles are giving it a go. If you were never in a famous team, you can't reform it, but you can go back to playing your old material when you tour. It works for Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Bob Dylan. All of whom also like to . . .

BE MAD: The older you get, the more bonkers you can behave, and the more we will admire you for your endearing eccentricities. NB

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