E S S A Y I’ve been thinking lately that I’m going to start keeping my eyes on two people as signs of how I should spend the final years of my life. Whichever one outlives the other will tell me what I need to know about the validity of healthy living.
Here’s Ringo Starr, who will turn 77 next July. Damn, he looks good! That trim, tight little body looks better than it did back in the heyday of the Sixties! I’ve always adored Ringo. From the original Ed Sullivan Show broadcast of the Beatles to today, Ringo is the Beatle I’d most invite over to sit on my front porch. He’s down-to-earth, homey, and even a little silly.
Ringo had a hard time dealing with the breakup of the Beatles and turned to drink to help him cope. He also was pretty fond of the nose candy. Trust me. I knew his dealer in Hollywood. I don’t know if he still enjoys a hit of pot once in a while or not, but I doubt it. He and his wife, the luscious Barbara Bach, went through major rehab and I doubt they’d mess it up over a little reefer. Besides, that new body of his shows absolutely no trace of Cheetos or fried pork rind munchies. No, this is one clean-living, sober, vegetarian man.
Next, we have Keith Richards, who will turn 73 on Sunday. He’s rock & roll’s original bad boy, bad man, and bad old fart. He’s a pirate. He smokes, drinks…who know what all, and I doubt he’s a vegetarian. No, he doesn’t look as good as Ringo, but then, he never did. Earlier pictures of the Stones should have prepared us. But he’s still out there. Like Ringo, he continues to tour, record, and make great music. We should all be so decrepit!
I love Keef. I love his philosophies about life and I love his ability to not give a rat’s ass what any of us think about him. He just marches along to the beat of his own drum, laughing all the way, leaving a trail of cigarette butts behind him and dropping gems like, “The point is, who are you? Do you know yourself, and can you handle it?” and “It’s not about living forever, it’s about living with yourself forever.”
I’m going to watch these two icons and see which one goes first. Whichever one survives will dictate how I’ll live my remaining years. If Ringo lives longer, I’ll clean up, exercise, eat better, and who knows? Maybe I’ll get myself a drum set and go back to playing. If Keef is the one to survive, then I’m going to start doing all the things I didn’t do during the 1960s and ’70s. Yeah, I know I did a lot, but not as much as either of these blokes.
Either way, because I’m younger, I’m pretty sure I’ll outlive both Ringo and Keef. We’ll see what happens after that.
SK Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge, takes places in late 70s London. Read more at SK Waller Blog and SKWaller.com.