Rockers who defy time itself

Our latest Nobel Laureate for literature -- Bob Dylan -- is just one of the legends performing at a California music festival this month. See them while you can, says our Bill Flanagan:

For the last two weekends, in Indio, Calif., 80,000 mostly-mature adults have been traveling into the desert like ancient pilgrims to witness the gods of sixties rock -- Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Who, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, and The Rolling Stones -- at Desert Trip, the festival that has been nicknamed “Oldchella.”

Sir Paul McCartney and Neil Young perform onstage during Desert Trip, October 8, 2016. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The headliners are reportedly being paid up to $7 million each, a bargain for the promoters who grossed an estimated $150 million in the three hours it took the show to sell out. It is the most money ever made by a musical event.

And all the stars are in their seventies.

In a year when we lost David Bowie and Prince, there’s a new sensitivity that these musicians who have spoken to us, and for us, our whole lives will not be here forever. Bob Dylan once said that a song is supposed to be heroic enough to defy time. These artists are defying time with a determination that is especially moving, because we know it is impossible.

A couple of years ago I was standing on the side of a stage with Pete Townshend of The Who watching the Rolling Stones. As Mick Jagger shot past us, I said, “Boy, I hope I can move like that when I’m in my seventies.”

And Townshend said, “You couldn’t move like that in your twenties!”

Which is true, and it’s why tens of thousands of baby boomers are standing in the desert this weekend to sing along with the musical heroes of their youth.

Because as long as Mick Jagger runs and dances and sings like a teenager, we can believe -- for an hour or two -- that we are not getting older, that time will not touch us, that the best days of our lives are still here.

Of course, these musicians are not really immortal. Some day they won’t be with us. But for now, we are all alive, we are all together, and as long as the song is playing, now is all there is.

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