The Rolling Stones at 50

The Rolling Stones in younger days (Popperfoto/Getty Images)
The Rolling Stones in younger days (Popperfoto/Getty Images)
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Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were 22 years old when they wrote a song about an aging mother trying to handle a stress-filled life

MUSIC: "What a drag it is getting old..."

The opening line from the Rolling Stones' 1966 hit "Mother's Little Helper" is also the title of a lecture that music journalist Alan Light will give, this Thursday, examining the triumphs and the challenges of the band's longevity.

ALAN LIGHT: Somewhere in the '80s it became clear that the Stones were doing something that there was no blueprint for --- nobody had kept a band on-going as an active working machine for 20 years, 30 years, and now we're at 50 years.

That half-century of the Rolling Stones will be explored this week through lectures, films and an all-star performance featuring musicians who have played with the Stones over the years --- everyone from saxophonist Bobby Keys to singer Merry Clayton, whose signature voice haunts the classic "Gimme Shelter".

Writer Alan Light argues that, while the band's more recent music may be marginal, the enduring quality of their early output sets a bar that few others have ever reached.

ALAN LIGHT: There still is a vitality and excitement around it, and all you can say is that it's testament to just how damned good those records are.

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