When To Retire QUESTION

Firing the debate is Dylan’s “status as the ultimate music icon, the caretaker of a body of work that, many would agree, stands in contrast to his current sound.”

For some of us, when to retire is dictated by the policies of our companies, our governments, or perhaps, our health, possibly tied to the amount of our nest egg.

But for some, in the fields of music and sports, e.g., when it’s not always that clear. There’s a new movie called The Fighter, which I saw on New Year’s Eve, about a middling boxer who wonders if he should hang up his gloves, or stay in the ring.

In real life Brett Favre, an NFL quarterback has retired for the last three years; this year’s proclamation, playing on a losing team, seemingly will stick.

But I was most intrigued by an article in the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago called When to Leave the Stage, which is about a “generation of music icons…hitting retirement age, along with their baby-boomer fans.” Writer John Jurgensen targeted one particular performer: “Is it time for Bob Dylan to hang up his hat and harmonica?”

“Why single out Mr. Dylan when Judy Collins and other graying veterans are out there touring unmolested? Firing the debate is his status as the ultimate music icon, the caretaker of a body of work that, many would agree, stands in contrast to his current sound. He’s also got a touring schedule that would put some hungry young acts to shame. He’s been doing roughly 100 gigs, year in, year out, since 1988…

“Casual fans, especially, are vexed by Mr. Dylan’s ongoing habit of mutating his most familiar songs.” The latter I know to be true from seeing Dylan myself a couple of years ago, and being totally unable to recognize some of his most famous works.

But should he retire? I contend that he’ll retire when people stop buying tickets to see him and/or stop buying his records; some of his best albums have come out in the past 15 years. So I say no – let the market decide. I had had opportunities to see artists such as Sly Stone and James Brown perform, and I declined, despite loving their music, because their erratic behavior at their concerts had become legendary.

What thinkest thou?