Until recently I had forgotten about “Old Habit Die Hard” Mick Jagger’s song from the Alfie Soundtrack. All 4 minutes of the song are better than the entire Alfie movie. What really makes this song standout for me though – is that for the first time in decades, Mick Jagger actually sounds like the 66 year old man he is.
The song is clearly about a woman. But considering the Stones penchant for touring constantly and putting out A Bigger Bang in 2005 (which unfortunately sounded like 60 year old men trying to recapture their Exile glory days) it’s hard not to look at it as a reflection of Mick’s day job. The song shows Jagger at his most exposed. “I’m proud as a lion in his lair,” He laments. “Now there’s no denying it.” It’s as he already knows the jokes we’re going to throw at him – he’s too old to continue on the way he does – prancing around the stage with his midriff showing. But he can’t give it up. “I act like an addict, I just got to have it,” He declares later.
There’s a reason why Dylan and Springsteen’s latter day careers have been justly praised. They’ve grown older with their music, but haven’t given up the traits that made them great in the first place. Their last few albums rank up there with the best of their works. A Bigger Bang was focused more on Stones’ rockers by the numbers than subtlety. Interestingly, I find Beggar’s Banquet to be more akin to the type of music representative of 60s year olds than A Bigger Bang. While I do love Keith Richards, it’s hard not to wonder if he is the one who insists on churning out the material that’s found on A Bigger Bang.
The reason why “Old Habits Die Hard” is such a revelation is because we get Mick Jagger and not “Mick Jagger” the celebrity. This is the same person who sang the songs on Let it Bleed, Exile on Main St, and Sticky Fingers just thirty years older. He’s lamenting his past, and not trying to recapture the days of the past. Old Habits Die Hard indeed, Mick.