The lilac satin tracksuit, remember it? The smooth bare chest, the quail's-egg navel, the haircut worn better by Steve Harley, slightly yellow on the Mod. Why the Union wristbands? I never knew. I let it be, and bopped to Bolan, and fell in love to Wings.
The history I caught up with, eventually. His Long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll and Reg Dwight years. His bit of Tommy. America getting Rod Stewart before we did. That was cool. Jeff Beck, Ronnie Wood, blotchy Faces albums, blondes. One of them, the prettiest, Dee Harrington, is now my personal trainer. Get me. Famously a great band member, too good a ligger, the solo move at the end of '75 surprised. He became entangled in tinsel and was swallowed by LA. I kind of forgot about him.
All these years. The gravel-in-a-biscuit-tin voice has smoothed now. It no longer grates. The raucous in Rod has subsided. Even the tartan is less, and somehow tasteful, his best brazen laid to rest, his hormones halted by too many children, and even grandchildren. His what is there left to do? Only this. 'Time', his first studio album in more than a decade, bounces right to number one. Eleven original tracks, written and produced by he himself, every one of them heaving with the familiar and the heard it all before, yet new, yet loaded, with all our yesterdays and sentiment and been there and wept it and laughed and choked, and smiled, and loved you more.
Listen no further than 'Brighton Beach' for the meaning of Rod Stewart, then. Weep at the timeless effortlessness of dear Jim Cregan, the song's co-writer: can't you still see his green grin on Top Of the Pops as he took to the guitar solo of 'Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)' for the Rebel Steve? Wallow in 'Live The Life' and 'Picture In A Frame', full-tidal with echoes of 'Amazing Grace', and 'Time'. Wish, and know that they won't, ever, that someone would some day write a song like 'Pure Love' about you.
Do I think he's sexy? At sixty eight? Not much. There are men who do hold it, whom I could name, but let's not. Rod doesn't. Penny thinks so, or maybe she doesn't. Who knows? Her portraits of her husband, featured in the CD booklet, certainly suggest mutual attraction, and are reminiscent of those taken by lovely Linda of Paul. Perhaps it takes the look of true love through a lens to capture one's deepest essence. Most of us wait in vain for a lifetime, sometimes knowing how much we love someone, knowing that they do not love us back. That's hopeless. Rod gets it. He's been listening. This is an album for loved-and-losts, as well as winners-take-all.
Love: the last indefinable, the great unfathomable, all our beginnings, our ends of the world, is the thing that this album celebrates. Love drove Rod's recent autobiography, which also topped the charts. Elegant and dignified, most of its mischief lay in careful whispers between the lines. Rod learned long ago to close the bedroom door. The paradox - that life's most tender moments are both universal and personal, is Rod's big life lesson learned. Finally. 'Time' reminds us to hope, and to believe. Someone like you? There was a reason. I always knew.