“Their [The Rolling Stones] obsession with Exile ended when everyone else’s began – that is, when the last of the tracks finally got mixed – and they’re long since burned out on the subject.”
-David Gates, from his Rolling Stone  article about The Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street
By the time most of us hear our favorite artist’s latest work, that artist is ready to move on to the next thing. Yet we go to their show expecting them to be elated to perform songs they have spent hours poring over in the studio; songs that have been written, tracked, mixed, re-mixed, re-worked, mastered, rehearsed. This phase of the cycle often takes up month’s of an artist’s life.
From the same issue of Rolling Stone, Scott Weiland, of Stone Temple Pilots, tells Austin Scaggs,
“It can be a drag just playing the greatest-hits over and over. New music changes the context of everything.”
The “greatest-hits” Weiland is referring to are primarily from STP’s 1992 project, Core, along with 1994’s Purple – some songs that were birthed over 18 years ago. The “new music” is his band’s latest album Stone Temple Pilots, which released May 25, 2010.
Paul McCartney was 21 years old when he took the stage of The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. I plan to see him perform at the end of July 2010. He will be 68, and will have been performing some of the Beatles songs for nearly 50 years.
Really consider that for a second. When McCartney first rose to fame, Lyndon Baines Johnson had only been president for three months.
In terms of talent, hits and longevity, I submit that there is no one above Paul McCartney. And the guy is still performing these old songs. A strong lesson for young musicians “burned out” from repeatedly performing their short list of hits.
I realize we are discussing some pretty elite musicians here, but the idea applies to any musician that produces a work and finds an audience that cares.
Whether an artist has one hit or countless, their loving audience still loves them.