Artists like Dolly Parton prove that creativity does not fade with age

Picture of Chris Farrell, Marketplace’s senior economics contributor, under Bluetooth headphones, if you will. He dissects policymakers’ accounts of how aging demographics can hurt America’s creativity and innovation — even as he listens to a rich playlist of music created by artists not in their teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s or even 60s. It is the new original works of the Septuagint.

Chris Farrell recently joined „Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio to talk about the phenomenon. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.

David Brancaccio: Well, Chris, let’s hear your musical argument.

Chris Farrell: Well, here goes. Society doesn’t appreciate how many artists create better in their later years. Also, we have some recent examples that highlight how creativity can grow in the long run. Take the Rolling Stones and their new album, „Hockney Diamonds.” Mick Jagger, he’s 80 years old. Keith Richards, 79. So let’s listen to their new song, „Whole Wide World.”

Brancasio: OK, so The Stones have announced a new tour and to get the creative juices flowing for other non-spring chickens, Dolly …

Farrell: Dolly Parton, age 77, and she recently released her first rock album, „Rockstar,” featuring both original songs and covers. Now, here’s Dolly’s „Rockstar” from the song.

Brancasio: A wild album full of wild partnerships. So let’s see — Bonnie Raitt, age 73, won a Grammy last year for „Just Like That.” 71-year-old Bruce [Springsteen] Release 2020 album „Letter to You”. But for this aging population, what does their creative output tell us about opportunities for the broader economy? Most of us don’t create original art that speaks to a large audience.

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Farrell: Well, I think once again, David, you know, musicians and artists, they’re uniquely positioned to point the way for the broader culture, where we’re going. So instead of wringing our hands over an aging population, policymakers and corporate leaders must come up with ways to keep older workers productive and engaged in the workforce and at work longer. And the benefit, the scholarly evidence has a lot of cumulative cases, which you just heard. You know, they show that innovation doesn’t disappear with the accumulation of birthdays. But workers should be given the opportunity to use their creativity over time.

Brancasio: You’ve reported on this and written a lot about it. There is a solid tradition of people taking their accumulated skills and years of wisdom and starting new profitable ventures in what others might consider „retirement years.”

Farrell: Yes, these 55- to 64-year-olds accounts for one-fourth of all new entrepreneurs In recent years. The share of self-employed as main occupation rises dramatically with age. Put it this way, David: We have an extraordinary opportunity to rethink what it means to grow old.

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