Veterans prove anything but old hat
Taking risks ... Leonard Cohen helped inspire a new generation of musos. Photo: John Woudstra
Maybe misbehaving, living excessively and generally ignoring the dictates of our mothers is a much more sensible way to spend young adulthood than we want to admit.
It's fair to say 2012 has taught us that when it comes to veteran musicians, it really does seem as if no matter how much drink, drugs and general debauchery they engaged in "back in the day", age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Bettye Lavette, Bill Fay, Ry Cooder, Loudon Wainwright III, Dr John and Leonard Cohen released albums that were never less than strong and, often enough, compelling with their willingness to tell the truth and take risks.
Talking true ... Neil Young. Photo: AP
A little bit younger, but still clocking up more than 30 years toting guitars, Paul Kelly released his first song cycle, drawing on Shakespeare and Donne, and Dwight Yoakam punked it up while staying true to real country - not that glitzy stuff pretty boys sell.
His energetic live show at the Enmore was flattened by an audience keener to sit and quit than rise and shine, something which was noticeable when that classic-rock casualty David Crosby, along with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, surprised by not just talking and walking but singing and playing so well.
Others who might have qualified for a pensioner discount on their tour buses this year included Roger Waters, Rod Stewart, Nick Lowe (who put on one of the nights of the year), the Johns Fogerty and Hiatt, Lucinda Williams, Yes, Thurston Moore and, at year's end, the Pretty Things, Blondie, Devo (who were hard, fast and rocked the old-men-in-shorts look) and Simple Minds.
Lest this seem like a roll-call for rock's nursing home, we can now celebrate rock's nursery. While Melbourne was home to a funk and sweaty soul revival that spawned Saskwatch, Cactus Channel and Clairy Browne, Australian hip-hop rolled out excellent album after excellent album, from the well-known Urthboy, Hilltop Hoods, TZU and Hermitude to Chasm, Skyrptcha, Pataphysics, Def Wish Cast, Maundz and One Sixth.
While on hip-hop, another of the year's best was the second album from LA's Kendrick Lamar while the album of the year, Channel Orange from Frank Ocean, used hip-hop alongside soul and electronic music for a potent combination of the personal and the parenthetical.
On the personal front, Delta Goodrem emerged from emotional dimness (and online abuse) with a musically stunted and lyrically bland album while Sarah Blasko emerged from emotional darkness with an inventive, challenging album of superb, soul-baring songs.
On electronic music, how good was the Presets album and its mix of powered-up electronica and hooked-up melodies? Or the way Radiohead pushed electronics and rock into consistently thrilling territory at the Sydney Entertainment Centre?
Despite their grand scale, Radiohead's influence could be detected in the low impact beats and tweaked soul of another of the year's success stories, the local parade of Chet Faker, Flume, Catcall and Alpine. You'll be reading about them in the international music mags next year. And maybe seeing them tour in 40 years - as long as they keep misbehaving.