Neil Young sang that it's better to burn out than to fade away. Every quasi-nihilist/anarchist artist has used it as a mantra ever since. And maybe I did once too. But no more. Cause it's incorrect. It is definitely better to fade away than to burn out. Here are 5 reasons why:
When Neil wrote the line in 1979 there wasn't as much of an opportunity for an artist to have a "comeback". It probably weighed heavy on pop stars and actors who depended on their looks more than their talent-thus the desire to live in the moment. But the ever-growing list of comebacks by "forgotten" artists like John Travolta, Betty White, Van Halen, Tony Bennet,Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, Carlos Santana, The Sex Pistols (ironically), Mickey Rourke, Robert Downey Jr., (just to name a few) prove that it's better to stick around and keep doing what you do.
#4 Fame Sucks
Most people dream about becoming famous, but the actually famous have a different opinion of fame once they attain it. First of all, it tends to screw you up (or make you screw yourself up). Examples? Michael Jackson, Lindsey Lohan, Brittany Spears, Kurt Cobain, and too many others to list. Fame is one of the only things that actually seems to make people more depressed the more they achieve. And let's not forget about being hounded non-stop 24/7 by fans, paparazzi, money grubbers, long-lost "family" needing some "assistance" and the never-ending demands to donate/appear/host/promote for charitable causes. What a pain. My uncle told me that he met Chevy Chase once (dubious claim, but whatever). He said to Chevy, "I wish I was rich and famous like you." After a pause, Chevy replied, "Just get rich, that's definitely better." Point? If you fade away, you get to enjoy all the money you made without people popping out of your trash can to take a picture of you in your Muppet slippers at 6 in the morning.
You get to make fun of all the young idiots who are doing their best to burn up. Let's face it, Americans love our Schadenfreude more than anyone. And you'll presumably be laughing from the comfortable confines of the mansion you have no doubt procured through years of hard work.
#2 Superiority Complex Skyrockets
You get to see your friends get old and totally change all their views. Political, religious, social-all their youthful idealism will crumble and they will become bitter opposites of what they once were. Hypocrites! More Schadenfreude!
Kids. The only way an idiot youngster has a kid is by accident, and by the time you realize that you want one it may be too late. Kids are awesome, but they need you to (ever so slowly) fade away so they can feed off of you until they are old enough to legally get a nose ring.