In order to truly appreciate the life and career of Jane "the World's Oldest Teenager" Scott, one of the most enduring pop music critics in newspaper lore, you have to work our beat for awhile. It's a dream gig, for sure. But it also demands a commitment of youth, vigor and open-mindedness. Oh, and patience. And positivity. And maybe a lil' bourbon. There are days when a lousy new Beyonce album — or a screaming teen-riot Jonas Brothers show — has me dreaming of driving a taxi.
An institution in red glasses and a pageboy hairdo at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Miss Scott covered rock 'n' roll — all the good and the bad and the Britney it encompasses — for four decades, retiring when she was in her 80s. Yes, 80s. How immensely cool, and unheard of, is that?
Her mood was notoriously upbeat; her style kind and inquisitive. Her first concert was the Beatles in 1964; her last was Lyle Lovett in 2008. She died Monday at the well-earned age of 92 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease for the past few years.
Stories about Miss Scott are being bandied about, how she was good pals with Bruce Springsteen and Lou Reed, how Lovett was like a second son. Over her truly jaw-dropping career, when some know-nothing editor would get it in their heads that the lady was too old for the job, outcry — from readers and musicians alike — would demand the status quo.
So Jane stayed.
Some knocked Miss Scott for being an appreciator, for not being tough, for not being nasty. But she said they were missing the point. Open your ears, she said. Bands, from punk outfits to Captain & Tennille, loved her because she didn't try to be hip or wise. She just liked the music, and that was good enough.
I encourage you all to search out Miss Scott's work. There will be myriad accolades in the coming days, and you better believe Springsteen, the master of the eulogy, is penning something now. Look her up. She's fun.
I'll end by saying what truly astounds me, a fellow pop music critic, is Miss Scott's remarkable tenure, her length of invaluable service. It takes a special kind of person to hear so much good among so much bad. Hanging with all of those young bands and even younger fans, she didn't feel old and self-conscious. She most certainly didn't feel 80. She felt young, happy. What a legacy, what a way to live. We should all want to be Jane Scott when we grow up.
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at tampabay.com/blogs/poplife.