An artist who made a significant impact on the values of my contemporaries was notable for not performing his back catalogue of songs on stage. There were only couple of instances in songs where he appeared to look backwards and quote his own ideas. Once the music was recorded, he left it alone to deal with his creative urges in the present moment.
Interestingly enough, most of the musicians that he inspired have chosen to do something that could be regarded as the exact opposite of his artistic choice – they devote most of their time to playing his music (possibly to the detriment of their own development as creative artists).
The artist in question set some boundaries for himself and his audiences that enabled all of them to remain focused on the moment they were living in. In his lifetime he was never regarded as an “oldies” or “nostalgia” act.
Anyone who really has an urge to communicate would identify with this approach. I have spent a great deal of time arguing with people who appreciate my music about the pros and cons of relating to my back catalogue.
At the heart of the matter is the need to keep on exercising one’s creative muscles. Perhaps this is a telling example of a major difference between artists and entertainers.