I went to a Stones concert and now my life is complete

tattoo-you-600x600Ok, so a little background… Sometime between 8th and 9th grade, after I’d exhausted all the Beatles albums and found myself searching through my dad’s record collection for more old music, I turned to the Rolling Stones. The first album I remember listening to out in the garage was Tattoo You, a mix of pure adrenaline-fueled rock (“Hang Fire” was my favorite) and dreamy, slow-burning ballads that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. Anyway, a few albums and secondhand VHS tapes later, I was hooked. It was like falling in love with the Beatles all over again, except this band had decades of material to catch up on. I went through a particularly fun phase in high school where I went around trying to imitate Keith Richards’ swagger, much to my mom’s horror. And then later, Exile on Main Street became my go-to tour album, and to this day it reminds me looking out the bus window at interstate highways and cornfields and people out on their porches in Mississippi.

Over the last five years or so, I’ve watched at least two Stones tours go by without being able to get tickets (as in, stuck on the Ticketmaster wait page until tix sold out). So when I got word of the tour this year, I was pretty much ready to do anything, including using my mom’s AMEX to get into the presale, blocking off time on my work calendar to buy tickets, and then making my boyfriend drive 500 miles with me to San Diego because it’s the only west coast stop on the tour. And to my infinite happiness, it all worked like a dream! (Don’t worry, I paid my mom back for the tix, and I think Alex had an ok time at the show.)


So that brings us to this past Sunday at the ballpark in San Diego. I have a confession to make here. Two songs in, as the show was just beginning and Mick was singing “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll,” I may or may not have teared up, JUST A LITTLE, FOR JUST A SECOND. A Rolling Stones concert is not really something to get emotional about, but at that moment they just happened to remind me how I fell in love with music in the first place. It was rock music that did it: the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, all the super famous and not-so-famous bands of the 60s and 70s. My entire musical philosophy can be summed up with that one lyric: It’s only rock ‘n roll, but I like it, OK?! And no matter how many people rag on the Stones for being old men who won’t stop touring, I’m so glad they’re still going, because it gives people like me a chance to experience a little slice of rock history.

Show Highlights

“Midnight Rambler.” This song is epic already, but the live version is a whole ‘nother experience. I kept thinking about the quote from Crossfire Hurricane about how it’s the epitome of Jagger-Richards songwriting. Definitely my favorite part of the show.
Keith’s brain fart. I knew from watching concert videos that Keith always does his few songs after Mick introduces the band, about halfway through. And I was super excited to hear what songs he’d sing. The first one was “Slippin’ Away,” a classic Keef slow jam, followed by some rambling (I literally couldn’t understand a thing the man said, haha). Then he played the first few chords of “Can’t Be Seen” before being reminded by Ronnie that they were supposed to do “Before They Make Me Run,” which is one of my favorites! Yessss. Did not disappoint.
The moves like Jagger. The flailing arms, pointy fingers, and spastic clapping were in full play, and it was a beautiful sight. On top of that, Mick sprinted and power-skipped down the catwalk with more energy than I could probably muster in my entire life. HOW DOES HE DO IT?? Another random observance: I think he enjoys putting on different jackets just so he can rip them off. Which he can totally do, because’s he’s got a hot bod YES I SAID IT.

Other noteworthies: Taking the MTS trolley for the first time, rallying with a bunch of baby boomers, Ronnie’s sparkly shoes, and Mick’s very British, very articulated way of saying “Petco Park.”

There were no lowlights, of course, but I *was* a little disappointed that they didn’t play more Sticky Fingers, as was rumored. I was especially hopeful because they did the whole album at the LA show just a few nights before. But I read part of an interview with Mick that said he was concerned because it has 5 slow songs on it and they were worried that people would use it as a bathroom break. Ummm ok, maybe the basic people would, but without a doubt that would’ve been the highlight of the show for me. I was dying to hear “You Gotta Move” and “Dead Flowers”! “Wild Horses” would’ve been nice, too. They did play “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” (cue the stoners in the next row lighting up), “Bitch,” and “Moonlight Mile,” which was amazing.

I got a second wave of uninvited emotion when at the very end, after the extended band had taken their bows, it was just Mick, Keith, Charlie, and Ronnie on the stage, arms around each other, looking like a joyful band of old, scraggly brothers. D’awwww. As long as these guys can keep going and sound good, I sure hope they do.

Supplemental Materials: 1) me doing my best 70’s Keef impression; 2) view from nosebleed seats; 3) a picture from the San Diego Union Tribune of the guys’ final encore (how cute is Charlie with his yellow socks?!)

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The King of the Blues

Six years ago, I was lucky enough to see B.B. King in New York, on the same bill as Simon & Garfunkel, CSN, Stevie Wonder, and Bruce Springsteen (still one of the most magical nights I’ve ever experienced). I remember taking a recording on my dinky flip phone to share it with my dad later, because he’s the person who got me listening to blues in the first place. Not to mention, the music that B.B. King played directly influenced so many of my favorite artists, which in turn changed rock music for the better.

He was a powerhouse on the road (it doesn’t seem like he ever stopped touring, from the 1950’s up until his death), and even with upwards of 300 shows in a year, injected emotion into every single note he played. Most definitely deserving of the title “King of the Blues”:

The performance we saw in 2009 was just as awesome. B.B. King could fill the room with one guitar, even when the “room” was Madison Square Garden. I’m glad I got to witness it, and sad to see such a legend go.

Happy Byrneday


In celebration, 5 of David Byrne’s Weirdest/Best Moments:

1. Interviewing himself. In case you ever wanted to see DB in drag. Or blackface. (Also features the Big Suit.)

2. “Once in a Lifetime” music video. Classic.

3. Space Ghost Coast to Coast interview. Long hair don’t care! This clip just gets funnier and funnier each time I watch it. “NOT A CROUTON MAN!”

4. Singing “Miss America” while playing maracas and dancing in a kilt. Song starts at 1:24, spastic DB dance party starts at 3:00. This clip is tied in weirdness with the music video for the same song.

5. “Psycho Killer” in a skinless body suit. This makes me so uncomfortable but I CAN’T STOP WATCHING.

And to not end on such a creepy note, here is a somewhat recent video featuring more top-notch Byrne moves (side note: St. Vincent is the bomb and I can’t wait to see her at Outside Lands this year. I’m holding out hope that she might bring out a special guest at some point….):

Happy bday, DB. Never stop being weird.

Top Fives: Monkees Edition

Friday! Finally!

Here’s a #FBF to the first post on this blog (or “online journal,” as I called it back in 2008). In true ethno-major style, it was a celebration of the jawbone as an instrument and also, of course, the Monkees (yes! those two things actually are related). A couple notes about this: A) The number of donkey jaw videos on YouTube has increased probably tenfold since then, and I just spent a good 15 minutes watching a bunch of them, and B) 7 years later, I still have the exact same feels for the Monkees.

The fact that this blog was born out of a Monkees obsession means it’s only logical that I dedicate at least one Top 5 post to these guys. Here’s to my favorite not-so-guilty pleasure, those four long-haired weirdos!

Top Five Monkees Clothing Accessories

…because the 60s.

1. Micky’s “tablecloth” poncho:
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2. Mike’s “too cool for school” sunglasses:
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3. Colorful Nehru shirts…
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4. …and the fact that Mike was the only one who didn’t start dressing like a hippie halfway through the series. The closest he got was his somewhat-groovy ties:
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5. Wool hat. Duh.
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Ok, already this is a Mike-dominated post. Sorry never sorry.

Top Five Anti-Bubblegum Monkees Songs

…As in, after the band started rebelling against the whole bubblegum pop image thing and started writing their own songs (this was mostly Mike and Micky…I’m pretty sure Davy still liked singing songs about teenage girls)…

1. Circle Sky. The song is apparently about sights and sounds from the Monkees 1968 tour, but it always makes me think of the movie scene with images from Vietnam. Definitely has a dark vibe to me.
2. Daily Nightly. One of the first songs to feature a Moog!
3. Tapioca Tundra. Those Nesmith lyrics…also, there’s a guitar riff here taken straight from “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better.”
4. Listen to the Band. Because let’s be real, Mike’s voice was made for country music. I also love that this stripped-down live version exists. Davy + tambourine = :)
5. Randy Scouse Git. A prime example of “everyone knows we’re not playing this live so let’s goof around.”
Bonus: Ditty Diego – War Chant. Not written by any of the Monkees, but in fact written by Jack Nicholson for the reputation-destroying movie Head.

Top Five Most Ridiculous Scenes

…In, get this, REVERSE ORDER. (Subject to change as I binge-watch more episodes:)

5. In which Peter gets stuck in a trap bed and Davy is chased by a giant gorilla:

4. In which Davy gets captured in Mexico and the other three pretend to be bandits:

3. In which Mike plays a princess:

2. In which Micky’s pants get stolen by aliens:

1. And then there’s Mijacogeo – The Frodis Caper. THE ENTIRE EPISODE.

And that about sums up this week’s laugh riot. Special thanks to this website and this YouTube user for making this post possible.