Aren’t you too old to rock ‘n’ roll? I’m beginning to think that this statement might be true. I’m sure Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger should be reminded often that due to his short-sightedness at 32, he said, “I’d rather be dead than sing contentment when I’m 45.” At 78 years old, you can bet the satisfaction is in the band’s repertoire, as they celebrate their 60th year on the tour in 2022.
Around the same time that Mick made the “Eat the Crow” announcement, I attended my first concert. I was in my early teens. It wasn’t the Rolling Stones, but Loggins, Messina’s very mild car and my girlfriend’s parents drove us to the local arena. We sat in our seats and sat excitedly, not quite sure how to act. I remember watching Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina sing after the hit while we were singing along to the songs we knew. My boyfriend and I tortured our other boyfriends for weeks after the show, singing and replaying our personal favorite at the time, “Your mom doesn’t dance and dad doesn’t rock ‘n’ roll.” In the lounges, on the bus, during a gym class. “When evening comes and it’s time to go to town, where do you go? Rock and roll?” Suddenly, that song wasn’t just a song we heard on the radio. Now that song was related to an experience. A memory I cherish to this day. Doesn’t everyone remember their first party? There is simply no such thing as a live performance and I was instantly hooked.
My next musical experience came through as a gift from a local radio station. I was the right caller and found myself going to see Greg Allman. I wasn’t familiar with the music but before the night was over, I was a fan of it. I came home with a poster hanging on my bedroom wall for years.
During my adolescence, almost any band coming from the city played at the local hockey rink, with what I now understand to be terrible acoustics. My friends and I didn’t care. We lined up early to see many of the popular acts of the time – some rock ‘n’ roll, a lot of country rock, a few pop singers, and even more up-and-coming talent that opened its doors to well-known artists but opened the doors before they hit the headlines. The theater. It was discovery time.
Tickets were cheap at the time, so if I missed a show, it was probably my dad and not money that turned me away. Alice Cooper banned because of his controversial reputation! Others were on school night. (I may or may not be vague about my whereabouts, in defiance of parental control, on more than one occasion.) The power and experience of live music made me do silly things.
In my early twenties, my life directed me towards this work and I spent the next twenty or so years getting involved both on a personal and professional level. Over the several decades since then, I’ve seen countless works. There is still regret. I turned down an opportunity to see Prince for free, because I wasn’t interested in him at the time. There was a rainy, canceled music festival where I was going to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – somehow, I didn’t attend another show. How did I miss David Bowie to live? Both of these artists have missed out on, and will never get a chance to see them on air again. Contrition.
As I got older, I found myself more selective about who I was willing to pay to see and how I would see it. No more park benches. No more nosebleeds seats. No playgrounds! I’ve become a live music snob.
Recently, I was in touch with an old friend who was a member of a band that was a big part of my life when I first moved to California in the mid-’80s. The band is back on tour to celebrate 40 years since releasing their first successful album. I invited to a show at Lake Tahoe, picked up my first baby (who had heard about her since she was born), and enjoyed her afternoon visit, sharing memories and catching up. It was impressive to realize that this particular group of musicians have been able to run a career their whole life doing what they love. They play for a living. There was an acknowledgment of the burden the road left behind: hearing loss, shoulder and knee surgeries, little more than normal wear and tear, but I have to say when the lights came on and they got on stage, they sounded amazing, and the music took me back to another time and place. It was such a pleasure to stand in the crowd with Akbar me by my side, and sing along as they play their hit songs. It was great to realize that they are still composing and releasing new music. I came out with my ears ringing and my heart full. Is there anything more unifying?
Is there anything we need now more than common ground and unity?
Music brings us together. Music takes us to places long forgotten. Music evokes memories. Music stops time.
Our local performing arts venues attract a variety of performers – from the famous, the up-and-coming, to the obscure. They have been responsible for introducing me to bands I’ve never heard of, that I look up to now and I’m always excited to see their calendars – a chance to go back in time, a chance to discover new artists and a chance to always be in the community, sharing the experience.
We’ve been very isolated for a few years now. Those who earn a living to bring people together need our support. Sure, it might be time for some of these old men to get off the bus, but for many others, I hope the road goes on forever. This is satisfaction!
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada-based, freelance writer, as well as a podcaster for HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at [email protected]