Given the most-recent Macaulay oeuvre on this site and the absence of same, some of you might have been thinking (if you thought about it at all), “Hmm. . .he kept writing about dead people; maybe he’s joined them.”
And not another piece about dead people.
Well, not exactly. They could be zombies, but. . . .
That is, Friday, February 7, I saw on the front page of the Detroit Free Press a piece about the Rolling Stones coming to perform at Ford Field, the football stadium named for (and owned by) the family that built it (and a few million other things every year), in mid-June as part of its North American tour, the tickets for which are becoming available on February 14, a.k.a., “Valentine’s Day.”
Here’s the thing: I’ve seen the Rolling Stones twice here in Detroit. Once in 1969 at Olympia Stadium, which no longer exists. The opening acts were B.B. King and Terry Reid. Everyone knows B.B. More people ought to know Terry Reid, but that’s a story for another time. That tour included Jagger, Richards, Wyman, Mick Taylor, and Ian Stewart. That was the tour where Jagger wore the Uncle Sam hat and a onesy.
The tour that was to end up at Altamont.
The second time was in 1972 at Cobo Arena, which also no longer exists. This time the aforementioned lineup was supplemented by Nicky Hopkins, Bobby Keys, and Jim Price. Stevie Wonder was the opening act.
I graduated high school in 1972. That was 48 years ago. I hate to do the math.
In subsequent years, I have had several opportunities to see the Stones. And I’ve never pursued those opportunities for the simple reason that I believe you can’t catch lightning in a bottle, and what was once there, sparking, hasn’t. Isn’t.
According to celebritynetworth.com (I don’t read it; I just Googled this), Mick Jagger’s estimated net worth is $360-million. According to the Social Security Administration’s actuarial table, Jagger has an estimated 10.58 years to go. Which is to say not that I anticipate another one of my maudlin pieces 10.58 years from now, but that it is fairly evident that Jagger is not on still another tour because he needs the money. He could burn quite a bit each year and still leave some to his kids as it is.
No, I’m sure that they’re going out because what they do is who they are. Take away the touring and what do they have? Life rolling around in some mansion in the south of France where one day is pretty much like the next?
So while I’ve previously been a proponent of musicians getting to a certain point and just stopping (although I must confess that I still think that Ron Wood’s former bandmate should have gone away years ago), perhaps for their own mental health and well-being they need to be out there, even if they’re playing casinos and county fairs rather than football stadiums.
But what of the people who will attend the “No Filler” tour? Will they be people my age, hoping that they’ll regain lost youth for a few moments, when the opening notes of “Satisfaction” are played? Will they be younger generations, some of whom are true Stones fans, some of whom simply want to see what this seemingly endless phenomenon is all about?
Will they hear the music played and performed the way that I did in ’72, or will it (a) be better because of the nearly half-century of practice or (b) less good because let’s face it, Mick and Keith are nearly a half century older? (I think of the date I took to that show and honestly would prefer not seeing what time has done to her, just as she undoubtedly would feel the same way about me.)
Thinking about these acts who are out there trodding the boards for so long that they’ve worn a groove into them makes me also reconsider my long-held belief that cover bands are not to be listened to for there is something to be said for authenticity, the same way that Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory that is at the Museum of Modern Art in New York has far more resonance than the posters of same that my generation had on the walls of their dorm rooms.
But maybe cover bands bring with them something that the bands they cover can no longer carry: These bands have picked a time in the careers of their models and have essentially captured that in audible amber. There is probably a Stones cover band that sounds exactly like the Stones circa 1969. There might be enjoyment in hearing that.
Or a feeling of dark nostalgia.
Either way: the Stones continue to perform. And perplex.