Mr. Moderator Charged With Rock Crime: Wife Claims He Was “Too Cool for School” When He Turned Down Second-Row Seats for 1982 Rolling Stones Concert
Last week the family and I were in the car for a short trip out for dinner. I switched on the local Classic Rock station and “Waiting on a Friend” came on the radio.
“This song isn’t up to your high standards, is it?” my wife asked with a mocking glance from the passenger’s seat.
“Actually, I like this song,” I said, leaving out the fact that for a good 15 years I did not allow myself to like it. “It’s ‘Start Me Up’ that is the last straw for me and the Stones.”
With each passing year I really do like “Waiting on a Friend.” I like the video even better. I value friendship above just about everything else. It’s really nice how patient Mick is waiting for Keef to show up and take a walk. In contrast, the guy sitting at the cafe window at the 1:33 mark looks so sad, doesn’t he? He clearly doesn’t have a great old friend like Keef who’s running just a few minutes late. I’ll stop now before I tear up at the site of Mick and Keef eventually meeting up with Ronnie at the bar, where they swig beer; sashay to the music; lean into each other; and practice multiple means of self-stimulation by running hands through messy hair, playing with a scarf, and taking deep drags off a cigarette.
With each passing year I like “Start Me Up” less. I didn’t like it the day I first heard it, when it was released. I don’t like it even one bit today. It’s the musical equivalent of Mick’s stupid football pants. It’s a real ass-kisser of a song by a band that made its bones kicking ass. It’s Mick run wild with his penchant for 17-year-old Brazilian models. It’s musical Viagra, before there even was such a pill. It’s Keef doing that stupid knee bend while pulling off one of his patented “no-hands” 5-string guitar moves. It’s the sound of all the wrong people suddenly getting excited over a band that meant a lot to me.
I didn’t tell my wife any of this stuff that was running through my sick brain, but I did tell her this: “Did I ever tell you about the time sophomore year when I turned down second-row seats for that Stones tour in Chicago?”
“Huh?” My wife has good taste and is a snob in her own right. She knows that Stones were beginning to head downhill at that time, but she doesn’t read deep meanings into “Under My Thumb” and the groove of “Beast of Burden.” She can enjoy “Start Me Up” for what it probably is: a fun dance song.
“Yeah, a guy in our frat’s dad was some kind of union head,” I explained. “He got us an entire row of seats, the second row, front and center. I was offered a ticket for $20. I was already certain the band sucked. I turned it down.”
“You need to turn yourself into Rock Town Hall for one of those Rock Crimes,” my wife exclaimed. “You’re sick! If you don’t turn yourself in I’m going to log on and out you. Turn yourself in and see if they find you guilty!”
So here I am, Too Cool for School, circa 1982. Was I justified in turning down that second-row ticket—maybe even visionary—or am I guilty of having been Too Cool for School?
If you’d been offered a free ticket then you would be guilty as charged, but since a purchasing decision was involved, unless that $20 (plus any other expense incurred during the experience) was such small change that it would have made no difference to your life, then it is no difference from anyone else making any other decision about whether to see any act.
I would have gone, but that doesn’t mean that I have any right to condemn you for exercising your choice and judgement.
Absolved from this side of the pond.
Mod, as someone whose only live experience with the Stones was seeing them from approximately 3 miles away at RFK Stadium on the first night of their 1994 tour (I could still see the giant goat on stilts, though), I am not in a position to condemn you for this. Whereas it would have been cool to be that close, the evidence of “Let’s Spend the Night Together” would seem to strongly support the wisdom of your decision, since you would have been uncomfortably close to Mick’s whole barking dog in placekicker pants jive, Keith and Ronny’s increasingly self-parodistic guitar hero moves, and, well, Bill Wyman. Not guilty. If it had been 1972, on the other hand, you’d be sentenced to death by hanging.
I did vote innocent, Mr. Mod, but you belonged in a frat in college? It brings up memories of bunch of half-drunk guys singing, nay bellowing, “God Bless America” standing across the street from my dorm while carrying gold bricks.
I voted guilty, but that frat boy thing is much more disconcerting. In what universe are frat boys cooler than the Stones?
Our frat had to be experienced to be believe. It was an Island of Misfit Toys, of sorts.
it was the anti-fraternity fraternity. meat puppets, die kreuzen, game theory, and post-mission of burma roger miller all performed in our living room. adam west autographed our wall during a personal appearance.
“Frat life, woo!”
I’m not here to vote guilty or innocent but this thread is a good excuse to relay a great title to an album. I never heard of the artist and don’t know anything about the music. Artist’s name is Stevie Jackson and the album is entitled (I Can’t Get No) Stevie Jackson.
I did the googling I should have done before posting that last entry. Stevie Jackson is the lead guitarist for Belle & Sebastian and (I Can’t Get No) is his first solo album.
Absolved. From what I’ve seen, the Stones shows of the 1980s were perfunctory and pretty dull affairs – a bunch of jaded, middle-aged guys going through the motions with not much spirit. Also, by the 1980s I was getting bored with “jukebox” concerts where the artists only crank out sloppier versions of their studio songs – no radical rethinks, no stretching out. Now, as misterioso said, had this been a 1972 show you snoozed on, you’d be guilty.
I’m torn on this one. I feel EXACTLY as you do about “Start Me Up” vis a vis “Waiting On a Friend.” I mean, EXACTLY.
And while I can’t blame you for turning down the ticket, I did vote guilty. I would have gone anyway, and held my nose for the crappy songs, wished that Mick Taylor would have been there, etc.
Depite the guilty verdict from me, you’ll be released without penalty.
I truly appreciate your thinking here, as much as I hope to skirt conviction. You’re a solid Townsman, even if your handle makes me think of ’80s whiteboy center Mike Gminski:)
It was 1981 if it was in the US. That’s a good tour. The shows from it have a real cool slashing guitar sound and they played everything real fast. I could have had great seats for that tour, but it was 16 bucks a ticket (twice what I had ever paid, including monster all day stadium shows) and at the time, I didn’t care for The Stones. They were far too popular for me and I let a friend order the tickets on my concert club account.
So about a year and a half later, and I had Exile on Main St. and I was a fan all the way, and I wished I had gone to see them. I’ve always had good seats for shows since then, but I should have went in 81.
So no crime here. It’s not a crime to wish you had seen a show. I never saw Stevie Ray Vaughan or The Plimsouls and I won’t kick myself in the head for being who I was. He was all right, he just picked different shows to go to than the guy I am now.
Conflicted feelings here. It was The Rolling Stones, after all. They’ve played good shows since ’82, but I wouldn’t begrudge anyone turning down a stadium show, my least favorite venue for music (even if they were second row seats…they aren’t playing to the second row at a stadium show, so all the exaggerated stage moves would appear even goofier than if you were half a mile away). I give you a pass, but I’d say, forget ’72, if it had even been the Some Girls tour, four years previous, you’d, at least, have deserved a life sentence (Anyone see the live DVD from that tour? It blew me away, how good they were then. Ronnie was actually PLAYING his guitar! No extra onstage personnel or superfluous stagecraft. Mick wasn’t just barking. Looked and sounded like a real band. It’s great!).
Yes, they were really, really sharp on the ’78 tour. Haven’t got the dvd yet but have had bootlegs of some of those shows, and they’re smoking.
The 1982 me probably would have had to think twice (I hated Love You Live when a friend would play it) but probably would have ended up going. I did go see them in the 1989 on the Steel Wheels tour at Arrowhead in Kansas City. I remember Living Color opened up for them and that’s about it.
I turn down a lot of stadium shows now — U2, Springsteen, ugh. I don’t need that now, but in 1982 — it was still a novelty to me.
I voted guilty. I would think even a bad Stones show would still have some entertainment value, even if it allowed to flaunt your snobbery from the 2nd row.
I had a similar (but lesser) moment in college. Our friend Wallace urged me to join him at a small club to see Gang of Four. But at that time they had ditched their drummer and I was appalled at the prospect of seeing them with a drum machine. Of course, they had brought along a real drummer and apparently they were awesome. It’s the one show I regret to this day. My snobbishness got the best of me.
Too cool, Mod, get over yourself. I saw that tour in Philly (opening show of the tour, I think). It was a huge deal for us as seniors in High School to take a “college visitation day” and see the Stones. Good show, memories a little fuzzy.
I have posted here before about seeing The Who on the ridiculous Tommy tour from the 5th or 6th row. Just to be that close to it was kind of amazing. Bittman sez “even if they were second row seats…they aren’t playing to the second row at a stadium show”. True, it is like being an ant. An ant ONSTAGE!
I sure attended more than my share of Nets games with the G-man back in the day…
Sorry Mr. Mod, I had to go with the guilty vote. Although not on the top of your list at the time, the event itself, and hanging out with the frat brothers would have been a party opportunity I would not have missed. In a semi similar situation I have to confess to attending a “Clash” show on their final tour in support of the “mush” album Cut The Crap. Had a great time, had no other Clash show to compare it to, and the show and energy itself was top notch for what it was.
So how about a thread for: Shows I almost did not go to but was glad I did!
Great thread idea! Stay tuned. I have to say, I like your angle on convicting me.