Friday, July 24, 2015

Getting STONED with my Teens

The first love of my life was Donny Osmond.  An “expensive” love my mom would say after our weekly trips to Rexall Drugs for the latest fan magazines. Donny was plastered all over my room, 27 posters to be exact, and “One Bad Apple” was the soundtrack of my 7th grade existence.  I thought Donny was it.

All that changed one day in 1972. A crisp, new copy of Life Magazine arrived in the mail, smelling that soft, waxy Crayola smell.  When I pulled it out of the mailbox, the cover revealed a young man in a rhinestone-studded jumpsuit, cut low to his waist.  His hair was shaggish and sweaty, his lips gorgeous.  My heart throbbed as I flipped through the pages.  Of course, I’d heard “Satisfaction” on the am radio, but little did I know how much Mick Jagger would bring me. All of a sudden the clean-cut Donny lost his appeal.  Mick was it.  He was One Bad Apple.  My Bad Apple.  

Just a short time later, I became Mick. Our 8th grade class held a karaoke-style musical for the school. While other students were imitating singers like Carole King, I pranced around the stage, hand on my hip mouthing “Jumping Jack Flash.”  I even spread rose petals on the floor and threw water at the student drummer like I’d seen Mick do in Gimme Shelter (thanks older sister of my bff for sneaking us into the drive-in).

I relayed this story to my two teens on the ride to the Zip Code concert in Detroit. They listened intently, and then Daughter asked, “Did the other kids say your act was cool?”  “Of course,” I replied (in truth, they had used the word strange).

Ironically, as the stadium lights dimmed and the fireworks ignited, the first few chords of “Jumping Jack Flash” broke out.  My heart stopped. There he was strutting the stage, skinny black pants, sequined jacket, head jerking from side to side…My Mick Jagger. I was swept up in the frenzy immediately, acutely aware that my kids and I were witnessing not only the most popular band in the world, but in the history of western music. You have your perpetual top of the charts— Beethoven, Mozart, Miles. But none of these beloved masters have been translated into thousands of languages—all of them rock and roll.  This genre—an adolescent in the 60s--has been intertwined with fashion, politics, rebellion, and mostly, freedom of expression.

I once read that at some point in the near future, all of the people in the world would have had a rock and rock adolescence.  Rock and all its spinoffs—metal, punk, hip-hop--is the common denominator of multiple generations.

And who exemplifies rock more than The Rolling Stones?  Elvis is dead, The Beatles have dissolved, and other iconic figures have simply not had the globetrotting 53 years legacy that the Stones have. Try asking your mother about The Who and she’ll say, who

The Stones are household words.  Their songs raised us and now they’re raising our kids. I wont say they are more popular than Jesus, but their guitar riffs are embedded in our DNA, their high voltage performances set the template for live music. The Stones’ hits have pumped it up at ball games, crossed over races and cultures, and have inspired mothers and daughters, swaying side to side together in giant arenas, to screech rape, murder…it’s just a shot away!

This type of experience would not have been possible with my own parents.  Their music, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, did not transfer to a younger audience—one that embraced sexual energy, driving rhythms, and controversial lyrics.  It simply didn’t speak to a generation that questioned authority, war, and middle class values, that demanded equal rights for blacks, equal pay for women, and purple haze for all.  

The music and the world of my parents were insular. Rock and roll was a game changer. A game my parents couldn’t play.

I felt a pang in my chest thinking about the missed opportunities to bond with my folks in this way.  And even more, at the great divide that the cultural revolution of the 60s and rock and roll had created.

But then I turned to my teens. They were mesmerized by Mick as he skipped down the catwalk, punching at the air. His teasing and taunting, his Tina Turner moves were weaving their magic. My Mick Jagger.  The Rolling Stones. The band who’s the very fabric of the world’s most dominant form of music. We were one.

And when Mick put the mic to his gorgeous 72-year old lips and began singing a favorite anthem, Erin, Michael and I, and a crowd of 40,000 devotees joined in: “I-I-I know, it’s only rock and rock, but…”

But… really, it’s so much more.

P.S.  If my son or daughter tell you that at one point in my fury, I screamed at the top of my lungs, “I’d pay $1000 to be sitting near that extended runway,” don’t believe them. 

I’d pay more.

1 comment:

sage said...

I wish they had come closer to me on this tour... I wasn't able to make it up to Atlanta when they were there. God to see you blogging again!