I was a sophomore in high school when I first heard the Rolling Stones on the radio. I must have been about fifteen years old, the same age that my granddaughter is now. I went to Gulfgate Mall to purchase their single recording, Satisfaction, which I played over and over again. I nearly wore the thing out, and luckily my mom was cool enough that she never complained about the volume nor the repetition of the same song for hours. In fact she danced around the house proclaiming that she too enjoyed the music, which grossed me out just a bit. It seemed incongruous that an older woman would share my adoration of the Rolling Stones.
It would be years before I did the math and realized that my mother was still in her thirties at the time that I thought she was being a wee bit immature. She was a young woman by any standards but I was part of the Baby Boomer movement that was proclaiming that we would never trust anyone over thirty. I only gave my mom the benefit of the doubt because she really did seem more hip than most parents, and besides she was the rock of our family.
My love for the music of the Rolling Stones has never waned. I am now a bit more than fifty years older and I still want to get up and dance around the room whenever I hear the strains of their many hits. I often joke that one day there will be events in nursing homes that feature Satisfaction blaring through the speakers and residents moving in sync in their wheelchairs. The Rolling Stones are now a legendary band, icons in the world of rock that I had the pleasure of seeing perform in their No Filter Tour that came through Houston in July.
The affair was supposed to happen in April but was postponed because Mick Jagger required open heart surgery. It didn’t sound too good for the future of the band, but those of us who held tickets were assured that we would soon hear of the new date for the affair. I was both disappointed and concerned. I worried that age had finally caught up with Mick and that we might not get the same performance level given the seriousness of his health scare. I saw the concert as a kind of last hurrah for the band and a sure sign that I wasn’t fifteen anymore.
Mike and I were like two teenagers fraught with expectation as we arrived at Reliant Stadium on the night of the event. I laughed at all of the white and grey haired spectators in the audience. In my head I felt sure that neither of us looked as old as the other folks who like us had been around when the Mick was still strutting around like a crazed rooster. It unnerved me a bit when younger fans asked us what it was like to hear the Stones back in the day as though we were oddities from a long ago time. They were reverential and respectful to point of making me realize that we probably did indeed look as old as our peers whose youthful bloom had faded into wrinkles, baldness and fifty shades of grey.
We played a game of “where were you when” with several folks as we waited somewhat impatiently for the music to begin. We sat through the front band, Bishop Gunn, with a kind of painful realization of how ordinary they were compared to the great Stones who were to follow. Lots of older women chose this time to take one final bathroom break knowing that their bladders probably would not hold out if they didn’t take advantage of the opportunity.
In what seemed like forever, the lights finally dimmed and the first strains of a familiar song drifted up to the rafters of the stadium while a cheer of anticipation filled the air. The Rolling Stones were on the stage performing as though they were young twenty somethings, perhaps with a bit more polish and self assurance than ever. Mick Jagger was slim and trim and as energetic and captivating as ever. Keith Richards had eschewed a bandana to allow us to see that he was indeed going bald which didn’t matter to us in the least as he ran his fingers so nimbly over his guitar. Ronnie Wood still looked the image of a rocker with his sixties style hair and jewel colored shirt and coat. Charlie Watts was the picture of calm and sweetness as he banged out the tunes on his drum. The guys looked absolutely fabulous and played even better.
The band was in fine tune with an even better performance than the last one I had seen a few years back. They played with the confidence that only comes from natural talent, charisma, and experience. They used their tried and true formula to enchant the crowd and for the next two hours they gave us a show that we would never forget.
I felt as though the members of the band had personally contacted me to find out what I wanted on the playlist because they performed every one of the tunes that are my favorites, Start Me Up, Brown Sugar, Jumping Jack Flash, Paint It Black, Sympathy With the Devil, Gimme Shelter, Satisfaction. As the evening progressed everyone on the stage and in the audience became ageless. White hair, no hair, seventy or seventeen didn’t matter in the least because we were as one in the knowledge that we had witnessed rock history, a moment of greatness that we would never forget.
I remember being in a speech class when I was a senior. We were divided into two sides each of which was asked to prepare persuasive arguments designed to convince the class that either the Beatles or the Rolling Stones was the better band that would be remembered for the longest time. I was assigned the Beatles and my team lost to a group advocating that is was in fact the Stones who would become timeless. Ironically while it might be argued that both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones have become the undisputed icons of the sixties and perhaps all of rock history, it has been the Rolling Stones who have evolved from decade to decade and still mesmerize a crowd. Luckily I got to see them just one more time, and if they decide to come back again one day I will most surely be there again.