Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I Keep Coming Back 'Round To The Stones

Watched "Rolling Stones Havana Moon" last night.

Fucking blew me away. Man, I had the sound on the TV dialed up to epic levels as I surrendered myself to the majesty of the moment. The Stones in concert are an amazing thing to see; always have been, always will be.

On March 25, 2016 The Rolling Stones became the first rock band to play a massive free outdoor concert in Havana. Their music was banned in Cuba in years past; the people of Cuba have been historically denied access to music and art and all the things that make a life beautiful.

These people were going absolutely nuts. So many of them knew every word to every song. They were dancing and moving and shaking and smiling and laughing and shaking their heads in wonder.

Many that were interviewed said they never thought they would experience something like this, and you could just feel the sense of abandon and gratitude and joy.

I love the way The Stones respond to moments like this. There is joy in their eyes; they laugh and smile as they play, as they look around the audience; there is an intense focus to their performance because they take their music seriously.

There is a sense of awe there too; they understand what music means to people, especially in a setting like this.

I was a Beatles fan first and foremost. Loved The Stones, absolutely loved them but The Beatles were gods, descended from musical heaven to bring magic and wonder into my life.

Which they did.

Never saw them live, which is a heinous crime. I have seen The Stones twice; in 1989 on the" Steel Wheels" tour; in 1994 on the "Voodoo Lounge" tour. Both times in a massive football stadium where I was 40 miles away and had to watch them on the screen because they were only 2 inches tall on the stage.

And still, they were amazing experiences. Mind blowing.

I was overwhelmed last night because I have never seen such a perfect melding of band and audience before. They were truly one.

It is my humble belief that rock 'n roll and the blues are the two genres of music that cut right into your soul; they follow a direct path to your emotions and your essence because they are honest; they are raw, they are powerful in a deceivingly simple way.

This is what made this concert so special. The Cuban people got caught up in the music of The Rolling Stones, The Rolling Stones got caught up in the passion of the Cuban people, the barriers were down and the magic of being a human being, lost in a glorious moment away from worries and hardships, was on full display.

Many people had tears in their eyes. No doubt from the disbelief that the concert was even happening; no doubt from the sheer release of being allowed to feel; to be alive - unrestrained, expressing emotion in its purest form.

No doubt from their love of the music of The Rolling Stones.

I caught myself smiling over and over again and it occurred to me that I must have looked like a child watching a candle flicker for the first time.

But I kept smiling anyway. Couldn't help it.

There is an invisible thread there for me as well; the connection between The Stones and my youth.

Rock 'n roll was huge for me; music became a passion for me because of it. The connection is becoming more and more tenuous as many of the people who have inspired me over a lifetime are dying.

The break up of The Allman Brothers Band in 2014 and the suicide of Butch Trucks this year were crushing blows to me.

Keith Richards is 73, Mick Jagger is 73, Charlie Watts is 75, Ronnie Wood is 69. And they still bring it.

They are still out there rocking their asses off and doing it in style. I take comfort in knowing that Keith will know exactly when to call the whole thing off. He is the keeper of the flame; he demands the best from his band mates and he takes the responsibility seriously.

The Rolling Stones will never degenerate into a caricature of themselves. Keith will not allow that. And anybody who feels they don't rock like they used to can kiss my ass.

Great story: They were in concert somewhere and Ronnie drifted off and blew a solo or fucked up in some way because he was not all the way in. Keith walked across the stage and punched him in the face.

I don't consciously think about it when I watch and listen to them, but I am aware on an intuitive level that my soul exults in the fact that The Rolling Stones are keeping alive a precious link to my development as a human being.

Anyway, I got sidetracked as I often do when talking about music. Music is everything to me.

Check this concert out. This one is special. It captures the true spirit of musical connection. It lays bare the very reason human beings created and worship music.

It is a purely joyful moment.

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