Tag Archives: rock t-shirts

Classic rock and writer’s block

20 Jul

This is the Age of the Great Blog Revival. Or at least the Week.

Three of the blogs I follow – Defending Axl RoseEvery Record Tells a Story and Soul Searching at Starbucks – recently posted new content after several days/weeks/months of silence. They inspired me to find out how much I remember about WordPress.

Officially, I put the blog aside a couple of years ago to focus on fiction. I also believed I’d exhausted my organizing principle: how, in the space of a generation, rock music has gone from rebellious teens giving their parents the proverbial finger to a great way for middle-aged suburbanites to bond with their kids. And after five years, my readership numbers were way down. Fewer and fewer people appreciated my humblebragging about being fortunate enough to see Bruce Springsteen, The Killers, Weezer, Nick Cage, Aretha Franklin and Spoon in the space of a year in three different countries (ahem). When I realized that no one – really, no one – cared that I scored spot at the lip of the stage at a Heartless Bastards concert at St. Andrew’s Hall so I could watch Craig Finn flare his nostrils as the opening act, I put the blog on a shelf.

Tom Petty - 2017Then Tom Petty came to town on his 40th anniversary concert tour this week, and the spark was rekindled.

Forty years ago there probably weren’t many musicians who expected to have a career in rock and roll. It was all single by single, show by show. Back then, Tom probably couldn’t have imagined ever being 66 years old, much less singing “American Girl” in the original key at that astronomical age. Yet here he is, still playing with some of the world’s best musical craftsmen he also calls friends, having the time of his life.

That palpable joy is what Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have that most bands don’t. They really dig making music. It doesn’t look like they regret playing “Refugee” for the umpteenth zillionth time, and they bring the same fire they did in the Seventies. Tom’s delight is infectious, his gratitude genuine.

I left the venue wondering, what’s out there that could bring me that much glee?

Writing. Duh.

Therefore, after a couple of years of false starts, a whale of a day job, a lot of negative self-talk and one too many hours spent in YouTube rat holes, I am determined to get back into the habit, produce some pages and care less about what others might think of my crappy first draft.

I even struck a bargain with myself:

 

I splurged on a baseball tour shirt, paying what we in our family call “loaded old people prices” to bring it home. Then, per my older daughter’s diabolically perfect advice, I handed it over to my younger daughter to keep until I’ve produced at least 40 pages of my next story. It’ll be a tangible reward for getting back into the game. Petty would be proud.

So, here’s to all you artists out there, whether your tool of choice is a Rickenbacker or a blog post. Your dedication is my inspiration. Now,  if you’ll excuse me, I have writing to do and stories to tell … and I really want to wear that great shirt before my September birthday. As Tom sings fifty times a summer,

And if she had to die/ trying, she
Had one little promise she was gonna keep

See you on the flip side …

 

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FOB and TATE and me and my daughters

22 May

My older daughter has now completed high school. It’s all over except for picking up the diploma, grazing the buffet at a dozen grad parties, and forcing us to take the “Congratulations Class of 2013!” sign off our lawn before she ships off to college in the fall.

FOB hiatus

I’m sure this chick was at the Fillmore … and anywhere else FOB is playing in the continental US …

She is celebrating by making good on a promise to her little sister and taking her to her first rock-and-roll concert, without parental accompaniment. As I write this they are downtown at the Fillmore seeing their favorite band of all time: the recently reunited Fall Out Boy. (I continue to struggle to understand the band’s appeal. The music just doesn’t catch my middle-aged ear. The lyrics are often overly arch or sneeringly obscure, and their typical song titles are just way too long: to wit, “Our Lawyers Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued.”)

I’m okay with the girls being on their own. I trust them and since I’ve taken the older one to half a dozen concerts at that venue, it’s familiar territory. I also drilled them on concert safety:

  • Stick together
  • Choose a place to meet in case you get separated
  • Don’t stand in direct proximity to a speaker
  • Standing close to the stage is less important than steering clear of the unstoppable sea of crazed fans that can crush you against the barricades
  • Don’t park in the skeevy lot I usually go to even though it’s half the price of the more well-lit ones
  • Before shelling out $35, check the label on the t-shirt to see if it will shrink

There’s a sense of coming full circle this evening. I took the older one to see Fall Out Boy at the Palace five years ago, which was her first rock concert, too. What’s more,  just a week ago the two of us were at the Majestic to see our favorite band, The Airborne Toxic Event.

TATE - 2013

The Airborne Toxic Event, brooding beautifully

TATE will always have a special place in my heart because my daughter and I discovered them together. We’ve seen them three times; we have their three albums plus their contributions to tribute discs for Bob Dylan and The Muppets. I’ve seen them enough to know the band members’ names and stage personalities. This time around they had more tattoos and a different set of covers for their encore (including a medley of “Ring of Fire,” “American Girl” and “Born in the USA” … can’t get more genuinely American than that).

It was only fitting that at last, I was able to nab a stage souvenir for my daughter. I grabbed the guitar pick that had bounced off a drunken fan and hit the floor. It’s a fitting memento of our concert-going history, one she can easily pack and take with her to her dorm in a few short weeks.

Now, the real work begins: turning my younger daughter into my next concert buddy.

See you on the flip side …

P.S. The girls came home safely, the younger one has her first tour t-shirt and they witnessed a drunken catfight — all and all, an awesome evening!

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