First let me say that I’m not a huge Stones fan. Never have been, probably never will be. They have some great tunes, no question, and they are loved the world over. Their music is multi-generational, and that’s a hell of an accomplishment, especially since most of today’s music won’t be remembered much past Thanksgiving.
But I’ve just never been all that into it. For me, growing up, it was always: are you a Beatles or a Stones fan? I mean … d’uh! No contest.
However, that said, nobody amazes me more than Keith. The man should have succumbed to Rock n’ Roll disease eons ago!
Here’s why even just the fact that he can still open his own mouth amazes me.
My band, The 49ers, play a couple of what we call “Cottage gigs” every summer. The cottages belong to band members, so it’s just a big party, and we always have a blast. There’s lots of food, lots of booze, lots of people who consume aforementioned booze (and sometimes the food too), and then become a throng of adoring fans. This switch from slightly intoxicated cottager to hammered groupie usually happens around midnight or slightly before, once – to them at least – we start to actually sound like all the bands we’re covering.
Now, I should mention right here, that for a bunch of middle aged guys who are as far from life-time rockers as you could possibly get, we’re a pretty decent little ensemble. (Numb-nuts on American Idol probably wouldn’t agree because he’s a jaded, O.T.H. dick, but we’re not trying to impress anyone.)
But when the booze flows un-tethered like it does when nobody has to drive, we apparently sound like Rock gods or something. And I say “apparently” because I don’t drink, and I’m usually the only sober person within a hundred miles of these gigs. But they’re a blast; its summer, the nights are warm, the stars are out. They are usually the unrivalled highlights of my summer.
However this year, at the 2nd of the two Cottage gigs, good ole Ma Nature got a thistle in her corset and decided to open the floodgates for all the desperate farmers, none of whom were at our gig because they were busy dancing naked in their parched corn fields. (And rightly so, I might add… it’s been a bitch of a year for the crops). We’ve never trusted Ma, so we always set up under a circus-tent thing, on a wooden stage (that, at this particular cottage, one of the guys builds every year), because electrocution just ain’t a whole lotta fun. It really isn’t.
So when the heavens opened up in the middle of our version of John Mellonhead Cougarcamp’s “Small Town” (which we absolutely smoke at, by the way), we were reasonably protected. Of course, some of our equipment had to be hastily covered up and dragged further under cover – and when I say ‘hastily’, I mean we did it while we were still playing the song – while the audience headed for the spotty cover of a couple of tarps that had been strung up between the trees for just such an eventuality.
There was now a river running under the stage and over the feet of those unfortunate revellers cowering under the cheesecloth tarps. Most of them had long ago kicked off their soggy shoes anyway, because I guess they’d all decided, “Fuck it,” by this point. It was Mudstock even before the current downpour.
To make matters worse, our drummer – whose bladder makes my own shrunken pea-sized excuse for a urine bag look enormous by comparison – needed to relieve himself about half-way through our 3rd set (we were doing 4, with an option to add a 5th if drunkenness and an “I-don’t-give-a-shit-if-you-even-know-this-song” attitude prevailed at the end of the 4th). Unfortunately, in his panicked haste to find his way to the back of the stage before his own damn burst, he slipped on a rock, swan dived onto a cement cinder block and part of the 8’x8’ dance floor (yep, I said dance floor. Just cause we were playin’ a cottage doesn’t mean we’re not civilized), and lay there in front of the stage doing the front crawl, as his wrist began to swell up like a 14-year-old boy at a girl’s slumber party.
Once properly splinted, he then proceeded to play the remaining sets one-handed. Yes, folks, Rock and Roll is a vicious game.
Once it was all over, somewhere around 3, when our vocal cords no longer functioned and the crowd was so drunk that even two well-timed farts would have been considered sheer musical genious, we slowly covered up our equipment and headed towards bed.
In my case, because my band-mates snore louder than they play – and not because there was no room in the cottage, because there was – I chose to sleep in my car. Not a bad plan if my car was a Hummer or an RV. But I drive a Jetta. A Jetta SEDAN.
I heard every ‘ping’ on the roof from every drop of rain between 4 and 8:45 a.m., as my mind forced me to memorize the lyrics to a Garth Brooks song that I used to like. That is, I used to like it until about 7:30 a.m. when I began to think Garth Brooks just might possibly be Satan.
But I digress…
Keith Richards. Buddy. How you partied like you did for all those years… bloody miracle, if you ask me. I can’t even spend a few hours cramped up in a car, stone cold sober.
It’s Only Rock n’ Roll, but I (need a week to recover) like it!