On Saturday night, while the rest of the world thought what they were doing was important, I found myself in the perfect place…in the perfect situation. The Rolling Stones brought their 50th anniversary tour to the brilliant Barclays Center. As the show ended, I posted this on Facebook.
"The Mayans can be completely right and it will be alright as I have just seen the Rolling Stones, the greatest rock band ever. I can go quietly into the night ,as this night, I got what I want and what I needed… absolutely religious."
A friend close to the action Saturday night told me that Martin Scorsese and Naomi Campbell and Mary K. and Ashley Olsen and a ton of others were in the house. He’s a backstage kind of guy who told me how cool they always are. I’ve met them from time to time, save for Ronnie who would have been the easiest when he had his joint down in South Beach. They were always accessible, human. Watching them on the giant stage shaped like their trademark lips and tongue, it was hard to believe they could be anything but out-of-reach rock stars. As a 10-year-old in Connecticut, we heard the Stones on a car radio. My hot cousin’s boyfriends would take us on Slim Jim and Birch Beer runs in speedsters on curvy roads.We promised not to tell. We waited to hear the Stones on the car radio. I told Mick this story one night in a club I had a lifetime ago. Around 1988. He was coming by regularly. As I sat in the back office, I couldn’t grasp that this was the prancing icon. He listened intently as I told this tale.
"It was the fall of 1964 and the Lewis clan was huddled in our country home in Connecticut. We had a party line telephone. Two rings was us, one the neighbor. We had two channels on the T.V., you know, one of those giant pieces of furniture with a small screen. For us, it was the window to the world. The days were spent fishing and exploring the deep woods. At night we were glued to the magic.
On October 25th, 1964 we had a crisis. The Rolling Stones were going to be on Ed Sullivan, on one channel while the other channel offered the Lawrence Welk Show. My grandparents never missed the Lawrence Welk Show with its polkas and show tunes. My cousin Ron and my brother Paul plotted all week to see the Stones. We were always tasked to give the old-folk warm milk after the show so they would go to sleep easily. We decided to come in early and strong and give them so many glasses of warm milk that they would pass out, we could switch channels, and see our gods. It worked. Right before the show, after multiple milks, they passed out.
We switched and saw the Stones for the first time. There was no internet then and few magazines would have their image. There were no posters up in our neck of the woods. We didn’t know what to expect. There they were, brash and horribly wonderful. We were in awe, stirred to life maybe for the very first time.
In the middle of their first track, the Chuck Berry cover "Around & Around," my Grandparents woke up and started to mildly complain. They pointed out that the Stones hairdos made them look like girls and they couldn’t understand the words… but they let us watch."
While telling Jagger this story, he interjected: "So let me get this straight…you drugged your grandparents to watch me on the television." I said "yes." He then added: "You realize they knew." I didn’t understand. He continued: "You realize they were in on your plot and went along with it because it was important to you."
We had never realized that but it was obvious he was right, and I felt the love my grandparents who were long gone held for us once again. I got goosebumps, and Mick told me he loved the story.
The Stones woke me in every way. They were outside the box that I have always avoided, sometimes successfully. That Ed Sullivan Show was 48 years ago. As I stood in the Barclays seeing them at their 50th anniversary show, I realized how my life has coincided with their carreer. I had seen them 10 or more times over the decades. Threw a party for Bill Wyman, met Keith at Life when he played a Christmas show with Ronnie Spector and Mick a few other times, and now it seemed like this would be the last time.
There was a seriousness about the concert, as if this would be the end of the run. Mick ran around a lot less than back in the day. Shoot, me and almost the entire crowd runs around a lot less. It was surreal seeing him doing it well at 69. The anthems had an almost religious feeling… providing a calm reflection of the thread that was fraying.
The show ended and I bought bags of t-Shirts and scooted over to Hotel Chantelle to give them to my girl. I had attended the show with my brother, a birthday gift to my co-conspirator back in ’64. They’ve got two shows coming at the Prudential Center in New Jersey. Tickets are stoooopid expensive. I’m gonna have to go. The second song the Rolling Stones performed on Ed Sullivan in that dream of a night so long ago was "Time Is On Our Side." That was true then, but not anymore. I’m gonna hock the watch and see them again.