Da Rolling Stones (photo courtesy of Jake)
Its been exactly a month since I’ve graduated high school as I write this, but let’s go back in time to the beginning of the month. I had just finished Westlake High School, I had a surprisingly helluva good time at Project Graduation (if you find a video of me on the internets singing “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen, you’ll understand why), and I got closure with that girl whose name will continue to remain anonymous. After a pretty lame and boring first week of June/first week of summer, it’s now Saturday, June 6th. The day of The Rolling Stones concert in Dallas, Texas. My mother and I pack to spend the night in Mansfield, Texas, just down the road from Jerry World in Arlington. I could barely sleep the night before, out of sheer excitement and terror at the same time. Not only was I going to the biggest concert I’ve ever been to in both scale and in attendance, but it was my all time favorite band. If it wasn’t for The Stones, I would’ve never been turned on to the music that inspired the band, musicians like Buddy Holly, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and so on. Hell, I owe a good chunk of my musical education to listening to The Rolling Stones as a young lad.
We make it to Mansfield, where we stay in a spare-apartment at my grandparents’ retirement community. It’s not a whole lot, but all we’re doing is just sleeping and showering in there, nothing else. We go have an early dinner with my grandmother, where my mother and her mother talk about mother things, while I just sit there, miserable, just wanting to go to Jerry World already. After we say our goodbyes, we then head down the road to Arlington. I have butterflies in my stomach, which I openly tell to my mother. It was too surreal to think that this moment was happening. I was certain that when my parents refused to let me go see The Stones when they played in Austin ten years ago (I was 8 or 9, so it kind of makes sense after learning they did songs like Starf**ker back in the day), that I’d never get another chance in my lifetime to see The Stones. They were well into their 60’s ten years ago, and who the hell would think that they would still be playing stadiums into their 70’s. Somehow, the impossible became the possible, and it was just a few minutes down the road.
We make it to the stadium, where we’ll able to get a not-so-bad parking spot next to the tiny metropolis that is the AT&T Stadium. I remember doing a tour of the facility years ago with my grandfather for his birthday, but I must’ve forgotten just how large the whole place was. It was a far cry from the puny Frank Erwin Center we have back in Austin. I walk up to the nosebleeds with my mom, and I tell her goodbye, and that we’ll meet at the place we came into the building from. Before I’m able to go to my seat, I have to get a special wristband just to walk down to the field/floor. After going through several tunnels and corridors, I make myself down to the field. A small bit of me is geeking about the fact that I’m down on the field were the Dallas Cowboys place every Sunday (I better not see any negative comments about America’s Team. Negative comments toward me are fine though). I walk around the field for a bit and I’m able to find my section. What baffled me at first was how many rows there are. When I read the tiny-ass diagram on the website when buying the tickets, I sware I thought it read that there were 12 rows in this section, and I was right in the middle in row 6. Boy, was I dead wrong. It was 42 rows on the section. Holy shit. As I continue to walk, looking for my seat, I have this big shit-eating grin on my face. I then find row 6, seat 13. I sit down. Below this text is my view from the seat before the show.
(The fat guy was in the way of my shot, but you get the point)
(Note: THE FOLLOWING IS PART OF AN ONGOING SERIES I CALL BRUCE CORNER, WHERE I DISCUSS MOMENTS FROM LIFE THAT I FEEL ARE WORTH PRINTING FOR THE WORLD TO SEE. PART ONE OF THIS ARTICLE IS RIGHT HERE. I HOPE YOU ENJOY – J.S.)
As I sit in my seat, taking in the moment, I realize that I have to go to the bathroom. I then find out that the tunnel/bar the the Dallas Cowboys walk through every Sunday to get to the field is open to the general public. Pretty sweet, huh? I walk in, and I see a group of security guards in the suits. As I walk in, one of the guards walking toward this group of guards collapses, begins to foam at the mouth, and is possibly having a heart attack, I immediately begin to freak out a little bit (that anxiety kicking in) and I slowly walk away and ask the bartender where the bathroom is. As I find the bathroom, a few thoughts cross my mind. Oh my God, that dude just had a heart attack! Did he die? Is he going to be okay? But then another thought crossed my mind, a morbid one, but a thought that Keith would’ve probably had. That’s rock ‘n’ roll, baby! I walk back to my seat, and then minutes later the opener starts. A female artist named Grace Potter, who was pretty good. I wasn’t dancing or getting into her music (obviously), but she was pretty good for the opener. I read that on the first night of this Zip Code Tour that The Stones are doing all summer, Austin’s very own Gary Clark Jr. opened up for the Stones in San Diego. I kind of wish he opened up, but Grace was pretty good. I dug her set. 40 minutes after she play, she ended her set and left. It’s about 8:40 P.M., and it’s getting darker outside.
I keep thinking that the Stones will probably come on at 9, but as the minutes went on, it was obviously it was going to be awhile. This isn’t like going to a concert at a club or a smaller venue like The ACL Moody, where they just have to move some instruments here and there. Not only did the roadies have to do that, they had to set up lights, pyrotechnics, and so on. This wasn’t just some concert, this was a multi-million dollar production, and I was about to get my money’s worth. To pass the time, I chat briefly with a couple of nice women sitting next to me. They tell me they’re from Houston, and that this is their second time seeing The Stones in concert. I tell this is my first, and that I’ve waited my whole life for this moment, and that I hope they don’t mind if I get a little carried away during the concert. They say all is good. The seats then begin to pile up, and the night begins to get darker and darker. Where the hell are The Stones, man?!
9:30 is when the shit begins to hit the fan. All the lights in AT&T Stadium turn off. The crowd stands up and goes wild. Oh my God, this is about to happen. A video then pops up on the monitor, it’s an animated car that drives on a highway, and on the side of the highway is mementos from the band’s career. Albums like Some Girls, Exile on Main Street, Sticky Fingers, and more are on display. The car then finds its destination, with a giant sign saying “Next Exit, Dallas Texas”. The video then starts, and an announcer then yells words that will never leave my mind, ever. “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE ROLLING STONES!!!!” Keith comes out and plays the first cords of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, and the rest is history. There they are ladies and gentlemen, the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band on the planet is now playing in front of me. I’m losing my mind/singing my ass off to a classic Stones song. Mick is a dancing fool as usual, and you’ll learn that as the evening goes on, his dancing abilities begin to have a bit of an effect on me.
The song ends, with Mick yelling, “How ya doing Arlington?!?” The crowd goes wild, and so do I, even though I don’t live up there. We then move on to the next song, “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)”. Of course I know all the lyrics to the song, so of course I sing-along. Everybody else is. Even when the view is obstructed for brief seconds by people’s heads or their cell phones, it doesn’t hurt that The Stones have installed these massive LCD screens that are apart of the stage (although it must’ve sucked for the people in the nosebleeds since the didn’t turn on the big jumbotron at Jerry World). After that classic, we then move on to an older but great gem. “Let’s Spend The Night Together”. I immediately recognize it once Chuck Leavell begins banging beautifully on that keyboard. For a rare moment, Keith begins to play backing vocals with Mick, which is almost unheard of nowadays, primarily due to their feud back in the 80’s (find out more in Keith’s memoir). It was a rare and kind-of beautiful moment mixed in, and it was a hard rocking rendition of that classic 60’s hit.
The next song is one of my all time favorites, “Tumbling Dice”. This is where the dancing, hand raising, and singing go into full effect during this song. I freaking love Tumbling Dice, and I especially love it when The Stones play it live. Mick’s having a great time dancing around on stage dancing and sing, Keith and Ronnie are playing off of each other quite well, Charlie is banging quite beautifully on those drums, and so forth. I especially love how they end the song. Lisa Fischer and the other backup singers do that ending such great justice, and I begin to feel something inside of me, which I’ll give more on that later on down the line. The next tune is their most recent one, 2013’s “Doom and Gloom”, which was released in 2012 for their 50th anniversary. I’ve really enjoyed the tune ever since it came out, and it was made to be played in massive stadiums like the one in Dallas. Nobody seems to know what the song is, and they all look at me like I’m a mad-man for knowing all those lyrics word-for-word. It’s a great tune, but more tunes are coming. Mick then plugs the fact that the band is on tour to promote the reissue of their classic album, Sticky Fingers, and they announce that they’re going to play a few songs off the track. They start out with “Bitch”, a great rock song with great guitar work, lyricism, and some terrific saxophone work by the late-great Bobby Keys (who was subsituted by Karl Denson and Tim Ries).
After they jam that one out, Mick is given a guitar, and begins “Moonlight Mile” the beautiful ending to Sticky Fingers, a song they haven’t played in concert since the 70’s and have pulled out just in time for this new tour. All the rich people down on the field make their way to the bar for a drink or two, but I don’t even think about it. “Moonlight Mile” is such a beautiful, melodic anthem, and one of The Stones’ more underrated gems in their long career. The live version even incorporates that really gorgeous string ending somehow, which sends chills down my spine. I damn near cry, but the crying is saved for a later tune. The next tune is a song that was requested in a poll on the internet. I can’t remember what was in the running (except for the song I voted for), and the winner of the poll ended up being one of my all time favorite Stones songs, “Rocks Off”. I lose my shit over the fact that The Stones play the opener from Exile on Main Street. My awful dancing abilities are turned all the way up for this classic tune, and the people in my row begin to take a breather from time to time during a few songs, as they give me as much room as they can to let me dance, and boy do I dance.
Next song, “Honky Tonk Woman”. I recognize it immediately once Chuck plays on that cowbell, and Keith begins to shred in such a bluesy way that he only can. I sing and dance my ass off (as you do), and the crowd sings along as well. The dancing gets more intense, but not as intense as what’s about to come. After the tune, we then do an introduction of all the people on stage, including the horn players, back-up singers, Chuck Leavell on the keyboards, Ronnie Wood on guitar, Charlie Watts on drums, and Keith on the guitar. Once the legend is introduced, Mick leaves the stage, and Keith, with that beautiful smoker voice of his, tells the audience, “Good evening Arlington”. Before he puts his guitar around his shoulder, he does something that I prayed he would do. He tells the audience about the loss of the late-great Bobby Keys, who unfortunately passed back in December. Keys was born and raised in Lubbock, so the audience is well aware of who Mr. Keys was. Keith honors his brief set in Keys’ honor. We start with “Before They Make Me Run” from Some Girls (great song, great album), and then onto “Happy”, the third song played during the night from “Exile”. The audience is eating up “Happy”, and its a great rendition of the song, but something even better is coming up, and its right after the song.
The stage goes dark, Charlie begins to beat on the drums in a rumbling way. Keith is jamming, Ronnie’s jamming, both intimately. Mick comes back, this time with a harmonica being blown so beautifully. Keith then goes into the riff, and “Midnight Rambler” starts. The one song I wanted to hear, and my favorite Stones song. The dancing on my behave gets a little out of hand. I sing and dance like its nobody’s business, and I follow everything that Mick does on stage during this flawless rendition of a flawless blues opera. During the slow section of the song, Mick’s controlling the crowd like he’s got us all brainwashed (which he may as well had). We then go to the exciting and epic finale, which is even crazier live than it is from the studio version. I lose all focus and thought of reality, and the music begins to guide from this point during the concert. I might as well be on another planet during this section. I am losing my mind at this point, in a good way if I might add. Keith and Ronnie are weaving like nobody else can, and a 12 minute epic feels like a breeze. Wow. What the hell just happened?
We move onto another great Stones tune, this time with a little more disco. “Miss You”, the classic hit from “Some Girls”. This is another crowd-pleaser moment, where Mick leads the audience so beautifully and flawlessly in the chorus of the song, as we all hum that riff that’s become so iconic. It’s another great moment in a night of already great moments. The next song is “Gimme Shelter”, which is one of the highlights for that evening. This is the moment when Lisa Fischer joins Mick on the extended catwalk of the stage (which is just several feet in front of me) as she screams the part of the song that Merry Clayton made so iconic. “Rape! Murder! It’s just a shot away! It’s just a shot away!” You gotta seriously be messed up in the head to have at least one hair stand up during this moment of the concert. Next song, “Start Me Up”, and when Keith hits that first riff, fireworks fire from the top of the stage. The whole stadium is smoky, but who gives a damn during this moment. Great stadium anthem, great Stones song, we all danced and sung during this moment.
We then hear those bongo drums banging for the next tune. “Sympathy for the Devil”. Hell yeah (literally). Mick is dressed in a coat that makes him look like Lucifer himself, which fits what the song is about. And mysterious, the lyric about “who killed the Kennedy’s?” was mysteriously missing. Maybe because we’re in Dallas? Who knows, but it was a great moment during the concert. The last of the regular set-list before the grand finale was “Brown Sugar”, the most well-known hit from “Sticky Fingers”. This is where I became a dancing machine once again. Toward the end, Mick would run to each end of the stage and face each side, yelling “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! WOOO!”, which at each “WOOO!!”, I jumped about as high as I could, and for a moment, I felt I had the highest vertical leap of everybody in my row.
This is the part of the concert that was the most important, to me at least. The Stones briefly leave the stage, but we all know they gotta come back, for two classic songs. But to me, in that moment, and from what I had just described to you in Part One of this post (which you can read here), this was the moment where a miracle happened. Now, I’m not much of a religious man. I don’t doubt the existence of a higher being, but I don’t know, and it’s not my expertise to know such things. I always never understood when people would get saved. Whose saving you, and how? All of this went out the window during the encore of The Rolling Stones. The University of Texas-Arlington choir goes up there and sings the opening to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. During this moment, I extended my hands in the sky, and believe it or not, but I was being saved in that very moment. Those lyrics hadn’t been more truer to me in that moment than in any other moment in my life before, especially with the story of that girl I mentioned before. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want, but if you try some time, you mind find, you get what you need”. Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been saved and cleansed of my past, and it wasn’t by Mr. Christ or a church, but by the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world. Honestly, it was the happiest moment of my life, was during this rendition of the greatest Rolling Stones song they ever produced. I even shed a tear during that opener. Mick comes out with a guitar, preaching those words that the choir had just preached to me, and I it was pure, emotional, spiritual bliss.
All of my sorrows from the previous year had been cleaned, and I can thank The Rolling Stones for saving my life. Holy water couldn’t save me, but good ole’ rock ‘n’ roll can. It was truly a moving experience, and the ultimate highlight of the show. My favorite part of that song for years has always been the ending, because that’s when the choir screams those beautiful notes like its nobody’s business. And what makes the live version so great is that I think The Stones embrace the religious aspect, and the grand finale is Leavell playing that keyboard like we’re praising his holiness, and that’s when I have my hands in the air, feeling some sort of higher being take control of me, and enjoying life for that moment. I don’t know if I’ll even achieve a feeling like that in my life ever, but who knows. Thank you Mick, Keith, Ronnie, and Charlie.
But the show wasn’t quite over. We were missing one more key song. Then Keith went into that riff that I’ve known since I was five years old, the riff that birthed my love of The Stones. “Satisfaction”, baby! The crowd goes wild, I go wild, and it’s another great 10 minutes of my life. I dance so much during the finale of this perfect evening that my whole body is in pain, but I don’t wanna stop. My brain could go for another two hours, but my body can’t take much more. It was satisfaction indeed, and just like that, the evening was over. A little over two hours playing some of the greatest songs ever written, The Stones take their bow, the lights turn on, and just like that, the concert is over. I’m still speechless over what had just happened. I think about that concert at least five times during the day. Some may find it a little obsessive, but if you were in my shoes, and knew what was going through my mind during these past couple of months, you’d understand the near biblical event that had just occurred at Jerry World.
So that’s the end of this “epic”, two-part story on how I got to The Rolling Stones in Dallas, Texas. I hope you enjoyed my honesty, my sappiness, and everything in-between. I enjoyed writing this, and I hope you enjoyed reading this. You have no idea how much better I feel after laying it all out on you for the world to see (or the 2 or 3 people who stumble upon this blog once a year).
Part One: https://movietalkwithjakesalinas.com/2015/06/30/satisfaction-the-story-of-how-a-woman-a-long-year-of-high-school-and-other-misadventures-contributed-to-my-seeing-the-rolling-stones-in-dallas-texas-part-one-bruce-corner/