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July 12th, 2012
09:19 PM ET

Letters to the President #1270: 'A Rolling Stone'

Reporter's Note: President Obama seems to like music, although I’m not sure how he feels about some groups. Perhaps today’s letter will spur him to call me and we’ll discuss our favorite tunes for a while! Then again, maybe not.

Dear Mr. President,

So I was a bit surprised to hear that the Rolling Stones played their first gig 50 years ago today. I would have thought it was much longer. Ha! Just kidding.

I’ve been a Stones fan a long time, and I still enjoy listening to their music. I saw them on the Steel Wheels tour way back in November of 1989 when they played the Superdome in New Orleans. I went with the drummer from my band back then, a guy named Guy, to get tickets, which involved going out into the pouring rain around four o’clock in the morning. Even then we were too far back in the line, but we spotted a friend closer to the front who had camped out in the rain. We made a fast deal: If she’d buy tickets for us and our wives we’d pay for her and her boyfriend. She scored the extras and we were in.

The show was spectacular, of course. Living Color was the opening act and they were fabulous. Vernon Reid’s guitar was a shredding machine, especially on their signature song, Cult of Personality.

But then the Stones came roaring out and it was magnificent. Start Me Up. Shattered. Honky Tonk Woman. Wow. It was so much fun. My favorite moment was when they started the intro to Sympathy for the Devil and Mick disappeared, only to reappear atop a tall tower above the stage with the classic line: “Please allow me to introduce myself…”

He was only in his mid-40’s then, so you can imagine how much zip he had. Not exactly a young rocker anymore, true, but he was still able to run around like crazy and his voice was great. The rest of the band was too. Loved watching Keith Richards and Ron Woods bending down over their guitars, pumping out those grinding chords like the twin valves of a rock and roll heart; Bill Wyman calmly thumping his bass; Charlie Watts placidly beating away on the drums like an accountant who just happened to show up for the gig.

It was a show to remember because they played it like they meant it. I know they were already multi-millionaires by then; hardly the angry, scuffling young men characterized by so much of their music. But it seemed like they were having fun, like they still liked pounding it out, like they were still in it for the music…not just the money.

At least I like to think so.

Anyway, it is just a memory that is in my mind today. Call if you want a few more details. It was quite a show. Meanwhile, do you think you ought to call Mick and the boys and wish them a happy anniversary? I’m sure they’d appreciate the gesture.

Regards,
Tom

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