Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hot Rod

It was 1972.

Three Dog Night was the hottest band in the world.

"One". "Mama Told Me Not to Come".

They came to Atlanta and played at the old Fulton County Stadium.

I was dating Kaye Reagan. (Kaye, you went on to marry a Secret Service guy. Please ask him not to come shoot me with a silencer.)

We doubled with another couple, and I can't remember who it was.

We settled in our seats and here comes the warmup band. Yawn.

Rod Stewart and Faces.

Jeff Beck on lead guitar. Ronnie Wood on bass and guitar.

And in sequined black pants, this crazy spiky haired singer named Rod Stewart.

They proceeded to tear the place apart. We had never heard anything like it. White soul.

Rod Stewart sounded like he had gargled Oban and Drano and then smoked a pack of Camels. Raspy, emotional, incredible sounds coming from his soul.

The crowd went nuts. Wanted more.

Cannot remember a thing about Three Dog Night from that concert. I'm sure they were fine. But, I was forever changed by the warmup act.

Every Picture Tells a Story was the first album I ever bought. Everything before was 45 singles. Rod changed that for me. Maggie May. I'm Losing You. Reason to Believe.

I've seen him about 10 times in concert. When he was young, he ran around and up and down the stage like a madman. He may have had some pharmaceutical assistance, but he was mesmerizing. Never stood still. Kicked soccer balls into the crowd regularly. (He loves "football", and still owns part of Celtic.)

Many of us saw him tonight on American Idol. It looked like he stumbled on stage.

It made me cry.

His voice was still in perfect pitch and he gave ole Maggie May a good rendition.

But the body is failng him. He can't run around like he used to. Can't swing the mike stand like nobody ever did like he used to.

Rod, thank you. You got me to understand the blues. You got me to understand albums. You got me to understanding conflicted love.

You gave your soul to your audience, and I've got part of it living in me.

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