Concerts and concert-going have occupied a special place in my life, as they have for many of my generation; not only big rock concerts, but also small punk, ska, and reggae shows, even smaller folk and blues gigs in clubs and cafes, and Indian musical recitals of all kinds. Andrew and I have always managed to find the money for tickets to see, hear, and come together in the presence of our favorite singers and musicians, and they have sent us back out into the world recharged with hope and creative energy. Prophets and truth-tellers for our time, they tell us of ourselves and our condition, and fill us with the courage to face the challenge of our lives.
Here are some of the tickets and ticket stubs from concerts that Andrew and I have attended together over the years, from Ravi Shankar at London’s Albert Hall on August 22nd, 1971, to Patti Smith in New York’s Bowery Ballroom on December 30th, 2002.
Although, given our propensity for hoarding, they are probably stashed safely in a box somewhere, tickets from many of our concerts are missing from the collage above, including: Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry; Mimi Farina, Focus, Holly Near, Pete Seeger, Odetta; Harry Belafonte, Jimmy Cliff, Third World, Bunny Wailer, Sister Nancy; UB 40, the Selecter, the Gang of Four, Elvis Costello, the Frames, Human Sexual Response; Tom Paxton, Nanci Griffith, Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys; Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee; Brave Combo (in a category of its own!); John McLaughlin and Shakti, Prabha Atre, Bhimsen Joshi, M.S. Subbulakshmi, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Dates and venues are important. It matters that it was 1971 when we first saw Doc Watson play with his son Merle at the Boston Tea Party in the Fenway; 1981 at the Bradford Ballroom, Boston, when the Specials gave what turned out to be their last concert; 1993 at the Tilak Smarak Mandir in Sadashiv Peth, Pune, when the young sitar virtuoso Budhaditya Mukherjee made the hairs on my arms stand on end; 1996 on a tiny stage at the Dublin Castle, an Irish pub in Camden Town, London, when we first heard the Frames and experienced Glen Hansard’s incantatory performance of “Revelate.” Each of these moments in time and place encapsulates its era and allows us to recall it in all its personal and cultural particularity.
There are stories from specific concerts waiting to be told, and favorite artists demanding a tribute; but for now, let these ticket stubs stand as markers for the as-yet-untold stories and for some of the red-letter days of the past forty years. Did I forget to mention how much fun they’ve been? Write to me, if you were there too!