Sunday, September 15, 2013
And You Don't Stop, Sure Shot
I had a total Sha-Na-Na moment this week, when we went to see Blondie at Riverbend Wednesday night. When I was a kid Sha-Na-Na was a 50s nostalgia act that would not quit. Fronted by Bowser, a greaser with a hyperbolic Brooklyn accent, Sha-Na-Na had their own show and were always appearing on Merv Griffin and the like, playing the hits of the 50s and allowing a whole generation, I guess, to reminisce about each other's experiences without really thinking too hard. It was like kitsch with a big heart beating inside.
Blondie gave off that same feeling Wednesday night, like the joke was on me, but thank God it was. The audience were all versions of people like me, close to 50, not in too good of shape, outcasts in high school who have clung to punk and new wave because it allowed us an escape from both our environments and ourselves. Debbie Harry was our goddess, the chief executive officer of glamorous outsiderness. I remember listening to "Rapture" over and over in my room, and of course "Heart of Glass" was a sort of anthem for people who were pissed off at what happened at Wrigley Stadium when disco (and gays and black people) kind of were sacrificed so a bunch of dumb-asses could have something to be pissed about.
And there Debbie Harry was on Wednesday, 68 and in fine shape, live on stage. She ruled the joint, an in-shape, grand-dame/grandmother, one who mall-walks and drinks Chardonnay on her patio with a sweater around her shoulders but also has a secret sharp sense of humor and outrage that comes out whenever she feels it needs to. That transformation from punk siren to elder stateswoman was a beautiful thing to behold. All of us should be so lucky. I fell in love with her on Wednesday all over again: she was a symbol of both survival and tranquility, and her voice was better than it has ever been, a punch-bowl, all fevered and self-contained, drunken and delicate and fierce.
Nostalgic is not the word for it, but that's what it was: a yearning to understand where all the years went without getting too sad or even too thoughtful. Like Sha-Na-Na doing their schtick on Merv Griffin, but also signifying a loss and also somehow a return...