I bought a Neil Young tour t-shirt at the Birmingham National Exibition Centre gig in September 1982, nearly twenty seven years ago. It must have been good quality – it (and the the other one I later acquired from the woman I was seeing at the time) have seen service at gigs, as pyjamas, stuffing for make-shift pillows and countless hot washes that would have devastated lesser garments.
Yesterday, I saw Neil at the Hard Rock Calling festival in Hyde Park. He was, of course, fabulous (and he even brought out a Beatle – the recently divorced one – for the encore of ‘A Day In The Life’ which I really didn’t think could be credibly played live). There were also tour t-shirts and I particularly liked the rusted out look of the one with the ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’ slogan. I nearly bought one but something held me back. It wasn’t the price (though they were pretty steep) – it was the plangent symptom of mortality they unexpectedly represented. At the age of 46, if I buy a new Neil Young tee now, there’s a serious chance it’ll outlive me.
I thought about this a fair bit on the way home and changed my mind. Today, we’re off to see Bruce Springsteen at the same location and, as the merchandise stands cover the whole weekend, I’m probably going to buy one – call it a Yeatsian an act of defiance. I explained all this to supermum.
“Yes,” she said patiently. “You know, my grandmother started talking about dying on a regular basis at some point too.”
“Just before she died?”
“No, ages before that. She was 102 when she died, anyway.”
I’m definitely getting the t-shirt.