The unexpected half-life of a Neil Young T-shirt seen at Hyde Park

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.


About Dad Who Writes (Gabriel)

Writing, reading, listening, parenting... On Twitter as @dadwhowrites. View all posts by Dad Who Writes (Gabriel)

9 responses to “The unexpected half-life of a Neil Young T-shirt seen at Hyde Park

  • bsouth

    You know the quality won’t be as good as your original ones. They don’t make ’em like they used to!

    My best tour t’s are the oldest ones. The new ones aren’t great quality. Although maybe we just go to see bands that don’t care a lot.

  • nonlineargirl

    Any consumerist concerns aside, it is a good sign that you went back for the shirt. It shows some hope about life – my grandmother (who had a degenerative & terminal illness at the time) bought new shoes a month before she died. I don’t know if it was faith she’d live or a sense she should enjoy the time left. Either is good.

  • Tim

    Not usually given to leaving comments but…amazingly…I was at that same Birmingham NEC concert in 1982 (Nils Lofgren on guitar as I recall). It was so good that the next day (or day after, I’m not sure) a friend and I hitched to London for Earls Court and got tickets off a tout for a second unforgettable night. Never got a T shirt though.

  • dadwhowrites


    Well, no Neil Young T-shirts yesterday – everything given over to Broooce product placement. More on Bruce (and the advisability or otherwise of three hour standing-up marathons as date night gigs) anon…

    NLG – Your grandmother sounds like someone to emulate! Maybe I should put the money into new shoes. Or going to see some completely unknown band.

    Tim – welcome – and what a coincidence! I loved the shows too. I already had trans and my favourite (and first) Neil Young album at the time was Rust NEver Sleeps so the world’s first electro-metal show (years ahead of Ministry and Skinny Puppy) wasn’t the shock it might have been. I’m convinced I lost a degree of upper range hearing that night, though.

    I’ll probably have more to say about Hyde Park in due course. Meanwhile, check out the new Dinosaur Jr. album…

  • J

    I wish I still had my t-shirt from seeing the Police in 1983. Sigh. No, they don’t make ’em like they used to, and I suspect you’ll outlive the shirt by many years. Buy it anyway. 🙂

  • Mizmell

    At 50, I must admit I have thought the same thing–at times. I say get the shirt and wear it.
    I quit “saving” things years ago and try to enjoy what is NOW.

  • henitsirk

    Comforting words from supermum, eh? May you live so long!

  • ticketcollector


    Here are setlist & tickets :

    Unfortunately, I was not at this concert (too young).


  • Neil Young, 24 septembre 1982, Birmingham, National Exhibition Center « Ticket collector

    […] The unexpected half-life of a Neil Young T-shirt seen at Hyde Park   […]

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