How an X'er joined the Stones age


TONIGHT in Seattle, the Rolling Stones will wrap-up their four-month "Voodoo Lounge" tour. There's a touch of irony in the fact that the legendary rock 'n' roll band will finish its tour in a

city known for its grunge bands.

Out of Seattle have come such groups as Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and the late Kurt Cobain's Nirvana. Their music is included in the collections of most twentysomethings I know. The music even sparked a clothing trend, with many Generation X'ers opting for thick-soled shoes and flannel shirts.

I was swept along by the grunge phenomenon. In April, for my 25th birthday, a friend took me to a Pearl Jam concert. I enjoyed the music, but the concert was not an incredible music experience. Lead singer Eddie Vedder, although a talented vocalist, didn't seem to put that much effort into his performance. He seemed to want to be anywhere at the moment but on stage. That lackluster performance reflected the basic Generation X attitude -- don't make an effort to do anything for yourself or anyone else.

A few months later, a thirtysomething friend and her husband invited me to the Rolling Stones' opening night concert at RFK Stadium in August in Washington. I hadn't paid much attention to the Stones before, thinking of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards as skinny has-beens who were old enough to be my father. But my friend's husband assured me that I would enjoy the concert.

From the first beat to the last melodious strains of an electric guitar, I was astounded by the performance. The band seemed to emit a glowing energy. They no longer seemed middle-aged; they appeared to put everything they had into each song. Mick Jagger clearly loved being on the stage, and he made a point to show it. They gave the audience members what they came there for -- classic rock 'n' roll.

I will never forget that night; it not only introduced me to great music but also it taught me to appreciate voices of a different generation. The Stones performance is symbolic of the Baby Boomer generation's energy and drive to change the world as they had found it.

On the flip side, Generation X'er bands are filled with scruffy-looking characters who make as little effort as possible to be entertaining as they pass along their garbled message that our generation will have nothing and be nothing.

The Stones concert was a key turning point for me because it helped me determine my musical tastes. After the concert, I no longer wanted to be associated with grunge, which has a philosophy that I never really believed. Now I enjoy a music that reflects my philosophy about life. A tangible result of that is the layer of dust that covers my Nirvana and Pearl Jam CDs.

I hope tonight in Seattle, when the Stones take the stage, lots of twentysomethings will crowd the place. If they do, maybe they will be captivated by the energy the way I was. But maybe they won't. No big deal. After all, it's only rock 'n' roll, but I like it.

Heather Seiden writes from Baltimore.

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