Gimme Shelter, From the Rolling Stones

After a lifetime of rocking, one Israeli is staying home for the Rolling Stones concert.

Tamar Gelbetz
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Mick Jagger, front center, Ronnie Wood, left, with Keith Richards and Charlie Watts, right, of The Rolling Stones in 2012.
Mick Jagger, front center, Ronnie Wood, left, with Keith Richards and Charlie Watts, right, of The Rolling Stones in 2012.Credit: AP
Tamar Gelbetz

Even if the Beatles were to come to Tel Aviv's Hayarkon Park in full complement, the living and the dead together, I would never make it out of the house. And even if Mick Jagger were to send me a free VIP golden-ring-whatever ticket with a little drawing of a heart in his own handwriting as a Shavuot gift, I would apologize nicely and beg off, saying I had a bad case of the flu. There's really no chance I'm going to wrap those 1980s leather trousers around my hips and go to the Rolling Stones Show this summer. Really, it’s not them; it’s me.

Not that I don’t like the Rolling Stones, heaven forbid. Really, heaven forbid. On the contrary, I'm not going because I do like them. It's not like I've been blasting “Wild Horses” in my car over the past few years, but I like them. I'm connected. Very much even. So connected that I walked down the aisle to one of their songs. Not that I plan to say which one it was — because it is embarrassing after so many years and a divorce — but I really and truly did. I belong to the generation that called them by their name in Hebrew, “Haavanim hamitgalgelot,” not the Rolling Stones, and certainly not by their intimate nickname, the Stones. Because they were the Holy of Holies. But I do not intend to go anywhere near their show. Absolutely not. Precisely because they are the Holy of Holies, and all that.

And precisely because my big brother, Shimon, brought "Beggars Banquet" home as soon as it came out, when I was in second or third grade and opened up the wide, illustrated cover as I squinted in suspicion, and the new-record smell hit me with a boom in the nostrils, and he put the black record, which weighed a ton, on the heavy record player, and we listened to “Sympathy for the Devil” with the “woo woos,” and it seemed like the world had gone mad and nothing would ever be the way it had been before, and that’s precisely why I can’t. Not anymore.

Yes, I know Mick is still a really great rocker, and I'm sure if we stood really, really far back and looked away from the screens, his silhouette would look exactly, but exactly, like it did 50 years ago — how the hell does he do that? And especially now that he has just become a widower. Really, I give him all respect. But I can’t go.

The last time I did, it hurt. A lot. It was in 2009 in Ramat Gan. A good friend bought me the most expensive ticket to the Leonard Cohen concert that was on sale. In the rich people’s row. It didn't cost as much as a mid-size hybrid car. I also knew Leonard Cohen well. From way back. I wasn't all that wild about him, because when I was a girl, he sounded like a bit of a bore who was always in a bad mood, but my brother would play him on and on in the secret room he had improvised in the bomb shelter of the apartment building where we lived in Haifa, and eventually I got connected. Later, when I reached the age of self-pity, I surrendered totally and would play the songs of this depressing man with the broken voice and endless pretending to be miserable over how badly he had been treated.

So I went. And I sat among all the women who were dressed in their finest, wearing perfume with a delicate lemon fragrance, humming along with “Hallelujah” so softly as to be almost inaudible, but with devotion, swaying from side to side like palm fronds on Sukkot, and I came out of there battered with grief. And I swore I would never do it again. These ill-planned kibbutz-style ceremonies are not good for me. They puncture my heart like a burning cigarette. Not Bryan Ferry, not the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Not anyone.

Because it’s me. I really have seen everything. Long ago. I nodded in agreement in front of Paul Simon at the amphitheater in Caesarea when he sang, “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover” in the 1970s, and I stomped my feet with an angry 1980s face in front of Siouxsie and the Banshees, with Robert Smith of The Cure onstage at the Dan Cinema, and I even sat in the fifth row on the side at Nirvana: Unplugged (if you rewind a bit, you’ll see me there, really, in a green dress with metal buttons). Who would have believed it? I was that lucky. Nirvana. Unplugged. In New York. Too bad you can’t sell that on eBay.

Because really, I’m the Forrest Gump of rock and roll. There is no waypoint I haven’t passed through, no junction of major significance I haven’t crossed, a few hand-claps, a few hip-wiggles, a few whistles, my feet hurting on high heels from hell, all of it, all of it, and not anymore. Not this time. Because back then, I was groovy, I was with it, I was hip, and I even tried for one brief, weak moment with the last of my strength to be cool, but it didn’t work anymore. I’m 60, for Heaven’s sake. Almost. In just a little while. Not such a little while, actually, but I’m crawling toward it with determination.

And I’m a little sorry now that I didn’t listen to my father and get used to liking Dvorak’s “New World Symphony.” Then I could have planted my backside comfortably in my nice, upholstered chair in the newly-renovated hall and surrendered like a human being to Zubin Mehta without a second thought. That would have been so much nicer for my feet. And my pelvis. And maybe Mick’s, too. But hey, that’s his job. What can you do? So go, have fun, get down (or however you say it these days) and don’t forget to text me how it was. I’ll be up all night. You have my word as a rocker on that.

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