Vintage Concert Ts

Originally posted 3/25/2008.  

I’ve seen my share 
of replica vintage concert T-shirts,
all bought at Target, Kohl’s, and WalMart I’m sure;
maybe some of the rarer designs 
come from Hot Topic.  Each one
seems to have been burnt thin 
from pre-sale washing
in foreign factory laundries.

I bet no one wearing one
really understands
how it worked back
in the day, how
a concert T
wasn’t about style
and wasn’t about fashion.
They were medals earned 
for risking death by tinnitus,
honor blazoned
on 60-40 blends.
We’d compare them
at school next day
and envy each other,
swearing 
we’d never miss another tour,
tried to keep them
intact and uncracked
as long as we could…

then one day
we looked 
in the mirror,
kissed off such expensive devotion,
and proceeded straight on to mortgages
and beer guts you couldn’t hide
under any size shirt.

I heard T. Rex on the radio tonight and
can remember having Bolan’s
big platforms and rainbow swirl
on black across my chest,
big ass chunky music
gonging in my head
for two days and the shirt
telling everyone I’d gone to see
The Man.

I saw that same shirt earlier tonight on a kid
as skinny as I used to be except
his shirt was grey as a post
and scraped evenly clean
in all the right places.
I don’t know what he saw in it,
don’t understand
how you can buy 
such tastefully damaged goods
and call that fair trade
without putting 
your own time
into the wear.

About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

3 responses to “Vintage Concert Ts

  • leamuse

    While I didn’t have many opportunities, I did get to go to one concert in Canada and have a front row seat. The girl sitting next to me took me backstage (her father worked there) and we got to meet four lads from Liverpool. It is one I won’t forget! Unfortunately, my mouth wouldn’t work and I couldn’t say a word!

    • Tony Brown

      OK, I’m jealous. REALLY jealous…

      Had a similar experience…

      I used to work in concert security at a local arena in the 80s, a second job. Met a lot of the 80s hair metal guys, who really didn’t impress me much as I was much more of a punk and jazz fan. Because I didn’t care about them, I used to get assigned to be the guard outside dressing room doors before the show — the supervisors knew I wouldn’t bother the talent.

      Frank Sinatra had been the opening act when the arena opened, and he returned to do the 10th anniversary show. They assigned me to my usual pre-show spot — not that he needed it, as he had an entourage that looked like extras from “The Godfather.” Near the end of my shift, one of the guys came out and asked if I wanted to meet “Mr. Sinatra…”

      Spent just a few minutes with the man — shook my hand and thanked me for standing out there for 4+ hours without being a pest…and like you, I was all but mute. But he couldn’t have been more pleasant…

      • leamuse

        I spent my summer grilling burgers for my aunt and uncle all around western Canada. One day my uncle gave me a ticket to a show at the stadium in Vancouver and I didn’t even have a clue who would be there. They were lovely and I dumbstruck!

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