DFW Music News

For Your Weekend Listening Pleasure: The Stones Play, Rain or Shine, at Cotton Bowl in '81

I see here I can buy back my misplaced Rolling Stones-at-the-Cotton Bowl concert tee for $139; quite the ... bargain? Better still: You can relive the show absolutely gratis -- at least, the Halloween '81 gully washer that gave way to the next day's bright-n-shiny seen in this blinding clip.

Given the Stones' earlier appearances here -- rehearsing at the Sumet-Burnet studios in June '72 before the next day's two-fer at the Tarrant County Convention Center, which ain't far from the July '78 show at Will Rogers -- I can't believe we've yet to revisit the band's two-day layover at the Cotton Bowl. No doubt you were there on October 31 and November 1, 1981, with the Fabulous Thunderbirds and ZZ Top opening and Jōvan sponsoring. I went second day -- my first concert without a parental guardian, having just turned 13 one whole week earlier. (I was, after all, now a man, cough.)

The band sounds even better now than I remembered. Doesn't hurt that the quality is soundboard you-are-there, no doubt a result of the entire tour having been filmed and recorded for the Hal Ashby-directed doc Let's Spend the Night Together. Those '70s shows mentioned above are raw, sleazy, pounds of grit and mounds of ash -- the party and the hangover. But by '81, Keith Richards had dried out and straightened up -- he hadn't sounded that good in years. As Robert Palmer noted in The New York Times only a few days after the Dallas dates: "He looks healthy, he is playing brilliantly and his backup vocals are often so lusty that they drown out Mr. Jagger, who is working harder to hold up his end of things as result." You can hear it two songs in, "When the Whip Comes Down."

Incidentally, the name of this rather famous boot? Fuckin' Wonderful. That's a Mick Jagger quote, heard after "Jumpin' Jack Flash," when he says: "Thank you very much, Dallas, you're fuckin' wonderful." Yes, Dallas, you are.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky