Sunday, October 23, 2011

An Atomic Bomb in Lipstick

Wanda Jackson
First Lady of 
As I write this, I am experiencing what I can only describe as a hangover... I only had one single beer, but the feeling is unmistakable. It’s something I haven’t been through in a while, but ... the headache, the nausea, the light and sound sensitivity... It was just like back in college, when I’d be taking notes in class and I’d have to put my pen down ... and I’d realize that I was still drunk! That’s a bit of how I felt at church this morning while I was trying to keep up with the pastor’s sermon... Nice.

I guess I just had too big a night last night. The whole fam went to Greater Clayton, NC, to see a knock-out show by rock and roll legend Wanda Jackson. First, I’ll say that this is a great venue for seeing a show. It’s a converted high school auditorium and there isn’t a bad seat in the house – plus they sell these scrumptious homemade whoopie pies! And Wanda ... well, she was a pioneer in the rock genre back in the fifties – an Oklahoma country singer who was convinced to try “this new music” by Elvis himself. And she still rocks... at 74, she’s my new role model of aging. 

Wanda with Jack White
Accompanied by a brilliant Nashville band – Heath Haynes and the Hi-Dollars, she belted out rockers like Riot in Cell Block #9, Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (and believe me, there was), Heartbreak Hotel, Roadrunner, Rip It Up, and Nervous Breakdown... She gave her Christian testimony and sang Hank Williams’ I Saw the Light... She even did a VERY sassy version of Amy Winehouse’s You Know I’m No Good. Her voice is growly and fantastic, even now. She told stories, she wiggled her body all the right ways, she made jokes... She really gave us all a good time. She really is, as Bob Dylan said, “an atomic bomb in lipstick.”

Robert Plant – just
being himself.
The audience was full of folks who may have heard her records the first time around, as well as a smattering of hipsters, thanks to her recent work with hipster icon Jack White. Check out this video of Wanda and Jack on Letterman. We took Bill to the show and he loved it – which is saying a LOT. (If an activity doesn’t involve playing and/or toys, it’s REALLY hard for Bill to get on board with it.) But he danced and laughed and watched with wide eyes. Rockabilly is actually perfect music for energetic kids... unless your goal is to calm them down!

As for growing older, I guess there are multiple ways it can be done... A while back when I saw Robert Plant – singing and moving sultrily up on the stage in his black shirt and greying golden locks, I thought, “He’s just being himself... that’s how to do it... just be who you are.” This truth really hit home when I saw Wanda, though – maybe because we’re both women. Sure her hair was either dyed black or a sassy black wig, and her body was thick through the middle, but she totally rocked out!! Decked out in her signature fringe – hot pink, with rhinestone trim, she shimmied, shook and most of all, was HERSELF... wife, mother, Jesus-lover... and the Queen of Rock.

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