The Rolling Stones aren't playing anywhere within 900 miles of New Orleans on their "50 And Counting" tour, so it's not exactly as if I have an anguished decision to make now that the Feds have confiscated my Lear jet. But unless offered a free ticket, I doubt I'd have felt any qualms about staying home with Philip Larkin's Collected Poems and my toenail clippers even if the boys had taken it into their heads to headline JazzFest in NOLA last week. (This year's crowd had to settle for lesser dinosaurs: Billy Joel, Hall and Oates, Fleetwood Mac. Word is that Billy—now inching his way back into critical respectability, since you can't deny Mr. Glibmeister's songcraft—knocked it right out of the park.)
Not that I ever saw them in their prime. My one and only Stones concert was in 1994, by which time I was being paid to go and wouldn't have considered attending otherwise. As intense as it was—defining my high-school and college years from the moment a 15-year-old me bought their Hot Rocks greatest-hits compilation at, ahem, the Guantanamo PX—my version of Stones-mania was all about the records, above all the great run from 1968's Beggars Banquet to 1972's Exile on Main Street.
Thanks to my genius for timing—or my parents', anyway—those albums were already back catalog by the time I discovered them. The first Stones release I bought when it was new was Goats Head Soup, and talk about a letdown. But just when I was getting fed up with their slipshod Seventies crapola, 1978's Some Girls renewed my fanhood—for a while, anyway.