Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice


So, I watched a good chunk of the 12-12-12 concert Wednesday night. I forgot it was on, to be honest, and only found it when I decided I needed some brain melt time, shortly after 8 PM. I turn on the TV and there’s Bruce Springsteen, looking like he’s the one who should be playing a mobster on The Sopranos, instead of his buddy, Little Steven, wrapping up Born to Run. I stuck around for the next four hours, until I was driven away by a deadly combination of fatigue, Kanye West, the truly awful ‘Drunk Uncle’ sketch, and one-too-many instances of Brian Williams saying, “You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a celebrity back here.”

I did enjoy the show overall. I thought most of the musical performances were strong, though I also thought the comedic bits were universally unfunny. The cause is excellent, and I suspect the concert raised a lot of money that will hopefully get to the people who need it the most. There is, however, one question that’s been bugging me since somewhere in the middle of the evening. I think it first popped into my brain when they started flashing the ‘coming up’ promos during stage changeovers:

Where were the women?

There were plenty of women in Madison Square Garden for the show. I saw them dancing, smiling, waving their cell phones in the air. They were at the phone bank, there were at least two who appeared on camera between musical acts. And there were a lot of women onstage, but aside from Alicia Keys, they were backup singers and part of the band. So, where were the women?

Now I know there’s a lot of things that go into producing something like this, a lot of considerations that go into selecting the acts. Most of the acts were ‘classic’ acts–Springsteen, Clapton, The Who, the Stones, Roger Waters–giants in the industry, big box office draws, who appeal to the demographic that I presume is seen as having the most money to give. You’re not going to stuff this event with teeny-bopper heartthrobs, because the teeny-boppers can’t fork over the cash.

There’s also availability. Bruce and Bon Jovi are local guys, you know they’re going to turn out for something like this. So is Billy Joel. The Who and the Stones both happen to be touring the US right now, and Sir Paul McCartney can do whatever he wants, wherever he wants, whenever he wants–he’s Paul freakin’ McCartney, after all. So the biggest women stars in the business today–Adele, Gaga, Katy Perry, Madonna, and I know I’m missing many others–may not have had the right combination of interest, audience, and availability for an event of this sort. Still, the night was notable for what it lacked.

I hate to see these kinds of events, because it means something terrible has happened somewhere in the world, something that has caused suffering among large numbers of people. But it will happen again, because that’s just how the world is, things happen. And it will happen again because people want to help, they want to contribute and make things better, and that says a lot about us. I just hope that, when it does happen again, we see a better balance on the stage.


In light of Monday’s post about John Lennon, I came across a link to the so-called ‘last interview’ he did for Rolling Stone magazine, about three days before he was killed. It’s a really interesting read, and some parts that struck me as being appropriate for all of us writers here. Check it out here.

That’s all for me, have a great weekend, all!

7 Responses

  1. You're right, where were the women! I mean, Grace Slick should have been up there, if all those other old guys were there. And, actually, I love the Rolling Stones' new song, Doom and Gloom. They were my first concert ever in 1982, and they're still going strong!

  2. It is really saddening that for people to come together so strongly like at this concert, something terrible has to have happened. In 2009 my town held the Sound Relief fundraiser, which included a few musical numbers too, though I only remember Kasey Chambers and Evermore. There was heaps of other stuff to do there and it was all to raise money for people who'd been affected by the Black Saturday bushfires earlier in the year. Basically, the whole state had been set on fire, and a lot of it was arson.

    Interesting that there weren't so many women involved in the concert you saw. I wonder how many other viewers picked up on that.

  3. I confess I don't know either of those acts. We had a summer of fire out where I lived…yikes, probably 15 years ago or so. It's pretty scary stuff. Always nice to see people come together during and after these things to help each other out, though.

  4. We watched it too and the parts you didn't like were the same ones we didn't! LOL. But I actually didn't notice how few women were there but you're right! So weird.

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