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Rick's List — What'd You Say? Edition

I've seen well over a hundred concerts in my life and certainly over a thousand bands performing live in clubs.

I, ah, can't hear very well.

The two loudest shows I ever heard? No question:

1. Ted Nugent at the Electric Ballroom, Dallas, Halloween night, 1975 — I must point out it's difficult to reconcile the idiotic present-day caricature Nugent has become with the 1975 Ted Nugent. THAT Nugent had his best-ever band at the time — with Derek St. Holmes on vocals — and was on tour for the "Ted Nugent" album, which remains his by-far-and-away masterpiece. Had no idea of his politics. He was just a larger than life ascending rock star oozing charisma putting on one of the best shows I've ever seen. But it was dip-your-ears-in-riverine-lava LOUD. For the rest of her life, my Mom swore my hearing was seriously damaged that night.

2. Captain Beyond at Gertie's, Dallas, summer '78 — To my mind, Captain Beyond should have been filling arenas. I know: You've never heard of them. Anyway, they were in a tiny club and ridiculously over-equipped for the room. There was enough gear to play Foxboro Stadium. Brilliantly, I stood about five feet away from guitarist Rhino's double stack of 200-watt Marshall amps for two hours. I should have just let rats chew my auditory canals.

Well, here we are 45 years later and I'm making arrangements for hearing aids, and I've been thinking about my poor ears a lot.

1. I don't want those streamlined new hearing aids that aren't visibly discernible and are designed by NASA thermodynamics people who spend their lives fine-tuning the volume of rocket exhaust plumes so they don't induce cracking fault lines in astronauts' heads. No, I want some old-fashioned models, the ones like that gramophone the terrier peers quizzically at on the old record label.

2. Or just cornucopian sea-shells sticking out from each ear.

3. Does ear hair grow in direct proportion to the arithmetically-increasing inability to hear?

4. Or maybe the real reason I'm deaf is because the clumps of what seem to be bear fur blossoming in my ears are obfuscating the hearing process. It wasn't always this way, but now, if left unclipped for even two days, each of my ears look styled by Martin Van Buren.

5. People can always tell when someone's losing their hearing. Me? I respond to comments or questions by smiling or nodding, and the tendency is to just utter pleasantries like, "Yes!" or "I think you're probably right."

6. The above routine gets old for the Hard of Hearing Person, which is why, whenever I think I've been told something or asked a question, MY tendency is to spout, "Gosh, you're stupid!" or "Six. I'll take six!" or "Did you just say you worked in porn?"

7. As per #6, if I could go back to hearing perfectly, I now know I could avoid a lot of less-than-interesting conversations at parties by pretending I'm hard of hearing. Instead of listening or engaging, I'd just nod and smile and say, "Yep, that's what I think, too" until the other parties think, "Oh, poor guy, he's deaf," and leave.

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