Rock stars have interrupted live musical performances for all kinds of reasons – usually in ways that solidify their edgy image, from Jim Morrison of The Doors stripping naked, to The Who’s substance-abusing drummer Keith Moon passing out, to Axl Rose of Guns ‘N’ Roses diving into the crowd in pursuit of a videotaping fan. But last week was probably the first time a rocker halted in mid-song to pacify a distraught child with a toy and a treat.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the singer Pink, on the Philadelphia stop of her Truth About Love Tour, was midway through an acoustic version of her song “Who Knew” when something near the stage caught her attention.
“Hold on, time out,” she said to her guitarist, who stopped. And then, to someone near the front of the audience, “Is everything okay right here? Is this little girl all right? What’s going on? Why is she crying? Why is she upset?”
Word came back that two people in the audience apparently had been fighting or arguing.
“’Cause there was a fight?” Pink asked. “You all are fighting around a little girl?” This prompted some booing from the audience, but she kept things calm and light-hearted.
Then Pink, a fairly recent mother herself, grabbed a toy and a snack from somewhere off-camera – possibly a bag full of baby gear like the one my wife takes everywhere – and offered it to the girl. “Honey, do you want this frog? Will this frog and this Rice Krispies Treat make you feel better? C'mon, c’mon, you know you want a Rice Krispies Treat.”
In a time when many top musical acts are mechanical, choreographed, large-scale spectacles, this was a refreshingly spontaneous, human moment, and quintessentially maternal. Would Pink herself, she of the snarling attitude, have done the same thing five or ten years ago? Unlikely. What changed her? Motherhood.
An undisputed pop-rock icon, the 33-year-old has sold over 40 million albums and 50 million singles worldwide, winning three Grammys and five MTV Video Music Awards. In 2009, Billboard magazine named her the #1 pop musician of the decade, and in 2012 VH1 named Pink #10 on their list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music. She is married to motocross racer Cary Hart, the father of her child Willow Sage Hart, now nearly two years old.
Pink, who describes motherhood as “the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” gushes: “You hear people say it all the time, how life changes so drastically. But you can't possibly grasp how beautiful that is until you have your child.” “I was a delinquent,” she says, “an angry, rebellious, self-righteous, ambitious, crazy person who liked to have too much fun.” But now? “[She and Carey] have no idea what we did before having Willow. Having a child is the best thing that could happen. I didn't know you could love anything this much.”
She may have traded “whiskey, tears and cigarettes” for “her baby’s tears, no cigarettes and the color of poop,” but the rocker who once sang “Get the Party Started” now says, “I don't miss anything. Everything is just cooler.”
In rock’s adolescence, the attitude was “don’t trust anyone over 30,” and “hope I die before I get old.” Some of that generation’s rockers did indeed get old but didn’t necessarily mature. But the maturity that motherhood has brought her has enabled Pink to strike a balance between growing up and rocking out. “We still have so much fun,” she says, “and I'm still a f-ing rock star.”
(This article originally appeared here on Acculturated, 3/22/13)