Editor's Note: For the June edition of John Roderick's Answers & Advice column in SW's Reverb Monthly, singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash submitted a number of queries, including the one below. Read all of Roderick's responses when the June issue drops on Wednesday.
Rosanne Cash: How many bare-chested women does it take in the audience before they cause a natural disaster?
Roderick: The number of bare-chested women sufficient to cause a natural disaster varies depending on a few other factors. For instance, a Van Halen concert at the LA Palladium in the summer of 1978 was recorded as having over 800 pairs of exposed bosoms with no significant after-effects, despite being located almost directly over the San Andreas fault. On the other hand, that same summer a single woman breast-feeding in the lobby of an Anne Murray concert in Edmonton, Alberta was indirectly credited with enabling, for almost eleven days afterward, people in Nova Scotia to talk to whales.
So you see, although we cannot be too quick to point the finger of responsibility at mammaries that have slipped their lacy bounds, we also cannot rule them out as the cause of disaster.
I imagine that a Roseanne Cash concert could support four to six pairs of exposed audience breasts without tempting fate, although some of your bandmates may momentarily lose track of the "one", but if that many naked boobs appeared at a Sufjan Stevens concert I would brace local hospitals for an epidemic of virgin births and ecstatic crying. Lady Gaga exposes her breasts onstage every night and nothing happens beyond a slight uptick in the number of unicorn throw pillows sold at neighboring Targets, whereas one glimpse of a Courtney Love breast puts your entire family at elevated risk for Lyme disease.
The list goes on. A PM Dawn concert in Chicago in 1991 was cancelled after exposed breasts caused a hailstorm. Art Garfunkel claims a prankster wrote "Show your tits" in the dust on the trunk of his car and when a girl on the highway took the bait it permanently deprived him of the ability to smell citrus.
These are just some of the documented cases. I'm at a loss to explain the phenomenon but I don't take any chances, which is why I wear a bike helmet when I perform.