A few years back, I had the opportunity to go and see the Eagles live in concert. We had great floor seats, just far enough from the front row to not look straight up. We were adults, we could finally afford the good ones! I was ecstatic, because, you see, live music is my thing. For me, there isn’t anything better than hearing my favorite musicians playing the songs that give me all the feels, live. I love the way they interact with the audience, tell jokes among themselves. It feels like you’re in on something special. I walk out of a concert renewed. My soul alight. And I’d never seen the Eagles before. That is to say, I’d been to an Eagles concert, but we’d sat so far away I couldn’t see them, not even a glimpse.
Well, life happened. We had unexpected visitors and I let the tickets go.
“I’ll see them the next time,” I said to the friend I gave them to. “The next tour.”
A few days after that show, Glenn Frey died.
There would be no next show for the original Eagles, for Glenn Frey
To say I was devastated would be dramatic. But also, it wasn’t inaccurate. That’s how I felt. Though I’d never known him, I’d heard his voice for years. It seemed ridiculous how sad I was over the death of someone I’d never met. What his death did was shift something for me. What’s that old saying-you never know what tomorrow will bring so don’t put off tomorrow what you could do today…
Hold on loosely, but don’t let go… if you cling too tightly… oh, wait those are lyrics to a 38 Special song…
Where was I? Oh, yes. Devastated about the loss of Glenn Frey.
I called up my concert-loving-life-long-best-friend and we commiserated about it, and that conversation turned into a mission.
We were determined to see as many bands of our glory years as we could. While we could. I mean, realistically we weren’t getting any younger either.
We made a list, a bucket list, if you will. Of every band we wanted to see at least one more time. Some we’d seen multiple times already, some we’d seen separately, but not together. If one of us wanted to see them, they made the list. Over the course of the next few years, we flew to Las Vegas to see Billy Idol in residency at the Hard Rock Café. We’d seen him before, when we were sixteen, not of legal drinking age, back when General Admission wasn’t an insurance liability and teenagers ran in respectful droves to claim a spot as close to the stage as possible. This Billy Idol show was small, intimate, had a bar. And though we all still stood for every song, none of us looked as good doing it as Billy himself. He played for two straight hours and even took his shirt off!
In the midnight hour, we did in fact cry MORE! MORE! MORE!
Next up, Brian Adams at Red Rocks in Colorado. There is no more beautiful setting for a concert. Under that wide-open mountain sky, the canyons sending the music right back at you. It wasn’t hard to believe, we were in Heaven.
That one was hard to top, but we tried. At one of the most nostalgic, venues of our concert going lives, The Iowa State Fair. Is it as glamorous as Vegas, no. As breathtaking as Red Rocks? Again, no. But there’s something about that ancient Grandstand, the smell of fried food in the air, that takes me right back to when I first fell in love with live music. And the artists were the stuff of 80s Rock legends: Night Ranger and Foreigner. Still pouring their hearts out to their fans, still singing all the songs that made me feel like I still had a curfew. And I was going to break it.
Because that’s what music does, for me, for all of us. It takes us back to a time and a place that matters to us personally. Or it says the thing you need to hear the way you need to hear it. It gives you a place for your emotions that isn’t messy. Its personal, but communal. We can all sing our guts out, to Sister Christian, our phone lights glowing, but everyone singing along has a distinct memory of that song that makes it important to them. Those songs, if you’re lucky, are like catching a bit of magic.
Now listen, I know there are some great new artists out there. Toe-tapping, sing-along jams that are fantastic. The same as I can remember my mom cranking up the radio and singing along to the Beach Boys or Elvis. But, for me it will always be the music from the Eighties.
I will love it, Always…
(In case you missed the reference, next up? Bon Jovi!)
It’s My Life.
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