I guess you can say I got to have the real fanboy experience this past Friday. Now, I can sit comfortably and interact with generals, political appointees, and elected officials all day long without being the least bit impressed, but put me in front of seven random guys from California and I’m a mumble mouthed mess who can barely bring himself to make eye contact with the god of his own making. It’s good to know that I can still feel over-awed by something, I suppose.
A quick photo op and a few mumbled words would have been plenty enough to make my day, but with my 40th just passed, I wanted to do something a little more out of the ordinary. I’ll say without reservation that sitting fifteen feet above the stage watching your favorite band belt out the songs that have become the staple soundtrack to your life was really one one those thrill of a lifetime moments. I’m still trying to get the dumb grin off my face.
Sitting behind the main speakers, the sound is a little muddled and some of the site-lines are better from the front row, but for seeing the “whole picture” there’s really nothing better. You get to see the organized chaos of on the fly equipment swaps when earpieces stop working and the interplay between shadowed band mates when someone else is taking their moment under the spotlight. You get to see the massive human effort involved in making the seven guys on stage look like they don’t have a care in the world beyond being there making music.
I wanted an experience, bought my ticket, and saw the show. It would have been an absolute steal at twice the price.
I’m going to see my favorite band again in concert on Friday night. This will be the 5th or 6th time I’ve seen them over the last decade, although the music of Counting Crows has been stuck in my head far longer than that. I knew their songs in high school, but it took a girl with a guitar on the 5th floor of Cambridge Hall to secure their place permanently at the apex of just about every playlist I’ve ever made. Most music seems to wash past me like a stream, but these guys, well, they get in my head and just rattle around.
I wish I could tell you exactly what it is that makes this band speak to me particularly, but I’m sure it isn’t just one thing. Their music is sweet and sad and funny and has this timeless quality that I can’t quite explain. I’m also going to just sit here and pretend it’s in absolutely no way an effort to stay in touch with the version of me that’s still half my age. It’s definitely not that.
So off I’ll go again to willingly wade into a crowd that under just about any other circumstance would agitate every single nerve I have. For this one night only I’ll not just endure it, but embrace it. I suppose that’s how you know I’m a real fan. Of course it also helps knowing you have a seat away from the rabble and there’s a very comfortable shuttle waiting to expedite your exit from the venue and back to a delightful old hotel. Just because you’re going out into the crowd doesn’t mean you have to be part of them, after all.
Sigh. These next three days are going to be interminable.
Let me start off by saying I had no idea that the Grammys were handed out last night until I woke up this morning and my various news feeds were cluttered with stories about artists of whom I’ve never heard. That’s not an aspersion, by the way. I’m not in any way making a judgement about the worth of any of the award winners. I am, however, saying that I recognize virtually none of them by name and in all likelihood could not identify them correctly if their music was played for me or if they walked into my living room right this very minute.
Take a tour through my iTunes library and you’ll notice that it includes a fairly wide cross section of genres and historical periods. You’ll also notice that for all practical purposes, it stops sometime around the middle of the last decade.
I’m not the guy who’s saying the haven’t made a good song since the year I graduated college, but I am admitting that I’ve mostly given up seeking out new music that I might actually like. I tend to like my music a little poppy, maybe with a screaming lead guitar and 50-piece drum kit backing it up, or that tells some kind of story (no, repeating the same five words for three minutes and five seconds doesn’t count as telling a story). The simple matter is, most of the popular groups don’t make music that I find particularly appealing these days. They’re ok with that. I’m ok with that. I just means that I’m a little out of touch with what passes for award-worthy these days.
The up side to being blissfully unaware of the continuing sweep of the music industry is I continue to find songs from old favorite bands and artists that I missed somehow when I first came to know and love them. Given that everyone has a back catalog that seems to be mountainous, I’m never really at a loss when I want to listen to something new… even when that something new first came out in 1972.