Music has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. I definitely was influenced by the musical selections of my parents and two older sisters. as their music wafted through the rooms of our home. From the console in our living room, and later, the cassette player in our family room, my Dad would play The Who and Pink Floyd, while my Mom gravitated toward the music of John Denver and Neil Diamond. From my oldest sister’s bedroom came the sounds of Styx and Journey, and from the bedroom next to mine, I could hear my middle sister’s 8-tracks of Queen and The Bee Gees.
In my own room, my little AM radio offered up the best (and the worst) of 1970s music, and I began to go down the rabbit hole and discovered my own musical wonderland. These early musical influences ensured that I always would have an eclectic taste in artists. My growing record and tape collection had a little bit of everything-The Supremes, The Kinks, Kiss, Duran Duran, Prince, AC/DC, and many, many others.
One other band took up residence in my musical library at some point in the early 1980s. Just as I was entering adolescence, this band was entering their musical adolescence, and together, we grew up. Their music reverberated through my stereo speakers, and since they still were relatively obscure, it felt like I was involved in a clandestine affair. Their songs were passionate, intense, and spoke to me in a way that no other band ever had.
Over the years, I gravitated toward their music, and my teenage and college memories are intertwined with their songs. It was my first long-term musical relationship, and I was committed for the long haul. They became adults and parents, as did I, and this relationship progressed effortlessly. Then, as sometimes happens in relationships, we began to drift a part.
It was subtle, at first. I found myself not feeling connected to their new music, even though they still sounded incredible. More and more, the lyrics became just words put to a tune, instead of words that evoked emotions. This dissonance grew and caused me to long for the music that made me fall in love with them, but there was no going back, at least, not for them. So, we went our separate ways amicably. Then, they returned with news that lured me back.
In March of this year, U2 announced that they were embarking on a tour to commemorate the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree. At first, much like running into an ex, I had conflicting feelings of not wanting to remain politely indifferent and wanting to see if the relationship could be rekindled. It did not take me long to resolve the conflict. They were back, and so was I.
I sat completely enthralled at my first U2 concert on 11-1-87 in Indianapolis during their tour after The Joshua Tree as released. It takes a lot to leave me speechless, but seeing Bono, Edge, Adam, and Larry 16 rows in front of me performing some of the songs that I had loved since the age of 12 did just that and then some. It was surreal to watch their career explode with the release of The Joshua Tree. Suddenly, everyone knew the songs of my youth, and it felt like our affair had been exposed. They now belonged to the world.
That was my first U2 concert, and for a variety of reasons, it ended up being my only U2 concert. Until 6-25-17. On that evening, I was not in the 16th row in Indianapolis, but I was in the upper section of Gillette Stadium, and off in the distance was U2. We were reunited.
As they played song after song that transported me from the present to the past, I was flooded with memories and feelings that made me smile big time. Then, they played a song that left me in tears. I am a crier, so, this should not have been a surprise, but it was actually. I dislike crying in public immensely, but the tears kept coming. I couldn’t wipe them away fast enough., and I was heading into the ugly cry territory.
Upon hearing the opening notes of Bad, my mind began to race, as I recalled some of the times when I listened to that particular song, beginning when I was alone in my bedroom in the throes of teenage angst and ending during more recent late night drives down River Road as an adult grappling with a different kind of angst. With each memory, more tears fell. I thought about the times when I would sing those lyrics as a sort of prayer or a plea to be able to let it go and/or fade away. Then, those tears of sadness and pain were transformed into tears of joy and gratitude.
As I fought to regain my composure, the person next to me gave me a reassuring squeeze, which brought me back to the present moment. That person was not just any person. That person was my person, and we were there in that moment together. I didn’t need to explain the thoughts and feelings behind the tears, because he knows me well enough to understand what I don’t or can’t say. Everything from the past had led me here, and I was right where I was supposed to be. That simple realization brought more tears, only ones of the happy variety this time. I had let it go, and I no longer wanted to fade away. That was worth the 30 year wait.
That’s another story. . .
Categories: That's Another Story