JUST GIVE CONCERTS
I went to a concert a week ago Sunday. This was a big deal,
because I don't go to concerts. I don't like concerts. Never have.
Maybe things would have been different if I had seen The
Beatles in their last public appearance at Candlestick Park in 1966. I was
12 years old at the time, and my older sister ruined my concert career.
I remember it like it was yesterday. The San Francisco radio
station KYA (yes, some had three letters in those days) was playing the
"Name Game," where the 16th caller would win two tickets to The
Beatles concert if the name of the Beatle you picked matched the one the
radio station picked.
Since we didn't have video games, I had nothing to do that day
except call in every hour. Miraculously, I was the caller selected, and I
had a 25% chance of scoring the most sought after free tickets of the
"Paul. I'm going with Paul," I said to my sister, who
was even more excited because she was delusional enough to think she would
get to go with me. "He's my favorite."
"NOOOOO!!" she cried. "It's been Paul the last
four times. It won't be him again. Go with George! Or John, or Ringo.
Anybody but Paul!"
She was older, and wiser. I went with George. Needless to say,
it was Paul. I've never forgiven her.
Maybe I'm reading too much into that colossal disappointment,
but that was pretty much the end of my concert career, at the tender age of
12. Going to concerts was not meant to be, so I never went.
On the other hand, some might say it's because I have no
rhythm, or no ear for music, and hence no appreciation of music, but I
prefer to blame it all on my sister. It's much more convenient.
We're all wired differently. It's not that I don't like music.
I do, but only recognizable music. And I don't recognize much after about
I just don't get it, and I know I'm in the minority. Friends
love to fight the crowds and go to Outside Lands, or Strictly Bluegrass in
Golden Gate Park. Millions and millions have the time of their lives
attending concerts all around the world featuring non-descript bands,
scrunched together and listening to ear-shattering sounds.
The last concert I attended was Bruce Springsteen at the
Oakland Coliseum, about 30 years ago. So when some friends invited us to
Rancho Nicasio in West Marin to see Petty Theft, who exclusively plays songs
originally performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, I decided it was
time to give concerts another chance.
"How could you not know any Tom Petty and the
Heartbreakers songs?" my friend asked when I told him I was probably
not going to enjoy the concert because I wasn't a Tom Petty fan.
"I looked him up," I replied. "He didn't debut
until 1976. Way past my prime. "
The concert started and we took our seats. The outdoor setting
was lovely, the weather perfect. I sat back and listened as Petty Theft went
through their repertoire. After each song, my friend looked over at me to
see if there was any recognition. Each time I sadly shook my head. He found
it hard to believe.
Everyone in the crowd was over 50. Some were dancing, others
were in their seats and raising their arms to the music, applauding madly
after each song concluded. Some were singing along. The gentleman next to me
never took his nose out of the Sunday paper. He just listened as he read.
Everyone was different, and that was the beauty of it. Some
were obviously appreciating the music more than others, and that was fine.
But everyone, including me, seemed happy to be there.
I got up and went to the concession stand and bought a beer and
popcorn. I went back to my seat and gazed once again over the scene. The
music was blaring and conversation was difficult, which suited me just fine.
I was alone with my thoughts.
"I knew it would happen," my friend shouted into my
ear. "Look at your leg."
They were playing "American Girl," one of Tom Petty's
biggest hits, and I suddenly realized I might have heard it before.
Unbeknownst to me, my right leg was bouncing to the music. Maybe not in
rhythm, but still bouncing.
It was a defining moment. I decided to forgive my sister.