JUST GIVE CONCERTS 
A CHANCE

   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 decade.
   "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 1972.
   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.
 

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