October 29th, 2011
I have never been to the Fox and I have never been to see
Don McLean. So this is definitely something new. My husband was the one to come
up with the idea. He called me at lunch and said he heard about it on the
radio. He’s had a Don Mclean album in the stack that has been playing on the
stereo all this week.
I gave up going out to see bands largely because they
conflicted with bed time. When I was in
my late 30’s, I went out with a guy (he was a little younger than me) who took
me to see a rock band at a bar downtown.
It was just after I had moved to Tucson. I had a seat next to the wall
and found the wall to be quite nice to lean up against. Eventually, I put my
head against the wall and before I knew it I was sleeping. The music was
blaring, my date was drinking a beer and enjoying the band and I was sleeping!
It was definitely past my bed time and I wanted only to be in bed sleeping.
There is something about raising kids and working full time that saps the youth
right out of a person. I wanted to think of myself as a young, spirited and
attractive date. But the reality was me comatose and possibly drooling against
paneling at a rock band.
The other thing about
concerts is crowds and parking. When I was in my twenties I thought crowds of
people (particularly crowds of people my age) were fun and exciting. Somewhere
along the way crowds at concerts became much younger than me and became just a
nightmare of parking problems. When I was younger, parking problems just meant
more time to hang out and party with friends in the car before and after the
big event. Now they just waste gas and conflict with bedtime.
Tonight I am going to the concert with my husband. The
concert starts at 7:30 and may go past my bedtime, but I should be home by a
reasonable hour. The Fox is a small theater and the parking should not be
unreasonable. Also, I think the crowd is probably going to be my age or older!
I think this could be fun. I will let you know if it proves to be better than
the next episode of McCloud’s Daughters.
After the Concert:
So far this idea is working out splendidly. Both Don McLean
and the Fox were better than I expected and I got home in time to be in bed by
As I walked up to the theater it became obvious that I was
not going to be in a throng of kids. These people were all my age or older.
It’s still a bit scary for me to mix in my own age group. I don’t ever see
myself with wrinkles. The inner me is much younger than the one I see in the
mirror in the morning. I never inspect the mirror that closely anymore. As I
looked around the group of people entering the Fox, I tried to imagine us all
thirty-five years ago. The woman I was following into the theater had on candy
red tight jeans with matching tee shirt and strappy low heeled sandals. I could
not take my eyes off her hair. It was like cotton candy but the color of
butter. It hung in a ponytail off the side of her head with little puffs of
cotton candy around her face. The woman
who told us where to sit was wearing a vest covered in little pumpkins in honor
of Halloween weekend. A couple of women were talking about a baby shower they
had just been to. All these women had men at their sides: tall, short, mostly
plump with varying degrees of hair loss.
Were these people really from that hippy generation? I noticed one woman
with long grey hair parted into pigtails that were bound by pea green hair
bands just below her ears. Her partner had on a synthetic Hawaiian shirt. Maybe
I could imagine them as old hippies. But there were no bangles on her wrists or
feathers in her hair. But maybe the Don McLean crowd was not from the hippy
I had always wanted to go to the Fox Theater. It is a
gorgeous place with Aztec design everywhere. Even the ceilings are painted. The
front of the building is the same as a theater from an old time movie set with
the ticket collector sitting in front in a small booth with curtains. There is
the lighted marquee sign over-head announcing Don McLean tonight. The building is old and it is pristine at the
same time. Mark and I had spent the summer in Italy roaming old buildings and
churches. This theater rivals many of those old buildings. Whoever renovated
this building did it justice. It is not an overly large building which gives it
a warm friendly flavor and, being old, the acoustics are fantastic. They don’t
make spaces like this anymore.
I have never been an avid follower of Don McLean and except
for the one famous song he wrote and sang I would not have known who he was
before I met my husband. Mark loves Don McLean. I have grown to recognize his
songs playing on our stereo. I am not the one to puts them on. I tend to play
things a little more rocky when I select music. But then I don’t have any one
particular musical flavor. I will listen to just about anything. I am the
person who can’t wait to put on Christmas music. I make myself wait until
Thanksgiving. I still want it to be special. So when Don McLean came on stage
to play I was delighted to recognize many of the songs.
When the band came out I was again surprised to see how old
they were. I don’t know why that keeps surprising me. All those heroes we loved
and adored in our youth, the ones we loved and adored because they were young
just like us, are now old just like us. I had to wonder if I was still
worshiping the young. The irony is not lost on me that I am here at this
concert to break out of the rut I feel like I am in because I don’t have that
youthful zeal that I once had. I still want that. I want some of it back. I
looked at the men in the band up on the stage and wondered what their life was
like. They had lived the road life their whole life and were still living it.
They had met and caroused with many of the greats. The heroes from the bands of
my youth were some of their friends and colleagues. While I had gone to law
school and raised kids, they were traveling the country playing their music. I
wondered if they ever found it all to be a big rut. If they did, they hid it
well. The band and Don McLean seemed to be having as much fun playing for us as
the audience had listening to them.
I liked the slow pieces the best. It took me back to my
twenties when I was going to college. I had a group of friends who came over
now and then. Bob would pull out his guitar and start playing Cat Stevens or
John Prine and we would all start singing along. Back then we all sat on the
floor and passed a joint. It felt odd to me now to be sitting in perfectly
ordered rows of chairs. It’s interesting the way music can pull you in to the
past. I realized though that I would not want to go back to my twenties when
everything was so uncertain. I loved being here with the man I loved. Mark and
I held hands and cuddled during the love songs. There is something nice about
being certain about life, about knowing what you want and having it.
Mark and I had discussed on the way to the concert whether
Don McLean would sing his most popular hit. We both agreed that we wouldn’t
blame him if he didn’t. You would think his head would explode at some point
after singing that song for the gazillionth time over the last thirty or so
years. But toward the end of the evening he did sing it. It brought the whole
audience to our feet. We all cheered and sang along. “Bye, Bye, Miss American
Pie, Drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry . . .” Even if you are not
a Don McLean fan you have to love the guy who gave the world that song. It is
genius. There is not a word or note in it that could possibly be any different.
The audience stayed on their feet for the rest of the set. We also cheered like
nobody’s business when Don walked off the stage. There were screams and
whistles and applauds long after he was gone. These old folks could put any
group of kids to shame. They knew how to call a band back. But the lights came
on and it was over. I was sad to see that it was only nine o’clock. I was ready
My bed did feel good though.