Friday, June 4, 2010

The Best Two Days Ever!

Music has been very important to me for most of my life.  I'm a big fan of blues based rock.  I believe that for every emotion I have, I can find a rock song to express it.  While I was mid-life crisising, the song that was the most meaningful to me was "Behind Blue Eyes" by The Who.  For some reason it resonated with me on many levels.  The obvious connection to the song is that I happen to have blue eyes, but that is really tertiary in the scheme of things.

"No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man,
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes

No one knows what it's like
To be hated
To be fated
To telling only lies

But my dreams
They aren't as empty
As my conscience seems to be

I have hours, only lonely
My love is vengeance
That's never free

No one knows what it's like
To feel these feelings
Like I do
And I blame you

No one bites back as hard
On their anger
None of my pain and woe
Can show through

But my dreams
They aren't as empty
As my conscience seems to be

I have hours, only lonely
My love is vengeance
That's never free

When my fist clenches, crack it open
Before I use it and lose my cool
When I smile, tell me some bad news
Before I laugh and act like a fool

If I swallow anything evil
Put your finger down my throat
If I shiver, please give me a blanket
Keep me warm, let me wear your coat

No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes"

(Pete Townshend)

For some reason that song was very meaningful to me in a dark time of my life.  I don't feel the need to analyze it here, I don't really wish to revisit it in that kind of detail.  Suffice it to say that it has personal meaning to me and I felt at the time that this song saved my life, or at least my soul.

My best friend is the world's greatest Rolling Stones fan.  He and I have been the best of friends since 1983.  I'll call him "Oss".  You know you have a best friend when you can go your seperate ways for six years and then reconnect and it feels as though no time has passed.  That's the kind of friend Oss is.

He and I both went to grad school, him in Denver, me in Minnesota.  After working in professional theatre back east for a number of years, I decided to move back west.  On the way back, I called Oss and told him we would be passing through Denver and wondered if we could crash at his place for the night, and spend the next day visiting before we left for our eventual home.  We ended up staying for a week.  We consider ourselves to be "twin brothers with different mothers".  It was a great time.  One of the strongest threads that bind the two of us together is our love of music.

For twenty years Oss had been trying to convince, cajole or demand that I went to a Rolling Stones concert with him.  I always had an excuse.  I didn't have the cash, I lived too far away, etc...  Anyway, in July of 2002, Oss called me up and said quite tersely, "Gary, the Stones are going to be in Denver on February 2nd.  I just bought you a ticket.  You owe me a hundred dollars!"

So I went to a Stones show. It was incredible.  They featured my favorite Stones album, "Let It Bleed".  My favorite Stones song is "Gimme Shelter" and they played that as well.  It was amazing.  After the show I told him, "You'll never have to convince me to see them again."  We've seen them twice since then.

The Who has been my favorite band since high school.  My first recollection of them was seeing concert footage of them on TV when Pete was bouncing all over the place and Roger, in his fringed vest was swinging the microphone around his body, tossing it in the air and catching it just in time to sing.  The show was great, but the music was solid as well.

Anyway, Oss and I saw The Stones in Salt Lake City on November 22nd, 2005 and then at the end of that tour they decided to add a half dozen dates in venues they had never played before.  One of those venues was Boise Idaho.  Oss found out about that and called me and we agreed it was historical and we had to do it.  We ponied up the cash and got our tickets.  About a week after we got the tickets, Oss called me up again and said, "I don't know what to tell you, Gary, The Who have just announced Salt Lake City the night before The Stones in Boise."

We agreed that we didn't think we could do both shows and left it at that.  A week later, Oss called me up again and said, "You don't understand, Gary, God will never give you The Stones and The Who on back to back nights again!  We have to do this."

About twenty years ago, I had purchased a bunch of silver bullion when the price of silver was around five dollars an ounce.  I figured it would be a good investment.  I checked into the metals market and found that the price of silver was up around fourteen dollars an ounce and decided to sell it so I could go to The Who as well as The Stones.  The lady at the coin store had a glut of silver because everyone wanted to sell right then, so she didn't want to buy mine.  I swung a deal with her that I'd take $1.50 below spot if she'd buy it.  She agreed.  I made a profit, she made a profit, I got to see The Who.  We could only afford the cheap seats, but at least we were going to be there.  Money well spent.

I picked Oss up at the airport and we went to The Delta Center.  The ticket troll looked at our tickets and said, "You'll have to go to portal UU."  I asked, "Is there anything wrong with my ticket?"  The troll said, "No, we're just going to upgrade your seat, that's all."

We went from nosebleed seats to some of the best seats in the house.  I was about thirty to forty feet away from the stage, at eye level.  In my opinion, the seats there were better than any of the floor seats except the front row.  I didn't have to look through anyone to see the band.

The Pretenders opened for The Who that night and when they played the song, "My City Was Gone" I felt like my eardrums were blistered from the guitar solo.  It was fantastic.  At the end of The Pretenders' set, I told Oss, "I don't care if The Who suck tonight, my money was well spent."  The Pretenders were so good, I didn't know how The Who would ever top them, but they did.

The Who played an incredible show, all their major hits from the beginning through "Who's Next" and then a few others.  They didn't hit anything from Quadrophenia, however which disappointed me.  They also didn't hit anything from Tommy during the show.  Then they left the stage and we expected them to come back on and do a couple of songs for an encore.  They came back and did a thirty minute mini version of Tommy! WOW!

Finally they ended up with an acoustic song from their last album, the song was "Tea and Theatre".  It was just Roger and Pete and an acoustic guitar.  It was an incredible way to end the show.  No way to chase that with something else.  After that we knew the show was over and it was time to go.

We drove all night and saw The Stones the next night in Boise.  The highlights of that show were an eleven minute version of "Midnight Rambler", and Keith sang, "You Got the Silver".  That one was very meaningful to me since I cashed in my silver to make the whole thing work.  Another "highlight" of that evening was when I was trying to use the Men's room and a bunch of women hijacked it. 

That was a great two days.

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