Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Adventure is 'Journey'

One of the many things that I love about my Superman is that he sings to me.

Singing, to me, is good medicine. If you are in a car, or in the shower, and you are moderately content with life, you sing. I believe that singing is sending your inner joy out into the world, and, let's face it, the world needs all the joy it can get.

Now, at this point, I could ramble on about all the things I love about him, but for now, let's talk about music. When I was alone, before we met, I spent many weekend evenings watching live music performed by bar bands. I love going to the park to watch the symphony. In fact, if it's free, I would go. I don't care if it's anybody I've heard, or what kind of music.

Nowadays, we don't get out much. It's hard. He tells me all the time about different concerts he's attended. Coming from off the beaten path, he had many occasions to win free tickets to see just about anybody you can think of. I have done that before too. It's really hard in the big city to get in on the contest lines. I probably wouldn't try, unless it was somebody I was hurting to see, but not with much optimism.

We have a bunch of cd's in the truck that we like to listen to, mostly greatest hits of different performers or bands. Not a lot of range, like my own personal collection would have, but it's his truck. On our recent roadtrip, we listened to The Eagles, America, AC/DC, Roy Orbison, Bad Company, Bread, Chicago, Hall & Oats, Santana, Neil Diamond, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Heart, etc. He sang along, it was loud enough I could sing the harmonies and not mess him up.

Earlier this summer, I was looking at all the different bands that were going to be in our area for the summer, wondering if anybody was affordable enough for us to see. Outdoor concerts at the winery, the zoo, the fairs, less expensive than some of the better venues, but at $40 a piece still out of our range, especially if you have to add entrance fees for the fair too.

About a half hour from home are a couple of different rodeo arenas that have events beyond the rodeo gatherings. We heard earlier in the summer about a Journey tribute band and started checking with the hardware store that was supposed to carry the tickets. Journey is one of those cd's we listen to, that he sings along with to me. I remember most of their music very particularly because I worked in a skating rink as a teen-ager where their stuff was played fairly often. We started reading about the cover band, who turned out to be local. Superman was getting more and more anxious about it, as the hardware store didn't get the tickets till about a week before the event. We could have purchased at the door, but this saved us about half the cost, which we really needed.

Finally, the big day arrives and we go out to the arena. The doors opened at 7, and a country band, complete with a talented fiddler, played. Superman felt conspicuous about his hair. I was wearing sandals with a skort and t-shirt, underdressed for the roped-off gravel parking lot, so not any more comfortable than he was. When his band came on after almost two hours of waiting, and struck up their first notes, he was glued to the stage.

Here's the thing I gotta tell ya: My Superman has a big heart, that's been pretty badly broken. He carries so much sadness around with him, plus the physical pain of unresolved health issues, that very rarely do I see him enjoy anything. Yes, I work at it and I do see him smile or laugh, but those are almost rare. It means so much to me to see him happy.

So, when I saw him drawn to this band, I sat back and watched him. I didn't want to break that magic spell. I could see that he was floating, elevated, like people wish heaven could be. I watched the way people reacted to him, I went to him so that they could see he was OK, just really enjoying this VERY GOOD THING he'd found. You must know that in this rural area, country music is king, and southern rock only tolerated, since a lot of southern rock was the rock & roll of the 70's, this band was acceptable only as in-betweeners to the other bands.

We left after they were finished. It was late, the dogs had been locked in the hot house for hours, it had been a very long day (attended a gathering for the company earlier) and we were very tired. It may have seemed rude to leave without hearing the main act, but we weren't the only ones and we were so exhausted we wouldn't have cared if anybody had said anything.

For days, Superman flew. So buoyed by the euphoria of hearing some of his favorite music performed really well by true musicians who were young enough to have the energy to really rock and mature enough to care how to do it well was priceless to him. He had seen Journey in person once, live, after the singer known as Journey's best lead singer, Steve Perry, had left. So, in his opinion the best thing about seeing that earlier performance was the guitarist. This cover band has excellent musicians, but what Superman appreciated most was the guitarist. 'He didn't miss a lick' I heard him say repeatedly. Over those next few days we found the band on the internet. We found that they form parts of other local bands. He 'friended' them on the social networks and got responses! I use the exclamation point there because that's how he felt, excited and grateful to be acknowledged. He saw that they had one more performance scheduled and then nothing else on the calendar as the Journey tribute band, so, he purchased tickets to go to that too, wanted to get a t-shirt for both of us that he didn't at the first performance and didn't get and was truly regretting.

See that smile? It doesn't happen often enough. He's a happy boy in his new shirt.

At this point in the movie tragedy strikes. The particular event was sponsored by a radio station. When we first got there, we were put off by the music being blasted over the loudspeakers. The doors were to open at a scheduled time, but apparently the venue was hoping people came ready to spend money, because they were probably never closed. We were half an hour early, and people had gathering in a banquet room and finding seats at large tables. We listened to other people around us, it felt like they were there, like we were, to hear some of those great songs that trigger happy memories from decades ago. One man was wearing a Journey tour t-shirt, he and his wife were celebrating their 27th anniversary. Another couple was celebrating their anniversary too. A woman in line in front of Superman at the bar said she was wearing a wig and recently had a double mastectomy. I couldn't have told you that from looking at her, she seemed very happy to be there.

I wasn't too impressed with the opening band, and not sure I can identify why. Something seemed off with the sound, the acoustic and electric guitar, the harmonies were like lemon juice and salt in the wounds to my ears. There were a few girls that danced and flirted with them, very drunkenly. We were a little put off but we were looking forward to our band and didn't think anything of it.

They had set up a stage with a dance floor in front of it, seemed like 12x12 feet, but maybe it was 20x20. Once the local radio station guys let our band get started, it seemed incredibly small. I tried to enjoy watching Superman enjoy his music again, and enjoy them also for myself, this was such a treat to see them again so soon, but my aversion to having bodies rubbing themselves on me, being able to smell their drinks, their breath, the product in their hair and the coverup on their pimples began to sicken me very quickly. People kept shoving Superman too, and several times nearly fell onto the stage. We started about four feet from it but were soon mere inches from the band member's feet. After about four songs, he said 'let's go' and I turned and plowed my way out of there, pulling him with me. I was shaking so bad while I drove home that I'm sure I was driving as erratically as all those bad drivers I wished the cops would catch. I sat up for quite awhile after we got home waiting for all that negative energy inside me to fade, but was up to open the office the next morning.

He was online when the guitarist from the band logged on the morning afterwards. It hadn't been that great for them either. The lead singer's wife WAS pushed and fell onto the stage. He said that after just a few songs they looked out to see all their friends and they were gone! There was also a fight that broke out in front of them, and no security came to break it up. I don't think there was ANY security. Superman told them how great it was to see them, but was rethinking the venues to which we would try again. It sounded like that band was pretty disappointed in the end also.

While they were instant messaging back and forth, the guitarist invited us to see them at the private gig that same night. This was the next night after the disaster, and only one full week from the first time we had seen them the first time. We were incredulous. What an honor! I took a nap, Superman tried but I think he was too excited, and after dinner we went. This event was the 20th annual garden party a couple in neighboring suburbia put on. Never having heard of it before, we were unprepared for the professional stage, sound and lighting set up between the garage and the house, among the fruit trees, with lawn chairs in the grass of someone's back yard. We met the man, and tried to thank him at the end, but I'm not sure he understood how truly grateful we were. Certainly the effort he must put in to doing this every year, with the great potential for upsetting the neighborhood was herculean.

And our boys, exhausted as they must have been from the previous night's hellacious efforts, were wonderful. The wanted Superman to model his shirt, but he didn't have it on, so another fellow did, and he felt bad about that, but that was the only bad thing about the evening. He's waiting for me now to download video of the night, but I see he's fallen asleep in his chair now. I think there's a sweet smile on his face.

I couldn't be more happy than if he was singing to me.

(I've tried to post my video of the band but it won't load. You can check them out at

Or you can view the video I posted.

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