Living in the Past

In the last year-and-a-half, my wife and I have seen the Eagles, the Doobies and Steely Dan twice each. Also KC & the Sunshine Band, Fleetwood Mac, Journey, Earth Wind & Fire, James Taylor and now Billy Joel. Emmylou Harris next month at McCain.

Go to the concert. You only live once.

Billy Joel live was on Jackie’s bucket list. Twist my arm, baby. Our mutual love of music has taken us to both coasts, Vegas and the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson.

In front of 40-thousand-plus adoring fans last night at the K, Billy told us, “I’m 69 years old.” A couple of weeks ago at the State Fair grandstand, Harry Wayne Casey said, “I’m 67 years old.” They each said it with this sort of detached fascination as if they were thinking, “I’m still doing this?”

I look around me at these concerts and everyone’s my age or older. When we stand and applaud, our biceps wave in the wind like the Royals pennants. I imagine us younger. It’s not hard.


One of my first rock concerts was Kansas at Century II in Wichita. 1976. Might’ve been Levitt Arena. Maybe ’75. In line with my chums pre-game, I saw Kerry Livgren feeling no pain, mixing with his fans, sharing a bottle of Jack. Carry on, my wayward son. Livgren eventually found Jesus and his rock and roll was never the same, IMHO.

All this reminiscing could be dangerous for a writer. Could lead to a year and a half of feelings and word vomit about days gone by. It could lead one to a lot of looking backward and not enough living in the moment.

If you’re an avid reader of this blog, you’ll notice a music thread. Can you find serenity in a song lyric? Does a melody bring peace of mind?

The sound vibrates through microphones and out of loudspeakers and washes over me like a wave, tumbling head-over-heels back in time. To my long hair days. Back to my reckless youth when the decisions were impulsive, ill-informed and incomplete.

You live long enough, make enough of those sorts of decisions and you learn. If you are fortunate, you gain enough knowledge, experience and insight to recognize that we all have a daily reprieve from the worst, most destructive aspects of our character.

At its essence, music is art and lyrics are poetry. The core of creativity. My rock stars arrange the notes and the words in such a fashion that touch my heart. Still. I’ll live in the past, because of the fond memories and experiences.

Stevie Nicks is 70, but she’ll always be my older woman. Literally, now. Glenn Frey, Maurice White and Walter Becker have died. More data that leads me to go to the concert.

My past informed my present. My present will inform my future.

Sing us a song, you’re the piano man. We’re all in the mood for a melody, and you’ve got us feeling all right.

I got my love of music from my mom. My Billy Joel is her Judy Garland. She celebrated her 83rd birthday this summer. At just about precisely the same time, I learned my son and DIL are expecting.

I’m too young to be a grandfather. I’m too old to go to rock concerts. Wrong. Both times. Jackie tells me age is just a number. I think she’s on to something.