My musical education as a child was heavily influenced, like most children, by my parents’ taste in music. Growing up, we had something like 7 cassette tapes (to my memory):
- Aerosmith – Big Ones
- Linda Ronstadt – Greatest Hits
- Carole King – Tapestry
- Cruising Classics – free mix tapes the local gas station gave away
- George Harrison – Cloud 9 (a completely awesome and oft-overlooked album)
- The Traveling Wilburys
- Tom Petty – Full Moon Fever
My father had a “barn” (read: oversized detached garage with 5 split levels all filled with crap) and played the classic rock station i95 FM around the clock. He claimed it was to keep the critters out of the barn. Every time I went into or near the barn, I got to listen to a variety of rock songs, and Tom Petty was always in heavy rotation.
On road trips with my father, we were limited to the Aerosmith tape, Full Moon Fever, or the Traveling Wilburys. As a result of a few trips to northern Vermont, I learned every single word to every single song on those tapes. The chorus to one of the Traveling Wilburys songs, entitled “Tweeter and the Monkey Man”, goes like this:
“Then the walls came down / All the way to hell / Never saw them when they’re standing, never saw them when they fell”
As an (incredibly sheltered) child, I would cover my ears when the word “hell” was sung, to avoid having to pray for forgiveness for hearing a bad word. Just to give you a sense of the kind of kid I was. =P (We won’t get into what words are currently populate my vocabulary … let’s just say I have bigger things to worry about than censoring myself when I’m frustrated.) Anyway, that Traveling Wilburys album is really fun to listen to, and, in retrospect, pretty funny. I didn’t learn until later in life that Tom Petty was one of the Traveling Wilburys (the other members include Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and George Harrison, for those unfamiliar with the group.)
In effect, Tom Petty’s music dominated the soundtrack of my childhood.
Between our limited selection of tapes and what songs were played on the radio, it seems likely that the majority of songs I listened to growing up involved Tom Petty.
I continue to enjoy Tom Petty’s music to this day — if I am browsing through radio stations, a Tom Petty song always stops me. There is something soothing, something indefinably wonderful about Tom Petty songs that sets them apart from other songs, though I acknowledge that my opinion may be tinted by nostalgia. Still, I never felt ownership of Tom Petty’s music as a fan might; never identified as a “fan”. I think I felt that Tom Petty belonged to the generation before me.
Tom Petty died just last week, and as I was watching a documentary about his career, I was struck by the realization that although I have long enjoyed many of his songs, I never even tried to see him in concert. Having seen videos of him playing live, I feel like I really missed out on an amazing experience; I really regret that I never got to witness that.
The first concert I ever attended was Everclear and Guster, 90s bands that have since faded into obscurity. I went on to see a few other acts, including the Dave Matthews Band, Nine Inch Nails, and Type O Negative. When I got the chance to see Aerosmith in concert during grad school, I seized that opportunity. This would have been around the year 2006, and they put on an incredible, high energy show.
The absolute best concert I ever saw, however, was the Stone Temple Pilots. I saw them in the year 2003, from a pit of people below the stage. It was completely mind-blowing. After that concert, I went and bought every single STP album in existence and played them start to finish ad infinitum, until I knew every word (thanks to heavy drug use by Weiland, the words are really, really random.) There really is nothing like seeing a band play in person – it is completely unlike listening to their album, even on the best stereo. There is an energy that accompanies the music, a heartbeat to it. After you hear a song played live, your perception of that song will be forever changed.
Seeing a beloved band in concert is always, always worth the money.
Scott Weiland died this year as well – no one will ever see him play his music in person again. That is incredibly sad! I am so glad that I got to witness the musician at his best. And he was at his best, it was a completely perfect, amazing, life-changing show.
Don’t wait until it’s too late – make an effort to see your favorite musician(s) in person, if at all possible. I know, life is busy, there are kids, babysitters are expensive, blah blah blah. I’m familiar. But isn’t it better to do something for today, cross something off that bucket list now, than to reach the end of your life with a list of regrets; a list of experiences you never intended to miss?
I can hear you, reader.
You’re asking yourself “Why on earth is this photographer telling me to go see a concert? What does this have to do with photography? More importantly, does this weird lady still cower at the word ‘hell’?”
I just want you to think about how short life truly is. To second guess that voice in your head that tells you “there’s plenty of time for that later, I have other stuff to take care of now.” We don’t get to know how much “later” we have left. My point is this:
Life is short. Go out there and DO something worth remembering.
What if you crossed some things off your bucket list this year?
Tell me something that’s on your bucket list in the comments below!
on your “To Do” list. Why? Because time doesn’t move in reverse, and neither does gravity. Someday, when you’re old and wrinkly, you’ll be so glad you got epic pictures of your beautiful self now (yes, now). Promise. 😉