Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Keep on Rockin'

Tonight my old hometown friend Wade and I plan to attend a Gregg Allman concert in Macon. Allman and his brother Duane, who died at age 24 in 1971 in a motorcycle accident in Macon, were the Allman Brothers of the Allman Brothers Band, one of the greatest and most enduring rock/blues acts of all time. Gregg has survived a lot, including much-documented drug issues and a liver transplant, to continue to perform both with the band and as a solo artist. Once, he made an album with his then-wife Cher. Really.

Gregg Allman is 66 now.

This will be the first time I have seen Gregory (as his friends call him and which I will call him after I see him tonight) in concert. It has been my privilege to see several of my musical heroes in their, shall we say, “mature” years.

Over the last few years my Good Wife and/or I have attended concerts by Paul Revere & the Raiders, Neil Diamond, Art Garfunkel, Michael Nesmith, James Taylor & Carole King, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger (whose Silver Bullet Band includes drummer Don Brewer, formerly of my favorite band of my teenage years, Grand Funk Railroad) and Crosby, Stills, & Nash. One glorious night we saw, on one stage, such ‘60s icons as the Buckinghams, Gary Puckett (without the Union Gap), Micky Dolenz, and the Turtles.

My favorite story of such attendance is of the time we (finally) got to see Gordon Lightfoot, whose many hits include “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Sundown,” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, we were living in Louisville, Kentucky where I was enrolled in seminary. It was the early 1980s and we had not yet been blessed with either children or money. A downtown theater called The Palace had just been renovated and re-opened; we heard on the radio that Gordon Lightfoot was going to perform there on our wedding anniversary. So we saved our pennies and nickels and sold some aluminum cans and at the moment the tickets went on sale I was standing at the box office saying, “I’d like the best seats I can get.” The fellow said, “Well, the first six rows are reserved for sponsors and radio stations, but I can put you in the middle of Row 7.”

We were so excited. And we were so disappointed when, just a few days before the show was scheduled to take place, it was, without explanation, cancelled.

But we got excited again when we learned that Gordon was going to appear in concert at the Macon City Auditorium in May of 2009. Again, I was at the box office (meaning in front of my computer) the moment that tickets went on sale—and I scored seats in the middle of the front row! So finally, some three decades after our first effort, we got to see Gordon Lightfoot in concert. Needless to say, he had aged a bit, but it was still a good show and a most rewarding experience.

When Mick Jagger was a young man he said, “I’d rather be dead than singing ‘Satisfaction’ when I’m 45.” Mick’s 70 now. He still sings “Satisfaction.”

Why do they still do it? Why do they keep on performing? Maybe some of them need the money. Maybe some of them can’t live without the crowds. I think, though, that for most if not all of them, the music is such a part of their life that they cannot imagine living without expressing and sharing it. We their fans are the beneficiaries of their ongoing drive to sing and play.

I am grateful that so many of the artists I admire choose to stay active and to share their lives and music with us. Perhaps I can—perhaps we all could—learn from them about the value in embracing, developing, and sharing what we love for as long as we live …

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