So I had a story idea several years, jotted down the first couple of paragraphs of the opening scene and then, as so often happens, left it in an idea file and haven’t really looked at again. Although, it’s one of the things I’m certain is in there. Lots of things in the idea file I don’t remember at all.
The idea was basically that at some point in the near future, the person with the only legal civilian Time Machine mostly uses it to go to rock concerts he wishes he had been able to at the time, some of them before he was born.
I always thought this was in the idea but wasn’t sure where I wanted to take it. I’m still not. Time travel has, at times (ha, ha) been seriously overdone in science fiction, both short and long, and while it’s not necessarily easy to come up with an original idea in any subgenre, it’s incredibly difficult with time travel. I think I’ve managed one the past. Whether this is another or not, it’s a cute gimmick to start story with, but not a story in and of itself.
But, a few months back in an oddball conversation at work the idea of time travel came up and, surprise, surprise, we had to talk about what we would do with a time machine.
I threw my idea out there as a possibility. After all, you have to have some leisure time, and why not spend it on something you truly love.
Thinking, and I may have had this thought on paper before, that there are actually probably quite a few concerts that I would have loved to have seen. A lot of them happened before I would’ve been realistically be able to go to concerts. Some were before I was born.
Examples of that last one: the Elvis ‘68 Comeback tour, an early Beatles tour probably paired with one in the Sgt. Pepper era, a stop on the Undercover Tour with the Rolling Stone.
But why stop there?
Let’s go see some of the bands and artists whose music I’ve loved and see them at their peak. Led Zeppelin, the Doors, BTO, and plenty of other 70s bands were influential in my early tastes. I could make a decent list just based on that.
But it’s nothing like the list I could make for 80s bands and artists. And while a few of them are back touring, or still touring, what would it have been like to see them when their popularity was high and they were making the greatest music? Duran Duran, The Police, The Bangles, The Go-Gos, Van Halen, Poison, Yes.
And let’s not forget Rush. There’s a pretty good chance I’d want to go see Rush on every tour they ever did, but I’d start with Signals, the tour for the album that got me hooked.
Time Travel is, currently, at least, impossible. I’ll never get to see any of those concerts firsthand and that’s just how it is.
But the thought occurred to me that video footage exists of many of those concerts, and, if not necessarily complete, it’s out there if I’m willing to look. If enough of it is in high enough resolution that I could just watch it on a big enough screen, that will be as close as I can get to a lot of them. Not true concert experience, maybe still awesome in its own right.
I don’t know how long that idea has been in the back of my head, but a week or so ago during lunch, I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a post that purported to direct me to a side-by-side comparison of the actor’s performance in the recent biopic Bohemian Rhapsody with the original performance by Freddie Mercury and Queen at Live Aid in 1985.
Now that would have been a concert.
I skipped the link and instead went to YouTube to see if that original Live Aid footage was available on its own.
And it was spectacular.
Even on my little 21-inch monitor at work.
What would it look like on a full-size TV? 40 or 50 or 60 inches of screen?
The Concert Quest may have just been born.
I think I’m going to see if I can come up with a list of those concerts I would use that time machine to go see. I probably can’t go back much farther than the 68 comeback tour for Elvis, the early 60s Beatles and Rolling Stones might be hard, but it’s out there. For a long time, there was a huge market on VHS and probably DVD for concerts, so I’m betting that a lot of is online now.
Rush on the 1982 Signals tour.
How much of Live Aid is available?
Duran Duran in, say, 1987 or 88.
The Police on the Synchronicity tour just before the breakup.
I have a list to make.
Be well, everyone.by
by Often, the music of our youth speaks to us. Sometimes it has specific messages, and sometimes it just reminds us of what it was like when we were young. Sometimes both.
I didn’t do a lot of concerts as a teenager, and I really haven’t done that many as an adult, either, but I enjoy music and I enjoy live music, so there’s really no easy explanation for that, other than possibly budgetary concerns at the times when I’ve felt the desire to go see a particular group or artist live.
But Peterborough does a series of outdoor concerts every year, free to attend, and works to get some significant names to come to them beyond the usual high end tribute bands and lower level professional groups. I only found out about this series of concerts this year, though apparently it’s been a fixture of the Peterborough music scene for several decades.
I found out this year when my wife saw a post for the series on Facebook and sent it to me. Skimming through the list of performers, I was surprised to see Howard Jones there.
I mostly consider myself a Prog Rock kind of guy. Music is to be experienced rather than danced to. But I’m a child of the 80s and some Synth Pop speaks straight to my heart. There are still four of Mr. Jones’ songs in the rotation on my phone in the middle of 2018, and several more I can still sing along to if they come on the radio.
Part of that is probably that his music was often about something. It still is, really. Synth Pop is often very easy for people to dismiss, but Howard Jones shouldn’t be dismissed easily. There’s a lot of depth in his music.
The New Song is about seeing things from more than just your preconceived biases and actually using your mind to figure things out.
Everlasting Love is about looking beyond the surface to see the real person and make a genuine connection.
No One Is To Blame is about how sometimes there’s nothing you can do to make things work out. To paraphrase Captain Picard, sometimes you can do everything right and still lose. It’s not fair, but it’s very human.
Things Can Only Get Better is about keeping a positive attitude when life sucks, which can be a critical survival trait in the modern world.
Your mileage may vary on any of these interpretations, but listen to the lyrics while you’re bouncing along to the song.
So, Howard Jones is playing in Peterborough, for free, and I live an hour and forty minutes (or so) away. What to do?
Well, it seems obvious, but didn’t used to. Road trip. The kids I still have living at home are entirely old enough to take care of themselves for the afternoon and evening, so we did a few chores in the morning (yeah, adulting sucks sometimes) and set out on a leisurely drive to Peterborough.
On the way, we found a couple of geocaches,
Decided we didn’t have enough time to go through a reptile museum, but stopped for a couple of photos,
Watched an engineering marvel lift a tour boat and thousands of litres of water dozens of metres into the air from a spooky tunnel,
Ate delicious, but probably not as healthy as it should be at my age, food,
And bought t-shirts,
Just before watching the concert itself.
Audience participation is a big thing for Mr. Jones, and it was a lot of fun. The man gives good concert, and I’m very glad we went.
Spur of the moment road trips need to work their way into my life a little more often.
Be well, everyone. And do something spontaneous.by
So, I’ve never really been a Tragically Hip fan.
There are plenty of reasons I should be, the least of which is that I’m related to one of the band members on my mother’s side, not that I’ve seen him since I was a little kid. As close as I’ll get to name-dropping.
Far more importantly, the tragically hip is a Canadian success story, on a similar level, although perhaps with a touch less longevity, as Rush or Neil Young. Their lyrics are intelligent, clever, often poetic. That’s right up my alley. The music is a blend of pop and some not quite identifiable sound that makes them distinctly Canadian. They’ve been successful commercially worldwide for three decades.
I should be a Tragically Hip fan, I’m just not.
I don’t dislike their music, and I can probably name a dozen of their songs, even sing along with a couple, but I don’t own a single album, I’ve never felt the urge to buy one, and it never would have bothered me to turn off the radio or TV while they were playing. Weird.
But it doesn’t matter if I’m not particularly a fan, because I can recognize the band as an iconic Canadian group. And I can recognize that their loss to the musical landscape is a tragedy. They have been a huge musical and cultural influence in the country, and beyond, projecting a Canadian sound to ears that would otherwise never have heard.
Some other artist or group will step up to fill the gap, I hope. It won’t be today, or tomorrow, or maybe even anytime soon. And really, the gap will be forever present in some way, because whoever does come forward to fill it will do so with a different sound and a different shape, and but they’ll be distinctly Canadian in their own way, or at least I hope so.
Be well, everyone.by