Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bad Choices . . . I've made a few

I thoroughly enjoy live music and am so crazy fortunate that, not only do I get to watch and listen to it, I get to make it once in a while too.

Who would have ever thought that an aging sheepherder would get to masquerade as a Rock Star?? I LOVE America!

I have a few rock & roll regrets however.

One of the worst choices I've ever made happened in Vegas round about 1975. I was with my parents and they saddled me with the burden of a horrific no-win choice one evening. There were two performers that I really loved, both of whom captivated my young soul albeit in wholly different ways. One song in particular fascinated me, it boomed forth from the 8 track in the pickup and quite simply towered over any other song I'd heard up to that point. It was Tennessee Ernie Ford's rendition of, "16 Tons". I loved that song. I loved the deep baritone voice, the bassoon or whatever it was that lead into the melody, the finger snapping and lastly, the incredible story it told. Tennessee sang some other songs that I liked but 16 Tons gave me goosebumps. Especially the ending.

The other choice on the ballot that night was a man from Tupelo Mississippi, a man who rose up through the ranks of early day rockers and was Christened with the title, "The King of Rock & Roll". That's right . . . none other than Elvis Presley. He was playing a little extended gig at the Las Vegas Hilton. Now of course, I knew every Elvis song by heart, loved his stage presence, envied his ability to cast a spell over women of all ages and was captivated by his totally over-the-top flamboyance. Those suits were way too cool.

There I am. My parents watching me, waiting to see who I'd pick.

I thought I'd make the most logical choice, carefully weigh the information and come to a decision with reasoned clarity. A decision that would stand correct many years down the road. A decision that would stand the test of time.

I figured that Tennessee Ernie was getting up there in years, he was looking pretty old, common sense seemed to dictate that I would have very few chances to catch him "live". If you know what I mean. Elvis - The King - was in his prime and would be around many, many years. I'd have countless chances to see him, maybe even take MY children to see him. So I chose . . .

Tennessee Rocked. He burned the house down. The hair stood up on the back of my neck when he sang 16 Tons. I left that show smiling ear to ear. To this day I think that show still ranks in my top ten of all time. I wasn't disappointed . . . until. I heard the dreadful news. Elvis was dead. I was playing basketball at my friend Kent's house when it was broadcast over the radio. I ran home, laid down on my bed . . . and cried.

I would have liked to have seen The King.

My second questionable choice came a few years later.

My hormones had kicked in and my judgement wasn't as crystal clear as it had been as a younger teen. See . . . there was this girl. As a young man, many of us have weighed decisions in the balance using the special "I-Wonder-How-Far-I-Will-Get-If-I-Make-Such-And-Such-A-Choice?" rubric. Come on men, you know you've done it. Don't be embarrassed, just admit it.

I thought I'd make the most logical choice, carefully weigh the information and come to a decision with reasoned clarity. A decision that would stand correct many years down the road. A decision that would stand the test of time.

I was standing on the precipice of Saturday night, paycheck in hand, wondering where the best place to take my date might be. (Using my rubric) There was a stadium type show that I was sure would endear me to this young lady, this band was HUGELY popular back in the day, probably the hottest ticket of the year. They weren't a favorite of mine, but that was secondary at the time. She'd be enraptured by the music and be left as easy prey, putty in my hands.

So we went to see a couple of sisters, Ann and Nancy Wilson, better known as "Heart". They - as I expected - put up a predictable, lack-luster performance which left me wondering if I should ask for the admission price back. They were OK, I guess, in an early 80's kind of way. The girl and I didn't hit it off and I ended up taking her home, shaking her hand and thanking her for a lovely evening. All in all a total bust. Bad choice, really bad choice.

But I figured I'd have a thousand chances to hear the up and coming rock star in the years ahead. His light was just beginning to burn bright and I'd catch him when it was white hot. I mean The Utah State Fair wasn't the best acoustic venue, although the 5 dollar admission fee was attractive, it didn't seem that he would be the man to wow my date into submission. After all he was just getting started. And he wasn't focusing his musical energy into the most popular of genres at the time.

I wonder how in the world something so dreadful could happen to one person not once but TWICE?

My other choice that night was none other than Stevie Ray Vaughn.

I wonder if my life would have been different had I chose to go see Stevie that night or Elvis in Vegas?

I guess I'll never know.

Kids . . . don't make musical choices you'll live to regret.

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