It’s been a long, dispiriting couple of weeks in manymany ways. The news isn’t good (understatement, that)- and seems to be growing ever darker. My last post– and the direction in which my mind has been traveling the past little bit- has tended toward the apocalyptic- which is, in its current parlance, foreboding and pessimistic by definition. But it’s hard to hold onto the doom and gloom- on a gorgeous Friday in TO, with the CNE open and heralding the end of summer, people heading to a baseball game, and a festival of street performers bringing crowds of people together to celebrate community and creativity. Soooo- I’m going to set aside all that ‘end of days’ chatter and focus on the present- and the joy of the past that have helped to get me here, to this place, right now.
Last week I wrote about the loooooong car trips we used to take as a family when we were kids. As I mentioned, I pulled out all kinds of crazy stops to keep the sisters (and myself) entertained in those days loooooong before anyone thought to put a movie-watching machine in a moving vehicle. To give themselves some peace and quiet from the ongoing silliness prompted by that alien from outer space, my parents let us take it in turns to control the tape deck (yes, we had a tape deck- at least it wasn’t an 8-track player).
In the summer of 1984, home from camp and on the road to see every freakin’ fort on the Eastern Seaboard, my go-to and oft-repeated choice was an album called Into the Gap by a British band called the Thompson Twins. I loved that tape. By the end of the holiday my sisters and I could sing along with all of the songs.
Once home, along with the usual gearing up for the start of a new school year, my parents had to contend with my end-of-the-summer birthday. They asked what I wanted as a gift, and my answer was something that could be easily accommodated (the way my 14-year-old self saw the world, anyway). The Thompson Twins were playing the Grandstand at the CNE two days before my birthday. Perfect, thought I.
The parents? Not so much. For some reason they had an issue with their 13-year-old (those two days meant much more to them than they did to me, apparently) heading to the Ex all by myownself for a concert (that wouldn’t end before 11pm). But they knew I reallyreallyreally wanted to go (TBH, my constant expression of this fact might have had something to do with that awareness).
So… the compromise. Dad, wonderful man that he was, opted to get us tickets and take me to see the band. It. Was. Awesome. The initial pangs of embarrassment I might have felt about going to a concert with my Dad faded pretty quickly as I stood, enraptured, as the band took the crowd through their songs of wonder.
Including this one:
There were more, and I’ll likely talk some more about the rest of them (placeholder), but this one- and its video (which I hadn’t seen in decades before I went looking for it this week) is super-resonant with the directions in which my brains is running right now.
I’m glad in these hard times – day in
There’s hope in your eyes – hope in his eyes.
I don’t need a religion – too hot
‘Cause this love never dies – love never dies.
I believe in today – believe boy
It’s better that way and you work through the night.
I know what it means
to work hard on machines.
It’s a labour of love
don’t ask me why
That concert, 3o years ago this weekend, is one of my happiest memories. Not just because of the great music, but because of the time I got to spend with Dad. He enjoyed the show a great deal- and watching him watch the band and feeling the energy of the crowd started to bring home the fact of his person-ness- as opposed to his Dad-ness. At least a little. While he would always retain his Dad-ness, that show help to set us on the road to the friendship that we would develop as I grew up- a relationship that remains one of the great privileges of life filled with good fortune.
Fast forward a number of decades to the end of a difficult Spring and an email message from an oldold friend. He isn’t exactly the Boy Next Door, but he comes pretty close. Len and I grew up a block away from each other- went to Kindergarden and onwards together, and then, as happens, lost touch for a decade or two. Through the miracle of social media (mixed blessing though it may be), we reconnected via the facebook a number of years back and discovered a shared love of music and common ways of approaching all kinds of things in this here world.
A few months back, Len, with his connections to the world of music, heard the first inkling regarding a concert that was in the works. A show that would bring together a passel of the great voices of the 80s and have them share a stage of an evening.
Ultimate result? That up there ^^^^.
As coincidence (or providence, or fate, or whatever) would have it, they’re stopping here in town. Almost 30 years to the day that I last saw Tom Bailey perform those songs, with my Dad at my side.
It should go without saying that I will be in attendance.
Now Len, being an even bigger fan than I, is seeing them three times (yes THREE) before the tour hits our hometown. He was at opening night in NYC and is at tonight’s show as I write this. I’m putting aside my jealousy (and absurd degree of eager anticipation) in gratitude that I will be experiencing it all for myself in just a few days.
But it’s hard. The line-up is phenomenal- a musical journey down memory lane that I can’t wait to experience in person. So I’m getting into the proper mindset by running through the old faves and re-familiarizing myself with some gems that the Shuffle Daemon and I have neglected recently.
I did see these guys, live and in person, last Fall. I wrote about that show (although the post won’t link for some reason- search on ‘Persuasive Danger’ if you’re interested in giving it a read)- and the fact that it felt like hanging with old buds seeing them at Hugh’s Room.
I have written about this guy before, too.
I missed him the last time he stopped in Toronto with a solo show, so I’m very much looking forward to hearing him play the hits- from his days with Ultravox, Visage and his solo albums (it’s also almost 30 years since he co-wrote a song that started a revolution in the way we think about popular music and its ability to affect change and raise awareness. But there’ll be more on that anniversary as we approach the holiday season…)
Quite some time before Alanis so spectacularly misused the concept of ‘irony’, an English dude named Howard wrote this little ditty about expectations not always meeting the reality.
Howard also requires a placeholder. Bigtime. I’ve seen him live a few times over the years and he never fails to disappoint. Revisiting his catalogue over the past little bit has reinforced the reality that strong musical ability and intelligent (and positive) lyrics can still have popular appeal. I could write dissertations on his turns of phrase and clever use of language (okay, that might be slightly hyperbolic. I’m a little overexcited right now) and he deserves more than a bare paragraph here.
Rather than drive myself (and those around me) completely nutso with my jittery anticipation, I’ll be spending the next few days catching up with these old friends in advance of hanging out with them next week. Their tunes- and the memories they provoke and the messages that still shout their wisdom- will be the backdrop to my weekend.
But I’ll still be counting down the hours… and thinking back over the years.