Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Discovering America

A few weeks ago, we went to see the band "America" at a small theatre upstate. The tickets had been provided to us, so it wasn't like we had sought out the concert or even knew much about the group or what to expect. In fact, we did not see much live music, only going on special occasions like the holidays, or our birthdays. Our last sojourn had been the Paul Winter Consort Winter Solstice concert during Christmas at St. John the Divine, which, though uplifting, left us dizzy with the whirlwind of world singers, donkeys and camels slithering across the stage, giant replicas of globes and suns being hoisted into the sky, chantings for world peace, etc. This would be different. This would be a rock concert, albeit revisited, with the band members pushing their fiftees, (not to mention the audience), as we remembered several America hits being popular in the seventies, around the time of The Eagles, Seals & Crofts, etc. On the drive up, we sang snippets to each other of "Ventura Highway" and "Horse with No Name." "Wasn't that the group that did that song about magic?" I said. "Wasn't that the group that did "Sister Goldenhaired Supplies?" my husband said. "It's Surprise," I said. "There's no such thing as "GoldenHaired Supplies..."

The lights dimmed, the audience clapped, and by the first song we were singing along and stomping our feet like college kids. The concert airlifted us back to our youth, complete with lighting effects and songs about partying too hard, and smart comments by lead singers Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell, who, slightly greyed and a little wobbly, probably missed college themselves. Their guitar playing was fresh, their singing on key and lyrical. "American Idol has nothing on these guys," I said. In between songs, they pointed out that they had given 100 concerts a year since their last hit album in the eightees. Good for them, I thought. We laughed and cried, getting particularly emotional at songs like: "this is for all the lonely people, thinking that life has passed them by, don't give up until you drink from the silver cup...you never know until you try." "I get it," my husband said. "The silver cup, I get it."

The group was given a rousing standing ovation by the audience, which had seemed at times restrained, and at times bordering on roudy, as if unable to decide what era they had resigned themselves to. The band did "Sandman" for an encore, which I looked up later online and found the words had something to do with Vietnam, but I wasn't exactly sure. "What's a hurricane that's been abandoned?" I wondered. Hmmm. It didn't matter. Nor did it matter why the horse had no name, or that "there ain't no one for to give you no pain," wasn't particularly grammatical. We got the idea. On the drive home, we didn't worry about the lyrics so much but had fun singing the riffs and all the "do do wop do das." We had a good time looking out the car window at the city lights, taking in the first warm night air of spring, 2006, over thirty years after America's first hit. My husband and I would both have been about ten years old and it was mind blowing to think of how much the world had changed, about who had died and who had been born, about what wars had ended and which had begun, about politics and presidents and global warming, about the the things that comforted us and the things that frightened us as if we were kids, all over again. "Ba la da, da la la la la.." we sang, as loud as we could.

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