So I have this friend. Her name is Vivian and she runs the stellar ramble on blog, although she doesn’t get to post as often as she would like on account of the cute little boy she done popped out about 11 months ago. Vivian is awesomesauce of the most delectable variety, and one of the big things around which our friendship revolves is music. We met nearly 12 years ago; her then-new-boyfriend now-husband and I had been friends for about 10 years prior to that thanks to a little organization known as the Canadian Naval Reserves where we both were employed as musicians. Funny, huh? Anyway, I remember meeting her at a New Year’s Eve party in 1997. This was our first outing after our first son was born – he was a week old and we took him to a rocking party. Cool parents? Or parents who should be investigated by Family Services? Discuss.
I really don’t remember much of the party, but I do remember meeting Vivian, and I remember thinking how great she seemed, which turned out to be true, of course, and have I ever mentioned how my first impressions are always right? As in always? So anyway, time went on and we would see each other at different events and occasional social things, but it was really only a few years ago that we started hanging out on a more regular basis. Why did it take us so long? Mostly it was because that New Year’s Eve party baby was followed 2.5 years later by another baby, and there was much child-rearing and shit like that going down. While my womb was not barren, my social calendar most certainly was. And the other thing was that even though we had always impressed each other with our knowledge of music – bands, artists, etc., as well as the ability to speak in song lyrics (seriously) and our fondness for a wide variety of styles of music, it was the magical revelation of our love for one band in particular that set the wheels in motion. And led us to where we are today. Which is hardcore groupies.
Now, let me explain that our hardcore groupie-ness basically amounts to going to see as many live shows of this one band as well as many, many others as is humanly (and monetarily) possible. This has led to some heady times, my friends. When you have a friend like this, the sky is the limit for musical possibilities. If I say “M.I.A. is in Toronto next month” she says “I’ll get the tickets”. If she says “What about going to see The Sadies some time?? I say “OMG yes, they’re playing in Hamilton next week, let’s do it.” Or, even this email from Viv a couple of months ago: “In exactly two minutes I am buying tickets for Joel Plaskett”. Just assuming I am in, and of course, every time, I am.
And it isn’t just that we go to these shows together and have a great time. No, we experience these shows together. Depending on who we see and what is going on , there might be high emotion, giggles, squeals, tears even. It’s never weird or embarrassing for either of us, it’s just real and being in the moment. And there is ALWAYS a post-gig debriefing where we dissect the show, replay the songs, elaborate on bits of banter. Practically a written review, people. And every time it is just awesome.
In high school, I got into a lot of different bands, a lot of different types of music, a lot of different styles. Very typical of this age group, you’re trying on personas, trying on music until you find a genre that fits. Except? Except that I kept evolving with my musical tastes while a lot of my friends didn’t. Not that they didn’t have preferences, but if they were fans of jazz? They wouldn’t go see a punk show. If they were into Ska? Forget going to see a folk artist. So I learned to enjoy different artists and styles in the privacy of my bedroom with my records. Stan Kenton and Teenage Head; The English Beat and Fleetwood Mac; The Who and Mozart. Not to mention the soundtracks to the musicals I loved. You get the picture. University was better, there was more access to music (hello, legal drinking age) and more people to share it with, but I still found that there were the “types” among the people I knew, and sometimes even suggesting “hey, who wants to go see Bruce Cockburn?” would get you shunned. I did have a couple of friends who were open-minded about music, and I was certainly pleased as punch to finally meet The Genealogist (3 years post-uni) who also had some varied musical tastes, which was a huge plus (even more than his killer shoulders and nice ass that I totally checked out as he walked to the bar on our first meeting and no, I am not ashamed to admit that).
When you have been friends with someone for awhile and then one day the two of you have that “aha” moment where you realize that you’re actually incredibly connected by something as personal and as magical as music? Well to me, there is nothing better. I know that our concert-going will likely slow down as Vivian’s little boy gets older, she’ll be occupied by the same things that occupied me when our guys were smaller. But at least we both know that the desire to go and experience will still be there, even when the possibilities are not. That’s ok. I am prepared to wait. And to take what we can get in the meantime, knowing that that real connection will always be there, no matter how infrequent the occasions. Music can do that, when you’re with the right person.