Going Their Own Way…

Several months back, Big Word Ben gifted me a much belated birthday present: tickets to the 2018 Fleetwood Mac tour.
Not a bad gift, right?

There was much scandal and speculation about this tour, dubbed An Evening With Fleetwood Mac, after it was announced that Lindsey Buckingham would not be touring with them. Point in fact, the rumor mill – oops, rumours mill – was reporting that he had been fired from the group.

Again.

The rumor ripples of this announcement were fast and choppy. Buckingham is their male vocalist as well as lead guitarist. The last time I had seen Fleetwood Mac he had easily done over half of the vocal heavy lifting.

Christine McVie had just returned from about 15 years of retirement – at 71! – for the last tour and was easing her way into the band’s routine last time around, so it’s not like they aren’t used to changing up the batting order for their shows.

Still, as the “young one” in the band – he and Stevie were ~66 last time the group came through Portland – he had been the real mover and shaker on stage. Stevie did her trademark twirls, but for the most part, her dancing was in place, usually with her feet planted and just consisted of some pretty wild upper body gyrations. Lindsey, on the other hand, had been out to make a point. Jumping around stage like a flea and spinning, squatting, kicking with a true frenzy. It was kind of annoying since it looked like he was showing off to some degree, but also made the show a real visual presentation.
So, what’s it going to be like in 2018? Lindsey and Stevie are both 70, Lindsay isn’t coming, Christine is 75, John and Mick are sitting pretty in the shadows at the back of the stage, as usual. Well, except for Mick’s crazy audience shout-back solo at the midway point. For the record, that was and is still a pretty amazing part of the show.

Filling the bill and rounding out the band, it was announced that Mike Campbell from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Neil Finn from Crowded House/The Finn Brothers/Split Enz would be taking on the guitar work and male vocals.I was left quite curious whether this would still be a really heavy male vocals show, though. Newcomers notwithstanding, the band ended up leaning on Christine for what I would call about half of the vocal numbers in the Portland show. Now, there’s a reason she was not the primary vocalist in the band in the first place – but as much as I’ve always loved her one or two numbers on each album and even her solo work – at 75, you could tell her voice was getting tired during the two hour show.

But keep in mind, that’s about half the singing in a two hour show…down from a three hour production with Lindsey.

I was ok with the shortened show, because I’m older, too. A three hour show starting at 8 PM makes me tired just thinking about it.

Plus, as it turns out, in addition to Christine leading the vocals charge, the band also chose to steer fairly clear of the Buckingham library. For the most part. Neil did some great lead solo numbers as well as sharing some duets with each of the ladies.The show ended up being a walk way down Memory Lane, for the most part, though, with a great deal of what I would call deep tracks from the Peter Green era of the band.
I was fairly impressed with the band’s effort to acknowledge the stand ins for Lindsey throughout the show, too. It wasn’t just a “hey, here’s these guys” type of situation. After Mick’s World Turning drum solo at halftime, he came to the front of the stage and talked about the next number. It was a song, he said, “that he heard at a time he needed to hear it”, which was an interesting turn of phrase. I was pretty surprised when he went on to introduce Neil to sing Don’t Dream It’s Over, arguably Crowded House’s biggest hit. It was actually a highlight in the show for me as an audience member and as a HUGE Crowded House fan.Big Word Ben seemed to know about this number in advance and warned me, “Just wait until the halfway point”, which I didn’t fully understand until Stevie wandered out onto the stage toward the end of the song and joined in.
It was exciting. Hearing these two voices working together to recreate something I was so familiar with. Until Stevie basically fell off the stage trying to keep up with Neil. He’s only ten years her junior, but it demonstrates the truth behind the old adage about teaching and old dog new tricks. After the number, she kind of joked about her effort, but it was just super unclear whether she forgot the words or if she just got lost.

Here, have a little levity that I found in my Google suggestions while digging around for pics and info for this entry:

My answer to that question:

Attempting this number.

But I am still one to give an E for effort, so I was ultimately happy that they had at least tried to integrate the newcomers.

The back half of the show included a bit more visibility overall for Stevie, so it was good that she had an opportunity to redeem herself after the Crowded House number. Again, though…at 70, she’s not so much the twirling hippy girl she once was. You could tell that her dancing was more an exercise in remaining upright versus it’s former lost in the moment self. The same was evident with Christine when she left her keyboard and came forward for some maracas work during a solo number of hers. Both were very stiff hipped in their movements, which I noted, before immediately reminding myself of how I must look when I get off the couch to pee during a Netflix binge. Yeah, “Shut up, Me”. Both get high marks from me for just showing up, that’s for sure!

We got to the end of the show, with the band being led off the darkened stage by stagehands with flashlights…gotta be careful to not trip on a wire going across the equipment-packed stage. Hips are expensive!

People immediately started leaving as soon as the lights dimmed. Big Word Ben indicated that he didn’t think there was an encore, either, by way of explanation. It’s rare to see that many people take off after a curtain call. Usually it’s just the competitive drivers or people who have to work super early. This audience was moving. We were soon the only people in our immediate area. We chatted briefly about the show. How the set list was so different without Lindsey, but both still glad to have added another notch to our Fleetwood Mac Concert Belts. Mine is nowhere near as long as his, but he’s got a few years on Neil, so I chalk it up to him just having more opportunities.

All that said, I certainly didn’t feel robbed when the lights came back up and the group returned to the stage. Quite honestly, when Freefalling started, I felt like the show was just made. What a perfect way to ice this cake. Stevie nailed a rendition of one of Mike’s former bandleader’s biggest hits while a slide show played behind the band. It showed lots of concert pics of Petty, who had died just over a year earlier at only 66. It was also a very poignant reminder of the connection between the two bands. Mike Campbell joining for this tour was the top of mind connection for most, but then there was the Leather and Lace duet between Petty and Stevie, too. The picture show behind the stage reminded us all of just how much history there was with Stevie and Petty touring together over the years. I think most of the people left in the arena ended up pretty choked up by the end of the song.

At the end of the show, we were left with quite a different Fleetwood Mac experience. We were able to get a good debriefing in during the walk down to Old Town, were BWB had parked. Old Town is just a hop, skip and river from the Rose Quarter and at 10-ish at night a 15 minute walk over the bridge versus waiting to exit a parking garage for who knows how long or even waiting to board what were overflowing MAX train cars for a one-stop ride over the bridge. We talked about everything I discussed above and both agreed that different or not, it was still easily worth going.

The one thing that surprised us both? The show was billed as starting at 8 on the tickets, 8:15 on the Rose Quarter website and by golly, that show started just as we found our section at 8:15!

A rock band starting on time? Yeah, these guys are getting to a point where bedtime is important. But they still deliver a show worth seeing!

Going Their Own Way…

Sleep Deprived Thoughts…

Billy Joel has been creeping into my Pandora cycle more and more frequently. Never a bad thing, really.

That said, I woke up at 5 the other morning and resigned myself to remaining conscious, I popped on my Sonos and there he was. My groggy brain had some input as the song played out.

Myrt was stretched out, purring between my crossed legs, so I just started blabbing to her. Color commentating on the song as it went along.

Now, Bill is a real estate novelist

What the hell is that?

Does real estate need to be novelized? You might be able to stretch a novella out of it, but I’m pretty sure the main real estate collateral consists of fliers and pamphlets.

Who never had time for a wife.

Likely story.

And he’s talking to Davey

Oh?

Who’s still in the Navy

Oh?

And probably will be for life.

Myrtle, Bill and Davey are gay.

GAY!

Myrtle gives me a look that suggests I need better hobbies. Or at least hobbies that are less disturbing.

That Billy Joel, man. What a storyteller, eh, Myrt.

<slow blink>

Sleep Deprived Thoughts…

Friday Morning Dance Party

I’m not sure what’s gotten into me this morning, but when I woke up, instead of flipping on the tube, I put on some music. Nothing special, I use Pandora and I’ve been letting the Thumbprint Radio do the heavy lifting for me instead of selecting a specific artist station. I really am enjoying that feature. So I’ve had random great music playing throughout the house as I wander from room to room.

Queen and solo Freddie Mercury

Cranberries and solo Delores O’Reardon

Cowboy Junkies

Genesis and – you guessed it – Phil Collins. Still waiting on some Peter Gabriel

Katy Perry

Sting…but no Police

The Outfield!

Pandora had to dig pretty deep into my musical tastes for that last one…

But all this goodness vibing around my little slice of Portland has had me shaking my groove thing as I’ve puttered through my morning.

While I was making breakfast – oatmeal, I swear – I was dancing in place in front of the stove.

Folding laundry at the counter.

Turning my towel into a dancing prop after my shower.

It’s all made me feel good.

Then I look up after reaching down to dry my legs and see this

She’s so judge-y.

I still laughed. Let her judge. Realistically, she’s probably thinking, “I can’t believe this idiot is who I rely upon for food and water…”

Friday Morning Dance Party

Here We Go…Again!

There are constants in the universe.

Good news, right?

For instance, ABBA music is just good.

Oh, were you expecting something more serious?

Wrong blog.

Ok, how about, “The inter webs are a cold, hilarious place”? I was never not going to see this sequel.

Sidebar: Hey, Donny Trump…that’s how double negatives work!

So, yeah. I had my heart set on seeing this movie. The build up on social media in the days before its release just whet my appetite further. My favorite moment occurred on Twitter as someone let fly the outrageousness and extremely unlikeliness of three women keeping the same hairstyle for 40 years.

So brilliant, but I digress.

Anyway, it is a universal truth. I never hear anyone say the don’t like ABBA music, probably because I simply refuse to hear it.

But sometimes you think something is a constant, like “Pierce Brosnan can’t sing” only to later doubt yourself.

We’ve all seen it.

Endured it.

And if you love Pierce Brosnan, you’ve made excuses for what you saw. “He can sing, it’s just that his character wasn’t supposed to be able to, like Ado Annie in Oklahoma!”

Because, seriously…he’s a big star! Why would he expose himself to the ridicule a poor performance brings?

It’s not a bad bit of logic-slash-rationalization.

By the way

Not bad logic morphs into harsh reality, though, in this prequel to 2008’s Mamma Mia when we meet Pierce’s younger self.

Who.

Can.

Sing.

He can also set your loins afire, too. But that’s a poor offset for the burden of having to accept the universal truth that Pierce just can’t sing.

Seriously, Pierce. Big star, remember? Get Julie Andrews to dub you or something. A ceiling tile dropped out of the theater’s roof during your number.

I can only assume that he broke auto tune, it’s the only reason I can give for why they wouldn’t have used it.

Y’know, on this inaugural post using – testing, really – the new Facebook mandated blog page versus linking to my personal page, I had a choice of topics. I promise, my choices were both feel good options that allowed me to write about something fun or positive.

Mamma Mia! or people doing good things in the world. See? Both positive topics!

I’ll get to them both eventually, but I think people are used to or expect my grumpy old man persona to come out in my writing. With Mamma Mia! I can do both. Let’s face it, ABBA music makes people happy, so that feel good moment is built in. I’ve waited a week to write about seeing this movie, to reasonably respect spoilers, which is also a kindness…so when I knock Pierce Brosnan around for not being able to sing or rip on the story, it’s only to temper your expectations.

Can’t have you thinking that I’ve turned over a new leaf just because I have a blog page on the Facebook now.

PS: I’ve already realized the motivation behind Facebook’s new rules, they are trying to generate income off these new, mandated pages.

Anyhoo.

I tend to temper my expectations with sequels. Especially sequels that come out right away…it’s like the studio is trying to get away with something. A cash grab before we realize that we’re being served up a stinker.

Here We Go Again took a decade to arrive.

Plus, ABBA!

Naturally, I was there for the first show…but still watching with a guarded side eye.

And some popcorn, duh.

I was checking off boxes to confirm this sequel wouldn’t be worthy:

Pierce still can’t sing ✅

They used all the best songs in the last movie ✅

The story suc…wait a minute. What’s wrong with my eyes? Why are they leaking?!?

Yeah. The story is pretty good. Not great by any means. As a stand alone first run story, this would be nothing more than a flop.

But we know these characters.

We come in pre-programmed to care about their struggles and enjoy the highs of their excitement.

Also, ABBA.

I can’t avoid admitting it, the story was just better than the original. Amazing.

We know that Cher pops in to be a great grandma, we are poised to handle Sophie’s pregnancy story. Not so with the early news of Sophie and Sky’s potential estrangement.

Definitely not so of the casual drop in of Donna’s death the prior year.

So – yeah, questions that are never answered. I’m pretty sure that tidbit dropped in the first 90 seconds.

Brace.

Yoself.

We never learn how she died. I dunno…maybe we do but I missed it because I was debating whether or not to leave the theater to verify Meryl Streep was listed with the cast on the movie poster.

But, in Meryl’s absence, we are treated to a significant flashback upgrade. In the original, when Sophie’s potential fathers are referred to in the past, we get Pierce, Stellan and Colin dressed up as ridiculous 70s drag versions of their younger selves. Here, we get the beefcake treatment.

Thank gawd.

Young Pierce.Young Stellan. With peek-a-boo crotch shot.Young Colin.

I mean…yes, please and thank you!

For worrying that most of the “good” ABBA songs were already taken up in the first incarnation, I have to admit that these B-side songs, as it were, did a great job of supporting the story. Not a bad trade off against the original. Plus, they recycled a couple of songs that were used in the first flick…honestly, the revamped Dancing Queen outdid the first movie, and it was good in the original!

The returning cast is great. You can see the truth behind the stories of stars wanting to do a sequel simply because the first was so much fun. And the writing and acting folds the new cast in well.

When Tanya meets the hotel manager, Fernando (played by Andy Garcia), and greets him with a “Be still my beating vagina” as only Christine Baranski can deliver…yeah, welcome to the team, Andy.

The writing delivers plenty of those quotable moments. They are generously spread out amongst the stars and supporting cast, too. Julie Walters gets “I think carbs might be my soul mate”.

But then a supporting player, the owner of the shack that Donna squats in, gets to deliver a real ball buster of a line to young Sam. He’s just returned from breaking off his engagement, looking for Donna – who has taken off on young Bill’s boat to get over him. Our sassy barkeep delivers the news and then follows up his disappointment with, “Its called Karma and it’s pronounced ‘HA!'” in her heavy Greek accent.

These moments of levity – along with great, nostalgic music – balance out the somberness of the underlying story as Sophie stresses about the opening of her mom’s remodeled hotel.

On top of all of that

For good measure, Cher drops in to the final few scenes, just to steal ’em. When I first heard the casting rumors, I though it impossible to cast her as Meryl’s mother with only a few years between them in real life.

Well, problem solved, as I learned.

Realistically, by my calculation, Cher is playing a character around 79. Definitely closer to her real age than playing 50-something’s is to the rest of the original cast.

Not to mention that her singing is just. so. absolutely. Cher! She steps up to the plate and just lets her low, smooth voice loose on Fernando and it’s sublimely amazing.

Seriously, she did such a great job that fireworks went off as she finished.

But watching the choreography both in this number and as she kicked off the end credits, I couldn’t help but be reminded – and filled with awe – of the fact that Cher is old! Not getting old, she’s there…but redefining it. As she sings Fernando, she descends a flight of stairs. I watched as the camerawork cut back and forth between her and her Fernando, her taking a couple of steps down each take. Similarly, during the end credits, she walks up the three or four stairs to a small stage and then dances in place as she sings. She’s very stiff-hipped and fragile looking, but she’s in her mid-70s and still doing it.

Gotta admire that. I’m not the only one, either. You hear it in interviews when her cast mates are asked what was it like working with Cher. You see it in the extras around her as they watch Cher move past them.

It’s amazing.

She spends a short time on screen in the final few scenes, but her story arc covers the entirety of the film. From our first meeting of the hotel manager to the seconds leading up to her first song, you eventually learn how interwoven her story line is. From mother to daughter to granddaughter.

For whatever reason, Fernando doesn’t end up being Donna’s father and Sophie’s grandfather. It’s a weird decision for a Hollywood ending. Sure, it would have been incredibly trite…but we learn from Fernando early that he had his life’s love decades ago and has made peace with its short life. We hear young Donna downplay a fling with a foreigner while traveling abroad because it hasn’t gone well for her family, namely when her mother had traveled to Mexico as a young woman. She tells this story right before her own three back to foreign flings. Why not bring it full circle? It’s kind of the only way to explain Fernando randomly making his way from Mexico to a small island in Greece…and working at a hotel owned by his true love’s granddaughter.

If you’re gonna jump a shark, might as well make it a big shark!

While were transitioning toward my small finish…can I just mention how weird it is to watch Lily James play a young Meryl?

It’s a little jarring, since she looks exactly like a young Jessica Lange!

But don’t take my word for it…

Just me?

Nah…unless I’m the only one right about this!

Not that I’d ever want to work a little Cher magic and turn back time to cast Jessica as Donna just so the looks lined up. Still

You’d think that while I was grabbing those pics off of the Google, I would have bothered to check and see if there was a familial relation.

Lazy.

Not that you’re worried that I’ve given away the whole movie, don’t be. If you haven’t seen it, go. On top of all of this happening, there are little moments strung along the way that sometimes help resolve a plot hole and other times are just fun.

Trust me, keep an eye out for the Greek customs agent at the boat dock. He’s friggin’ hilarious. I think there’s a reason he and Cher don’t appear together in any scenes. He’s totally steal them. Or Cher would kill him on screen for critiquing her look as he does with everyone else that happens by his little customs shack.

Remember him as the movie’s final scene plays out. It might help you not completely lose it as Sophie and Sky’s baby christening takes place and Spirit Donna pops in to sing My Love, My Life with her daughter.

It’s a killer. Never in danger of becoming my favorite ABBA song, but it was the perfect way to end this sequel.

Maybe see this movie at night so it’s dark when you leave the theater and no one notices your “been crying” face.

Pro Tip.

Oh, and if you enjoy my writing, please don’t forget to…

And

some more!

Here We Go…Again!

World Of Confusion.

This is it, maybe. Well, I guess this is not it, but still…it quite possibly could be.

Do you use Pandora? I do, I’m proud to have every room – not a huge feat in my 700 square feet – in my place set up with a Sonos speaker. And I love it.

There’s not even walls between my kitchen and living room, but I have a speaker in each. Well, a sound bar in the living room for the TV, but I can also stream music through it. Likewise, when I’m watching a show, I can link the bathroom speaker to the TV so if Nature calls, I can answer without having to pause.

Unless it’s porn, of course. There’s two activities I’d like to keep at least an appearance of separation between.

I joke.

I don’t watch porn.

In my living room.

There’s no curtains.

Nonetheless, the TV and music sound situation is quite handled. It would appear that I’ve got my entertainment game all together.

So, Pandora…there’s this feature called Thumbprint. Have you heard of it? Used it?

I love it. It culls music from your playlists and just lavishes your favorite music upon you. I’ve noticed that sometimes Thumbprint will get stuck on a certain artist or decade or what-have-you…but, again – favorite music, so who cares?

Then this happened today while I was folding laundry.

Yeah.

Phil fucking Collins.

Basically, I made the same face.

And I’m just wandering from utility room to kitchen with clothes to be folded and then to my bedroom and dresser to put stuff away without really realizing what’s happening until that needle skip moment occurs.

I realize it’s not an acceptable Phil fucking Collins song, like In The Air Tonight.

It’s Land Of Confusion.

That’s just not ok.

I actually kind of enable a slight prophetic moment, as I think back to the last couple of years in America. Maybe Phil saw it all coming vaguely down the pike.

Doubtful.

Semi-comforting to think that someone at least saw this shift in sensibilities coming. Actually, then again…no. If someone knew this was coming and didn’t stop it.

The Doctor could have stopped it.

But not Phil…no.

I’m going back to the dryer for the rest of my laundry, thinking that I can just grab the rest of it. My utility room is kind of a shotgun situation.

Long and narrow. My bike is in there during winter months, too. Right by the spare tires in the left corner. I walk in and I’m loading my arms with the remaining tee shirts, socks, undies and whatnot and I’m thinking I got it.

I can do this.

Mistake.

Huge.

I pull out a tee shirt that has a stowaway pair of undies in it that drops to the floor. My arm is somehow full to my chin with the rest of the load – shut up, Diezel – and I’m still thinking, “Yeah, I can do this”.

I squat straight down – there’s no room to bend at the waist in this room – and grab the pants.

Admit it, you’re glad I stopped saying “undies”, right?

A single sock falls out of my arm as I tuck the pants under my chin.

Great.

I reach down and am fishing around with my hand, feeling for the sock because I can’t risk moving my head to look down. I don’t know why, but moving my eyes side to side helps me focus my intensity on the search. Maybe it’s that looking around keeps my attention divided just enough that I don’t stress out and overthink and overcorrect…I. Don’t. Know.

But my eyes swiveling in their sockets take in the mayhem of the room and the song clicks.

I bet you were wondering when I’d get back to that.

This is the world I live in?

There’s a paper bag of recyclables from when I ran out of the green BottleDrop bags – some of them were carried over by The Fox because he supports my redemption habit…probably I should square up with him by buying him a beer. But once I bought more green bags, I never transferred the accumulated cans into it. Now, as you can see in the front right, the bag is too full.

There’s a black trash bag of donations that Myrtle likes to pull at if I leave the utility room door open. Have I taken them? No. No, I have not.

And I wasn’t able to see it from where I was squatting, but in my mind’s eye, I was looking at the dustpan that has the remnants of the glass lamp shade that Myrtle broke one night about a month ago now.

So, it’s been there through about 3 trash bag changes…you’d think I could’ve taken those shards to the trash by now, right?

No.

Having successfully retrieved the errant sock, I start to stand up, expecting to hit my head either on the dryer door or the shelf. I usually do this once a month or so…but miraculously, not today.

I leave the utility room with the last of my laundry and look right at the naked lamp as I exit.

Yeah, I haven’t even taken the rest of the broken shade off the damn lamp. I think that’s partly because I want the base of the shade for when I replace it.

Probably, mostly as a potential punishment for Myrtle if she tries to get frisky with the lamp again.

This is the world I live in.

As I’m looking at the lamp, I’m reminded that I have yet to replace the battery in the thermostat directly above the lamp. I’m meeting Diezel for a couple beers at 3:45 and wanted to check the time on the thermostat to see how much time I have left.

An hour, I realize after mentally adjusting for Daylight Savings fuckery.

All of the clocks in my house are set to one of two times: right or wrong. Every six months, that switches. Some of the clocks adjust automatically, like my phone, microwave and oven clocks. Typically, the bathroom, living room and – inexplicably – thermostat clocks do not.

So, I change them mentally, depending on the time of year. Sometimes all the clocks are set to right, others, only half of them.

Unless

Like in the case with the thermostat, I need to change a battery. Then that clock gets set to the correct time.

I gave old Phil a thumbs down, finished folding my laundry and mused that with as crazy as the outside world is these days, it’s even crazier that I’m not controlling all the minutia I can in my own four walled world.

I’ve got a half hour before I need to leave, I think I’ll spruce the place up a bit. Undo some of the non-Myrtle chaos. That’s a fair starting point. I’d self-diagnose Myrtle’s mayhem as a partial root to my housekeeping apathy. The way she sheds incessantly and kicks litter out of her box and shreds cardboard boxes to literal litter creates such a mess that I’ve kind of given up.

On everything.

I don’t know why

But I can clean some dishes and switch out a battery at least. Hell, maybe I’ll even dust!

I’ll make this a world worth living in…

World Of Confusion.

Indigo Girls

“Well, that can’t be a coincidence”, I thought as a CD title caught my eye in my local Long Beach music store. The album in question was simply titled Indigo Girls. It was on sale, so being a newly-ish minted gay, I bought the CD in a show of solidarity.

My rationale?

Cyndi Lauper talks about it in her 1983 song She Bop…

“Well, I see them every night in tight blue jeans.

On the pages of Blue Boy magazine.”

Blue Boy magazine was a glossy tribute to twink pulchritude. A gay porn magazine, in other words.

Indigo is a shade of blue.

I’ve apparently been jaded forever. But just the right amount. Maybe it’s just in my head that a gender pronoun and shade of blue equals some gay code – indeed, to hear them tell it, they went shopping through the dictionary for words that resonated…indigo struck gold for them for whatever reason – but in my music store, this CD priced at $7 resonated with me.

I’ve been a fan ever since.

I’ve owned every album.

Committed more song lyrics to memory than I thought I had the capacity for.

Lost my shit in the theater when they showed up as extras in Boys On The Side…embarrassing my friends by frantically whispering, “That’s the Indigo Girls!” in the darkened theater.

Seen them in concert in a half dozen cities on two continents..

My favorite performances being their zoo concerts. I’ve seen five zoo shows here in Portland and two more at the zoo in Seattle. The crowds at the concerts used to skew heavily lesbian, given their sexual identities. Once Lilith Fair took the music world by storm and sent female singer/songwriter types on a never before seen trajectory of success, those crowds started to straighten out.

My concert attendance started to fall off then, too. Where I’d always loved the live music experience Indigo Girls concerts provided, it was also a safe environment for me as a gay man…to flirt. Safe, because other guys there were like minded, both in bed and in musical tastes. It was as good a starting point as any for selecting a mate, right?

Never happened.

Matter of fact, the closest I got to an Indigo Girls concert love connection was attending shows for a few years with Sacha. You’d have thought that the Valentines Day show we saw at the Aladdin Theater would have put me off their concerts, but I was a super fan and after that show where Sacha and I argued through the entire thing…well, I started going mostly alone or with girlfriends.

No, what put me off was the intrusion of straight men at the shows. I’d loved the strong female vibe I encountered at their live shows. It was such a safe feeling.

A generous space.

When I looked up at one concert and saw my handful of musically like minded gay men replaced with straight guys who were canoodling through the concert until fuck time…I was done.

Until

A few years back, IG got together with a symphony.

It was crazy.

Rib and I went down to Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle and saw this show. Indigo Girls backed by the Seattle Symphony.

By “crazy”, I mean AWESOME.

Their music lends itself to the process. It’s always featured eclectic instruments, so switching to classic orchestral instruments wasn’t a huge stretch.

The Girls are storytellers, so watching their show always included an intimate glimpse into their music and personalities. My favorite story of this night was the story about the symphony performance itself.

The symphony had been practicing their set independently. The Indigo Girls, of course, had the material down. But they never practiced together until the day of the show!

The Indigo Girls roll into town – I am pretty sure this was before Amy married a girl from Seattle, so she wasn’t a randomly occurring celebrity in town yet – do a couple numbers with the orchestra and then peace out until showtime, hoping for the best.

Why is this anything important to know?

Well, Today I Learned on the Facebook that there was a symphony album coming out. Twenty-two songs, with a video of Galileo to kick it all off.

I.

Was.

Excited.

I watched the video a couple of times. It’s not their best live performance, but I can only take their word for it when they talk about the humbling experience of putting your voice in front of a giant machine like a symphony orchestra.

Viewed through that filter? This is incredible. If nothing else, it elevates the majesty of the stories their songs have always told.

From almost 1990 to almost 2020…these ladies have been and have made an enormous impact on my life. I jokingly say that at the end of my life, my relationship with my cell phone carrier will be the enduring relationship of my lifetime.

Compared to my musical relationship with Indigo Girls (they prefer no article in their band name) and Melissa Etheridge, the more accurate statement would be that the relationship with these two acts shaped the adult gay man that I became and one of the significant relationships of my life.

Interesting recipe, equal parts family, catholic school and music subculture equals…me. What an arc it’s been for us both.

And I can’t wait to hear this album!

Indigo Girls

Happy Anniversary ME

Today in Music History: Melissa Etheridge released her first album 30 years ago.

I am not this old.

I remember hearing about her from my Hair Guy in SoCal. Well, my aunt’s Hair Guy. He was one of those people that visually made you stand back, shared stories that made you worry about his judgment and was probably stoned whenever and wherever you saw him.

He kinda looked like Gregg Allman.

But once you got to talking to him, he was one of those guys that ended up being insanely charismatic. Punctuating his stories with “dude” and “man” in a way that drew you in and then pulled you along for the ride.

Somehow, this generated a credibility, too. So when he told me about this singer after I complimented his choice in music, I knew I had to hear the whole album. He’d effused about the weight of her music, inadvertently bringing to mind The Band and Robbie Robertson for me. Stopping himself midcut to repeat the song Bring Me Some Water and then again during the song to feel the music.

Yeah, he was that type of guy. But it worked for him because he was so genuine with his expressions.

I picked up the disc and proceeded to annoy my roommate playing it on repeat for just about ever.

Somewhere along the line, I learned she was “from” Leavenworth, Kansas. Having spent some of my formative years in Atchison, which is just an hour-ish northward, my connection to her deepened.

What’s that fauxnomenon (Chrisism) called?

Never mind.

Each new release after that disc was an event for me. Seeing her in concert was an equally rewarding experience. I’ve seen her at least a half dozen times, and that seems like a low estimate.

She’s a story teller.

If you listen to her music, the lyrics will bare that out. Still, listening to her chat up the audience between songs as she casually strums her guitar is an added layer of intimacy to the feelings she evokes with her natural raspy voice.

I saw her post-cancer tour when it hit Portland and the connection to the audience was palpable. My desire to perform is nil, but in this situation I wondered what it must be like to stand alone at the front of the stage in Portland’s Schnitzer Auditorium and feel the love and gratitude rolling in from the crowd like a damn emotional tsunami.

She gave us plenty back that night.

Just like she had in every show and album. So, happy anniversary, Melissa Etheridge. Many happy residuals…er, returns!

Happy Anniversary ME