This week in history marked the 50th anniversary of the Beatles in concert at Maple Leaf Gardens … one I enjoyed with my hard earned babysitting money at an expense of $5.50. It was definitely epic as I sat squished in the greys among a throng of delirious screaming maniacs with the Fab Four far enough below to appear slightly larger than beetles on a board in the distance. But, I’ll never being there.
A few weeks back I got caught up in the Tragically Hip frenzy, and was determined to watch their last concert like most other adult Canadians. In private I wondered if I actually knew any of their songs?
That historical night in the bar, I announced I would not leave until I recognized a song, proving I too was as hip as the rest (at least to myself). We lasted to the end, the final song and I failed to be familiar with one note. I believe the reason to be … at their time of rising fame I was bopping to the likes of Sharon, Lois and Bram and Raffi. I had clearly and regrettably missed out on the Magic of the Tragic offered by Gordie and the boys. I wished I shared even a bit of the passion of the other concert viewers in the bar that night.
Earlier this summer I was enjoying an open mic evening in a bar in Southampton. At one point, a small, somewhat scruffy soloist took the stage. He strummed a few chords accompanied by his semi toothless grin and proceeded to sing a song that rang familiar to my ears … it was a John Prine classic. I immediately came to life and recalled how much I enjoyed his music in the 70’s and early 80’s. At the break, I approached him and he was more than pleased to meet the only other person in the bar who knew and loved John Prine. His next set he sang one just for me “A Big Old Goofy Girl …”
I went home hellbent to find my old John Prine music to rekindle the lost pleasure. Although I managed to find a few tapes, I did visit a local vintage outlet. The well-seasoned owner accepted the challenge and after an extensive search, dusted off a few CD covers for me to purchase. I spent the rest of the summer listening to as many of his creations I could find.
Coincidentally, John was scheduled to tour in the GTA and I was set on securing tickets for his Hamilton visit. No luck, as all tickets were dispersed to other outlets. After repeated calls to the Box Office, it was confirmed … the concert is sold out. Not to be discouraged I decided to head to Hamilton Place anyway with cash in my pocket to purchase from a scalper. I would spend $100 for a seat.
My first attempt was to try the Box Office one last time before I sniffed out the pacing and anxious lingerers nearby. “Who wants tickets? I got tickets. Psst over here. How many do you need?”
I approached the wicket and asked “Any singles?” (having nothing to do with searching for a partner for the night). His reply was immediate. “Absolutely. How does 9th row centre suit you?” “Perfect. I’ll take it.” It was $102.
It all happened so quickly and I was left holding up the wall, people watching, until the doors opened. It appeared to be quite an interesting crowd of old farts I was assimilating with … lots of white facial hair, bald heads and tattoos. Two out of three for me and I blended beautifully right in with the rest.
I met Paula and Tom from Cheektowaga who were astounded that I not only detected that they were from away (across the border) but that I knew of their town, Cheektawaga. Are you kidding? The town of 14 alarm fire fame. I assured them it was renowned in these southern Ontario parts. I also expressed my envy over the inexpensive ticket price for their dollar. They had no clue of the exchange rate and the bargain price of their tickets.
Then there were the self proclaimed John Prine virgins who screeched with excitement as they squeezed their legs together (?) and pronounced “They’re gonna have to call the paramedics. We LOVE John Prine.” Ah, I love him too, though he does little for my lower parts.
Homemade t-shirts, signs and purchased paraphernalia surrounded me and I was catching the excitement.
Once I located my seat (with enough leg room for an entire other row) I was warmly greeted by a young man claiming both the seat beside me, and me as his date for the night. He too, was excited about his windfall of such a great seat. We became instant friends and even learned we share a tattoo creation by the same artist (shout out to Alex Snelgrove of Okee Doke). We bonded and enjoyed the concert together.
John lived up to my expectations. He was likeable, engaging and very entertaining whether sharing the personal background of each song or drolling out the lyrics with his raspy and well used vocal chords.
If you have no clue who John Prine is, have never heard any of his music but have an interest in story telling style songwriting, I urge you to check him out www.johnprine.com
You too may be enthralled by his brilliant lyrics that are akin to a whimsically written poem put to music. And if there’s no appropriate word to fit the rhyme, any ol’ one will do.
He’s honest …
She thinks all my jokes are corny Convict movies make her horny
In Spite of Ourselves
He makes you laugh … “I knew that topless lady had something up her sleeve …”
He offers hope … “He said “Whatcha gonna be when you grow up?”
Jesus said “God””
The Missing Years
And, he makes you think … “That’s the way that the world goes ’round.
You’re up one day and the next you’re down.
It’s half an inch of water and you think you’re gonna drown.
That’s the way that the world goes ’round.”
That’s the Way that the World Goes Round
The best part of the concert was I could see every crease and wrinkle of both his face and his suit; I recognized most of his songs; and since I knew almost every word, I could sing out loud with the rest of them … including Jesse next to me, who rocked his shoulder into mine to the beat of each song and followed it up with the shrillest cat whistle, heard throughout the auditorium.
Although I can no longer hear out of my right ear, I loved it all. The smile never left my face. And like the Beatles concert, I won’t soon forget this one either ~!!~