The RPO, Sarah and Fear.

I don’t have a formal list of favorite musicians, but if I did, Sarah McLachlan would be near the top.

Ever since I listened to her 1993 album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy I was hooked. Over and over I listened to this album while I drew in college, and it’s one of the few albums I enjoy listening to from start to finish. Her lyrics and songs are retrospective, somewhat dark, and full of poetic musical morphine. The fact that she’s beautiful is an added bonus. (I am on record with saying that if she just sat on a bar stool at a concert I would watch her for two hours and she wouldn’t even have to sing.)

In 1996 I had the opportunity to see her in concert at Pine Knob, an outdoor pavilion in the Detroit area. I was working in the advertising department for a local lawn and garden company and they were one of the major corporate sponsors for the 1996 summer season. The sponsorship tickets were the shit. Center section. A dozen or so rows up. Super close for the concert of a lifetime. Except there was just one problem: The date of the concert was on a date that Julie and I already had something planned. So instead of cancelling the first gig, I did what I thought was the right thing to do. I turned the tickets over to my now sister-in-law Joanne. She went to the concert and I went to my previously planned engagement. She saw the concert and as a thank you Joanne bought me a t-shirt (one that I still have) and everytime I look at it I am reminded of the missed concert of one of my favorite artists. I have seen Sarah in concert since then, but no seats have even come close to those I gave away. Joanne reminds me of that frequently.

Flash forward to tonight. One of my clients sponsors CMAC, the outdoor pavilion in Canandaguia, NY. Sarah McLachlan was in town performing with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and thanks to the generosity of my client and Courtney, I was able to go with my youngest son Aaron and good friend Grant Taylor. These seats were the shit. Center section, a few dozen rows up in the location with the high top tables. I brought my 9-year old son AJ with me because he’s in Orchestra at school. He plays the Viola, practices almost everyday, and even has lessons over the summer. I knew he’d enjoy the RPO behind Sarah.

Sarah came out right at 7:30pm. We were close. So close that we could see her smile, her expressions of gratitude, humility and joy from being on stage. This concert was pure musical morphine.

The highlight of the concert was when she performed her song Fear. It’s track number 11 from the aforementioned album. The song is powerful in its simplicity, the vocals are ridiculously high and the harmony gives me goosebumps. The subject matter of the lyrics is something I can identify with. Fear. Fear of rejection, love, new starts, and the honest truth. The first part of the song Sarah talks about comfort, a long lost friend, and a newborn child. All positive associations. Then the next part is the fear… trembling, hunger and a lack of shelter. This fear is fed by the uncertainty of life, and shows the spectrum of feelings associated with love, friendship, life decisions, new endeavors and the future. They can either be these positive, wonderful things, or they can rip your soul apart. Right now I feel like I am on the soul-ripping side.

Watching Sarah perform this song, and the entire concert with the RPO tonight was wonderful. It was a 16 year wait to get back to the type of seats I gave away to my sister-in-law, but this time I was able to buy Joanne the t-shirt.

Thank you Sarah and the RPO, it was well worth the wait.

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Where the Dandelions Grow

“I want to be pitcher.

Put me in.

I can do it.

Okay then let me play first base.

I want the ball.”

This was me in 1984 as a 10-year old. I would ask my Father who was the head coach of my little team these words all game, every game. He never gave in.

I am pictured in the team photo to the left. I’m standing in the back row on the right. One of my most important people in this world is also in this photo. My buddy Chuck is standing in the back row on the left. (Chuck is quick to point out that this is probably the last time we were the same height). Unfortunately my parents were in Europe the day this photo was taken, so my Father is not in it.

As for the baseball season, I never got special treatment as the coaches son. Rather, I was placed where my strengths were best amplified. Occasionally in the infield, but mostly in the outfield. I still remember kicking up dirt, picking dandelions and paying attention to the roar of parents on another field after a run scoring single or double.

Then it happened:

Left field.

Pop fly.

I got underneath it.

Caught the ball.

And the parents on our field cheered for me. Including my Father.

I have loved the outfield ever since, and had no desire to be pitcher after that year. My Father had it right. As a head coach he knew my strength. He knew way before I realized what I was good at, and how I could best help the team.

“I want to be pitcher.

Put me in.

I can do it.

Okay then let me play first base.

I want the ball.”

Now as a baseball coach for 9 years myself I hear the words all the time.
And each time I think back to my Father and I smile.

The Giant Snake

I have not slept good in weeks. Too much on the mind. Maybe too much weight on the soul. Whatever the reasons I do miss a good night’s sleep and the benefits from it. My Daughter Rebekah and I share similar sleeping patterns more than I care to admit, but there’s one distinct difference.

Despite our awkward sleeping habits she still dreams and has nightmares. I do not.

Saturday night she woke up frightened from a nightmare around 12:30 a.m., and was not going back to sleep anytime soon. I brought Rebekah back to bed and she did her patented move of clutching my left arm as if to say “Your not going anywhere Daddy.” I told her that I would stay with her as long as she needed, and asked if she felt comfortable sharing with me what her nightmare was about. She said our family was being chased by a giant snake. She described it’s size, color and articulated very well that one by one we were all eaten by the snake: Joey, Mom, AJ, Me. Max our dog had escaped, and Rebekah was left to fend for herself on the roof while the snake lie in wait on the ground. Then for some reason the snake coughed me up and I was able to make it to the roof to be with her and then she woke up.

I’m not a big snake guy so I can appreciate her fear. I did try to lighten the mood by telling her giant snakes like she described do not live in Western New York just in the movies. I also told her that I would stay with her guarding her at her bedside for as long as she needed me too. And that no snake, no matter how big, was ever coming near her and our family on my watch.

We both fell asleep and I finally awoke around 4 a.m. My left arm had been released, and I trusted Rebekah was dreaming of better times. As for me? I shuffled to bed hoping to dream. Hoping to have a nightmare. Hoping for something to tell me that my brain still works even when I close my eyes for the night.