Warning: This is a lengthy post. Might want to get a cup of coffee, or even dinner, before committing.
There are a handful of joyful moments in my life that have driven me to tears: getting my first teaching job, seeing fall foliage in Vermont, giving birth to my daughter, and listening to Johnny Mathis sing "O Holy Night," while sharing a warm bath with her at four months old.
Tonight, I enjoyed another magic moment, on the scale of Roy Orbison singing "This Magic Moment," to the same effect.
Flicking through the channels, I happened upon The Kennedy Center Honors, and my finger hovered over the remote control button as I mulled over a decision to keep on clicking.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend sitting among the other 4 honorees, high up in the mezzanine, next to George and Laura Bush. Ok, scratch that last part about the Bushes, let's not ruin the flow here.
After a humorous monologue by Jack Black, about his being The Who's biggest fan and calling them gods, devils, angels, or not, four contemporary artists each sang a Who number.
During the last performance, about half-way through, a curtain rose above the orchestra, and an army of New York City firemen and policemen belted out the chorus of "Baba O'Riley" directly toward the two seasoned rockers who wrote it. Daltry and Townsend were visibly moved.
Had I not seen the broadcast of "The Concert for New York," performed by Roger and Pete shortly after September 11, 2001, I might not have been so emotional. At that concert, Daltry and Townsend, in true form, performed for a HUGE audience of NYC fireman and policemen. It was the first opportunity for NYC to smile and enjoy themselves since those dark September days. And, enjoy themselves they did, singing, dancing, merrymaking.
So, when I saw the curtain go up tonight, and my brain-delay caught up with my eyes and ears, I burst out crying. I relished every note, every movement, and every emotion, but I didn't think to record it (by pressing two remote buttons). Sigh.
BUT, thanks to YouTube I can see it again and again.
I thought it would be a great blog entry -- another diatribe on what an emotional nutcake I can be.
As I thought about what to write, I remembered suddenly that at the end of October, this year, 2008, I attended my very first Who concert with a co-worker, Betsey.
Quite the coincidence, eh?
I hadn't planned to buy the tickets, I didn't even know they were still around or performing together.
I just received an email from Live Nation, delivered to me at work one day back in August.
I pondered it, but hesitated to spend the money. Given the age of the performers, though, and an idea of what old rockers sounded like--think Rolling Stones in their Steel Wheel tour--I decided that it was now-or-never-time to see The Who live (in both senses of the word).
(I, on the other hand, haven't aged one minute since I first heard The Who in an unnamed, previous decade, but I digress.)
I asked Betsey if she wanted to go and she accepted without hesitation. bless her spirit.
We drove an hour to an Indian-reservation-turned-casino, and took our seats in the nosebleed section of a medium-sized, indoor arena.
We expected nothing beyond a decent performance from The Who--certainly not as good as the gigs of their younger years.
But, Daltry and Townsend turned out a show nothing short of sensational. They played for two hours, no break.
Their voices and stamina held up amazingly, their energy was intense, and they had Betsey and me shouting lyrics and acting like two crazy ladies, minus the acting.
From the first word out of Daltry's gorgeous mouth, coupled with impish Townsend's windmill, their two instruments, voice and guitar, reached down to my toes like a great glass of smooth, red cabernet.
Wow, there's some cheesy prose for ya.
Simply said, The Who's music inspired me, wowed me, and possessed me. They've had that effect on me since the 70s, and I happily remain their slave, hoping never to be released.
Two Who-related performances, happenstance, that reached my core, and woke me up.