Last December I walked into our beloved local grocery store, the Victor Valley Market. “Riding the Storm Out” by REO was playing on their speaker. I smiled at all the memories of teenage-hood in which some REO line was a part. At 14, a boy played “Time for me to Fly” as a way to stop “going together”. Boy, do I date myself :).
As I was checking out from the market, the radio DJ excitedly announced that the next day tickets were going on sale for a joint tour of Styx, REO and Loverboy this summer. So, the next day I did something I’ve never done. I bought tickets for the Detroit show in June to take my best childhood friend for her birthday, and I bought tickets for the Salt Lake Show in July as Christmas gifts for dear friends in the Tetons. And last week-end, I completed this fun adventure as we, along with about 25,000 other people, danced and sang to songs decades old.
I share all of this for a couple of reasons. First, there was a powerful need in me to feel grounded to the nostalgia and my perception of a simpler, more innocent time when I thought I understood the world — as a teenager :). Through the joyous singing of “Come Sail Away”, “Turn Me Loose” and four hours worth of beloved songs, my being in the here and now got refueled. Laughter, friendship, sunshine and song weaved a magic (both in Detroit and SLC). It demonstrated what a strange thing time is to realize all the memories and the life that has passed with their music still weaving around us.
My second reason is focused on respect for these 60-70+ year old rockers who still have the energy, talent and power to put on a great show. Their energy, good cheer and showmanship was as strong in July as it had been five weeks earlier in Detroit (and they had done 20 shows in between with at least 30 yet to go). I want to know what vitamins they are taking. One of the original Styx brothers, at aged 82, even came out and played with them. And Tommy Shaw, a key igniter of Styx fame and tenure, played a beautiful ballad he wrote, Sound the Alarm, as part of a new album they released last year and it’s good (Crash of the Crown). And I can’t go without mentioning Kevin Cronin, REO’s lead singer for the last 50 years. His joy and kindness was palpable (not exactly how I would have thought of him/them 50 years ago).
The world is in such a challenging and strange place right now. To sing songs full of love, loss, hope, joy, fun and resilience continues to echo in my soul. And it was also inspiring to have so many people, across all political spectrums, have something that united us. May we remember the power of music, art, nature to soften our loud edges and help us find our common center so that again we may learn to listen to each other, pause before responding and find the ties that bind us as the compassionate, loving beings that we are.
Come sail away and happy summer,
And here’s the remaining concert tour if you’re interested. Just laugh. It’s good for one’s soul.