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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Time Travel Through Music

Lately, I have been worrying about getting older. I watched a documentary on television this summer about the Beach Boys and the making of their album “Smile,” but it was mostly about the tortured mind of lead singer and songwriter Brian Wilson. Except for a few scattered dates, he had not played with the Beach Boys in decades because of his issues and strained relations with his bandmates. Danny Hutton, singer for the group Three Dog Night, appeared often in the documentary.

Then, I heard that Brian was going to tour with the Beach Boys for their 50th reunion. Even more exciting news: they were coming to Cincinnati, easily within driving distance of Evansville. When I got my tickets, I was beyond euphoric. The moment Brian walked onstage and sat behind his white baby grand piano, I cried. He finally was healthy enough to tour with his group.

Although Brian’s two brothers, Dennis and Carl, had long since passed away, originals Mike Love and Al Jardine were still with the band, performing with the same old magic. So many memories flooded my mind when I heard, “Surfer Girl,” “God Only Knows,” and “In My Room.” Everybody danced as they went into “Fun Fun Fun” and “Barbara Ann,” and everybody cried when they played tribute videos of Carl and Dennis. This experience was just the first of a wild, wonderful six-month musical dream come true for me.

As a birthday gift, my son purchased tickets for my husband and me to see Barbra Streisand in Chicago. I know every song of hers and have seen all of her movies. Streisand rarely performs live and Chicago was one of a handful of dates on her latest tour.

She sang so many of my favorite songs, including “Evergreen,” the love theme from “A Star Is Born,” “People,” “Guilty,” and dozens of others. Her son, Jason Gould, came on and did a couple of duets with his mother. It was readily evident that he inherited his mom’s golden vocal cords.

I told my son that this gift was worth every hour of labor I went through (and there were many). Streisand’s voice still was the same magical instrument we have heard for decades. Dreams really do come true.

The roll of musical entertainment was not about to end. Sir Paul McCartney was performing in just two American cities, Houston and St. Louis. When the tickets went on sale for the St. Louis show, my husband and I tried, tried, and tried again until we got through via phone. Now I was sure I had died and gone to Heaven.

My first real crush on a singer was Paul, so it was only natural that my heart was racing on the Nov. 11 evening when we arrived in St. Louis. For people of my generation, the Beatles are the soundtrack to our lives. Every song transports me to a special time. As a matter of fact, John Lennon’s “In My Life” was the first song we danced to at our wedding.

Unlike the Beach Boys and Barbra, Paul didn’t need an intermission for his three-hour show. He closed the performance by racing through the mesmerizing three-song pop symphony from the second side of “Abbey Road.”

After seeing these three legendary musical acts, I realize age does not have to slow you down or make you less appealing. It can make you as good as ever and sometimes even better. If somebody ever asks me what was the most amazing year of my life so far, I would say the year I got to be in the same venue as Brian Wilson, Barbra Streisand, and Paul McCartney. That would be a difficult year to repeat.

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