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Rock On

Tonight, I’m going to a rock concert.

That’s right.  Me.

RO1The last actual concert by a rock band (not including my favorite local groups like Lucy’s Palace, Superjam, and Dance Floor Riot) I attended was Cheap Trick at Six Flags in the late 80’s.  Before that it was Bon Jovi in ’86, the Slippery When Wet Tour.

I’m hardcore.

I still remember waiting in line at the ticket office for something like eight hours to get those Bon Jovi tix.  It was miserable.  Nobody does that anymore.  These days, they’re sold online.  I got my tickets for tonight’s concert whilst in my PJ’s.

The headliner for my return to the world of bigtime concerts and bigtime concert venues is REO Speedwagon, along with Chicago.  I can’t wait.

I’ve been a fan of REO since the early eighties.  My big brother, Jeff, had their album titled “High Infidelity”.

At the time, I had no idea what “infidelity” was, and the play on words went completely over my head.  The album cover, though, was just suggestive enough to hook a pre-pubescent young man and inspire him to check out the music etched into the vinyl record inside.

That’s right, kids.  There used to be albums.  Vinyl records.  Not cassettes.  Not CD’s.  Not iTunes or YouTube or Pandora.  Albums.

So, one day, I sneaked into his room and listened to his new record.  I was hooked when I heard “Take it on the Run.”  Later, I discovered some of their other (better) songs, like “Ridin’ the Storm Out”, and my personal favorite, “Roll with the Changes.”

Now, I realize that REO Speedwagon is not exactly the standard-bearer for real, pounding, thumping, adrenaline-pumping rock and roll.  They’re not The Beatles or The Rolling Stones.  I know this.

I’ve always been a pretty eclectic music fan.  I can generally find something to like in almost any genre, even country.  Some country.

My big brother liked REO Speedwagon.  That was enough to get my attention.

In those days, I pretty much became a fan of whatever my older brother liked.  Simply put, I thought he was just about the coolest guy on the planet – but of course I never told him that.  I secretly looked up to him and endeavored to copy as much of his personality as possible.

It wasn’t easy.  Jeff was a guy who seemed to be good at everything he tried, while I often found myself falling decidedly short.  For example, in high school he played varsity baseball and basketball.  I on the other hand was cut the first day of baseball tryouts my freshman year.

Now there’s a memory that still stings – but that’s a story for another day.

Copying Jeff was a challenge in other ways, too.  There were things he did that there was just no way I could even think of attempting.

RO2He wore an earring, for crying out loud.  And though I pretended to mock him for it, I secretly had to admit he made it look cool.  But I knew for certain that – on me – a pierced ear would only be incredibly effeminate.  I was a short, scrawny little dude; the last thing I needed was to look effeminate.

Picking up my brother’s taste in music wasn’t really an attempt at copying him.  I didn’t make a conscious effort to like the same stuff he liked.  It just seemed that whatever he was interested in automatically became interesting to me as well.

As I got older, I began to branch out and develop my own interests.  We do still share some of the same hobbies – poker, for instance – but I don’t gauge my standing on the “coolness” spectrum by my big brother anymore.

We all grow up eventually.

I do still love REO Speedwagon, though.


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