Friday, August 8, 2014

Just say Yes

"Catching the swirling wind, the sailor sees the rim of the land."

I rarely feel old. Most of the time I don't even feel my age. I'm still a girl inside, the same girl I've always been.

I see women who realistically are probably about my age and I think of them as much older. I have a group of three women friends and I'm the eldest but I feel like the youngest.

I'm lithe and I'm limber and I have lots of energy and I'm healthy and strong and I still get carded. OK, not carded for drinking age, but for senior discount eligibility. Vendors are surprised that I qualify.

But I hadn't been to a rock concert for quite some time. A couple of days ago, Neil and went to see the band Yes.

I should back up and tell you that while Neil and I are in sync and compatible about many things, there's also a large arena where our interests overlap very little. Sports. Movies. And music. Music most of all.

I don't think Neil likes most of what I listen to and I know I don't like most of what he listens to.

But Yes. Who can dislike Yes? I wouldn't exactly call their sound elevator music, but it's certainly, in my estimation, background noise. Maybe that's because I've heard their popular songs so many times on the airwaves without ever liking or disliking them enough to consider the members of the band as human beings, let alone music artists.

Yes are Neil's favorite band, to phrase it as their native Brits would do.

As I've said here before, I'm selfish and protective of my time. I don't like to do what I don't like doing. I'd rather stay home than to do any number of things, such as play miniature golf, or bowl, or see a Star Trek film, or listen to a stand-up comedian, or go to more than one hockey game a year.

But I say no to Neil so many times and I feel guilty about it. He's been a fairly good sport about doing things with me that wouldn't have been his first choice, or second, or third. So when he asked if I'd go to the Yes concert with him, I didn't want to say No.

So I said Yes.


I didn't dread it, I didn't look forward to it, it was what it was and I was prepared to wither it.

So off we went, downtown, to the Bayou Music Center. We were early because we weren't sure how parking would be, and it turned out to be a piece of cake. We found our fold down seats in section 104, row F, with an hour to spare. Thank heaven for iPhones.

The crowd looked a lot like us, aging boomers, a few younger people, but that's to be expected I suppose when the band has been playing gigs since 1968 and it's lead musicians are 66 and 67 years of age.

(Original Yes member Chris Squire, 66, right, and early member Steve Howe, 67, left.)

Showtime was 8 pm and it was 3 minutes until the hour when the house lights went down and the stage lights lit up. But the band that took the stage was not Yes. No. It was an opening band called Syd Arthur. I'm at a loss for how to describe their sound. Except that it was LOUD. Very loud. Neil handed me some ear plugs (we boomers are smart that way) but the band sounded just as loud to me with earplugs as without.

The venue vibrated and my brain did too. My earplugs were not only inadequate, they kept popping out. I took off my sweater and tied the sleeves around my head, covering my ears, hypothetically holding the earplugs in place. That wasn't nearly enough sound protection, so I pulled the back of the sweater up over the tied sleeves, making it into some really weird headdress but I didn't care.

The aural assault lasted through six songs, during which time I desperately considered my options. Taking a cab home, my first choice, wasn't really an option. Sitting in the lobby, or possibly a nearby restaurant were possibilities. There was no way I could spend the next two hours listening to that many decibels. When the band finally said, good night Houston, the throbbing in my head drowned out whatever Neil was trying to say to me.

We went out to the lobby, and Neil gave me an Advil. I said, I usually take three. He gave me another one. He kept the last one for himself. I needed something to take them with, so Neil bought me a $4 bottle of water and I washed them down.

Obviously something is wrong with me. I didn't see any other boomers having meltdowns. Perfectly sane looking people were acting perfectly normal, and I was on the borderline of a breakdown. I told Neil he needed a different wife. That goes to show how close to lunacy I was feeling. He didn't disagree with me.

We returned to our seats. I was wound up as tight as something tightly wound, but I didn't know what to do. The house lights went down, the light show began, Yes appeared on stage, and something that sounded plausibly melodic emerged from their instruments and voices. We were a couple of songs in when relief and optimism started to seep in. I got this. I can do this.

By the time the band finished playing the entire album, Close to the Edge (in reverse order) I was pretty close to enjoying myself. Yes played some new material and I honestly liked it. After that they played the album Fragile, also in its entirely, and by then I was feeling good. I'll admit, part of that had to do with knowing we were on the down side, that the show was more than half over.

After Fragile, Yes left the stage and the crowd ran through the usual cheering, clapping, whistling ritual, and Yes returned, as we all always knew they would, to play some old favorites. At the end the band made a big show of bowing and waving and holding up their instruments, and the crowd reacted as if they were royalty. No. As if they were gods.

It was silly really.

Although they seemed like genuinely nice chaps.

(Bassist Squire, guitarist Howe, drummer Alan White, 
keyboardist Geoff Downes, lead vocalist Jon Davison.)

So, I've become my mother, my parents, my parents entire generation, who thought our music was too loud and not really music at all. Music was a symphony orchestra playing classical music, music was opera, music was the big band sound, music was The Sound of Music.

Yes, because of Yes, I've become not only old, but an entire generation.

Pretty impressive. No?

Of course, you're only as old as you feel and while I did feel eighty-something for a bit, I'm thankful to say it passed. And it could have been worse. It could have been Lynyrd Skynyrd, another favorite of Neil's. Oh Yes, it could have been much worse.

I mean, how long can you let a band affect you when arguably its best-loved song has lyrics like these:
I'll be the roundabout
The words will make you out 'n' out
I spend the day your way
Call it morning driving through the sound and in and out the valley

The music dance and sing
They make the children really ring
I spend the day your way
Call it morning driving through the sound and in and out the valley

In and around the lake
Mountains come out of the sky and they stand there
One mile over we'll be there and we'll see you
Ten true summers we'll be there and laughing too
Twenty four before my love you'll see I'll be there with you

I will remember you
Your silhouette will charge the view
Of distance atmosphere
Call it morning driving through the sound and even in the valley

Along the drifting cloud the eagle searching down on the land
Catching the swirling wind the sailor sees the rim of the land
The eagle's dancing wings create as weather spins out of hand

Go closer hold the land feel partly no more than grains of sand
We stand to lose all time a thousand answers by in our hand
Next to your deeper fears we stand surrounded by a million years

I'll be the roundabout
The words will make you out 'n' out
You spend the day your way
Call it morning driving through the sound and in and out the valley

In and around the lake
Mountains come out of the sky and they stand there
One mile over we'll be there and we'll see you
Ten true summers we'll be there and laughing too
Twenty four before my love you'll see I'll be there with you

(Jon Anderson, Steve Howe)

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