My parents were children of the ’50s and ’60s – mostly the ’60s, and their musical tastes reflected this fact. My dad had the Stones’ White Album, and I grew up listening to Elton John and Iron Butterfly. In the ’70s, my mom bought Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar, and Dad bought Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album. I still know all the words to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Just the Piano Player – the albums, not just the songs, and I can identify a Fleetwood Mac song within the first bar. My dad’s taste was particularly eclectic. I never could figure out the parameters of his taste, and he had odd limits. For instance, he had all the Elton John albums as long as Bernie Taupin was John’s lyricist. After Taupin left, no more Elton John. I guess Bernie Taupin was The Man. He had all the classic rock, but as we moved into the ’80s, his taste started to range far and wide. I remember eating Sunday brunch on the patio to the strains of Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville album. He had Steve Winwood’s album, the one that was hard to get hold of, before anybody else. He also had Dolly Parton and Billy Ocean. “Caribbean Queen” is one of those songs that will stick in your head and drive you to insanity. Dad used to wake me up in the mornings on the weekends by blasting Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. (My mother favoured Van Cliburn and Itzhak Perlman.) Saturday mornings were about housework, in our house, and although Dad did the brunt of it, he hated to work whilst others lazed around. And we had to get up early on the weekends, too, as though we were farmers and had cows that needed milking.
So my musical taste, too, is whimsical and hard to pinpoint. I love classical music, but nothing too obscure, and nothing too popular. I like a tune I can whistle, but not one everyone can whistle. When my sister got married I recommended the Adagio from Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto – forestalling the inevitable selection of Pachelbel’s Canon. I’m glad she went with my recommendation. Sweet, wistful, with Mozart’s inevitability, and familiar enough to most of the congregation, the Adagio went perfectly with my sister’s entrance and walk down the aisle. My favorite classical playlist includes the Adagio, Bach’s Air on the G String, and Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto. I have a lot of piano music as well, Mozart piano sonatas, Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque, Chopin Nocturnes and Impromptus. Also some opera arias – I’m not an opera buff but I like some of the more famous arias. I find that iTunes is great for finding obscure classical music, but “shuffle” is not meant for your classical playlist.
When you look at my pop playlists, there are definitely some odd selections, I’ll admit. I have a weak spot for one-hit wonders, like Jermaine Stewart’s We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off (To Have a Good time) or Ace of Base. I have a little bit of country in there too: Dixie Chicks, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift and John Denver. Amy Grant and Peter Cetera’s duet “Next Time I Fall”. The B-52’s “Roam.” I have a ’50s playlist, and an ’80s playlist that runs to hundreds of songs. Yes, it’s far out. It takes me a while to catch on to new music nowadays, as I don’t listen to the radio the way I used to when I was young. So, lots of old stuff, and LOTS of Fleetwood Mac.
So, we went to see Fleetwood Mac last week! They played Rogers Arena and it was sold out. This surprised me as I asked some friends if they liked Fleetwood Mac and they responded diplomatically, “Um….not really.” It was like I’d asked if they liked liver. It was not easy finding people to come with us to this concert – and we had access to box seats! We ended up going with one other couple, and our kids.
I don’t go to rock concerts in general. They’re always too loud and it’s not comfortable. People get excited and jump on your toes. I think I can count the concerts I’ve been to on one hand. Let’s see: Lionel Richie, Rolling Stones, George Michael, Lady Gaga, Fleetwood Mac. Yep! I may have missed a few but I don’t think so. The last 3 were in box seats else I wouldn’t have gone to those either. I don’t like crowds.
But Fleetwood Mac is special to me. It reminds me of my father. It reminds me of being young. I used to do border runs for my boss when I worked at a classical CD store, and I would play Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits because it was a CD that I could play straight through without wanting to skip songs. So there I was, 21 years old, driving down the highway on a sunny Friday afternoon….listening to Fleetwood Mac. I was geriatric even then! But how can you not love Christine McVie’s cool alto, Lindsay Buckingham’s guitar licks, Mick Fleetwood’s demented drumming, Stevie Nicks’ raw honeyed voice…..John McVie’s….bass playing? Unfortunately, Christine McVie did not join this tour, which was a major drawback as she sings my favourite FM songs. You can tell what she’s saying, unlike when Stevie sings. I love her but her enunciation is worse than Alanis Morrissette’s. It makes them difficult to sing along with, no?
I don’t know what the median age of the concert-goers was, although I suspect my parents would have fit right in. My children being there must have lowered it a bit. We gave them earplugs and one sat on my lap, and we hugged and listened to Stevie Nicks sing “Sara.” And I was overcome with emotion, remembering my father, and thinking about how much he would have loved to have been there, and how much he would have loved to be my girls’ grandfather. I miss him so much sometimes, and at this Fleetwood Mac concert I was hit by such a wave of grief that I was thankful for the darkness and the din. I pressed my face into my daughter’s head and her soft hair soaked up my tears. You never get over losing someone, though you carry on, and live, and function. It’s been 14 years and sometimes the pain is as sharp as it was the day he died. Most of the time, I keep myself buttoned up, because the show must go on, stiff upper lip, no use dwelling, etc. Also because I’m frightened by the abyss that grief opens up inside you. I’m afraid that if I give in to it, I’ll never return. And this is after I’ve had therapy! Anyway, this one time I let myself feel the pain and loss. I felt a sense of safety in the darkness, with the music playing and my daughter in my arms.
So, it was a good concert, even without Christine McVie. Stevie Nicks has cornered the market on black velvet dresses, methinks, and her voice is still the same and I won’t hear anything rude about it. Mick Fleetwood played with such vigor that we just hoped he remembered to take his medication, because, damn. My kids mistook him for Santa. Lindsay Buckingham’s voice and guitar playing – eternal. The energy and talent of these people is truly astounding, and they don’t give off waves of dissipation the way the Stones do. The children sat patiently through it all and didn’t complain once. I cheered up and our friends sang along with me to the easy-to-sing-along-with songs like “Don’t Stop” which brought the entire stadium to its feet. (It’s hard to sing along to “Tusk.”) If Elton John comes to Vancouver I’ll remember to bring a box of tissues. (Although not if he’s going to play a bunch of post-Taupin stuff.)