I heard something the other day so stunning that I nearly went and crashed my car.
Well, maybe not that bad. It wasn’t like one of my daughters told me I’m becoming a grandpa, which would certainly run me off the road but won’t happen until I’m actually old enough to be one (journalist math, shut up). It was a sound I’d almost forgotten.
A live, amplified melody, drifting through a suburban downtown.
Whoever was singing was too close to the mic, which was understandable. A lot of people have likely forgot how to sing into a microphone the past year. The music was from a local park, where more people were watching than I likely wanted to realize.
I was driving, so I didn’t look long enough to start judging people on the basis of mask-wearing–admit it, you do it–but I hoped they showed some sense.
Then again, there hasn’t exactly been an abundance of sense the past few years, has there?
I don’t know if it was an advertised performance, though it was in a certain city’s (Lafayette’s) main gathering spot on a Sunday afternoon, which leads me to believe the unnamed city (Lafayette) knew about it. We don’t want to get anyone in trouble (we don’t care) but, from what I understand, performing is OK outdoors these days, as long as people mask up, don‘t crawl inside each other’s mouths, etc.
Is it OK, though? I’m no scientist and–probably like you–I’m not sure I care anymore. The sound was so … different. It was so nice. It’s been so long.
But is this OK? Is it too early for live music again?
Things look pretty good right now. Vaccines are making their way through the population. It’s spring in California (and some other states, too), which means the weather is beautiful (in between mudslides and melting forest season). My daughter is forgetting to wear socks to softball practice again. It’s just like the good old days, isn’t it?
It must be time for music again.
Unfortunately, the answer is one on which I tend to fall back when my kids question something for which I have no ready answer: it depends.
It depends on how much people have suffered. Have they suffered in the “I miss eating and-drinking and laughing too loudly in a restaurant” suffering, or the “She just started coughing and three days later was dead with a breathing tube still shoved down her throat” suffering?
It depends on if it’s still only someone’s else’s problem.
It depends on how thoroughly our supposed lessons have soaked into our brains.
It depends on how much we aren’t willing to slow down just because we can see the finish line.
Isn’t that always when the serial killer jumps out to strike? When the protagonist takes a big sigh and smiles because they think the chase is over?
I was ready for music to start again. This time of year always does me in. I want to be in love, I want to watch baseball, I want to start a new band, I want to go to Disneyland. I want to go to the gym and believe seeing me without a shirt won’t cause a woman to scream in eye-pain.
Then an old friend of mine got on social media last week, pleading for help. This was a shock. There are the unkillable people in this world, then there’s this guy. He’s the Terminator. He’s Will Ferrell’s character in Austin Powers. He’s Indiana Jones going over a cliff on a tank, yet somehow coming back to ask what all the fuss is about. Literally, he once pulled himself up a cliff because he refused to die. Which we couldn’t say for his motorcycle.
But COVID left him helpless and he needed to get to the hospital. Because, in his beach community, people are filling sidewalk restaurants and other public spaces again. He made a mistake, thinking he crossed the finish line. He’s still alive, but he didn’t want to be for a while there. He said it’s the only thing that has made him afraid.
It’s not time for live music. It’s coming … but simply being bored is a lousy reason to let something kill you. Which doesn’t mean you can’t call the old bandmates, spend some money on new gear, and start planning. People are thirsty for live music. Just avoid the serial killer and don’t die a foot short of the finish line.
Follow music critic Tony Hicks at Twitter.com/TonyBaloney1967.