Music, concerts, COVID & me

I really miss concerts.

Music has always been a significant factor in my life. Both of my parents grew up in the 70’s and 80’s listening to anything from The Kinks, The Beatles, Bob Dylan — to Cyndi Lauper, Depeche Mode, and Talking Heads. And when I was born in 1996, I was immersed into their melodic world. I especially took to The Beatles. There’s no memory in my conscious mind of ever deciding “Hey, I like this!” in regards to music by The Beatles. It was always just a part of my life, and at five years old, I begged my parents to take me to see Paul McCartney in concert for my sixth birthday.

They obliged. They weren’t about to complain about their small child wanting to see a musician that they both have listened to for their entire lives. It helped that their anniversary was three days before my birthday which gave an “excuse” to combine celebrations.

Paul McCartney stands in front of a stadium of people holding up his bass.

So at six years old in 2002, I attended my first concert, seeing Paul McCartney live. I continued to listen to The Beatles, my interest waning in and out depending on the mood I was in at the time. At various times, my parents would bring me to other concerts including Roger McGuinn from The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Ray Davies from The Kinks, and so much more. In middle school, my music taste expanded widely and I became a particular fan of Lady Gaga. I became obsessed, the way I was for years with McCartney. When I was destined to have back surgery the summer following middle school, my parents did everything in their power to have me see Lady Gaga. 17 days before my major back surgery, I saw Lady Gaga live in concert at the age of 13 years old. A baby.

This experience was nothing short of spiritual. Going to the concert, I felt my worries dissipate as I reveled in the music that boomed all around me, devouring my senses. For a whole night, I forgot about the fact that I was going to have surgery soon. It was probably the last night I had free from those worries, as the anxiety led up right until the surgery, and I have been coping with repercussions ever since. The way I knew how to cope with the repercussions of a traumatic medical experience? Going to concerts, taking in the experience completely, releasing myself to the awe and excitement of watching people that I admire so greatly perform in front of me.

The next time I saw Paul McCartney in concert wasn’t until 2011, nine years after the first time I saw him. I remember begging my parents trying to convince them to buy tickets again. I do wonder if he remembers this: I fretted over the fact that the 2002 concert was a memory that was slipping away, and without knowing how much longer Paul McCartney would tour (note: it would be for many more years), I wanted to see him every single time I could to refresh the memories in my mind.

Memory loss from post-traumatic stress disorder and declining cognitive function from a multitude of medications makes refreshing memories ever so important, because I rely on these memories to sustain me. But right now, I can’t attend concerts for reasons that everybody knows: COVID, the safety of others, the safety of myself. Just: there are a lot of things I miss, but wow, I really miss concerts.

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