Last night we took our kids to their first concert. It wasn’t a question of whom we were going to take them to see, somehow Greg and I always knew it would be Billy Joel. I have seen Billy in concert four times. Not a record-breaking number but more than most artists I have seen. It is just that concert you know every single song, every single word from the minute he plays the first key on the piano. The entire garden is in unison for two straight hours. Billy’s method of story telling about songs he has written and performed over the past fifty years is mesmerizing. He is the perfect introduction into what a first concert should be: A legend and an icon. A memory that will live on in my kids minds forever.
So I had this vision of what the night would be like but one can only dream.
My 11 year-old, Zach, was STOKED. The entire Billy Joel Anthology is on his camp playlist, which he listens to most nights before he goes to bed. Also when he was asked to pick a song to play at his piano recital he proudly picked Piano Man (Thank you Elyssa). He is a true Billy fan.
My 8 year-old, Parker, is more a Z100/Hits 1 music fan. His music taste ranges from Maroon 5 to Nelly. I mean he is 8. He hasn’t had his first taste of sleep away camp yet. I am confident his music taste will enhance this summer (gd willing).
Our seats were in the 200 level on the side of the stage. Billy plays on a rotating piano so you are guaranteed a view of him no matter where you sit. I sat down next to two women who were definitely 10-15 years older than me. If I had to guess I would say early 50’s. All I knew was that the woman next to me fully did not wear deodorant and I was sucked into her smelly armpits for hours. Like it’s fine if you don’t want to wear deodorant for whatever reasons you possess, but please do not wear a tank top. EVER. That awful smells travels in seconds from you to my nose.
Gavin McGraw opened for Billy at 8pm and he was pretty terrific. I don’t think I realized how many pop hits he wrote. My kids and I, surprisingly, knew every song he performed except one. Loved him.
Around 9pm Billy went on and I looked over at the 8 year-old who was rubbing his eyes. Shit, I thought, he couldn’t be tired yet. We are here until at least 11! Billy opened with Miami 2017 , which ironically is Greg’s favorite song and being that it was Greg’s birthday, he could not have asked for a better start.
The song ended and all of a sudden I hear this guy, let’s call him Jimbo (like JIM-BOW) who is sitting directly behind me, scream LENINGRAD. Not like Leningrad, more like LENINGRAAAAADDDDDDD. Do you know that song? Definitely not my favorite but this guy ONLY wanted to hear that song. You know when you are at a concert and you just want to hear that ONE SONG and you hope & pray they will play it and when they do, you go bat shit crazy. Well that was Leningrad to this guy.
I should tell you there are two types of people who attend concerts. The normal Dick and Jane’s, who know the music, sing the songs and smile and leave. AND then there are the “groupies”. The groupies are the concertgoers who follow the band from Seattle to Maine. Not only do they know the songs but also they know the full names of each band member. They know who the will be the surprise guest. They know what song is going to be next before a note is played AND they know what the lead singer is going to say before he/she even says it. Well ladies and gentleman, JIMBO is that man. This was Jimbo’s 52nd show. Billy would finish a song and Jimbo would say, “that was Mark Rivera on Saxophone” and then Billy would say, “that was Mark Rivera on Saxophone”. EVERY SINGLE TIME a song ended, this happened. Finally I turned to him and said why don’t you just get up there. To which he remarked, “obviously this is not my first BARBECUE.” Um you mean rodeo? Funny though.
Billy continues with My Life, plays a few covers, “Hot Child in the City and Your Song (no Elton wasn’t there) and then he plays Summer, Highland Falls. At the very second he plays the first note I notice Parker fading. Rubbing his eyes, putting his head on my shoulder, sitting back up, rubbing his eyes, etc. This goes on during the entire song.
Now I don’t really think you know this about me but I am pretty chill about most things. Like my kids have a lot of freedom to do what they want. I am not crazy mom. But I am psychotic about one thing and that is sleep. The minute my kids came out of my vag, I sleep trained them like a nut job. They were never EVER allowed in my bed. They were on a full nap schedule down to the minute, they had strict bed times, and when I said bedtime there was no fucking around. Now that Zach is eleven (well next week) I have definitely eased up on this whole sleeping mania situation. He currently goes to bed around 9:30/10 and Parker, well Parker, still seems to need to go to bed around 8:30. His body is on a clock and when he starts to unravel, he does it full speed ahead. But since I have loosened up in the past two years on their bedtime, I thought it was unfair to leave Parker at home and just take Zach to Billy Joel. Two years ago I would have never even THOUGHT to bring Parker.
So Billy finishes up Summer, Highland Falls and it is now about 9:30. I look at Parker who is starting to doze off and I look at Greg. If this was Amy two years ago I would have picked up Parker, got on a train and met Greg and Zach at home. Like I am that mom who used to see six-year-old kids out at 10:30 at night and whisper to Greg, “OMG can you believe they let their kid stay up this late??” I would have major anxiety that Parker should be home in his bed sleeping. But the new Amy said fuck it. I am going to enjoy myself, let him sleep and we can carry him out of here when the concert is over. I did just that and then I overheard armpits say to her friend how disgusted she was that I had a sleeping kid at the concert. I thought to myself I would have said the same thing awhile back. I would have judged and thought how cruel it was to let a child sleep through a concert. But she didn’t know me and she didn’t realize how far I have come. So I never said word.
A few songs later, The Downeaster Alexa ends, Parker is in La La Land and JIMBO behind me screams, “LENINGRAAAAADDDDDDDD.” Okay, I know I brought my 8 year-old to a concert. I know we are not in the movies and I can just turn around and say, “can you please be quiet?” I can’t. But HELLO, do you not see my kid is out cold. Do you have to scream in his ear? Do you really think Billy can hear you from the 200 section and he is just going to start playing Leningrad? Fuck no. He isn’t. He has his set list. He doesn’t care about LENINGRAD and most people do not want to hear that song. Captain Jack, maybe.
(this is me wanting to kill JIMBO)
All of a sudden I hear a very familiar song start to play that does not belong to Billy. No. This is a song that belongs to AC/DC. When Highway to Hell starts and Parker is still sleeping, I am in awe. How does anyone sleep through this song? (Actually my college roommate fell asleep after we took a quaalude at a Stones show but that is a story for another time) I get up to dance and don’t know what I am so upset about. I can’t make it quiet and I certainly can’t keep a groupie from enjoying the show even if he thinks Billy is magically going to take his request from two stories above.
As we are leaving Jimbo touches my shoulder and says, “You guys are the best.” I laugh and let it sink in. The best? Would you be in shock to see an 8 year-old asleep in a chair at a concert at 11 at night or would you think it’s pretty fucking cool we took the eight year old with us to see Billy? I don’t know what is right or wrong but I know that I have come a long way since I had my first kid and if my 8 year-old can tell his children his first concert was Billy Joel even though he slept through it, so be it.
A few things to note:
– It is astonishing to me that Billy still sounds the exact same as he did when I saw him fifteen years ago at the garden.
– I love being at a concert when I don’t feel like I am ancient
-My favorite line of Billy’s all night was how he thanked us for coming to listen to the same shit. He has nothing new.
– Zach never asked me what “THAT” smell was (not the armpit smell), the reefer smell. I was waiting…
On the way home, Zach told me that his favorite part of all of the Billy Joel songs was
And the waitress is practicing politics
As the businessmen slowly get stoned
Yes they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness
But it’s better than drinking alone
I asked him which line exactly?, He said “what do you mean, the stoned or the loneliness part’?
I said, “Yeah which line? Do you know what stoned is?”
He said, “Yeah, it’s tired.”
I guess both my kids were stoned.
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