I went several decades without attending a concert of any well-known singer or group. I broke that streak in November of 2018 to go see Willie Nelson in Macon. In January of 2019 I added another name to the list when Jane and I saw The Beach Boys in Tifton. At this rate I’ll soon run out of bands I’m interested in hearing. Neil Diamond quit touring and there haven’t been any authenticated sightings of Elvis lately.
We were in Tifton with two other couples, Mike and Kris Chason, and Don and Ramona Giles. Mike and I have been friends since the fall of 1970 when we began college at Valdosta State. Don and I go all the way back to fourth grade in Unadilla.
I was seated on one end of our delegation. Next to me was a nice lady from Turner County who was there with her jovial husband. It’s easy getting to know folks at a Beach Boys concert. Everybody I saw that night was friendly. The people in the audience were laughing and having a good time as they visited with those seated around them.
I have a theory that grouchy people don’t attend Beach Boys concerts. Grouchy people don’t like songs with lines like, “Fun, fun, fun, ‘til her daddy takes the T-bird away.” They don’t like to sing along or clap in time with the music, nor be surrounded with people that seem suspiciously happy.
The Conference Center has 2000 cushioned seats and somebody was in every one of them. Most of the crowd had Medicare cards. Before the show began I thought about asking everyone who had a stent to raise their hand. The microphone, however, was just out of reach on the elevated stage. Jane shook her head with a non-negotiable look I have seen before.
There was a giddy-in-love young couple seated just ahead of us. I turned to the lady from Turner County and said, “It’s great to see these kids here, isn’t it?” She and her husband smiled and nodded as the duo turned around. “I’m 53,” he said with a big grin, “and she’s 52.”
“Wow!” I said. “It’s amazing what clean living will do for you.”
The Beach Boys are all grown up now. Mike Love, their lead singer, is 78 and wears a cap. It may be his way of hiding a tangled mass of unruly hair, but I don’t think so. I began wishing I had worn a cap myself, wondering if those bright lights were bouncing off the shiny streak on the top of my head. Sometimes when I get out of the shower it looks like Moses parted my hair.
Mike Love did a 360-degree spin while balancing on one foot. It wasn’t fast but I was impressed he made it all the way around with a single push. I tried it later at home without success. He must have a trick shoe with a secret spinner in the sole. I said to the lady from Turner County, “If he keeps showing off, he’s going to break something.” I guess Mike overheard me because he didn’t spin again.
The Beach Boys paused briefly after a rapid-fire high-energy song set. The quality of their music was good but was more than a tad too loud for me. I’m a proponent of ample volume. Our neighbors always know what we’re watching on TV. But I turned again to the lady from Turner County. “Somebody must have told them I’m hard of hearing.” I said, speaking more loudly than I intended.
“I’m sorry you can’t hear them,” she shouted back. She pointed to her husband. “He doesn’t hear very well either. Maybe we can motion for them to turn it up a notch.”
The concert was excellent and I’m glad that we went. But it was the pre-concert activities that I enjoyed the most. Six friends and a chihuahua named Posey sat around a kitchen table having key lime cake and coffee. We told ancient tales where humor has largely displaced the facts. Even Posey, though skeptical of some details, laughed a few times.
I don’t know if I’ll go to any more concerts or not. I wouldn’t mind hearing Alan Jackson sing those hymns that he recorded for his mother a few years back. But the thing I would want to make sure of is that we allow for plenty of table time. There are few things in life that are as pleasant as sharing old stories with good friends. The walks down memory lane grow sweeter by the day.
I hope I don’t throw my back out but there’s something I feel I must do. I’m going to try that 360 full circle spin move again. This time I think it will happen. I’m feeling some good vibrations.