Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cheyenne on the Hudson

I have seen Bruce Springsteen in concert more times than I can count (well, I probably could count and while the figure is fairly high, I do not want my friend Lynne - should she happen to read this - to feel compelled to write in and taunt me because she has seen him four times as many times) and have had the pleasure on several occasions to be up close and personal in "The Pit" (thousands of people - most middle-aged, white folks - engage in a rugby scrum to fight for space in an area in front of the stage big enough for hundreds of people). If you have ever been at a Costco at opening time on a Sunday morning when one of the advertised specials is Metamucil, then you have experienced something akin to it.

I am looking forward to the next two weekends a great deal because there will be at least three more opportunities for me to take in Springsteen, up close and personal. And I am really, really looking forward to the fact that next Saturday Suzanne is making her maiden voyage with our tailgating crew to see the show and the Friday thereafter Rob will have reversed his Western migratory pattern temporarily to come home and take in the final show at Giants Stadium. I am a happy man indeed.

And last night I was a happy man as well. Margaret and I did something we never do - drove up and into Hoboken (where if you swing a stick you hit a Yuppie - trust me I did it three times last night just for fun......my court appearance is Thursday morning) to see James McMurtry play at Maxwell's. If you do not know his music, then do yourself a favor and get to know it. Disappointed you shall not be.

I do not pretend to know or understand how one survives financially playing the type of gig that we enjoyed last night - in a room that had maybe 100 to 150 people in it, all of whom paid but $15.00 for the pure, unadulterated joy of watching McMurtry perform. Margaret and I sat on what I can only fairly describe as a riser that was all of five feet from the stage. Talk about your unobstructed view.

There are a great many songs in McMurtry's catalog that I love and I would be hard-pressed to identify one as my favorite. Margaret has no such dilemma. Given where we are, given where he is and given how long it will be until he is not there, Margaret's favorite is "Lights of Cheyenne". She loves it, although it is admittedly a plaintive tale told by a narrator who admits - at song's end - that she "never much cared for the lights of Cheyenne". Margaret's attraction to the song is simple - it evokes a strong image of Rob in her mind's eye.

As a parent, the time eventually arrives at which you may not see see your child on a regular basis so when you come across something that enables him/her to appear vividly and starkly in your mind's eye, you grab onto it with both hands and hold on for all you are worth. Such it is with my wife, who cries just a little every time she hears the opening strains of the song. And such it was for her last evening when McMurtry reappeared on stage - alone and with his acoustic guitar - and played "Lights of Cheyenne" as his encore. When he finished and the applause had died down as he packed up his guitar, Margaret approached him and thanked him for both the show and for playing the song she had most wanted to hear. He shook her hand and thanked her for coming.

Parking in Hoboken for a visitor is a bit of an adventure. Last night, Margaret and I ended up in a garage about five blocks from Maxwell's - all the way down at the end of Washington. As walked up Washington Street after the show to retrieve our car, the skyline of Manhattan was illuminated against the dark September sky. And clear as crystal, across the waterline from where we were walking, there it was. Rob's home for four years before he took Horace Greeley's advice to heart.

And we both smiled and laughed a little at our recognition of the point of intersection between the past and the present. We raced the stars all of the way home.

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