It all started here:
Well, it probably started way before that… with the Monkees, Shaun Cassidy, Rex Smith and Andy Gibb, but this man, oh, this was the man that sent me into an adolescent frenzy. The music, the voice, that chest. Those fingers. The piercing blue eyes and the swoony british accent. Yup, this was the man that sent me on a path to total and utter music fanaticism. From the moment I heard the strains of Roxanne through my tinny-sounding radio, I was hooked.
Now, this was back in the day when to find out anything about a band you liked, you didn’t have many places to look. You had to literally hunt. There was no internet. No Twitter accounts or Google. (Thank God.) All you had were liner notes and the occasional music rag. And I scoured all of it over and over, trying to unlock the mystery that was this man they called Sting. (Seriously, who had a name like that? No one. Totally. Friggin. Cool.) And the amazing thing was that the more I found out about him, the more I just knew I would end up marrying him someday! How could he not want to marry his greatest, most devoted fan? We had so much in common: He lived in London. I lived in Massachusetts. He was a scholar. I was a student. He was in one of the most famous bands in the world and I was, well, in junior high. Okay, it was a stretch, but still! I listened to his lyrics through my big clunky headphones, dreaming he was singing to me and only me. I kissed my plethora of posters every night. I even wrote stories about the two of us where, of course, we lived happily ever after. (Wait, I still do that, only now I call them “romance novels.”)
My first concert was The Police. To this day, it still remains the best concert of my musical lifetime. You never forget your first concert - the raw sound, the bass that pounds inside your chest, the lights, and the sheer excitement of your favorite band so close. Sure, I was in the balcony, and just a tiny blip on Sting’s radar screen, but I still believed that somehow, someway, he might notice me. I screamed the lyrics until I lost my voice, clapped until my hands hurt, and proudly wore my baseball-style concert shirt to school the next day. No one was cooler than me. No one.
Then, this guy came along:
He was Irish and belted out lyrics with such emotion that I could feel his pain and angst. Oh, such angst. And he was adorable. And he also had a cool name. Bono. Technically, he didn’t play guitar, but I was willing to bend the rules. Soon, his posters were fun-tacked to my wall alongside Sting’s. I was dividing my time between the two - not exactly cheating, but I did begin to feel a little badly when Bono was taking up more of my musical mindspace. What was a girl to do? I loved two men. Such a tragedy.
My second concert was U2. I mean, was I a lucky girl or what? Bono came out swinging that white flag, and I lost all ability to function. That pain. That honesty. Maybe I’d end up marrying him, too?
Sadly, it wouldn’t be long until I had to divide even more of heart. Because of this:
MTV brought me this man. Duran Duran infiltrated the airwaves. And I was smitten.
The fedora. Pouty mouth and puppy dog eyes. Now here was a boy that I not only lusted after, but that I actually wanted to look like. I copied the hair. His clothes. Even the white capezio shoes. Surely, if he ever got a chance to meet me, he’d see what a great couple we made. We were twins! And, surely, he’d whisk me off to his private yacht and again, we’d live happily ever after. With Sting. And Bono. Of course. We’d all find a way to live together. Maybe some sort of strange musical rock and roll commune? Maybe a rotating schedule? My heart was big enough to love all three of them. I was good at sharing.
The years moved along - through junior high and high school. I blissfully split my time between all 3 bands, concert after concert, album after album. And then something happened. I heard a voice that stopped me in my tracks and turned my head. It belonged to this man:
The Smiths. A sound like nothing I’d heard before; a sound all their own. And that voice. Smart-alecky and pompous, off-key at times but completely and utterly attractive. Morrissey was strange in the best of ways. He claimed to be celibate, but that didn’t stop me from becoming utterly obsessed with him. He didn’t play guitar, either, but that didn’t matter. He was a crooning vegetarian, singing of animal cruelty, unrequited love and staying inside on warm summer days. He spoke to my uber-depressed, melancholy 15-year old self. Finally, here was a man that truly understood me! I promptly stopped eating meat and joined PETA. I jumped on stage and danced with him cheek to cheek at the fantastic Boston Opera House show. I handed him flowers and he sang for rest of the show holding them. I met him and he told my he liked my messenger bag. Sting who? Bono who? John who? Morrissey had taken over.
Sadly, some whirlwind romances must come to an end. I developed anemia from living on nothing but brownies at the high school cafeteria and refusing any of the “cruel” food my parents tried to serve me for dinner. The Morrissey shine wore off.
And the original trifecta slowly seeped back in. Everything was right with the world. (Note: I still love Morrissey. I’m just never going to be a vegetarian.)
Time marched on. I got older, wiser. More boys with guitars appeared and disappeared, but no one new had “wowed” me for some time. Enter this man:
A voice that pulled at my aching heartstrings. A voice that had me at “hello.” Lyrics of loss, love and relationships gone horribly wrong. Magical guitar playing fingers that pluck at the strings like they’re the most precious woman he’s ever held. Mark Kozelek’s music and lyrics are at times so painful to listen to because they expose that vulnerable place in all of us. Yet, he takes that pain and turns it into something so beautiful it literally brings you to tears. That, my friends, is a true gift.
(The great thing about being an older and wiser music fanatic? You get to actually meet some of these amazing musicians, and even become friends with them. Trust me. It happens.)
Hey, what about this slice of cutie pie?
Why, hello there, Gary Lightbody. What’s that you say? You’re Irish and adorable with a fantastic smile and a twinkle in your eye AND you play guitar like a madman genius and write rockin’ songs and tear-jerking ballads about heartbreak and true love that speak to my soul? I love you. I do. Come and join my rock and roll commune. There’s still room. Just scooch over a bit, make some room, and be sure to show me that sexy stomach of yours every once in awhile:
Oh, you boys with your guitars. You will always, always, always be my downfall, my achilles heel, my soft spot, and my saviors. You make my days brighter and my small corner of the universe that much better. I will write books about you and I’ll chase you around the globe for a glimpse, a smile or a wink. Sometimes, even a hug … And it will be worth every moment.
(I know, I know, Simon doesn’t play guitar, either, but he plays a mean tambourine. That counts!)
And, hey there, still sexy and utterly irresistible Sting! If you’re reading this, please take note: you are still at the top of my bucket list. You’ll always be the one that got away. But someday, sir, someday.)