Never Pass Up an Opportunity to See Music Legends
You never know when it might be your last opportunity to see someone special
When I heard that Eddie Van Halen died we had just finished recording our John Lennon Plastic Ono Band album review. I had completely forgotten that Eddie Van Halen had been diagnosed with lung cancer and just like that he was gone. When so many music legends like Eddie Van Halen live, just as many die. Something we often take for granted in this world. We assume our heroes will always be alive because their music will live on forever.
When Van Halen announced their 2012 “A Different Kind of Truth” tour, I knew I had to go see the band. Not because I’m Van Halen’s biggest fan (I’m not) and not because Eddie Van Halen is my favorite guitar player of all time (he’s not). But it’s impossible not to recognize a legendary group and a legendary guitar player when you hear one.
As I look back on that moment now that Eddie is gone, I’m grateful I had the privilege of seeing the group and specifically seeing one of the greatest guitar players of all time. The lesson in hindsight is this: never pass up on an opportunity to see the greats. And really, never pass up on the opportunity for live music, period. If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is for certain, even something that seemed like such a given as live music.
But there’s something extra special about seeing musicians who have influenced hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. The energy at those shows is palpable. Thousands of people coming together to sing, dance and experience the music they’ve listened to for a long time; in some cases all their life. Hearing music come directly from those who created it fills a hole in the heart that you didn’t even know was missing. Hearing Mick Jagger sing ‘Jumpin' Jack Flash’ as the Stones take the stage or watching a stadium full of swaying phones and lighters as Paul McCartney leads forty thousand people in a rendition of ‘Hey Jude’ sends chills down the spine. Deciphering the mumbled lyrics of Bob Dylan as ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ or watching Eddie Van Halen scorch through ‘Eruption’ creates memories that will last a lifetime.
Eventually all of these greats will be gone but new greats will take their place. Bands like the Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam and the Black Keys are already well on their way to step up when the time comes, so take the opportunity to see them too. It might be easy to pass on Dead and Company at Wrigley Field because it seems like they Fly the W more than the Cubs do, but the Bob Weir lead group, including John Mayer, will eventually be like Bertha and not come around here no more.
There’s no better feeling than the anticipation before and the elation felt during and after seeing a band or musician that has inspired multiple generations. If we are lucky enough to one day return to “normal” and pack tiny bars and giant arenas to experience live music again, do it. Make it a priority to see any of your musical heroes.