Sit back, youngsters. I’m gonna tell you about the olden days.
I went to my first concert back in ’77 – BOSTON – at what was then Portland, Oregon’s premiere venue, The Memorial Coliseum. Back in the final days of festival seating, before that fateful concert in Cincinnati that pushed us all forever into assigned seats. Back when standing in line for hours… even days … before an event was part of the deal.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, we had to get tickets. The “we” being my then boyfriend, Carl, and (if I remember right) our friend Frank, a fine-looking boy who wore his Levis so tight that a doctor once told him if he planned to ever have children, he’d better change his wardrobe. (It may have been our other friend, Mark, but Frank sticks in my memory… wonder why?) Anyway, getting tickets wasn’t going to be easy – BOSTON was riding high on the tide of their self-titled debut album, released in August the previous year. (To this day, the record still ranks as the best-selling debut album in U.S. history.) As the hottest band coming to our little town in months, their concert sold out before we even knew the tickets had gone on sale. (Oh, what we would have done for eBay!) Of course, back then, as now, you could get a ticket… if you knew a guy and could pay the service charge. But I was just 14, and Carl was 15 – and we didn’t know any guys yet. So we asked around, but we had pretty much given up on going. Then just a week or so before the concert, I was standing on the corner of NE 82nd and Siskiyou waiting for a bus when I overheard a girl talking to her friend about how she couldn’t go to this concert the next week because she and her boyfriend had broken up and …blah, blah, blah… honestly, all I really heard was that she had two tickets she needed to get rid of. I tried to act all calm, cool and collected while I made the arrangements with her, but I was jumping out of my skin; I couldn’t get home fast enough to call Carl and tell him!! I met up with her at the bus stop the next day, and paid $32 for both tickets – just a dollar or two over the selling price. Carl and I had decided that we could chance getting another ticket down at the Coliseum – there was sure to be a single that someone wanted to unload, and Frank was OK with paying the price.
Now came the really hard part – convincing my Dad to let me go. Did I mention that I was 14? Two years out from being able to officially date, according to our house rules, and a universe away from going to a “rock concert alone with boys.” OK, so I know that I should have gotten permission “first.” In fact, if any of my girls pulled that on me now, I’d probably say no just on principle. But it was the 70’s. Things were different in the olden days, girls. That’s all I’m gonna say about that. I won’t bore you with the details, but it involved a lot of promising, pleading, tears, and Carl’s mom intervening on my behalf. (Mama S., I still love you – you sweet lovely woman!) Somehow we managed to convince Dad (a man who later did not even let me attend my senior grad party) that I would be safe, protected and well-supervised whilst attending this uplifting musical event.
We arrived early in the day. Frank scored a ticket in the first few minutes – and paid over $20: enough to buy 30 gallons of gas or 42 dozen eggs back then. We stood, we sat, we leaned, and we waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, the gates opened and we made our way to the entrance, where we lifted the hems of our bell-bottoms for security to scan our socks for contraband, and then pushed our way through the turnstiles and into the roar of the crowd.
BOSTON was Awesome.
Like candy from a parade float, that word gets thrown around a lot these days. But in the truest sense of the word, it was an Awesome show. Because while, after 35 years, I may struggle to recall some details of the night – including exactly who went with us – I will never forget the chills I got as the Coliseum pulsed with Tom Scholz and Barry Goudreau’s amazing guitar harmonies backing Brad Delp’s vocals through the most incredible rendition of Long Time that I will ever experience in this life.
So no, Tom, we didn’t forget about you after you were gone. No one forgets their first concert. The details, yes. Maybe even a few of the participants. But that first concert, the way it made you feel, the place the music took you – that stays with you forever.
Lighters high, my friends.
Epilogue: BOSTON toured again this fall with veteran Scholz anchoring the group, but the closest they came to my hometown was Sturgis, South Dakota. C’mon guys – the left coast misses you. It’s been such a long time…