This is my own “entry” into our latest Inspired by Song! contest (click to see the announcement in case you missed it before).
When we were discussing this month’s theme, I must admit that I got a sinking feeling in my stomach, much like when we had our “Guilty Music Pleasures” contest a couple of months back. If you read that post of mine, you know that I clearly have no shame, so I don’t mind sharing the truth here.
So, without further ado, I give you my first concert experience:
The year was 1984. I was 13 years old, and my friend Philip Sewell and I were looking forward to our first concert. Later, we attended two other concerts together, for Sting and for Simple Minds/The Call, but tonight it was Cyndi Lauper that we came to see. In retrospect, I am not sure what compelled us to choose this concert, but it really was a lot of fun.
One reason that we may have picked this one as our inaugural concert was the fact that the female-male ratio was perhaps five-to-one. This worked to my advantage, as it was also the first night that I got a girl’s phone number. I still remember that she was a petite brunette with short hair and blue eyes named Tara, “like from Gone with the Wind”, she said.
Philip and I moved up a row in order to stand with Tara and her friend, and we spent the rest of the evening with them until the concert ended.
As an eighth grader, there aren’t too many things more euphoric than the realization that a cute girl finds you to be interesting and/or good-looking and/or funny and/or worthy of acknowledgement on any level. Therefore, I have always had a fondness in my heart for that special night, as it boosted my confidence, at least for awhile.
The opening act seemed okay, but all of their songs sounded the same to me. I went to the restroom at one point, because I wasn’t concerned about missing one of their repetitive tunes. I could still hear it through the cinderblock walls. Philip and I later joked about how we couldn’t understand any of their lyrics. In one way, they were a bit like a female version of the Ramones, with four attractive women. One song sounded like “Bump”, then another like “Stump”, followed by “Bert” and “Hurt”. This is oversimplifying it to the extreme, but they really didn’t have a lot of variation.
Later, this opening band would become widely known to all of us, and I came to enjoy a few of their songs quite a bit.
So, who were these unproven talents?
The Bangles would find success later with “Eternal Flame“, “Hazy Shade of Winter“, and “Walk like an Egyptian” (no link provided here because I kind of hated this song), but in early 1984, they were an unknown band given an opportunity to perform on the strength of Cyndi Lauper’s popular album.
Other than the fact that I never had any idea how truly loud a live concert could be until that point, I don’t have a lot of additional specific memories, other than Cyndi Lauper sounding far better than I would have imagined.
In an ironic turn, the LAST concert that I saw was also Cyndi Lauper when she appeared here in Austin a few years back, albeit in a much smaller venue near downtown. I managed to win front-row seats for me and my wife by answering a trivia question on Mix 94.7:
“Who was the wrestler that appeared in Cyndi Lauper’s video ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ as Cyndi’s father?”
The answer, of course, is Captain Lou Albano (picture at right – sorry).
For a time, I was a wrestling fan, too, although that is possibly more embarrassing to admit than the concert thing.
Nonetheless, Cyndi’s concert that I saw with my wife was really terrific, and her voice was honestly stunning, especially for a woman who has been singing live for so long. We were about two feet from her several times, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had decided to sit on my lap, based on the way that she worked the crowd. I was amazed to find out today that she is almost 55 years old.
In a feeble attempt to redeem myself here, I will also state that I did see some cooler concerts later on, including Aerosmith, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Def Leppard, Eagles, Springsteen, and others. But since the theme isn’t “My Coolest Concert Experience”, this is the story I have for today.
Here’s my favorite Cyndi Lauper song for your enjoyment. After hearing the story that she told during the more recent concert of having written this for her dying friend, it seems even more touching to me now, as I am faced with the loss of my own close friend: