I’m interrupting the regularly scheduled program for a little musical break. Crazy as it may seem to anyone reading this blog, less than a week after my amazing French vacation I found myself back at the airport, this time bound for Florida. When my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday I’m sure he had no idea that I would say a ticket to St. Petersburg! But he kindly obliged, so that’s how I found myself spending the weekend before the megastorm of the century in sunny, warm Florida.
And why would I fly to FL just 6 days after my vacation? To see my favorite band in what my friend D calls the hit and run. I’ll explain the hit and run in a second, but first a word on my musical obsession (which may help to explain why I’d hop a plane to FL while still jet-lagged):
I’ve always been a huge music fan and I started going to concerts as soon as I could. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to see so many great bands: The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin and The Who, to name but a few. But my favorite artist growing up was David Bowie. I lived for the chance to see him, and in the meantime I wore out all my Bowie albums while making my sister share a room covered in David Bowie pics. I had an obsession with all things British (especially the music), so when I first heard the Sex Pistols and the Clash I was enthralled. I loved the whole English “punk/new wave scene”, at least what I heard of it in my little Baltimore suburban world.
So, in 1982, when a friend asked me if I wanted to go hear this British band called the Psychedelic Furs, I was game. I had never heard of them and it being the pre-internets days I couldn’t even google them, so I had no idea what to expect. But from the moment they stepped out on the stage, I was mesmerized. They played this punky new wave music, but with a sound that I’d never heard, and damn, there was a saxophone, and a cello! And the lyrics, sung by this young guy in a trench coat, were so, cool. God, he was so incredibly cool, and he smoked this cigarette on stage and made these crazy arm movements and sang with this raspy voice. I was hooked on the music and I had an instant mad crush on the singer.
I went out the very next day and bought their albums (yes, vinyl), thus beginning my 30 year love affair. The Furs – their music, and Richard Butler’s voice and lyrics, were, as that corny commercial says, the soundtrack of my life. I listened to them non-stop, over and over. I went to see them whenever I could, including making my ex husband drive all over New England while I was living in Boston. I even went to a show when I was very pregnant with Jordan, using my big belly to push my way to the front so I could see. When they broke up for good I was devastated (Richard and Tim Butler formed another band in the early 90’s called Love Spit Love, which I never got to see but which I of course listened to just as religiously)
Fast forward to 2000. I was separated by then, back in MD. Through the magic of the internets I found out that the Furs were touring again and were playing in DC. GET OUT! I had to go!! But who could I go with? None of my friends shared my passion. Thankfully, I found a Psychedelic Furs’ fan web site on the same blessed internets. The site was called BurnedDownDays, named after the lyrics in one of their songs. There was a message board, or forum or whatever you want to call it, with comments about the upcoming tour, etc. OMG, I had found my long-lost clan! Here were my PEOPLE! People who loved the Furs as much as me (well, I wasn’t sure that that was possible, but close). I quickly joined the group and made plans to meet some of my long lost relatives at the show in DC – and thus began my 12 year odyssey of BDD meet-ups and hang outs at shows in DC, Baltimore, Chicago and NY (one time I even went to NY to hang out before the show and came back before the show started because I had to work the next day). Friendship, and connection, through shared interests (in this case love of music), that is the good that the internet can bring.
Whew, all that to give background for my trip to FL. When my bestest BDD friend D suggested that we do a hit and run in FL (hit and run means flying into a city, seeing the show and flying out the next day), I said OK, after much back and forth over just how crazy it seemed.
But, I did it and I am SO happy that I did. I’d never been to St. Petersburg before so I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t see much of the city, but the part near the venue and the hotel was pretty funky, full of art galleries and restaurants and bars and hippe/hipsters hanging. It had some nice buildings too.
The weather was great, if a bit windy. We just hung out and walked around scoping out the hood, eating and drinking and talking and wandering and waiting for the show to start.
The club was packed! Interesting demographics, I was happy to see some young people in the crowd of middle-aged new wavers – um, like me.
The concert was awesome, they all sounded great and RB (Richard Butler) danced and sang right back into my heart, along with the new guitar player RG (Rich Good), who is indeed very good and also very cute.
I loved the set list and even though it was hot and crowded and loud I had an amazing time and was so satisfied. It was one of the better shows I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot of them (20 times, 30? I lost count)
All that would have been enough, more than enough, really. But I had the added privilege of meeting and chatting for a few minutes with all Furs after the show. I had met some of them before, but never RB, so I can’t tell you what an extra special treat it was that I also got to meet the man that night. He was very nice and very gracious and we all chatted briefly about FL and the show and music and art and he hugged me, twice (not that I was counting). I was so, so happy. Oh my oh my oh my. I tried to act all cool and nonchalant, but inside I was shaking like a schoolgirl.
Afterwards, I wondered what he would have thought had I told him just how much his words and his music had meant to me in my life? Sigh, I hope he could tell. I didn’t ask for a picture or autograph because I didn’t want to seem like the middle-aged groupie that I obviously am (but still). I floated on back to my room, happy. Feeling incredibly lucky at where I am in my life, and feeling blessed to have met the mad crush/musical guru from the time of my youth, and that he wasn’t some pompous ignorant ass. Yessssss. Life is good.
So the next day I wandered St. Petersburg, alone, still feeling happy and blessed that I was there in that moment, looking at the sunshine and feeling the sea breeze.
And reflecting, as I often do, on how happy I am and how far I’ve come, from the days when I’d lock myself in my bedroom and cry, and listen to the Furs and yearn for another life. They got me through a lot. A lifetime of music, come full circle. Merci and amen