In November 2019, I first heard about a mysterious virus in Wuhan, China. While I felt empathy and concern for those who were impacted by it, I did not give it much thought. At least, I didn’t, at first.
At the start of 2020, there were more news reports about this strange virus that was no longer contained to one city, but that had started to spread across the globe. On March 9, the reality of the situation began to settle in for me in an unexpected way. The harsh reality of the pandemic began to sink in for me when Pearl Jam postponed their 2020 tour, which meant that I would not be traveling to Nashville for their April 2 show, and I was not sure, if or when, I ever would.
Trust and believe, I am not making light, or trivializing the loss of life and other detrimental health and socioeconomic effects, of the pandemic. I am fully aware that there were, and still are, far worse impacts of the pandemic than the cancellation of my favorite band’s 2020 tour. Just bear with me.
For many of us, music is a vital part of our lives. Music has the ability to transport us back in time, evoking a wide array of emotions, reminding us of particular people, places, and events, and conveying our thoughts and feelings when our own words may fall short. It is part of our celebrations, rituals, ceremonies, and daily routines, and each of us has a unique life soundtrack.
During the pandemic, concerts were canceled and postponed, and musicians took to performing live from their homes and studios and recording videos to fill the void. It was definitely not the same, but it was better than nothing. It also was a small sacrifice to make to keep everyone safe and healthy.
As the weeks turned into months and the months turned into years, I wondered if live music, as we knew it, had died with the pandemic. Thankfully, it survived, and on September 16, 2022, I was there to witness its resurrection. After 2 years, 5 months, and 14 days, my husband and I made the trip from Louisville, Kentucky to Nashville, Tennessee to attend the rescheduled Pearl Jam show. The wait finally was over!
As we sat in our seats, I simply took it all in, not wanting to miss a moment. The fans filing into the arena. The audience talking and laughing with one another. The crew setting up the stage. The palpable energy that permeated the air. It was surreal.
When the lights went down to signal the start of the show, my eyes welled up with happy tears, and my heart swelled with pure joy and gratitude. As the opening notes of Nothingman reached my ears, I found myself completely immersed in the music. For the next two hours, nothing else mattered. Nothing.
Again, that is the magic of music. It can suspend time and provide a respite from daily routines, worries, and challenges, even if only for a moment. It can inspire, soothe, and comfort us, and it can bring diverse groups of people together to share in their mutual love and appreciation for music.
After the concert, I was still amped up and was not quite ready to go to sleep, so, John and I stayed up late to talk. As we each recounted parts of the concert that stood out to us, I suddenly was overcome with emotion and teared up, as I talked about how much I had missed experiencing music live and how much being there with him tonight meant to me. Fortunately, he is used to my tears, and he understood. Even better, there was still more to come.
The next morning, we headed home to Louisville, to see Pearl Jam perform that evening at the Bourbon and Beyond Festival. This time, we were joined by one of our college friends and three of his friends. Thanks to some fancy maneuvering, we were able to get within about twenty yards of the stage, which is the closest I have ever been to the band. There was plenty of bourbon, sweat, and happy tears, and all was right in the world.
As we continue to navigate the pandemic and beyond, my hope is that we find moments when we can lose ourselves in something we love. If not music, then, whatever brings you happiness and solace, especially during difficult times. Never underestimate the power of indulging in something you are passionate about in life. It isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.
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