Sting Concert, Old Friendships, and More (In Which I Daydream About Lyrics)

One of my oldest friends, Sendil, had a quick trip to Chicago this weekend, his new lady-friend in tow. Sendil and I go way back – more than two decades – here’s proof!  That’s him, far left, with the Members Only jacket.  Forgivable for 1991.  I’m in the middle, rocking the too-big suede jacket and overly curled mushroom haircut.  Not as forgivable. Nor is the alien/phallic/Halloween-themed-in-September balloon hat rising out of the background.

Oh, the 90s

Here we are, older, wiser, and more attractive (even in workout gear), running the Chicago Gay Pride 5K in June.  (Sendil isn’t gay, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I don’t want to crush his game unnecessarily).

The combination of Sendil’s visit and the main event of the weekend – an amazing, musically progressive Sting concert – got me thinking about the power a songwriter can wield over the object of his or her affection.  Seriously, what lady wouldn’t like to be told that ‘Every little thing [you do] is magic?’

Sendil – always purely a platonic friend – is the only guy to have ever serenaded me. But to be clear, it was at a high-school talent show, I was pulled up on stage with no warning (while wearing a tucked-in flannel and jean skirt, as I recall), and the song directed my way was ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic’s ‘Good Enough for Now,’ which features such lyrics as:

You’re pretty close to what I’ve always hoped for
That’s why my love for you is fairly strong
And I swear I’m never gonna leave you, darlin’
At least ’til something better comes along

‘Cause you’re sort of everything I ever wanted
You’re not perfect, but I love you anyhow
You’re the woman that I’ve always dreamed of
Well, not really…but you’re good enough for now

Still, it was nice just to be included.

While every girl dreams of being serenaded (like, for real), only the rare and the proud ever reach that utmost pinnacle of rock-and-roll legend: the songwriting muse. Pattie Boyd. Dave Coulier. Pattie BoydWarren Beatty or whoever. Rosanna Arquette. Pattie Boyd. Damn, girl.

Note that the songs written for women are earnest and sweet (save the hints of sarcasm in ‘Wonderful Tonight.’)  ‘You Oughta Know’ and ‘You’re So Vain,’ however? Skew heavily toward the bitterness side of the scale. Ladies be crazy.

Other than perhaps a mean-spirited parody or two in fifth grade, I must say I don’t think a song has ever been written about me.  But here are a few lines I wish had been:

Dizzy, Goo Goo Dolls

You’re cynical and beautiful
You always make a scene
You’re monochrome, delerious
You’re nothing that you seem
I’m drownin’ in your vanity
Your laugh is a disease
You’re dirty and you’re sweet
You know you’re everything to me

This isn’t even that complimentary.  Cynical, vain, unpredictable, potentially misleading.  And yet the stanza wraps with a “you’re everything to me” despite it all.

Rio, Duran Duran

You know you’re something special
And you look like you’re the best 

So she’s confident, right? The titular heroine of the song already knows she is one of many special things but the singer assures her that she is, in fact the best.

Ain’t That Unusual, Goo Goo Dolls

See I’d love to be you 
‘Cause at least then I’d see you 

Yes, another GGD song.  It’s a sickness. Probably because singer/songwriter Johnny Rzeznik and I were BFFs for about nine seconds once:

This line is so gut-wrenchingly pathetic that you just have to laugh. And then cry. And then curl up in the fetal position with a bag of pita chips.

Love Song, The Cure 

Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am fun again

Was Robert Smith ever fun, really? Still a sweet sentiment.

Ladies (and gents), what song lyric do you like to pretend was penned about you?  I’m really hoping here that no one quotes ‘The Purple People Eater.’

Diagnosing Post-Concert Depression (In Which I am Slow to Recover from Evenings of Rock)

Picture this: ears ringing, I walk around in a daze.  I heave sighs and appear surgically attached to my iPhone headphones. It’s evident that I’m suffering from some neurosis, and in this case, I have self -diagnosed it as “post-concert depression.”

It… Is. Horrible.

This phenomenon, which is a subset of post-event depression (that palpable low that follows a vacation or a significant event), is something very acute that I have experienced a rare numbers of time.  And I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

After watching a great gig (particularly one where my seats are as good as the music), I feel wiped out, exhausted, and emotionally wrecked. In fact, I may have flickers of self- recusal where I wonder if I’d be better off not having even attended said concert in the first place.

Is the combination of a during-concert high followed by a staggering low actually worse than the regular status quo? (This is a rhetorical question, by the way, but can be answered by the name of this blog).

Two episodes of PCD linger in my head as the most severe. The first was in March 2005, when I’d finally seen the five original members of Duran Duran (my favorite artist since age 7 or so) perform together. The set list was great, the seats were fantastic, and it was a 20-plus-year-old dream realized.  It won’t be realized again, by the way, as Andy Taylor has once again flown the coop.  (And I sort of don’t blame him).

Duran Duran in 2005

And then … crash. The emotional hangover came pouring over me the next day as I vocalized that these five preening British pop stars had been fixtures in my life longer than anyone, save family members and one or two friends.

Fast forward to the summer of 2009. The band in question was another legacy favorite of mine – The Goo Goo Dolls.  Not only did I get to see them in an intimate setting (800 people or so, and I was front and center – Johnny Rzeznik had a slight problem with chest acne), but I’d won a meet and greet.

A “meet and greet,” to fan-club-dues paying, concert-going veterans, means very little. One has only enough time to shake hands with the band and take a picture. So if there is something you want to say, you’d better be prepared to spit it out elegantly and efficiently.

I was not successful.

Instead of asking them about the mid-90s seed change in their music, inquiring how it felt to have lucked into the success brought upon them by “Name,” or merely thanking them for their creativity and hard work that has brought joy into my life, I stupidly requested a song (“We Are the Normal,” for those keeping score at home).

Yes, it’s my favorite, and yes, it’s an older cut, and no, I’ve never heard it performed live, but it was still a worthless cause on which to use my precious 25 seconds. “I dunno,” Rzeznik smirked. “…I haven’t seen the set list yet.” First of all, he was lying (I’d seen the set list; it was taped to the stage). Second of all, they didn’t even end up playing it.

So I blew my meet and greet. I’d been up-close-and-personal for the entire show and knew I’d never have such an opportunity again. I still hadn’t heard my favorite song live despite a pathetic personal plea. And I’m sure I was dehydrated.

But at least I got a great picture:


After both of these experiences, I loaded up my iPod with B-sides and deep album cuts and got reacquainted with some lesser-known parts of these respective bands’ catalogs. I listened to nothing but these bands for a week or so, and then slowly everything returned to (we-are-the) normal.

I know now, by the way, that I can never meet Duran Duran. They won’t give me the satisfaction I want and so it’s better just to admire them from afar.  And that’s not neurotic – it’s self preservation.