Rock of the Aged

I went through my teenage and early adult year’s in the 1980’s. Just as it is today, music is an essential element for daily living. I have been a frustrated guitar player since I was about 10 years old. I am very out of practice and no one will ever confuse me with with the late, great Les Paul. Nonetheless, my red Squier Affinity Telecaster remains at the side of my desk so that I can play some chords until my tendonitis makes it hurt too much. My love for the guitar has driven me toward great guitar sounds. I have always enjoyed listening to many different genres of music. I love the wonderful chords and beautiful vocal harmonies that come from acts like Simon & Garfunkel, The Eagles, and Dan Fogelberg. I also gravitated toward the harder rock edge from a young age to bands such as KISS and Queen. This harder rock edge and my love for great guitar tones, rockin’ guitar riffs, and rippin’ guitar solos made the 1980’s a great time for music in my life.
Some of my obsession with guitar driven rock music probably started when I got a 45 record of “Don’t Stop Believin’” from Journey. [NOTE: For those of my readers who don’t know what a 45 rpm record is, ask your parents.] I already liked Journey’s music at the time. But that song is one of many in their catalog that features the perfect blend of Steve Perry’s vocals, Ross Vallory’s bass, and the smokin’ guitar of Neal Schon. I played that record constantly as I started my air guitar career. If Neal Schon was unable to fulfill his duties in Journey, I wanted to be READY.
During my sophomore year in high school, another band released a great album – Foreigner. Their album, “4”, had some GREAT songs on it which included: “Urgent” and “Waiting For a Girl Like You”. Once again, it was that perfect blend – Lou Gramm’s vocals and Mick Jones’ guitar. This culminated in my attending a concert in 1982 at the Savannah Civic Center. Foreigner was promoting their “4” album with (then unknown) Bryan Adams as an opening act. I went to the concert by myself. I was so close to the stage I could tie Lou Gramm’s shoelaces if he needed it. At one point in the show, they told us they were playing a song from their new album – “Juke Box Hero”. I stood there as my chest rattled from Dennis Elliot’s bass drum and Rick Wills bass guitar. You could feel the crescendo build as Lou Gramm’s vocals began. Then, Mick Jones brought me to the crest of the wave. I HEARD ONE GUITAR (JOOOOOOOOOOOONG) AND IT BLEW ME AWAY (JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENG).  I could see stars in my eyes. So, the very next day, I walked around sporting my overpriced Foreigner shirt that I bought at the concert. I saw Foreigner again three years later. The second time, I was in the nosebleed seats with a group of friends. I would have loved to have been closer to the stage but among this group of friends were some very pretty girls. Sorry, Mr. Jones. SOME things have priority over watching you play the chords to “Feels Like The First Time” from 15 feet away.
I am now in my mid-forties and I still love those songs. Next month, I am going to have the pleasure of seeing Journey and Foreigner live. They will be accompanied by another great band from the 80’s – Night Ranger. The bands and I have all gottten just a bit older. None of them have the original lineups intact. Neither Journey nor Foreigner have the singers that helped put them through the stratosphere. That’s OK. Arnel Pineda and Kelly Hansen quite superbly handle the lead vocal spots of Journey and Foreigner respectively. Even Night Ranger has a different guitarist these days (Joel Hoekstra replaced Jeff Watson). Obviously, it won’t be the same as it was in the 1980’s. Then again, neither am I. I know that once the chords start playing, I will be back in 1985 (minus the Members Only shirt).


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