As with so many other things, technology has made listening to music so easy. When I was growing up, we had cassette tapes. Does anyone remember how we used to make mixed tapes? I used to sit by the radio for hours, waiting for a song I wanted to record to come on. You had to time it perfectly if you wanted to avoid commercials or talking. You had to wait for the exact moment to press record and play, and then try and stop it before the next song or commercial began. What about when the tape escaped the cassette? A number two pencil eraser was a perfect tool to wind it back in.
Growing up, I was raised listening to classic rock and what most people would now consider classic rock. At least that’s the radio station genre the music is played on. My father loved music. My earliest memories of him, include him singing and playing the air guitar. One of his favorite bands was Guns N Roses (GNR), and it soon became one of mine as well. Hair bands were popular in the 80’s, and I loved everything about them. I loved the hair, that’s a given. I loved the attitude they portrayed. Most of all, I loved the guitar. I always wished I could have learned to play the guitar, and you know what, it’s never too late. Or at least that’s what people keep telling me. In addition to GNR, Poison, Def Leopard, and Motley Crew were all a part of my play list and still are.
After my father passed away, every time a GNR song would play on the radio, my eyes would fill with tears. It was as if, in those moments, he was there with me. I could close my eyes and see him. I could see his dark curly hair that he wore in a ponytail for as long as I could remember. I could see his dark, thick, mustache that scratched my face every time he kissed my check. I remember his faded black Levi’s, he only ever wore black jeans. He also always tucked his shirt in, it didn’t matter if it was a t-shirt, it was always tucked in. I could see him singing every word and playing imaginary instruments. I could hear his voice. In my mind, he didn’t sound like Axl, he sounded better.
My sister and I decided that if GNR ever had a concert nearby, that we would have to go. My father would have loved to go and we must go for him. That opportunity came this year. My sister snagged some incredible tickets as soon as they went on sale. The concert would be held in Miami, the place I grew up, and seldom visited. After my father died, it was difficult for me to make the trip anymore. Him not being there always left me feeling empty.
Finally, the day of the concert arrived. We were so excited! However, the night didn’t start out well. We had a terrible Uber experience. As soon as we got in the car, we noticed the driver had been smoking in the vehicle with the windows rolled up. It smelt terrible. I quickly started feeling ill, and so did my sister. The driver also did not speak English and took a call while driving, via Bluetooth, for all of us to hear. None of us wanted to hear from Amaury! The stadium was less than two miles away, but the traffic was terrible. After about 20 minutes of bumper to bumper, and the feeling of nausea worsening, we decided to walk. As we approached the stadium, our excitement grew.
We had field seating. By the time we reached our seats, it was a little after 7 and we had missed the opening act. However, that of was of little concern, as we hadn’t even heard of him. It took about an hour and a half for GNR to make it to the stage. Man, it was worth the wait. Of course, they are not the GNR of the 80’s anymore, but that’s okay. They played well and the guitar solos were AMAZING! Slash has got to be one of the most talented guitar players of all time. I was left in awe at the extent to which this man played. He’s a beast, a true guitar hero! What I found ironic about that evening, was Slash was wearing a “Say No to Drugs” tank top, and everyone around me was smoking weed.
We sang and danced and I thought of my father. He was there with me, in my heart, living a moment we never got to share while he was alive.