The Who in 2007. Photo by Joep Vullings / https://tinyurl.com/5d2tufmu
I moved to Denver about 6 months after I finished college. My girlfriend from college had gotten a good job out there. She got a little apartment and got herself established. After the show I was working on closed, I left Pittsburgh and moved in with her.
It didn’t last. I drank too much.
After she broke up with me and moved to California, I was lost for a while.
I left Denver and lived temporarily in the basement of my friend’s wife’s mother’s house. It’s hard for me to imagine how and why that came to be, except that there was probably a good bit of dysfunction involved. I wasn’t paying any rent.
It was north of Denver, in the town of Longmont. We called it Frogmont.
My friend and I were selling Kodak photo processing packages over the phone. Fine work for a couple of wastrels.
News came that The Who would be playing in Boulder. We got tix for the show at the football stadium at the University of Colorado, where my friend had gone to college.
It turned out that the show would start in the afternoon with John Cougar Mellencamp, as he was billed at that moment. He would be followed by Jethro Tull, and then The Who.
We loaded up on supplies.
Concert day was sunny and beautiful, in autumn.
John Cougar came and went without much fuss. We were somewhat straight when he came on, and a lot less so when he finished. Wineskins, hash oil, and some downers along with numerous joints put us in an altered state.
Getting ready for Jethro Tull meant it was time to drop acid and drink hard liquor and smoke more hash oil.
For some reason, they had about a dozen guys dressed in doctor’s outfits on stage with them. I couldn’t comprehend what was going on.
We were sitting in the stands, in a good spot.
As night fell, it struck me that we HAD to get down on the field and up close. I dragged my friends with me, and we made it.
The Who took the stage.
They were famous for always opening their shows with “I Can’t Explain.” This night, they opened with “My Generation.”
In my blown-out mind, I thought this was the most amazing thing that ever happened.
I don’t remember a single moment after the opening strains of “My Generation.”
I’ve had a deep love for the music and the members of The Who for most of my life.
This was my first time going to a Who concert.
I missed it.
I was there. I was on my feet right in front of them. I’m sure I was smoking and drinking whatever was passed to me. And I probably hollered and applauded.
I didn’t pass out.
I blacked out.
My consciousness left me, and no memories or impressions remain for those few hours of the show.
This was in 1982.
I’ve loved The Who to this very day.
I didn’t see them again until 2007. At that point, I’d been sober for a long while.
They came out with their first album in 34 years. I bought it, and my wife and I listened to it a lot, and we loved it.
We went to the show together.
And I was deeply touched. Keith and John weren’t there, of course. But Pete and Roger were.
I wept for lost souls, and for my lost self, and for love, and for my wife being with me and dancing her beautiful self to pieces when they played “Eminence Front.”
And I wept for love of their music, and how it has settled in my core, and I was now experiencing it in the same room where they were making it.
Although my wife and I had been together for many years, we carried on a bit and had a good ol’ “makeout session” in the car. We were hanging out, letting the parking lot empty.
And we saw some limos go by, and shortly after that, from a short way away, a helicopter lifted and took The Who off somewhere.
The happiness and sense of completion I felt stayed with me for days.
I knew this to be a victory of sobriety, a squaring of the circle.
I’ve seen them a few times since then, and I’ve loved all the shows. The first one - the one I remember, that is - carries something special for me.
I’ve learned to love what and whom I love.
And I don’t want to miss out on love.
I don’t want to miss out on a moment.
Sobriety makes that dream sometimes, often, come true.