Sunday, August 24, 2014

Along the South Side

This was a full week.  Considering my recent life, saying this by comparison says a lot.

Work had some big ups and downs, I bought a new camera, I realized that a planned upcoming trip to be with my brothers is at the same time as some tickets I bought for a concert that I was going to see with my son.

But all of these things worked out, and beautifully so.

Then there was this concert here in San Jose on Tuesday.  Concerts are fun, they are a great escape, they are a way to get lost in the dynamics of the euphoria of a large group.

Sometimes concerts are more than this.

Back in April, I bought tickets to see the band Yes at the Civic Center.  Yes has been a part of the soundtrack of my life, and especially of my life with DeDe.  And when they said that the band would be performing the albums “Close to the Edge” and “Fragile,” two amazing albums, which we knew would not be easy to pull off live, well DeDe and I had to go.

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you probably know that between April and now, I lost my precious lady.

I didn’t lose the tickets.

I considered not going for a time.  I thought it might be unbearable, less than two months later, to go to an event we had planned with such relish.

Loss of a loved one affirms the power of the human memory in a jarring way.  It plays on us through the grieving and the growing in the days that come after the loved one is gone.  It stabs us and strokes us in the many difficult and mundane things we need to take care of in the short shadow after that person has said thier last goodbye.

My daughter Cyn, a bonafide Prog Rock fan, and very much her mother’s daughter, agreed to come along with me.  We ate some tasty food at the venue and thoroughly enjoyed the opening act, Syd Arthur, who we met when Cyn bought their two albums and had the band members sign them.

And though Yes had band members who were not on the main two albums they played (Jon Davison on vocals, Alan White on drums, Geoff Downes on keyboards) every one of them “brought it.”

Chris Squire, a bassist extraordinaire, is also a great performer and brought many a laugh intermingled with displaying his virtuoso style.  The way he played a sweet little bass progression to the hushed audience, then he looked out at the crowd and lifted his right eyebrow about a quarter of an inch was priceless, and brought a convulsive laugh from me.

Steve Howe is the ultimate “cool nerd.”  The guitar geek in me appreciated how he used a modern modeling guitar and amp rig to coax the many sounds that he provided in the original albums.  The way he goaded an authentic twelve string acoustic tone from the little electric six string guitar reaffirmed his ever-present musical sleight-of-hand.  His slight frame, and the way he looked out over the crowd through his thick glasses, was a wonderful counterpoint to hefty and charismatic Squire who roamed the other side of the stage working the crowd.

I am so, so grateful that I went to the show, and so grateful to have Cyn as company.  At times, I got lost in the music.

Other times I stared at the rafters of the Civic Center and thought back in time.

The band Yes has moved on, and continues these many years past their forming back in the 1960s.  Do they sound the same as they did back then?

Yes and no.

But in the end, with their white hair and aging bodies, they managed to rock it, and bring the Civic center to life with music and life.

As I listened to “South Side of the Sky,” I was transported back to a barracks room in Augsburg West Germany, listening to one of my favorite albums of all time through my Bose 501 speakers, admiring the many amazing sounds and the orchestration of the music with a lady who would soon be my wife.

The barracks are now gone.  The band Yes has changed.  Even West Germany is materially changed, now reunited with the East.

I believe in an afterlife, and so though my lady’s physical presence is gone, I also know that this is just another change.  I felt her along with me at the Civic Center.

The moments seemed lost in all the noise
A snow storm, a stimulating voice
Of warmth of the sky, of warmth when you die

Were we ever warmer on that day?
A million miles away we seemed from all of eternity

(From Yes, Fragile, “South Side of the Sky”)

This week ended with an earthquake that shook Silicon Valley.  I don’t report this from my own eyewitness account, but from third party reports, including Cyn who posted to Facebook. 

I slept right through it.

Life goes on around us; some small things burrow into us, some big things slip right by.  Seldom do we really control which is which, and the best thing we can do is strap in as best as we can and continue to ride along to the next mile-marker.

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