That time I almost saw the band Boston.
I had this concert date on my calendar for weeks, I had tickets and I went to the concert…but I didn't’ really get to hear them.
I know this sounds really strange but it’s a true story. My cousin Ryan Lee went to Appalachian State University in Boone, NC in the late 70’s. I drove up from Charlotte, NC to visit him for a weekend. I had just discharged from the Air Force after four years and I was home and wanted to reconnect with my family. This was before cell phones, internet and email so staying connected was a challenge.
We hung out, went to some area restaurants, I met the girl he was dating who would eventually become his wife and we had a great time. I think we were driving to the grocery store to pick up some food for dinner and he reached into his glove box and there were all these 8 track tapes jammed in there.
He’s driving and poking through the tapes and swerving around on this mountain road. I said ‘Ryan, let me get the tape, which one is it’? ‘Boston’, he said, so I’m sortting through these tapes, some of the labels are peeling off and you can’t even read the name of the band. ‘I found it’ I said as I started to plug this huge hole with this big hulking piece of plastic. ‘Not that one’ he said, ‘there’s another one’. I yanked it out of the player and again rummaging through his glove box trying to see the names of the tapes. I grabbed another one and this one said ‘More Than A Feeling’ , I flashed the cover in his field of vision ‘that’s it, that’s it’ he said.
The label was discolored, the paper was bunching up and it looked like it had been dropped and drug across the asphalt. I pushed it into the player. Nothing happened. Ryan looked at me, one hand on the wheel, he leans over and starts moving the tape from side to side, suddenly, it’s playing.
It was a beautiful Carolina summer day. The sky was a perfect blue hue and there were the most beatiful fluffy white clouds as we began to wind our away around these mountain roads. Is it not interesting how moments in time are sometimes like photo images and the feelings you had then suddenly become as immediate as the were at that very moment.
Suddenly, it starts, the drum solo and then this mellow intro then ‘that sound’ That unique sound that is only Boston came blasting out of the speakers. That guitar riff, syncopated rhythm and the drums with the base, it was a sound I had never heard before.
I was a classic rock guy. James Taylor, Jackson Browne, CSN & sometimes Y. This sound was large, it was huge it was bigger than anything I had hever heard and the guitar riffs, it all had my full attention, the bass drum pounding, the rising vocals, the guitar & vocal harmonies. I was hooked, it was more than a feeling.
Fast forward, it’s now 1998, I had just moved to Raleigh, North Carolina. I was a Corporate Recruiter with a high-tech software development company. I was living in a Corporate apartment and driving back to Charlotte on the weekends to visit my family.
I was single again and it was summer and I was hoping to meet someone. It was a challenge, I was working long hours, I didn’t know anyone and summer was happening and I felt like I was missing it.
One day, I’m on the phone with a former co-worker and recruiting colleague in Charlotte named Robert Jones. Yes, what a genetic name. He’s asking about the job and life in Raleigh as he reminds me he had gone to school at NC State. We’re swapping stories and then he said, ‘how’s the night life.’ ‘I have no idea’, I said. I told him about my challenges with work life balance and then he said ‘I might know someone, t here is someone you should meet, let me get back to you’. It was a few days later, he called to tell me about Julie, a girl he knew in college who was still living in Raleigh, she was about my age, also single again, no kids and working as a successful Realtor. ‘She really likes concerts he said’. I’m thinking to myself, this sounds really good. He gave me her number and I called her. We talked in the evening for several days in a row and on the weekend, we met up for dinner. It was all great and she was nice and there seemed to be some chemistry so I’m feeling very positive about it.
I saw that Boston was coming to town at Walnut Creek Amphitheater, the outdoor venue. I bought tickets and they were really good seats. I called Julie to see if she was free and she was. The concert was in the evening on a Friday. She gave me her address and her cell phone number and said ‘meet me at my house at 6p’ I’m close to the venue, we can have a glass of wine and then easily make the show by 730p
I got to her house about a half hour early. I was in the Air Force, I’m always early. I cruised around the neighborhood, looking at the map and calculating the distance from here to there. I figured it to be about a 20 minute drive.
It got to be 530p and no Julie. Then I began to wonder if I had the right address. I called her and got her voicemail, I left a message letting her know I was there.
I waited, I got no return phone call. By now, it’s almost 6p and I’m getting anxious. I decided to drive up to the corner McDonalds and get a drink. I sat in the parking lot, sipping my coke and I’m starting to get very anxious.
I had been stood up before and I was starting to get that feeling. I had paid alot of money for these seats. It’s 6p and no word. I drove back to her house and there was no car in the drive. I Double checked the address and I knew I had the right house. It was 615p and I called her again, still no answer. I got out of the car and I’m starting to pace and then a car pulled into the next door driveway.
A lady gets out of the car and she’s starting at me. I’m looking at my phone, trying not to look like I’m a crook and just acting casual. She walks to the mail box to check it and as she’s walking back, we catch a glance and I smiled. She smiled back. I said, ‘I’m not sure if I have the right house, is there where Julie lives’, she nodded yes.
I’m feeling somewhat better and then the phone rings. It’s Julie, she says ‘I’m on my way, I got held up with a deal I’m working on but I’ll be there soon. She told me where she hid the key and said ‘go ahead and let yourself in, there’s wine in the cabinet or water and soda, help yourself but it would sure be nice if I had glass of wine waiting when I got home. I looked at my watch it was 630p
My, my, Julie you are sure making things interesting. I went in the house. It felt very strange to be in someone’s house I barely knew, rummaging around looking for the cork screw and glasses. I found the wine and popped the top and poured two glasses and sat down and waited.
By now it’s 7p and I’m not feeling good that we are going to make this show on time. Just then she pulled into the drive. Wow, she looked good too. She was happy to see me and even happier to see the glass of wine I had poured.
She begins to tell me about her day and this deal she is working on and she’s going into detail and then she says ‘I got to get out of these clothes’ My goodness, what was getting ready to happen I wondered. She was in her bedroom for what seemed like forever. She came out, not quite fully dressed and retrieved her wine glass which she carried back into the bedroom.
Finally she comes back out and says, have a seat, let’s enjoy a glass of wine. I asked how long it would take us to get to the venue. Her response was surprising, she said ‘oh yes, we have tickets right’?
That should have been my clue & a forshadowing of the direction the balance of the evening was going to take. She said ‘Ok, let’s just finish this glass and we can go’.
She said ‘do you mind driving, I need to make a phone call’. We pulled out of her driveway and I’m expecting her to navigate the way and she’s dialing the phone. I figured out how to get us on the main road and she’s pointing and talking as I’m driving.
We got on a main road that I recognized as being the way to Walnut Creek. Of course the traffic is busy, it’s Friday evening and everyone is heading to this concert. My heart is racing and I’m feeling unsetteled.
She gets off the phone and we are starting to talk about music and bands and concerts and then her phone rings. She answers and it’s another work call. We make it to the venue and now it’s 745p. We exit the vehicle and are making our way to the entrance and she’s still on the phone.
Just as we enter, she completes her call and is telling me how this is ‘the biggest deal and how complex it is and how excited she is and how much this is going to mean for her. The band has started and they are sounding great. We make it to our seats and now it’s now after 8p.
The seats are amazing, center section about 20 rows from the stage and it’s a beautiful evening. She seems excited and we are getting settled into our seats and beginning to enjoy the music, the vibe and the positive feelings. Then my mind wandered to my experience with my cousin Ryan, the 8 track tape and More Than a Feeling. It was all so good. Then her cell phone rang. I was hoping she would let it ring. She dug it out of her purse and people around us are giving us the eye. It continues to ring and she looks at the number and says ‘I’ve got to take this’ and she did.
The band is continuing to play and I’m feeling so many mixed emotions. Our eyes caught a glance and then she looked around and realized she was a distraction. She got up from her seat, with the phone in her hand and walked away leaving her purse.
She was gone for at least a half-hour and by now I’m fuming. I’m looking around and she is no where in sight. I got out of my seat, I grabbed her purse and started looking for her. I walked over to the concession area near where the bathrooms were and there she was, still on the phone.
I held up her purse and motioned for her to follow me. We walked to the car, all the while she’s still on the phone. We’re halfway to her house and she ends the call.
It’s now 930p. She starts telling me how this deal is so close to closing and how excited she is. We pulled into her driveway. I handed her purse to her and said ‘I need to roll’. She stood in the driveway as I backed out, just staring at me.
I found the interstate, rolled all the windows down and at the top of my lungs, I’m screaming ‘More Than A Feeling’.