Rock Gods and Flashes of Youth

On Saturday evening after a delicious homemade Indian dish of Tikka Masala, my husband and I cozied up on the couch to watch the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on HBO. The ceremony was held earlier on April 8, and we viewed the edited version on April 30. The inductees this year were Deep Purple, NWA, Chicago, Steve Miller, and Cheap Trick. Each delivered heartfelt acceptance speeches filled with gratitude for family, fans, and their spiritual leaders. 

With the exception of NWA, all of these groups’ sounds permeated my youth.  My days spent listening to “Smoke of the Water” on WLS gave me snippets of the cool life I coveted. I devoured every song on Chicago’s greatest hits album. “The Joker” was the dazed and confused anthem of high school. Cheap Trick at Budokan was the soundtrack of my college days.

There is always a fear when you see aging rockers. You want them to recapture your memories, but they, like you, are older. There are lines on faces. Voices are craggier. Your favorite songs sound rougher. The rock and roll life has damaged many an artist, and legions of musicians have lost their edge. The spark that made them cool back in the day may have dimmed over the years.

But this was not what I saw on Saturday night. Every performer, even Steve Miller and his edited rant against the Hall of Fame, displayed an energy, a desire, a pull toward their music. The love of performing was apparent in everyone who took the stage. Some bandmates were together for the first time in years; others continue to tour a loaded schedule. These are rockers, true renegades of their day.

What really caught my eye, though, were the photographs that graced the screen as the performers grabbed their instruments. These pictures of long-haired boys flirting with life captured fleeting moments in time. They were precious and timely and often heart wrenching. I saw glimpses of those boys in the men who took the stage. They still have the heart and soul, even if the gray is taking over.

 Cheap Trick
Cheap Trick
 Steve Miller
Steve Miller
   Deep Purple
  Deep Purple

This is all of us. I still see glimmers of that innocent girl who sang every line to “25 or 6 to 4” while lounging on the blue shag carpet of our sunroom. Even though I no longer fit in my bell bottom jeans and peasant blouses, every time Steve Miller’s “Jungle Love” comes on the radio, I feel as though they still hug every curve of my aging body.

All of us carry flashes of the power we used to possess in our youth. The hope that rarely wavered. The urge to capture time. The allegiances of our wild friends. The unabashed bravery, and yes, stupidity, that saw us through long nights. The potential still exists, but sometimes we have to dig deep to be reminded of the force we used to be. I found mine in the two plus hours spent with rock gods of my youth. Now I need to bang my arthritic head to a little “Dream Police” while I make my way to yoga. Rock on, my friends. Rock on.

We all face a scarlet conclusion
But we spend our time in a dream.

— Steve Miller Band

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