YOU SAID NEVER TO GROW OLD, BUT YOU FORGOT TO TELL ME HOW“Those Final Feet” – Cowboy Junkies
Flying back late Saturday night, the Southwest plane banked over Las Vegas and the city skyline was perfectly laid out over the wing. For some, the city represents an escape, a promise, an excuse. For me, it represents work and I was back at it the next morning at 6am. The real world. Ugh.
The short trip to Chicago for two sold-out shows watching Cowboy Junkies was wonderful, as always. It was an important reminder to me that seeing my favorite bands keeps me in a good place mentally. Spending time with the band, it was great to catch up on family and discuss the current toilet paper shortage in America. I float on the periphery of their circle, always conscious that touring is a job for them and wanting to respect that. Their music, not the memories it conjures up, are why I keep coming back. In a way, that is the opposite of what Duran Duran does for me. And, I need both.
Having seen Duran Duran on consecutive nights in Vegas, I know how to spot the little differences in the otherwise static set list and find pleasure in hearing the hits I loved as a kid. Cowboy Junkies are the polar opposite. The set list is written the day of the show and can include just about anything. On one tour in California, I caught eight shows and heard 51 different songs. Can you imagine Duran Duran taking 51 songs on a tour? I’d love to see that list!
While the first night of the two Chicago shows was fantastic, the second night really burned into my memory as one of the best sets I’ve seen the band play. The soundcheck was full of darkness and I joked about it with the band before dinner. No matter how sad the songs might be, the band’s sense of humor always shines through and it was feeling like it might be a special night. It was. Singer Margo Timmins was in a mood as soon as she hit the stage. The new songs in the first set were delivered with abandon as she let her voice loose.
After a short intermission (wish more bands my age did this!), the band returned with a glorious set of despair and pain:
- Third Crusade – about murderous Christians and politcal hypocrisy
- 200 More Miles – about lonely highways while on tour
- Flirted With You All My Life – about suicide
- Sweet Jane – the big hit (think “Rio” if she developed a heroin habit)
- A Horse In the Country – about a marital affair in a loveless marriage
- Fairytale – being tired with life
- Shining Teeth – more marital troubles
- Bea’s Song – really serious marital troubles (song two in a trilogy that ends with a dead body in a river)
- Just Want To See – a song about how you’ll die
- Those Final Feet – a song about dying
- Murder Tonight In the Trailer Park – a song about homicide
The encore choice of David Bowie’s “Five Years” felt like a spiritual release from the weight of the set. After all, Ziggy Stardust comes to earth to save us all. Based on the band’s set, there is a lot of saving needed. Of course, I read too much into everything. Don’t we all when we love an artist?
As I returned home to the warm arms of an understanding wife, I realized how much emotion the songs stir in me. Hearing “Those Final Feet”, written for the passing of a grandfather, so soon after seeing my own in hospice, felt cathartic. All the songs about unhappy relationships puts your own daily hurdles into a larger perspective and leaves you grateful for what you have. More than anything, seeing your favorite bands perform keeps you feeling young and engaged in life.
So, no matter how much I whine about the short sets that never change and how expensive it all is, I know that I need a Duran Duran show in 2020. Also on the calendar this year is Shopping (one of the best bands going these days), Bryan Adams, Squeeze, Kraftwerk, A-Ha, more Cowboy Junkies, and Nick Cave. I’m sure plenty more will come up. My body and soul yearns for it. Music is the drug.