Off Topic: The Musical Edition

Music speaks to me more intensely and immediately than any other medium. Once not long ago, when I felt far from home and anxious about getting back there, the opening notes of “Life in a Northern Town” reached across three thousand miles through the overhead music of the cafe where I waited for my drink, taking me home to a place of calm and comfort.

I can’t review music objectively, and honestly, I have a hunch that the rest of this post just might be pure drivel – and poorly written drivel at that – but I’m posting it anyway. I have to.

Last night we saw Chicago in concert at DTE Energy Theatre (which will “always be Pine Knob,” in the words of the band). The four of us enjoyed the first part of the concert, which was a given; I’d seen Chicago before – at Pine Knob, as it happens, and although that first concert was forty years ago, I fully expected another blockbuster. One of the songs in particular, “Searching So Long,” had new layers of meaning for me within the context of my new and still-fresh mindfulness meditation practice (google Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction).

After the break, one of the band members (I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know which one) spoke to the crowd, and here’s what we had learned by the end of that little speech:

-This year marks Pine Knob’s fiftieth anniversary.

-Chicago was the venue’s inaugural band fifty years ago.

-This concert was Pine Knob’s new “opening day”after Covid-19 shuttered the venue for at least one entire season.

How appropriate that Chicago was present for both firsts. No one in my group knew that this concert marked a favorite venue’s new debut, and we were touched that Chicago took part, fifty years later. The spokesperson went on to express the band’s gratitude and love for the Pine Knob audience and venue, calling Pine Knob the band’s second home. He acknowledged the sorrow and fear of the past eighteen months, and spoke of hope for the future.

The words were beautiful, but the songs the band performed in the second half of the show, consciously chosen to acknowledge pain, share love and comfort, and offer hope – they were sung directly into our battered hearts. Imagine: what if all of this group’s fame and stardom, all those tours, all the hours of practice and internal struggles – what if all of it was just to lead them to this moment of healing? What if THIS is their purpose?

I was going to embed the YouTube videos here (random videos, not from the concert) for the four of those post-speech songs as I can remember, but so many of the comments on some of the videos carry forward the band’s message of hope that I’m just going to share the links, so you can read some of the comments while you listen. I was so transfixed by the message that I didn’t note the songs, so I know I’ve forgotten a couple. As you listen to the lyrics, think of how intentionally the group chose this playlist for the first post-pandemic concert Pine Knob offered, sung to an audience they love. Links are not visible until you hover over them, so hover over each song title below, then click on the song title to hear the song.

You’re The Inspiration – what a heartfelt song after a year of silence, in spite of the corny video.

Hard To Say I’m Sorry

Feelin’ Stronger Every Day

Saturday in the Park (encore)

Listen, children. All is not lost. All is not lost.

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