A life changer: Sweet, sweet music memories

April, 2017 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

carl-sampsonI remember the day that changed my life.

I was in ninth grade and a friend and I got tickets to a concert. It wasn’t just any concert. Gladys Knight and the Pips and the Temptations were the featured acts. By the time they got through their playlists – think of most of the greatest Motown songs of all time – it was as though a switch in my head had been turned on.

Music. Sweet, sweet music became the most important thing in my young life. I had always been a good student, but after that I focused most of my time on music. Oh, I didn’t have any talent, but I sure had fun. Music filled my days. I always had a radio or record player going. I even learned to play bass and was in a couple of rock bands.

Almost every weekend I went to a concert. In Philadelphia, where my family lived, there were a dozen great places to hear music. One was the Main Point, in Bryn Mawr. That’s where I saw Bonnie Raitt play for the first time. I was a senior in high school, and I don’t think she was much older, but boy howdy, could she rock. It was just her and her guitar and she blew the windows out of the place.

Other concerts were at the Spectrum arena, the Civic Center and the Academy of Music. From Simon and Garfunkel to Jimi Hendrix to Canned Heat, Rod Stewart, Chubby Checker and Fats Domino these guys all shared two things. First, they were dripping in talent. Second, they all had a story to tell.

I still think about those times. I think about how lucky I was as a high school kid to see many of the greatest rock, Motown and blues musicians of all time.

My favorite concert of all time was at the civic center. Bonnie Raitt opened, followed by Buddy Guy’s blues band. Then came the Allman Brothers, Santana and Chicago.

And here’s the thing: In those days, concert tickets were cheap. I don’t think I spent more than 10 bucks on any of them. In fact, at the Main Point, you could get in for $4 and still have money left over for one of the awesome desserts they served.

I think about how much music has meant to me in my life and I’m thankful.

These days, that’s impossible. Unless you show up at a concert with a briefcase full of cash, you can’t afford to get in – when there’s a good concert around. It just seems like most of the biggest acts skip Portlandia.

I feel sorry for today’s kids. They don’t get to see enough live music. They can play videos, listen to iTunes and stuff like that, but they don’t often have a chance to hear music played by massively talented musicians upclose and personal and on their way up.

In the meantime, I keep the music going. I hope you do the same thing, too. And whatever you do, Don’t turn it down!

Carl Sampson is a freelance writer and editor
who lives in beautiful downtown Stayton.

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