This week marks the 37th anniversary of the release of The Ramones first album, the self-titled "Ramones". The Ramones are an influential band in my life. I tend to use The Ramones as a yard stick to the aging process. Although aging is inevitable and I accept it, I hope that I never get "old". The moment that The Ramones sound silly to me, I will know that I took a wrong turn and have gotten old. I hope this never happens - I want to be a 90 year old who still has the urge to jump up and down whenever I hear one of their songs--even if my body is no longer capable of it.
I didn't actually discover The Ramones though until I reached high school and was opened up to the whole punk and new wave scene. Prior to this, a period I like to refer to as B.R. (before Ramones), I grew up in Hamilton and didn't have any older siblings to introduce me to any underground music. The only frame of music reference kids like me had was CKOC AM radio. So let me confess something to you...Hello, my name is The Lassie and I love late 70's/early 80's AM radio bands. It was the music that I listened to in junior high and it takes me back to those years and will forever be dear to my heart.
Last summer The Fella and I headed to Rock the Park, an annual festival held in London, Ontario. The line up last year was a retro AM radio fan's wet dream--The Romantics, REO Speedwagon, Prism, The Steve Miller Band & Boston--pretty much the entire 45-record collection that I listened to in the basement of Michelle Taylor's house circa 1979.
As a rule, my outdoor rock festivals days are over. You are pretty much guaranteed to have that "old" feeling that I spoke about when you are surrounded by twenty-somethings at a festival headlined by bands that you have never heard of, or worse, bands that you don't "get" which typically leads to the old person conversation trap "music isn't like how it was in my day!" Nope, Rock the Park concert goers are in their 40's and 50's-- people who can hold down mortgages and their liquor. There is something to be said about being silly amongst your peers. "Can't fight this feeling" by REO Speedwagon was one of the first songs that I ever slow danced to -- when they played it live, The Fella and I slow danced and smooched in the park. Something like that would never fly at Coachella amongst a crowd of people who could quite easily be your kids.
The Fella and I after our smoochy junior high dance
In my twenties, I had a tank style, cast iron bladder and could drink beer all day long and maybe only visit the washroom once or twice. Yep, not any more. Not only is there a need for frequent visits to the Port-O-Lets, but they have to be timed accordingly; a lesson that was learned on the Friday night. The trick is to head to the lines during the last song of the set, or else you risk massive line ups with a bursting aged bladder. After a long walk to the toilets in torrential rain and a long wait to only get to the middle of the line up, I knew that I wouldn't be able to wait any longer. Desperate times call for desperate measures my friends. I ducked behind an equipment truck and unleashed the wrath of Coors. Thankfully the rain drowned out the sound of my personal monsoon or else I would have drowned out the the band that had just taken the stage. To add to my humiliation, when I finished, I was caught doing up my belt by a young employee who chastised me with "Hey we have bathrooms for that you know!" to which I responded "Hey, I'm in my forties and dignified - you think I chose to do this??!" Seriously, go work at Burning Man with peeps your own age.
It was shortly after this "water"gate incident that we ran into The Fella's mate, Shaun, who works in the music industry. My embarrassing public urination was eased when he presented us with backstage passes. It was a thrill to watch The Steve Miller band side stage from the monitor board and out of the downpour. It was also a junior high thrill to be chatted up by the drummer from one of the bands! I still kid myself that even though:
a) my clothes were soaked;
b) my makeup was smudged; and
c) I probably had trace amounts of pee on my shorts,
that I still had what it takes to be chatted up by a drummer from a band that I love. In reality, I probably looked more like a rock of aged skanky groupie....
Rock the Park will be held this year from July 25 - July 27. For more information visit http://rockthepark.ca
Backstage watching The Steve Miller Band. How many mullets do you spot?