It is 1986 and the 8 year old me is going to London, in the car with his Mum and Dad to see Billy Joel at Wembley Arena. Little did I realise that I was about embark upon 30 Years of Billy Joel…..
I often wonder when I read peoples memoirs how they have such a good recollection of events that happened when they were younger as thinking back now I remember very little about that night really. I remember queuing outside to get into the venue and hearing soundcheck going on inside. I remember being apprehensive of what it was going to be like but also being very excited about it all.
I remember being struck by how loud it was, how bright the lights were, how many people there were and that they all knew the words! Until that time I had only ever heard Billy Joel on the stereo at home or in my parents car, he was something that was a part of the background to life, I had never thought about OTHER people liking him. I guess that was when I first ‘got’ the whole live music thing, the shared experience of being in a room with others who share your passion for whoever it is on stage. I have a very strong memory of them playing Big Man on Mulberry Street for some reason, of sitting looking down at the band playing and sensation of the sound washing over me, drawing me in and enveloping me – that more than anything else has stayed with me since that night.
Fast forward 30 years and it is 2016 and the 38 year old me is going to London, to see Billy Joel at Wembley Stadium again but this time, with my partner. I was definitely one of the youngest the first time I went to see him and I don’t think I was far off it again this time around, it is fair to say that his fanbase has grown up with him.
As I sat there watching the show I couldn’t help but think back over the 30 years that had passed since the first time I had seen Billy perform. So many things have changed as I have grown into a man; going through education, getting a job and all the other things that happen to you as you travel through life. My thoughts turned to my Dad, who died suddenly when I was 14, just 6 years after I had sat with him watching Billy Joel all those years ago. It is rather bizarre that you can be in the middle of a concert, surrounded by 80,000 people yet at the same time be so much in your own little bubble that you can experience a personal moment of reflection.
While I was thinking about all the things that had changed it occurred to me that one thing had remained a constant in those years, the music. I was singing along to the same songs that I had done the first time and that they had remained as part of the background to life. That is the beauty of music I guess, it provides the soundtrack to our lives and is a constant among all the changes that come and go with the passage of time.
Hopefully in 30 years time, when I am 68 and about the age Billy Joel is now I will still be enjoying his music, thinking about all the enjoyment it has provided over all the years.