July 8, 2010 | « back

USA TODAY – Final Word: With 10,000 miles behind us, and more to go

By Craig Wilson

Years ago, when The Beatles were young and I was even younger, my parents shuffled off to Buffalo for an evening of Big Band music. I don’t remember whose orchestra it was —Glenn Miller or Jimmy Dorsey maybe — but I do remember I thought their outing was lame.

I mean, it was 1965. Time to move on, folks. World War II was long over, we won, so maybe it was time to do the Twist. Remember the Twist?

They just gave me that someday-you’ll-understand smile as they went out the door.
I thought of my folks the other night when I was listening to James Taylor and Carole King, whose world tour ends July 20 in Anaheim, Calif.

I had bought the tickets months ago, before I got hit by a car, and although my mobility is minimal, I was going to this concert no matter what. My neighbor Meaghan and friend Dan profess to be bigger Taylor fans than I, but they are not.

I still cannot drive from Stockbridge to Boston without bursting into song.

Though the Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frosting …

So I hobbled in to spend an evening with two people I’ve spent most of my life with — from my college years to my first-job years to my middle-age years and beyond.

Looking around the concert I saw myself a thousand times. Aging Baby Boomers. Sixtyish. Balding. Gray. A more beautiful sight I’ve never seen.

The fact I arrived on crutches only added to the poignancy of a generation on its way, if not out, en route.

Not that we’re going quietly. I sang along without any hint of embarrassment, as did most everyone else. We can’t remember what we had for lunch, of course, but our muddled minds easily took us back to Carolina.

Can’t you just feel the moonshine …

Nostalgia is a great thing because it lets us remember times more pleasantly than they were. It was a messy world when I first listened to Taylor in the early ’70s. The Vietnam War was raging. The draft loomed. Kraft macaroni-and-cheese was for dinner. Nightly.

But I fondly remember my first spartan apartment where I played his albums, over and over again, on a record player that sat on the floor because I didn’t have a table.

Taylor went through more than we did over the years, though. Drug abuse. Mental illness. Divorce. Breakups. Career ups and downs. He even lost his hair right along with the rest of us.

But there he was down on the stage. Still singing. Still a friend.

Ain’t it good to know …