Music has always been a big part of my life. I can remember when I was growing up...my parents always had music on. For me, this is still one of my best memories as a child. I can remember them playing Neil Diamond, ABBA, Fleetwood Mac and James Taylor. It was always the first thing my dad did when he got up besides making coffee, he would turn on the stereo. To this day, in my own house, silence feels strange to me. If there is dead air in the house, I turn on music.
Along with that, I had an older brother. I must admit... this did make me feel cooler than those who did not have this advantage. My brother taught me about good music at a very young age. He was almost five years older than me and I looked up to him so I absorbed what he listened to. I learned to love Led Zeppelin, THE WHO, and Rush. As I got older, I noticed that my friends who grew up with older brothers also had a love and appreciation for the same kind of music. In high school, while some of our friends were listening to "pop"... New Kids On The Block, we were listening to The Doors and Leppelin. To this day, I'm so grateful to have had an appreciation for good music at such a young age. I still love to "get the Led out" to this day;) Music can change your mood, motivate you while working out, take you back to a specific time in your life...it's magic like that. I appreciate all genres of music, but my go-to has got to be folk these days. I love classics, but usually turn my Pandora stations to Ben Harper, Avett Brothers, Iron & Wine, Nick Drake, Stevie Nicks, or Ray Lamontagne.
I have been to many concerts, since my first one, Tom Petty at age 13 or 14. I have been hooked. I can remember one concert in particular that I was more excited about than any other before...Pearl Jam in 1995. I went to San Francisco to see them, they played one song and Eddie Vedder got sick and couldn't continue. Neil Young filled in for them....which was cool, but I was there for Pearl Jam! They made up the show at a later date in San Jose...November of 1995. One of the best shows ever. My friend and I were waiting and hoping they would play "Indifference", our favorite song. When they hadn't played it, we were truly bummed. Well, that ended up being their last, encore song. We almost cried we were so excited. We had an inside joke that he played it just for us.
Well, that night, their opening act was Ben Harper. I had never heard of him but as soon as I heard his voice, I was forever a fan. His voice was mesmerizing....one of those voices that is even better live. One of those raw voices that gets under your skin and gives you chills. You can feel how much he loves what he does. Besides Stevie Nicks of course... he is my all time favorite musician. Depending on the song, one could call his music rock & roll, folk, reggae, even gospel. He's been singing "Hallelujah" on his acoustic tour, it's fantastic.
Since that day, I have been going to Ben Harper shows for almost 20 years, from little bars in Santa Cruz to big venues in NYC and SF. I've lost count how many times I've seen him now, but tonight will make one more. He is coming to The Green Music Center at Sonoma State University, only 15 minutes from my house! I have a friend who works at Sonoma State who told me about it as soon as it was announced and got us front row, center tickets the minute they went on sale! Needless to say, I am SO excited! One of the best shows I've ever seen of his was at Carnegie Hall in New York City. It was an all acoustic show. We were in the "nose bleed" seats. He played 12 different guitars including the slide guitar, which he's famous for. The acoustics along with his voice were amazing. That show was particularly special because he played THE Pearl Jam song that Eddie Vedder encored that very first night I ever saw him in 1995..."Indifference". It kind of brought it full circle, one of those cool moments in life that I'll remember forever. I was with the same friend that I was with at that very first show...we knew that song was being played just for us...once again.
Most people, honestly, have never heard of Ben Harper when I turn them onto him... he's never been very "main stream". He was married to Laura Dern and they have children together. I was sad to hear they are no longer together...I love her as an actress and always have. I thought they made a very cute couple. Two things are sure to happen when people get to know me.... you'll learn to like champagne...and you will be introduced to Ben Harper music.
Sometimes you hear music that really moves you. When my husband first heard Ben Harper's song "With My Own Two Hands", it touched him because he's a chiropractor...so he heard something different in it than I ever had. That's what's so special about music, it's personal. Music is one thing that really bonded my husband and I early on...we love music. Even though he's ten years older than me, we have very similar taste in music so where there could have been a palpable age gap, it's actually a wonderful bond we have. We can sit and listen to old music together forever.
I put Ben Harper's "By My Side" lyrics on my wedding CD as that has always been a special song for my husband and I. I've only ever heard him sing it once in concert. He sang it for a couple at Carnegie Hall, it was their anniversary and they had requested it.
Maybe, just maybe, he'll play it tonight...just for us...;)
-Photos of Ben Harper from Pinterest.