Everything has chains

That ^ guy    

My best friend is cooler than yours. My best friend took me to see Pearl Jam. In Seattle. Your argument is invalid.

I went into the Pearl Jam show thinking, I’ll know enough of their songs to enjoy the show. 

Three plus hours later I was all, holy shit, I know a lot more PJ than I remember. 

Because here’s the thing: I haven’t really listened to PJ since Vitalogy.

When a band debuts with one of the greatest records ever recorded – Ten – it’s really difficult to keep up that momentum. And Vitalogy left me meh so I never really bothered again until Kris came along and gave me their entire catalog. Now, it’s on my phone and plays at random with all the other thousands of songs I have.

But seeing them live I realized that A LOT has managed to seep into the deepest parts of my cerebellum.

None of that is the point of this post.

The point of this post is that guy in the photo.

The sun hadn’t quite set so it was early in the show when PJ played Why Go. That guy stopped on his way back from a beer/bathroom run and lost his shit. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.

The song starts – and you know how rocking it is – all drums and guitars and this guy just starts dancing his face off. But something about him refusing to join the rest of the masses made me curious.

At one point he bends over. I assume he’s spent from being a one man mosh pit. But then I see his hand wipe tears from his face.

Maybe someday another child won’t feel as alone as she does…

It was unmistakeable. As to confirm it, a friend of his checked on him and he waved her off but, not before giving her a big hug. She stepped back and watched him for a bit to make sure he was okay before she left.

That’s when I decided to grab a picture of him.

He stood there a bit just… watching. Wiped a few more tears then, threw up his hand for the rest of the song.

I like to imagine the song is his anthem. Like, this song speaks about the shit at a time in my life I didn’t think I would survive but, I did.

She seems to be stronger…

Maybe I’m overthinking it. Maybe it was just a guy who got too drunk too early.

After the song he disappeared into the masses and I never saw him again.

And I realized I didn’t entirely want them to play Given To Fly after all.

Because that’s what the best music does to us, isn’t it? It leaves us raw despite our best efforts. It takes this thing, this moment you’ve spent your life insulating yourself from, this thing you survived and it lays it bare on the table.

As much as it reminds us that we survived, it reminds us that this thing that happened or, that we did or, that we witnessed is a part of us and always will be and we have to carry that. Music sometimes renders our defenses null and void.

As I stood there watching him disappear I suddenly realized didn’t want them to play my favorite song. In fact there were a couple of songs I didn’t want to hear because I didn’t want to crumble.

I did not crumble that night.

But that guy in the photo, whatever thing Why Go carried you through, fuck yeah, you made it.

Have a day.

Copyright 2022 Rudy Martinez
©2024 Rudy Martinez