It was a badge of honor, those T-shirts. Juniors in high school wore them proudly. Some of us did. I missed out on the first time Boston played in our area. They were a sensation, again to a certain number of us. We memorized the licks, note for note, because it would be easier to air guitar them that way. When we sang along, we did so at the peril of making falsetto fools of ourselves. Trying to hit those high notes along with Brad Delp was done at your own peril. Most of us were in the throes of some pretty hefty puberty blues at that point, so getting there wasn't the problem. Staying there was.
Boston's first album came to me, as so many rock classics did, by way of my older brother. I heard that thunder the first time in his college pad and it seemed like a revelation. It was. It was not Bachman Turner Overdrive. It was not Blue Oyster Cult or Black Sabbath. It was a highly produced and highly technical monster rock record. Coming out two years before the first Van Halen record, it was hard to imagine anything that crisp and clean and still so loud. It dared you to turn it up past eleven. It wasn't too clever. It wasn't prog rock. You didn't have to think too much about it because it rocked so very hard.
And so did we. We were band geeks, and fiercely proud of it. When we heard tickets were going on sale for the Don't Look Back Tour, we were ready. We weren't anyone's little brothers. We were rock and roll fans and we could drive ourselves to the show, thank you very much. Except I didn't go. Somehow, when it came time for seats to be purchased, no one thought to ask me. This was before I became the duly deputized ticket boss of all those in my purvey. This is why I became the duly deputized ticket boss of all those in my purvey. My buddies went to the show without me. When I met up with them the next Monday at school, they were wearing those shirts and wailing away at instruments that really weren't there. Only in their minds. And in their hearts. They had ascended. They had seen Boston. Live. And they were living to tell the tale.
I waited four long months until Boston came back to Colorado. This time it was part of a daylong rock show that featured Bob Welch, Poco, and The Doobie Brothers before the main event. I stood there in the crowd, eagerly anticipating the appearance of Tom Scholz and the rest of the guys, wondering how much longer I could listen to my good friends rave on about how awesome the show they saw was. I made sure I had a seat for this one, but I didn't need it. I was on my feet from the first squeal to the last thunderous crash of drums. Along with fifty thousand other Boston fans, we rocked until the sun set behind the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
I had seen Boston.
And I bought myself a shirt.