My son and I have tickets to see Green Day next week. I hesitate to say that we will be seeing Green Day next week, since the last time we had tickets, we didn't end up seeing Green Day. We ended up seeing news reports about Billie Joe Armstrong going into rehab and the concert was postponed and eventually cancelled. It was frustrating, and ultimately a learning experience. Getting into the arena is one thing. Finding your seats is another. Getting the artist to that arena is a completely different matter.
Last week, I called my son to see if he had heard the news about Chester Bennington. Chester was the lead singer of Linkin Park. He was right up until he hanged himself. Gone at the age of forty-one, leaving a wife and four kids and a band scratching their heads. His suicide was quickly linked to that of his friend and mentor, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden. Which was in turn linked to every untimely death of every rock and roll star that had ridden the hard road and ended up in the ditch.
My son and I had agreed early on about Green Day. I was listening to Dookie long before he was a resident in my home. His discovery came with American Idiot. We both like to turn it up. It was that crunchy, misanthropic rock that led my son to Linkin Park. That and Transformers. The inclusion of one of their songs on the soundtrack to his favorite movie made them a big hit in our house. A big, loud hit. It was the soundtrack of teenage angst, even though my son wasn't particularly angsty. It could be that the music helped take the edge off.
That's what I want to believe, anyway.
A couple weeks ago, I met a four-year old who knows all the words to "I Am The Walrus." I can't say that he understands them, but he knows them. And he sings them. Joyfully. He knows many other Beatles songs, thanks to his dad, who often accompanies him on guitar. This little boy knows which Beatle sang lead on some of these, and will announce it if prompted. He knows the music and he knows how they make him feel. He doesn't know that they broke up. He doesn't know that John was shot or that George died of cancer. He doesn't care that his father was born long after they had stopped recording as a group.
The music is out there.
Many years ago, I was in Seattle. It was shortly after Kurt Cobain had ended his life. It was morbid curiosity that drove my wife and I out to Kurt's house. Looking out across Lake Washington toward Mount Baker in the distance, I wondered how this couldn't be enough to get a guy up and out of bed for another day of living, let alone with a head full of music. Kurt left behind a wife and kid and a band scratching their collective heads.
So I guess I'm glad that we missed that show so Billie Joe could go to rehab. He and his band made a pretty good record, and they're on tour. My son and I want to hear it. And sing along.