You never forget your first big crush.
It’s one of those things that sticks with you forever.
My first one came in the ninth grade – she sat next to me in science class.
From the first day of school I was infatuated – so much so that I actually looked forward to science class.
Her name was Margie, and our relationship never went further than really good friends.
Believe it or not, I’m okay with that because over the years I’ve learned that sometimes, contrary to what Billy Crystal said in When Harry Met Sally, men and women can be friends.
For the entire school year Margie and I had a blast in science class. Many times we were threatened by our teacher, Mr. Morris, with being separated if we didn’t pay attention to him, instead of each other.
One of the things we used to love to do was talk about our favorite songs.
One day Margie came to class overflowing with excitement about a new song. She told me I just had to hear it…it was called Black Water by The Doobie Brothers.
She had the lyrics written down, she told me all about the vocal harmonies and the sweet music that put you right there on the Mississippi. By the time we got to her house after school to play the album (as in vinyl – after all it was 1974) I felt like I already knew the song.
Margie was right – it was a fantastic song. I loved it from the first time I heard it.
Sadly, Margie’s family moved away after ninth grade and I’ve never seen or heard from her since.
If you read either of my books, you’ll see references to her and The Doobies in both.
Maybe it’s unrequited love…who knows.
But I digress…
Flash forward to 1978.
I’m in college. It’s a warm October evening and I’m in my dorm room watching M*A*S*H with my roommate and a couple of friends when there’s a knock on the door.
Two guys from down the hall, names I can’t remember, said they had an extra concert ticket and asked me if I wanted to go.
Believe it or not, up to this point in my life, I had never been to a concert and really didn’t have much desire to deal with the crowd.
I started to decline, citing my lack of funds as a reason, when my roommate asked who was playing.
One of the guys said, “The Doobie Brothers.”
“I’ll go,” I blurted.
“I thought you were broke,” he said.
“How much is the ticket?”
“$8.95” (I know – can you believe it?)
“Rick,” I said, turning to my roommate, “loan me ten bucks.”
We walked from the dorm to Boston’s Music Hall and I don’t think heard a word either of those guys said. I was going to see The Doobies and all I could think of was Margie.
The concert completely shattered my expectations, I remember being really impressed with the lighting almost as much as the music. They played all their classics…China Grove, Long Train Running, South City Midnight Lady, Rocking Down the Highway, Taking it to the Streets…and they were (to use some vintage Rhode Island vernacular) wicked awesome!
But when they slowed it down and the lights dimmed and I heard those tiny little bells signifying the beginning of Black Water I became one with the universe.
At the risk of sounding cliché – I was certain they were singing directly to me.
Throughout the entire song I flashed back to ninth grade science and Margie – and I was certain that wherever she was on that night, she knew I was thinking about her.
I don’t remember what songs they played after Black Water and I don’t remember walking back to the dorm afterward – but I remember Black Water as if it were yesterday.
To this day, I can’t hear that song without thinking about Margie and my out of body experience at the Music Hall.
I didn’t save my ticket stub and I didn’t buy a tee-shirt (I was broke, remember?) but it didn’t matter, I knew I was not going to need a souvenir to remember the night.
I’ve been to lots of concerts since then – some really great ones – but that one will always be my favorite.
You never forget your first one!