As I made my way through the hoards of fans, all braving the latest nor’easter to bomb the East Coast on the official first day of spring, their puffy coats and wet boots creaking and slipping along the tiled floor, the ticket taker said to me, “Aren’t you a little too young for this? Are you even going to know any of the songs?”
*Me, recites all the lyrics to Barbara Ann, Help Me Rhonda, Fun, Fun, Fun, Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Sloop John B, Kokomo in my head silently*
“Is there such a thing as being too young for good music?” I asked, handing her my ticket and finding my seat in the beautiful and quaint Scottish Rite Auditorium in Collingswood, NJ. If you’ve never been to the theater before, you’re in for a delight. It’s a smaller venue that packs just as many fans as it does its’ charming character.
In my younger, more formidable years I was consumed with seeing the artists of my time: Britney Spears, N*sync, A*Teens and their weird ABBA remixes. My mother, a nostalgic woman if I’d ever met one, brought me up on the classics: The Beatles, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, Meatloaf. We’d be standing in line at Kmart and a Beatles song would come on and she’d ask me, “Courtney, which one is singing?” Up until the day she died, I still said Paul when it was really John, and John when it was really Paul.
Regardless, the older I get, the more I’ve become an appreciator of real music: the kind of lyrics that stemmed from real obsession, and more preferably sung by talented folks who didn’t require auto-tune just to sell a record. Or in the Beach Boys’ case, over 100 million.
The Beach Boys were slated to begin playing at 7:30 PM and they came out right on time, jumping into their classics about the wind, the surf and them California waves. After a little introduction, Mike Love sings just as beautifully and poetically as he did in the 60s. Videos of their old tours, and 1960’s haircuts and screaming, adoring fans covered the jumbo screen. It was an utterly surreal moment.
My father and I are quiet folks, gently tapping our feet, occasionally mouthing the lyrics to our favorite songs even though inside we were both screaming. Truthfully, I’m glad we don’t represent Beach Boys fans because the rest of the crowd were out of their seats, singing songs, clapping hands, swaying backsides into their lover’s thighs, tossing beach balls much to the delight and amusement of us seated all the way in the nosebleed seats.
All these years later after first debuting and the Beach Boys act like no time has passed. Their energy bounces right off the stage, their lyrics as simple and laid-back as they always were, their voices just as sweet and the music, just as inspiring. It took me back to being a girl with wavy locks, walking along the sandy beaches of California feeling the sand between my toes and my body adorning the crystal waves – AND I’VE NEVER EVEN BEEN TO CALIFORNIA! (The closest is the Oregon Coast which in my opinion, is probably just as beautiful)
While it’s probably true that I was the youngest person in the crowd last night, everyone else was even younger at heart. My father said to me on our drive home that their songs took him right back to being a teenager and it’s apparent that he wasn’t the only one who thought it. Everyone in that theater was sixteen again.
The Beach Boys have a legacy that has preceded them since the 1960s and will still be present long after they pass (which at their rate will be in the year 3030). I’m glad to have added them to my list of icons that I’ve seen so far: Queen, Stevie Nicks, KISS, Metallica, Bette Midler, Tom Petty – and now the Beach Boys: the kings of the wind, the surf and music that I’m pretty sure the only reason why palm trees have swayed in California since 1961.