Sometimes a dead phone can lead to great things. Years ago at one of the first Yankee Swaps that my friends and I were able to participate in due to our newfound adolescent independence and mild financial stability, I was enjoying a peaceful nighttime drive up the back roads of southern New Hampshire. My beat-up old Volvo was cruising along smoothly over the recently plowed roads with the surprisingly functional heating system and seat warmers making for a rare comfortable ride. Then, an all too common 21st century nightmare crept onto the device resting on my console. You guessed it: my phone died. As a dying Marlon Brando classically whimpered in Apocalypse Now, “The horror…the horror”.
What to do, what to do. With a dead phone and a painful reminder of my lack of musical choice shown through the dangling auxiliary chord, my options waned. I could double up on the car charger/auxiliary chord combo to form a unstoppable music shuffling experience, but I had left my charger in another car. I could play a CD, but the only CD I had in the car was a Def Leppard Greatest Hits album, and that ship had certainly sailed a few too many adrenaline filled hair rock excursions lately. Then it hit me; I’ll turn to ole’ unreliable: FM radio! Channel surfing as if I was decades in the past, I landed on Boston’s classic hit station 106.3 Frank FM for reasons I cannot particularly remember. With prior knowledge that of the station’s brand, I was surprised to hear what sounded like a concert setting and the performer talking to a crowd. As the crowd drifted off and the sad piano started, and my interest was thoroughly peaked. Out of nowhere, Jackson Browne (whom I didn’t know was Jackson Browne at the time) began walking through a tale of living the musical dream, having an extensive list of people to thank for it, and never wanting that dream to end. Then, Browne avowed one of my favorite verses in all of music:
Now roll them cases out and lift them amps
Haul them trusses down and get ’em up them ramps
‘Cause when it comes to moving me
You guys are the champs
But when that last guitar’s been packed away
You know that i still want to play
So just make sure you got it all set to go
Before you come for my piano
I literally laughed aloud after hearing that line and the crowds warm reaction to it. The verse was so honest, and he was confessing directly to a live audience in it’s debut no less. I feel the need to mention that this is reason number (insert hyperbolic number here) why some complaints that musical talent isn’t the same these days are warranted. When’s the last time you’ve heard a pop singer release an esteemed album that was recorded live in it’s entirety? You’d have to think about it, wouldn’t you. That’s because it’s nearly impossible for many artists to do that these days with the extensive nature of their imperative pre-release production. Regardless, the song continued and eventually meandered into a cover of Maurice Williams “Stay”, to which I laughed aloud again. What a great day to tune into the damn radio! The accompaniment of Rosemary Butler and Lindley completed the dream concert as Butler provided the necessary female counterpart and Lindley supplied a dazzling falsetto. Browne closed things off with a sincere “Hey thank y’all again for coming” just as I was pulling into my holiday gift exchanging destination. Needless to say I could have gotten any gift that night and I would have be walking out of there with a smile. Jackson Browne has put on a lot more live performances for me since that fateful night, and I’m especially thankful for that stroke of luck every time I hear him sing. So next time your phone dies, remember that temporary disconnection can lead to some magical happenings.