We’ve all read books we’ve haven’t liked, right? There are a lot of books out there. Not every one will be your cup of tea. But have you ever looked forward to a book – a book that sounded so perfect it was almost like it was written just for you – only to hate it so much you couldn’t bring yourself to finish it?
That’s how it was when I tried to read Every Anxious Wave by Mo Daviau. (Stay with me, here. I promise this post is not a book review.) The book is about a bartender named Karl who discovers a time-traveling portal that allows people to travel back in time to see their favorite bands. Along the way, he sends his best friend to the year 980 instead of 1980 and falls in love with an astrophysicist named Lena who tries to help him get his friend back.
I could not wait for this book to come out. It sounded so perfect I was mad I didn’t come up with idea myself. I was afraid to read it because I thought it would be so good it would destroy my will to ever write my own book. I had to wait months for my local library to get a copy and when I finally got my hands on it…I hated it. Like truly, madly, deeply hated it. I just couldn’t connect with the characters. They were a bunch of music snobs. To the point where Karl, who “owns” the portal, wouldn’t let people use it unless he liked the bands they wanted to see. So, unless you were a Sebadoh or Elliot Smith fan, you were out of luck.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Sebadoh and Elliot Smith. But if I was going to throw myself into a portal in the back of stranger’s closet, I would, without a moment’s hesitation, chose to travel back to 1989 to see New Kids On The Block.
And why shouldn’t I? After all, is it possible to feel more intensely about a live show than an adolescent girl seeing her favorite boy band for the first time? Watch some clips of girls crying hysterically when they finally see Joey McIntyre up on stage, and then try to tell those girls they can’t possibly be enjoying themselves as much as you would be if you were at a Yo La Tengo show. She will dig a nail file out of her fanny pack and cut you. Then go right back to singing “Please Don’t Go Girl” while you bleed to death in a sea of tight-rolled denim clad ankles.
I know because I was one of those girls. I had a fierce, one-sided love with Joey Mac. Ask my sister who had to share a room with me. I plastered nearly every inch of our shared walls with posters and Tiger Beat photos of Joey without her permission. Then, when she wasn’t in the room, I would stare into Joey’s clear blue eyes and try to think of ways to make him fall in love with me.
And I almost got my chance when the New Kids planned a tour stop in Iowa back in 1989. The possibility of sharing the same breathing space with Joey was finally in my grasp, but that dream was not to become reality. No, my shot at Joey was ripped away in a cruel twist of fate when my sister – the very one who slept peacefully every night in MY shrine to Joseph Mulrey McIntyre – got invited to go to the show with a friend.
Oh the injustice! She didn’t like New Kids on the Block! I knew it, she knew it, everyone knew it! The noble thing to do would have been to give me the ticket, but noooo. Older sisters are not known for their nobility. Maybe it was just payback for the unauthorized NKOTB decor. Some wouldn’t blame her. But I did, and still do.
So, yes, I would go back to 1989 and see the New Kids on the Block. Abso-friggin-lutely! And then I would hunt my sister down at the show and dump an extra-large Mountain Dew on her huge permed head.
But, not everyone is out for revenge. And not everyone wants a mixtape of just live NKOTB songs. So I reached out to my readers to see how they would answer the question. Here’s what they had to say
“I would go back in time to see NKOTB live. I didn’t have the money for a ticket back in middle school, but I would have loved it!!”
– Jenny (yes, Jenny is a real person and not someone I paid to say that. She was my best friend growing up, and if I remember correctly, her favorite New Kid was Danny)
“2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show or Cash at Folsom”
“November 25, 1976 at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. The Band’s farewell performance which was filmed for “The Last Waltz”.”
“1959 …the Winter Dance Party concert at the Surf Ballroom. The final concert for Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper.”
-Deb (who is perhaps the very same sister who thwarted my chances with Joey)
“I think I’m going to have to go with Elvis. He was my first true musical love. But young Elvis, not old Vegas Elvis. But then again if I could relive the Social Distortion concert where I was up front all night and got to meet Mike Ness after, I might do that too.”
“R.E.M. in 1984. Seeing Sleater-Kinney with you a couple of years ago was pretty great, too.”
-Shawn (my husband, an no, I didn’t pay him to say that, either)
“Well I’m gonna say something that no one would ever suspect. Frank Sinatra’s last concert and retirement show.”
“I would have loved to see a Van Halen concert! The original band would have been fun to see because of David Lee Roth’s shenanigans. However, I would have also loved to see VH with Sammy Hager because he was a much better singer. Eddie and the boys were also playing playing much tighter with Sammy. Also would have loved to see R.E.M. before they disbanded.”
Thanks everyone who contributed this week! Here are your requests along with a few of my favorite live performances mixed in! I made a playlist on YouTube this week to make it a little easier for everyone to listen! Hope you enjoy it!
You Got It (The Right Stuff) – New Kids on the Block, live in Providence
Dance the Night Away – Van Halen, live 1979
South Central Rain – R.E.M., live 1984
The Lady is a Tramp – Frank Sinatra, live “The Retirement Concert”
Blue Suede Shoes – Elvis Presley, live 1956
Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash, live at Folsom
This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) – Talking Heads, live “Stop Making Sense” tour film
The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down – The Band, live “The Last Waltz”
I Want You To Want Me – Cheap Trick, live 1979
What Goes Around Comes Around – Justin Timberlake, live “20/20 Experience” tour film
That’ll Be the Day – Buddy Holly and The Crickets, live 1957
Buddy Holly – Weezer, live 1996
Skinny Love – Bon Iver, live 2009
California Stars – Wilco, live Farm Aid 1998
Natural Woman – Aretha Franklin, live 1968
Crazy – Patsy Cline, live at the Grand Ole Oprey
Do You Realize – The Flaming Lips, live at the Jodrell Bank Observatory
Where Did You Sleep Last Night – Nirvana, “MTV Unplugged”
Purple Rain – Prince, live 1985