The First Time

by Kasey Krol, SUNY Cortland

Posted in on Friday, Mar 14

Have you ever heard a song for the first time after hearing it countless times before? Suddenly the words are sung with a whole new meaning. The music is richer and deeper. The bass soaks into your bones and goose bumps cover your skin. Your eyes might even get a little watery, if the mood is right.

I have a favorite band, and a favorite friend. We go to concerts together year after year. Each time it’s pretty much the same. We leave around two or three in the afternoon and make the trip to the venue, wherever it may be. We arrive hours earlier than necessary but don’t drink in the parking lots like ninety-eight percent of the attendees. It’s always summer time, and we always sweat. The sun beats us to death until we can’t take it anymore. It isn’t long before we retreat to our seats and watch the world revolve around us.

The opening band comes on around seven, and the main show begins around 8:15. It’s all so predictable. I can confidently say that just before a show starts a road crew member vacuums the rugs that lie on stage. That always gets us excited. We know what’s coming.

The lights go down. The crowd goes crazy. Our favorite band is suddenly before us, ready to perform just for us for the next two or thee hours. We’ve seen their shows so many times we can guess pretty accurately which song will be first and we laugh and roll our eyes when we pick the right one. Someone remind us why we keep coming back.

So, we know the routine pretty well. We know we will leave satisfied, and we never dare to expect anything that strays from the familiar. But then, there are those moments. We’ve all had them. Anytime you do something you truly love, there are those moments. You are taken back to the beginning when what has become so mundane and monotonous was bright and exciting and new.

Scranton, Pennsylvania. July 5th, 2006. Approximately 10 o’clock pm. The silence from the stage is interrupted by a few simple guitar chords. It is a sound I first heard over ten years ago. It reminds me of driving at night with the windows down. It reminds me of swinging in the hammock that hangs beneath a massive pine tree in my backyard. It reminds me of drifting off to sleep. To me, it is pure unadulterated bliss.

None of these memories were anywhere within reach the moment I first heard my favorite song live. My friend turned to me with an incredulous look on her face as if she knew how desperately I’d been waiting to hear this song in concert. My hands leapt to my mouth and I couldn’t form a coherent thought. The opening lyrics came flying from before me and I couldn’t recall a single word.

I spent the next fifteen minutes in a dream-like state. It was as if the music reverberating around me was coming from within my very own body, like I was so full of sound and motion and feeling that I couldn’t fit one more emotion in my heart. All from a song. A piece of music. I let myself hear it for the first time, after a lifetime of loving it, and that was the best decision I ever made.

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