Connections through shared love of music

Connections through shared love of music

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” —Billy Joel

I got to thinking a few weeks back, regardless of the divisions we sometimes find ourselves equated to, that attending concerts might be the one place left on Earth where we are all going to get along and enjoy one another’s company for a bit — where our focus, for a blessed, few hours, goes from the worries of our world to the celebration of musical fervor. (Unless you are at a Pink Floyd concert … did they write exuberant songs?)

One might ask, “Well, what about sporting events?” That might be a good argument for fandom equilibrium, but if you are like me, you end up sitting beside the world’s most obnoxious fan of the opposing team, doing his spirited best to make his team’s victory over the hometown favorite known to everyone sitting within that section.

My one and only trip to the Dawg Pound in Cleveland landed me in a sea of yellow and black and also landed me in a sea of frosty beverages being tossed and/or spilled on me every time the Steelers scored. This particular game ended in a 43-0 loss for the good guys. On a cool, crystal, clear September night, it was a very wet evening.

I suppose there also is the possibility that the artists the concert-goers are there to hear might toss out a political comment or two, angering half of their audience, but usually, that is quickly forgiven and forgotten amongst the cascade of popular songs.

Watching what I can only assume was a grandma, daughter and granddaughter enjoying the concert I wrote about last week speaks to this connectivity of music, this shared love of one of our most treasured art forms.

More often than not, for my parents and me, that connection comes from the magic of musical theater, but I was curious about their concert-going days from their youth, days when their four children did not demand and/or consume most of their time.

“I think my first concert was James Taylor at Blossom with Margaret after we had just finished nursing school. We were sitting on the lawn and probably the only ones not smoking pot,” my mother told me.

She went on to rattle off some artists that filled the sounds of my childhood living room: “Let’s see … The Lettermen, Anne Murray, Tony Bennett, Air Supply, Neil Diamond, Willie Nelson and, of course, Kenny Rogers. Your dad and I enjoyed the Beach Boys at the fair several years ago. Oh, did I mention Kenny?” The gambler was a clear favorite.

While the musical acts may differ in taste, the memorable experiences do not.

Wooster High School guidance counselor Cheryl Goff recalled loving her first concert but also being a little bit scared.

“I think it was August of 1973 when (my siblings and I) went to see the Jackson 5 at the Ohio State Fair. We were right up front; I can still see the white fence leaning and hear it screeching against the push/pressure from the fans,” Goff said. “But that concert was so cool. I had no idea Michael would go on to become the global sensation he eventually did; 13-year-old me just thought he was cool and cute and could really sing and dance.”

Sometimes those concert firsts move beyond the perspective of entertainment and impact us in ways we may not realize as youth.

“I don’t remember what grade I was in, but it was in the early 1990s. I sat on the auditorium floor with my class where many schools of the surrounding area attended the event. It was a performance being given by the Akron Symphony Orchestra,” Wooster High School orchestra teacher Caren Atanackovic said. “The memories are so vivid because it was Copeland’s music, which I had heard before, but hearing ‘Rodeo from Hoedown’ and ‘Appalachian Spring’ live was a completely different experience,” an experience that played a part in shaping Atanackovic’s professional life.

And then, every once in a while, you end up with a story like Wooster Weekly’s Editor-in-Chief Mike Plant, a story that is akin to a simpler time when the world and the famous folks within it did not take themselves quite so seriously.

While his first concert included a trip to a music festival at Bowling Green State University with over seven musical acts crossing several genres, a massive thunderstorm and the burning of the stadium’s press box, a musical highlight actually came a few years later at Blossom Music Center.

Catching the Doobie Brothers on their “Takin’ It To The Streets Tour” in the late ‘70s, Plant and his friends found themselves wandering the Blossom grounds, trying to find their car after the show. “It felt like (we looked for) an hour,” Plant said.

Before discovering their own vehicle, they stumbled upon a stuck station wagon that appeared to make an attempt to exit but instead got trapped in a ditch. As they approached the car to help, three of the Doobie Brothers hopped out.

“We helped push their car out,” Plant said. “Then we told them what a great show they put on. But that also tells you how long we were looking for our car, when the band and road crew were beating us out of there.”

These days, of course, the likelihood of running into Taylor Swift post-show would likely send her adoring fans into apoplexy, but if music and concerts and the enjoyment they bring continue to be the great commonality/equalizer amongst us, I will continue to agree with Billy Joel and then maybe add a little beat of some Shakespeare: “If music be the food of love, play on.”

Brett Hiner is in his 27th year of teaching English/language arts at Wooster High School, where he also serves as the yearbook advisor and Drama Club advisor/director. When writing, he enjoys connecting cultural experiences, pop and otherwise to everyday life. He can be emailed at

Loading next article...

End of content

No more pages to load