CROSBY: Music events carry audiences across time
By Denise Crosby firstname.lastname@example.org August 17, 2013 10:26PM
John Ford Coley gets the music going Saturday night at RiverEdge in Aurora. | Denise Crosby~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 19, 2013 9:56AM
Our noses can do it almost instantly.
I can smell something as simple as a sloppy joe sandwich and be transported back in time — to the county fair in my hometown, where my 4-H club once served up lunch-counter platters of these favorites by the hundreds.
Or I can inhale the right combination of air, earth and sunshine, and I’m whisked back decades to the harvests of my childhood.
And like our sense of smell, music also has a way of providing instant and emotional time travel.
I experienced it in May at Aurora’s Paramount Theatre when I watched Peter Noone and his new Herman’s Hermits sweep a packed audience of mostly gray-hairs back to their youth with songs such as “I’m Into Something Good,” “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” and “Wonderful World.”
Eyes closed, hands raised, these fans — some stooped and arthritic — were on their feet throughout much of the concert, swaying to and fro as the music carried them like a tsunami back to a long-ago era that had become little more than a faded memory.
Watching it — and, yes, experiencing it myself — was powerful and surreal.
And it happened again on a recent Saturday night at RiverEdge when beautiful August weather and the “Sail Rock” concert brought a massive sea of people together at Aurora’s new outdoor entertainment venue.
Only this time, hit-makers of the ’70s and ’80s were responsible for the time travel. The acts included Christopher Cross (“Sailing”), Orleans (“Dance With Me”), Gary Wright (“Love is Alive”), Firefall (“You are the Woman”), John Ford Coley (“Love is the Answer”), Robbie Dupree (“Steal Away”) and Players (“Baby Come Back”).
“A certain song can take you right back to the room where you listened to it and the people who were with you,” said 55-year-old Candy Birk of Yorkville, who got tickets for husband Brian for their ninth anniversary.
“Music is our emotional connection,” continued Birk, a huge fan of Cross. “We listened to our 45s, and they made us cry. Hearing it again can bring back all those emotions.”
There’s probably a biological reason a collection of sounds has the power to conjure up such images, stories and emotions. But when you’re listening to songs such as Wright’s “Dream Weaver,” Firefall’s “Just Remember I Love You” or Orleans’ “Still the One,” the last thing you’re contemplating is the anatomy of the brain.
We’re talking sounds of the heart here.
Ron Zapfel, 52, of Naperville, who was at the concert with wife, Stacie, and daughter Lindsey Berry, agreed that music has the power to take you immediately back to your youth — and “remind you of just how many years have passed” since those days.
And, yes, it also has the power to cross generations. Berry is only 27, yet admitted she shared her parents’ appreciation for these oldie-goldies. “I listened to these songs growing up,” she said with a laugh. “I can’t believe I know all the words.”
Cary Miller, a 56-year-old Peru man and a musician himself, believes “It’s all about the feelings.” And that emotional intensity, he noted, is why music provides “a common fiber that connects us all in the same way.”
Perhaps it was that nostalgic fiber that repeatedly brought the crowd to its feet as these aging soft rockers rolled out their hits one after the other.
“You haven’t changed much in 40 years,” John Ford Coley told the exuberant audience soon after he opened the show. “How do you stay so young?”
Why, through the music, of course.