Sunday, August 18, 2013

When we were given to fly

Jacob and I started dating in August of 2009. That September, Pearl Jam was playing in Salt Lake City, on tour for their newest album "Backspacer." I hadn't heard much Pearl Jam, but Jacob had discovered them in his teens, and within weeks, he'd given me all of their albums, and I was quickly converted. Jacob and I drove down to Salt Lake together, listening to the Backspacer album. The concert was better than magic. When Jacob and I got married, we danced to "Just Breathe" at our wedding reception. Pearl Jam has been a huge part of our life together.

Last Saturday was a long day at the Playmill--three shows of Beauty and the Beast. My dad and stepmom were coming into town, and I was in the box office all day. During the 8:30 shows, Jerry had a conversation with one of the guys in the audience about tattoos, and they compared notes on their experiences.

In the line after the show, Jacob was shaking hands with everyone, as usual, when he noticed the shirt the guy was wearing. It was a "Third Man Records" T-shirt, from Jack White's record label. They chatted briefly about the T-shirt*, when in the middle of the handshake, Jacob got a good look at the man whose hand he was shaking. He paused, then asked, "Are you Mike McCready?"

And the guy nodded.

Mike McCready is one of the guitarists in Pearl Jam.

I had been helping take care of baby Charlie, who was hungrily crying in the back, so I was standing in concessions, making him a bottle, when Jacob yelled, "Liz! Mike McCready is outside!" I replied, "What? I don't believe you. What are you doing? Does he just look like him? I don't believe you," as he dragged me outside by the hand.

And then Mike** was standing there, and I believed him.

The coolest part about this whole experience was that he was totally willing to stay and chat and take pictures, despite the late hour and long day. But maybe even more awesome was the fact that he came to would have been totally different if we had just run into him at the grocery store or something.  He was so complimentary about the show, and encouraged all of us to keep doing what we do as artists. Camilla was able to chat with him about her Pearl Jam Macbeth project, and we were able to get some contact info about using certain songs. He and his wife and kids were on an end-of-summer road trip, spending some time together as a family. His wife's family told them that they HAD to come to the Playmill, so they did.

Someone ran in and got our sound guy, Luke--who talks about the album Ten as something that changed his life, who went to school to study guitar because of guys like Mike McCready. Luke walked out, saw Mike, and immediately hugged him. Mike signed his "Ten" tab book and his program, and seeing Luke's joy was one of the highlights of the entire experience.

Earlier in the night, Mike had handed Jacob a guitar pick that he had just been carrying in his pocket, which Jacob handed to me for safe-keeping. Later, I was talking with Luke about the night, when I had a thought and pulled out the pick. I held it up and said, "This is Mike McCready's. And I think it would mean more to you than it would to us. So I think you need to have it." Luke's eyes got big and he shook his head no, but I insisted, and he wordlessly took it and wrapped me in this HUGE hug. I realized later that maybe I should have consulted Jacob before giving away that pick, but when I told the story later, we both agreed that it was meant to be Luke's and that it was the right call. No regrets.

Anyway, now we HAVE to go see Pearl Jam on tour. There's a show in the Bay Area over Thanksgiving, so...see you in a few months, family? And you too, Mike. It was a pleasure to meet you and your family.

Thanks for sharing the keys to the locks we see everywhere. 

* It is a pretty cool shirt. 
** Am I allowed to call him "Mike"? Are we on a first-name basis? It feels presumptuous...


A said...

So exciting! It really sounds like the dream environment in which to meet them. My favorite was the photo on fb with Jacob's shocked face--reminded me of me meeting Incubus.

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