Once Cliff and I were in the Midland Theater, we were led to our seats in the orchestra section. The seats were folding chairs, quite comfortable in themselves, but so close to one another. The rows were spaced in such a way there wasn't a lot of foot room, either. However, the chairs themselves weren't that uncomfortable. When we first sat down, Cliff looked all around the place and said, with an I-told-you-so tone in his voice, "Not many people here."
I informed him that since the seats were reserved, most people weren't anxious to be seated until time for the show to start. Sure enough, at 8:05 when the show began, most seats in the place were occupied. The show started with no announcer, no fanfare. Arlo and his musicians just walked onstage, greeted the audience, and began singing. He sang some songs I'd never heard, and I really couldn't make out most of the words to those. But it was OK, because I was seeing Arlo Guthrie, Woody Guthrie's son!
He's a decent guitar player, so I enjoyed the guitar melodies even when I wasn't familiar with the songs. There was a talented man at the right of the stage playing backup guitar. His wife was beside him dancing around and playing non-instruments, like a triangle and a tambourine. Other than giving a sort of hippy feel to the show with her dancing, she didn't contribute much, but she didn't hurt anything, either. Arlo's son played keyboard.
As I had expected, Arlo spent as much time talking as he did singing, and I loved that because I love stories... anybody's stories. His talking voice is clear and easy to understand, so even Cliff, with his limited hearing, understood a lot of what he said. He talked a lot about his dad in the second portion, and he sang "Alice's Restaurant", which he doesn't always sing on tour because it's twenty minutes long (and he's probably sick of it). Great job, Arlo!
Here's a funny little story which probably took place in my imagination. I haven't even told this to Cliff, but here it is: When Arlo sang "City of New Orleans", many of us in the audience sang along on the chorus. I love the song, but I don't even know the whole chorus. I sang, "Good morning, America, how are you? Don't you know that I'm your native son?" I couldn't think what came next, so I stopped singing rather than mumble through, but my eyes were glued to Arlo's face and, by george, it seemed he was looking right at me. He stopped and said, "You can't just sing part of the chorus. You have to sing it all! Let's try it again."
It still seemed as though he was looking directly at me, and he smiled when I sang the whole chorus this time.
Now, we were eight rows back and it was pretty dark in the theater, so I really think this was all imagined. My daughter told me once that when she'd go to the Branson shows with my parents, there were times she thought one of those good-looking singers was looking right at her, singing especially for her. This was probably the same sort of thing. But it felt so magical at the time, I don't even care whether it was real or imagined.
I paid a lot for our two tickets, and for my part, it was worth every penny. Don't ask Cliff, though. He doesn't even know what the tickets cost.
I hadn't even thought about the weather during the show, so my little happy bubble burst when we got to the exit and saw there was a rainstorm going on outside. By the time we got to the car, we were drenched. Thunder crashed, lightning lit the sky. Cliff and I rarely leave the house after dark, and here we were about to get on the freeway, already drenched, in a torrential downpour. As I was getting in the car, the whole idea struck me as hilarious and I laughed and laughed. (Cliff wasn't laughing.)
I don't know when we've been out driving in such a storm! Cars had pulled over and parked under every single overpass. We could hardly see the road. I was still sitting there smiling like an idiot, but I restrained my laughter because I don't think Cliff would have wanted to hear it.
By the time we arrived home, around midnight, the rain had settled into a steady rhythm. I told Cliff that the problems we had driving through the ghetto to the venue, and the scary ride home afterward, would just make the whole event more memorable. I reminded him that now, when he tells stories about how bad the Arlo Guthrie concert was, he can add lots of details that will have people rolling with laughter. Stay tuned, my dear family. I'm sure you'll love it. Feel free to ask him about it.
Toward the end of the show, Arlo talked about Woodstock. He said all he really remembers about it is the helicopter ride getting there, and then leaving. He sang the Bob Dylan song "Walking down the Line" at Woodstock, and he sang it Thursday night for the audience. The next day I checked Youtube and, sure enough, there's the video of Arlo as a very young man, obviously drugged out of his mind, singing to a drenched and drugged crowd.
As for the whole experience Thursday, I don't know WHEN I've had so much fun. I've gotta get out more!
Peace and love to us all.