Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Sixteen days from now, I'll be in the thick of it.
If you'd told me when I was growing up in Manchester, TN, that one day it would be the regular annual home of a huge music festival that regularly brings 80,000 people to a town with a population of about 7,500, I would have told you that you were full of it. Of course, I wouldn't have expected to see buffalo in the pastures nearby, either. But both of these things are true, and starting Thursday, June 12, I'll be there to see for myself for the first time.
The site where Bonnaroo is held is about three miles from the house where I grew up from age 5 on. When my mother was alive, she could hear the music from her carport, and I think sometimes she used to sit out there, listening. The site was first used for some badly-conceived dinosaur rock circus before Bonnaroo, which was doomed to failure -- how many people wanted to go to bumfuck to see Moby Grape? So I sneered at the first Bonnaroo, which sold out immediately on the internet, and then, after it sold out, proceeded to add act after act which I'd have loved to see. So I resolved that if it kept up, I'd go.
But then the last few years there haven't been line-ups that would've made it worthwhile for me; Bob Dylan played, but I'd seen Dylan several times in Nashville the previous few years and wouldn't pony up the bucks or the time for him. This year, with Pearl Jam and Metallica headlining, we (I and my friend, who will remain anonymous -- let's call him "Joe") decided it was now or never.
So hopefully, my tickets will be mailed out tomorrow. Just getting our hands on the damned things will be the first hurdle. But enough of that -- I don't want to curse the process.
Lately I'm afraid I'm seeing patterns which may be only constructed in my head. It's been clear for me for some time, this year that I'm in a period of change and redefinition. For a while there, it seemed everything was in flux, and a lot of it still is. I'm anything but unique here -- the world is going through momentous change right now, and we're all living in it. But coming through the darkness of April, I feel stripped down and redefined in a way that makes events like this, which for most people is just a mini-vacation, seem important and pivotal. For some reason, I feel that a four-day period of sleep deprivation and disorientation is just what I need.
Which is probably what I'll get. Mind you, my dad has a house five minutes away which is mine for the asking during the festival. But Joe, reasoning we'll only do this once, wants to camp out with the herd, so here we go (although I do reserve the right to reconsider in the case of extreme weather or other dire events). Now bear in mind, the last time I did anything like this was in the late 1970's, when I was about nineteen. Being thirty years older is gonna make a big difference. Whereas the bluegrass festival I'm thinking of in North Carolina was for me fueled by little other than Scotch, beer and hallucinogens, that's not an option at this point. Further, I don't sleep much these days (witness the posting time of much of these blogs), and I don't expect that trying to sleep in a borrowed tent on an air mattress, in heat, amidst a horde of noisy people, is going to help.
So I have to throw myself into this at full strength will all options open, and just try to relax and float. The required What the Hell attitude is much harder at fifty, I tell you.
Luckily, I have a lot of friends who've been at Bonnaroo before and I've been collecting information and advice. Unfortunately, none of those people are going this year; interestingly, most of the younger ones don't like the line-up this year. Dates me, I guess. Anyway, I'm looking forward to it, with a mix of eagerness and dread.
SO, if you are going to Bonnaroo this year, or if you have any advice for me, post it here or email me. I'm anticipating from this, one of a series of transformative experiences to come in the month of June. I have some other topics to address in this blog, before, during and after, and I'll see you on the other side.