Music has never been a big part of my life … I can’t remember the lyrics to my favorite songs seconds after hearing them, despite occasionally being able to sing along while they’re playing on the stereo.
But their sounds, and some of the words, do stick in my memory.
For instance, Willie Nelson’s “Don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys” – fortunately for financial reasons, despite an inner desire to have done what he urged against, I followed a different path. I did, and still do occasionally, chase cows on horseback, and have had for most of my life more than a few of the cowboy’s necessary “vehicles” adorning my pastures.
I also had a memorable connection to the vocals of Janis Joplin and others, but one singer who really stirred me sang slow and sultry.
The lyrics that flowed from her evocative of places and things … “Southern Rain” came to mind during a horrendous downpour in Alabama that forced me, and every other driver on the road, to pull over until the torrent subsided.
Her “Horse in the country” conjured thoughts of inviting her over to see mine, because in the early 1990s, she was named “one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world,” by People Magazine no less.
With that on the resume, who wouldn’t want to have her visit?
Well, in a manner of speaking and at least 20 years later, that finally occurred.
There on the stage of the Abbotsford Arts and Entertainment Centre was Margo Timmins, she of the beautiful people and lead of the Cowboy Junkies.
And I was bitterly disappointed. Not that her beauty, though I was too far away to notice if all the glam still remained, was a letdown. It was the sound.
I couldn’t hear her voice over the bashing of the band which was, in a word, poor!
To be fair, however, it may not have been “The Junkies” themselves so much as it was the terrible acoustic production by their sound crew.
All I heard was a cacophonous and overpowering drone, when I should have been hearing drops of melodic pearls, the background instruments highlighting the dulcet tones of, in her day, an incredible vocalist.
The Cowboy Junkies were, by the way, the front band for John (no longer Cougar) Mellencamp, who was able to captivate both in vocal clarity and non-overwhelming instrumental backup.
So the Cougar was good, the Cowboys not at all. And Margo must have, should have, been disappointed.
The Cowboy Junkies are/were a folksy/blues band made up of Margo, her two brothers and a friend. They’ve been nominated for Juno Awards, had their songs used as themes in major movies. Even the town of Timmins, Ontario is named after their family.
Sure, Mellencamp was the headliner and lived up to expectations, but I had hoped for a lot more from what was once an iconic Canadian band.
So sad, I’ll just have to live with the memories of those great songs of many years ago. And remember Margo as she, and her voice, once was.
Because that’s why you go to concerts, not to be a music critic, of which I am not, but to hear the tunes that generated emotions and recalled the memories of things and places past.
And that’s why, if Willie Nelson ever makes it to the musical backwater that is Abbotsford, I’ll go see him.
If nothing else, his words and acoustic guitar will give cause to me still having “field ornaments” and a room full of saddles.