Jukebox Heroes

I’m a huge music fan, as most of you know. I prefer classic rock, but I’ve been known to listen to some R&B and country tunes from time to time. You’d think as many times as I’ve listened to my rock and pop favorites over the past 40 years, I could belt out the lyrics to almost any song in my library. I’m pretty good with any chorus  (duh, who isn’t?) but honestly, I’m pretty bad when it comes to remembering verse lyrics.

However, there is ONE single that I can pretty much nail word for word (much to the dismay of my daughter if we catch it on the radio in the car), and the world lost it’s songwriter and performer this week. Released in 1979, it was an early crossover hit, reaching number one on the country charts and number three on the pop charts. That tune is the “Devil Went Down to Georgia” and, of course, it’s legendary songwriter/fiddle player was Charlie Daniels. RIP, Charlie. Truly a legend.

I never saw the Charlie Daniels Band in concert. However, I have seen a couple of country bands who covered “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” The key to this song is, of course, the fiddle solo. Not many fiddlers could hold their own with Charlie, but I dare say Zac Brown Band would have made Charlie proud.

Speaking of concerts…over the last few years, my friend Chris and I have tried to establish a summertime tradition: go see one of our classic rock favorites in concert. After all, time is running out on our jukebox heroes, unless you’re talking about Willie Nelson or Keith Richards, then we still have plenty of time.

Greg Went Down to Georgia – Not

Chris lives in the metro Atlanta area, so almost every concert tour comes through town, as Atlanta has a huge population and a wide variety of concert venues. My location in central South Carolina? Not so many concerts. So we pick out a summer concert, and I head over to the ATL for the weekend. In the last few years, we’ve seen Boston with Dennis DeYoung, Styx with Joan Jett, and last summer, Jeff Lynn’s Electric Light Orchestra. We leave these concerts anticipating the next summer’s tour announcements and dreaming for a bucket list show.

BostonTShirt2Number one on my bucket list right now is a band called Night Ranger. I saw them once, way back in 1985 at the old Greenville Memorial Auditorium. I have several others on my bucket list, including, of course, Sammy Hagar (#2 on the list), who rarely comes to the Southeast. Apparently, I’m in the minority around here when it comes to fans of Sammy.

Fortunately, I’ve seen Sammy live twice in my time. The first was in 1997, his first solo tour after departing ways with Van  Halen the first time. Sammy played at a small venue in Columbia called The Township Auditorium. I bought two tickets, but for various reasons (very suspicious, in my opinion) no one would go with me. Like Sammy, I went solo but had a blast. Despite a small crowd, Sammy gave 100%. That impressed me.

Fast forward seven years, and I guess Van Halen needed some money. They put out a greatest hits CD and had a reunion tour with Sammy. This time, the closest they came to my town was Greensboro, NC, a three-hour drive away. I bought tickets anyway, and we packed the mini-van with a six-month-old, a six-year-old, and a sixty-year-old mother-in-law babysitter. My wife reluctantly accompanied me to the show while the rest of the crew partied back at the Residence Inn.

So, it should be obvious when Sammy announced a 2020 summer tour with Night Ranger and Whitesnake (not on the list, but tolerable), Chris and I had our summer 2020 concert plan. Chris snagged awesome close tickets for the 7/14/2020 show and the anticipation was on. Christmas in July!

Well, you know the rest of the story. COVID-19 hit, and the world shut down. I held out hope that things would be closer to normal by summer. That didn’t happen, and the concert was finally canceled a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time my Atlanta plans to see Sammy were canceled. Way back around 2000, another dream line-up of mine was on the concert schedule – Sammy opening up for Lynyrd Skynyrd – an odd combo for sure. My friend Bob lived in Atlanta at this time, and he must have felt bad about ditching the Township Concert a few years prior, and he agreed to go with me to Sammy and Skynyrd.

OK, he just wanted to see Skynyrd, but I didn’t care. We bought tickets. I even drove over to Atlanta the day before the concert, so we could play some pre-concert golf.

Wouldn’t you know it, one of the old geezers in Lynyrd Skynyrd had a heart attack or something the day before the concert, and they canceled the shows. He survived but my Sammy and Skynyrd dream concert didn’t.

Alas, I may never see Sammy in Georgia. Oh, well. Maybe next summer the world will be normal enough for live concerts again. Until then, I guess it’s jukebox only, also known these days as Spotify. Stay well, old heroes.

Jeff Lynne

Jeff Lynne

Thanks for reading,


PS. Grumpy Greg for the week: Some of the evolution of language irks me. Twice today, people have used the word invite instead of invitation when referring to an email meeting request. e.g. “I’m going to send a meeting invite.” Arrrgghh…

PPS. This week’s writing stats:

Current writing streak: 45 days

Fiction words this week: ~2700. Good news/bad news with this number. A little lower than I wanted, but I’m at the point in the first draft where almost every chapter has a significant number of words but is not necessarily complete. So, I am going back and completing chapters to finish up their first draft. This is much slower going.

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