Regular readers may remember about six weeks ago, I published a post about music, depression, and grief that outlined how music helps me through some of the hard moments in life. I heard from many of you that it echoed how you felt about music. Music has always been something that brought people together and made them forget their troubles for awhile. Until it wasn’t.
On Friday November 13 2015, at approximately 9:40 local time, 3 men exited their car and entered the Bataclan Concert Hall where the American band Eagles of Death Metal were playing to a crowd of around 1500 people and opened fire using automatic rifles. According to reports, they fired into the crowd from the mezzanine to kill as many people as possible and inspire terror. 89 people were killed at the Bataclan that night, with hundreds more wounded.
On November 18th, I went with a close friend to see a concert that I had been looking forward to for months – Alan Doyle and the Beautiful Gypsies and Barenaked Ladies. The show surpassed my expectations. Not only did I get a night out with a great friend (who really needed the break), but I got a picture at Intermision with Alan Doyle, and my CDs signed. The music – Where do I start with the music? Alan Doyle was amazing. He sings with such joy that you can’t help but be swept up and be happy. He sang many of the songs off of his new album, So Let’s Go, including the title track and my personal favourite, 1,2,3,4.
When he stopped to tell the story behind the song Laying Down to Perish, I got goosebumps. Alan is a natural storyteller, and kept the audience on the edge of their seat with the story. The song was inspired by a trip to a museum on Fogo Island in Newfoundland where he saw an odd artifact, and, with the curiosity of a historian, asked questions. The artifact in question was a mariner’s gaff – a wooden pole with a hook on one end used to stab fish either on the ice or on a boat – with four names and the words “lay down to perish” carved into it. It seems the four men went out on the ice to fish and got caught by the shifting tide and realized they couldn’t get back to shore. In order to give their families closure, they carved their names on the gaff along with what they planned to do – lay down to perish – and set it adrift so that when it reached land, their families would know what happened to them and not roam the coast looking for them or hold out hope that one day the men would return. Doyle tells the story much better than I do, and the song he wrote after being inspired by this story is a most fitting tribute to these brave men.
I was crying before the first chorus. Barenaked Ladies came out for the second half of the concert, started with high energy songs, and soon had everyone up and dancing. Those guys sure know how to put on a show! I’ve always enjoyed the band, but had continual bad luck with concert timing and this was only the second time I’d seen them live. I bought my ticket based on Alan Doyle playing but knew both halves of the concert would be awesome. BNL fans are awesome and dedicated – during their song Duct Tape Heart, an audience member tossed a bra made out of duct tape onto the stage, and lead singer Ed Robertson gamely picked it up with his guitar and played the rest of the song with it on the end of his guitar. A few songs later during Pinch Me, someone threw a very large pair of underwear on stage – at the appropriate part in the song of course – and Robertson picked them up again with his guitar.
My friend and I were laughing and dancing along with everyone else in the concert hall. It was an amazing 3 hours of music and fun. All of the musicians in both bands came out to do a joint number – 9 musicians on one stage singing If I Had A Million Dollars, one of BNL’s first big hits.
I don’t have any universal answers to offer, but I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to continue to enjoy live music, and I’m going to do it for the 89 music lovers who died doing something they loved. I may be a little trepidatious at first, but I will go, because by giving in to the fear, the terrorists would win. Music is a universal language – whose dictionary does not include the word terrorism. I’m going to fight fear and hatred with love and understanding. Who’s with me?