This is my account of the July 18th Wrigley Field concert. It is my story, and I am sticking to it, all the way back starting at the drive on in. Please forgive me for the beginning, it is how it truly happened....:
I actually demanded to pull off the tollway on the next exit not knowing the neighborhood, only knowing that there was a Shell sign I could see sticking way up high on a post. A gas station meant a public bathroom, and at this point I did not care if we had to purchase gas to get into it. My bladder was screaming. Nothing mattered except relief, safety was not even a concern. As we made it into the intersection I was surprised that I recognized everything. Forget the gas station, pull straight ahead, park in this lot, run through that beer garden, go into that building through that door, make a sharp left, washrooms on the right. It's not like I know all bars in downtown Chicago, I don't know hardly even any, but this one I did. This one I had visited a few years ago, on a fall afternoon as we killed time waiting for a concert. I glanced back at the intersection as I made a mad dash for the potty. Kitty corner across the street I could clearly see the spot where after that concert my husband somewhat over exuberantly shoved me into Vince Gill. Right there on that curb we talked with both Vince and Amy and got their signatures on a pick guard for a still as of yet unpurchased Stratocaster. It was kind of surreal, reliving that moment as I very very quickly tore into that restroom.
We entered Wrigley Field via a player's entrance. My husband, Jim, was in awe as he looked around and muttered names such as Ron Santo, Glenn Beckert and Don Kessinger. He said he couldn't believe he was really on Wrigley Field. Jim talked about following every game in the 1969 pennant race, and told me about how the Cubs did one of their famous collapses that year and lost a 9 ˝ game lead in one month, and how his heart was broken when the Mets won the World Series; all the while as I ordered and bought beer from a man who introduced himself as Ronnie. Ronnie smiled as he said 1969 was the same year he started working at Wrigley. Jim wandered off onto the open field, looking for the very first time as a ballplayer: outward into the stands. Ronnie yelled out behind us, “Give that man a hug! This is a momentous day!”. All choked up, and with tears in his eyes, Jim took me on a very personal tour of Wrigley: “Here is where as a 10 year old kid I slid on my belly over the roof of of dugout and leaned my head over to say hi to the players.” “This is the warning track,” as he spat on the sand, just like a real ball player. He touched the ivy. He gently ran into the padding on the brick wall. It was not so much Wrigley, he said, but the memories of being at Wrigley with his Dad that were making him get all emotional. Yes, I gave him a hug, just like Ronnie said.
Our seats were in the outfield and I sat next to a woman named Eve. She pointed out that we were meant to sit next to each other, Dawn and Eve, sort of like yin and yang. She was here to see Rascal Flatts, and was also a Vince fan. She said Vince sang the best love songs.
Darius Rucker sang for a while, and he was good. Vince came out and told us “I am here to rock your a$$es off.” He did play a rocking set: Liza Jane, Sweet Thing, It's Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night, Oklahoma Borderline, What the Cowgirls Do....as well as several others. I heard he played eleven songs in over an hour, much longer than I had expected. He said he had always had a dream to play Wrigley Field, but it had been while pitching a fast ball with a number on his back. He said he likes to play Chicago, and the last time he played Chicago was two years ago at the Crossroads Guitar Festival with the guitar God Eric Clapton. He picked on our ex-governor. About the time I was thinking that all of the songs he was gonna play were going to be really uptempo rowdy ones, he said “It is time to go to church,” and he began to play Go Rest High On That Mountain. I did not expect that at all. Suddenly I wasn't there....I was somewhere in my mind with my Mom, my Mom who had unexpectedly passed away last year, my Mom who was supposed to go with me to the next Vince concert, my Mom who I very very much miss. Go Rest High was the song I had found in the CD player in her car after she was in a coma. It was the song we played at her funeral and at her memorial service. And here I was now, on that beautiful summer night, in the outfield of the Friendly Confines, singing that same song not by myself in her car as I drove to and from the hospice the last two weeks of her life; no now I was singing it in the middle of Wrigley Field with Vince himself. I of course, as usual, was full of tears and still sorely out of key. No worries, Vince covered for the both of us and carried that tune pretty well. Mom who was supposed to go with me to this concert, I truly believe at this moment, was.
Rascal Flatts were next and they really were a lot of fun. Lots of pyrotechnics, flashing lights and video screens...and some great singing. I briefly thought of my new found friend Eve, and how Vince had left the stage not singing a love song. And then to my surprise, Vince came back out onstage to show off his new Cubs shirt. He began to play the very first love song he had written for Amy: Whenever You Come Around. Eve got her love ballad after all. Gary LeVox joined Vince and everything was just perfect, and good and right in the world.
The last song of the concert was done brilliantly....no Vince here though...it was Darius and the Flatt boys doing Life is a Highway. Perfect ending. It is still burned in my brain. They succeeded, I just downloaded the Unstoppable CD.
It was a really fantastic night....the weather was wonderful, we spent the evening with great friends, got to be in a nostalgic magical place, were crooned to by outstandingly talented musicians, and both me and my husband were moved to tears...him for the reliving of the memories of being in Wrigley with his Dad, me for missing my Mama. Add in our new-found friends Eve and Ronnie and the evening that started out so surreal at curb where I was once flung into Vince, became even more surreal. Thanks guys, it was done spectacularly well.