There are a lot of purchases I’ve regretted in my lifetime, but a concert ticket has never been one of them. Certainly not the tickets I bought in 2002 to see Prince.
I felt really silly Thursday afternoon, sitting sad and heavy at my desk, feeling like I wanted to cry. But as news spread that Prince had passed away, I started receiving text messages from friends and family who felt the same way. Prince mattered to us.
It seemed odd how deeply touched I was by his death. But he had loomed large in my life since I was 5 years old listening to the “Purple Rain” album. I owned his music first on cassette, then on CD, and now digitally. I’ve heard his songs literally thousands of times and they still give me goosebumps.
I feel so grateful to have experienced him live. It was an incredible show at Shea’s, with funk legend Maceo Parker. In addition to his own material, he covered three of my favorite songs, “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell, “Pass the Peas” by the J.B.’s and “What Is Hip” by Tower of Power. I danced my butt off and even shed a few happy tears.
It was absolutely thrilling.
I have always treasured that experience, but now I cherish it even more.
I was working at a gas station and going to college, so I’m sure it was a sacrifice to buy the ticket. But I’m so glad I spent that money on a night out with Prince, rather than a new sweater or some other dumb thing that would surely be gone and forgotten by now.
Several commiserating friends have lamented that they had never seen Prince live and now they would never have the chance. They thought they would have more time. He was only 57, after all. But as 2016 has taught us with the loss of greats like David Bowie, Merle Haggard and now Prince, you have to see these artists when you have the chance – not the extra money.
I missed seeing James Brown and I’ll never forgive myself. I kept putting him off. He was always around, always touring. I figured I’d hang onto my money and catch him the next time. It seemed like he would be around forever.
I was fortunate enough to catch Nina Simone in L.A. before she died. I had the cheapest seats in the house – a narrow bench in the highest row of the Greek Theatre – but the experience was priceless. I got to see B.B. King before he was gone, and I was there when the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock andRoll Hall of Fame before they lost Adam Yauch.
I’ve learned my lesson: You will never regret going to a concert, but you may very well regret not going to one.
Live music is worth the money. It’s not a pair of shoes that will go out of style. It’s not a cellphone that will become obsolete. It’s not a toy that will end up in a landfill when your kids inevitably break it. It’s an experience that you will savor for the rest of your life. It will only appreciate in value.
The same goes for supporting live music in your neighborhood and schools. Your TV will survive without you for a night if you head down to Nietzsche’s and soak up some good stuff. Nothing beats that electric thrill that comes from hearing good music in a room filled with other people.
In the age of Spotify and YouTube, it almost seems unrealistic to ask people to pay for music. But do it! Buy a concert ticket, buy the band’s CD, buy some merch. Support music programs in schools. It’s money well spent.
Live music is an investment you’ll savor forever. It will never depreciate in value.