Stadiums and Memories and Fingerprints

Pearl Jam is coming out with a new album Tuesday, so I’m sure nobody who knows me is surprised that I’m going to say something about that even though I haven’t bought a Pearl Jam album in probably a decade.  I’ll say more on Tuesday, but in my stroll down memory lane, I came across this article that might only make sense to people who lived in Seattle during the 1990s.  The reason that I’m sharing it is because as I was reading it, the author described an occasion when the newly formed band attended an exhibition game between the Supersonics and the Chicago Bulls in October of 1990. 

I was at that game.  

My dad took me to it shortly after we had moved to the Puget Sound from the Midwest.  As the players came out onto the court, my dad turned to me in my Air Jordan T-shirt and said “We came all the way to Washington State, and this is probably the closest you’ve ever been to Michael Jordan.”  As I read that article, I realized that it was also likely the closest I would be to Pearl Jam for another six years or so when I first saw them in concert at Memorial Stadium. 

Memorial Stadium was ground zero, or very close to it, for so many of my music experiences1 in Seattle during the 1990s.  So many Bumbershoots.  So many free summer concert series at Mural Amphitheatre.  Though sadly not this one.  I never saw Pearl Jam there, but I did see Chris Cornell’s little brother, and lots of other bands I’ve forgotten about.  I didn’t make it to the fountain, either.  Even though Pearl Jam was really the first band I felt spoke what I was feeling, I didn’t think it was such a big deal that they were from so close to where I now lived.  I mean Seattle was a big city, right?  Why wouldn’t a band be from there?  It wasn’t until a few years later when everyone who came to visit, or who migrated to Seattle from elsewhere was looking for cultural artifacts of that music scene that I realized maybe I had missed out on being around something remarkable. 

But maybe not.  Their music was as real to me sitting alone in the back of a Metro Transit bus as most concerts I’ve been to.  Sometimes the right kind of music has more of an edge to it when you are alone than when you are surrounded by hundreds of screaming fans.  And clutching that Walkman tightly in my fingers on the back of the bus with its smell of disinfectant and homelessness while some crazy person talked about a mop_ Black Circles Spinning within and without._ it was real.  Come back Tuesday and I’ll tell you why.   

1-      EMP opened the summer that I left.

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