I had been flirting with her at work for weeks. She wasn’t just cute. She had minute idiosyncrasies and some mystery that had been affecting me. Up until then our relationship consisted almost entirely of joking around and making fun of our stuffy manager. I didn’t know how to ask her out, so began searching for a plan. When I heard Carlos Santana was coming to town I knew this was the opportunity I’d been waiting for.
I didn’t want to take any chances that it might be sold out, so I went to the box office to get the tickets. That night after work I asked her to sit with me for a few minutes. I must have stuttered a bit from excitement, but managed to offer the proposition and when she accepted I was both pleased and relieved. How was I to know it was the beginning of everything meaningful in my life?
I’ve tried to reconstruct the details of that night, but my faulty memory can’t even recall how we got to Mershon Auditorium. I can only trust two memories for sure. First, that we had the worst seats in the house, directly behind the stage and nearly all the way to the roof, where all the marijuana smoke ended up. Neither of us smoked, and we were surprised that the numerous police in attendance were not interested in busting pot smokers. Well – we were new to this. Bobby Womack and Peace opened the concert, and I wish more was remembered. The poor acoustics which plagued our section drove us to find better seats before Santana came on.
Although Santana was promoting their new Caravanserai album, they played many songs from the previous three, including Black Magic Woman, which became our song by default. I managed to find the playbill.
Among the memorabilia
The second reliable, unforgettable memory is holding her hand on the walk home and learning more about her. I sensed her own loneliness in her storytelling. When we arrived at her home I wanted to kiss her for many more reasons than before we left. That first kiss… well, those details I leave to your imagination.
I can attribute a portion of the success of that first date to the music and the electric experience of being with each other – doing something new. But there was certainly something much more going on. It felt like the Fates, turning us.
Walking home, I knew there was no way back to the lonely existence without her.
Other concerts we were able to attend over the years included Emerson, Lake and Palmer (1973 – Cincinnati), David Bowie (1978, Richfield, because I won tickets on a radio giveaway by knowing the answer to the question “What substance revives mummies?”), King Crimson (1981 – Columbus), Leon Redbone, Devo, Peter Gabriel, Rodriguez…
She enjoyed different music than I did, more of soft rock like Simon & Garfunkle and Loggins & Messina rather than the psychedelic space music of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream. But there was a lot of crossover.
At the ELP concert
The Fates © Victoria and Albert Museum, London