Sometimes you don’t realize how much something has been a part of your life until you end up crying like a baby at a Judds concert. Crying like a baby, that’s Shawna’s descriptor. I thought of it more as hysterical sobbing I thought was never going to let up, but, praise be to all gods, lasted for only two songs.
Here’s what I thought would happen.
I thought, if they sang River of Time or Guardian Angels, I would cry. No question. Those are two songs I can’t even listen to the album cuts of without crying. So, live? Yeah, there would be tears. I even warned Shawna about the likelihood of this in advance. Her response? You crying? Let me see if I can withhold my shock.
Here’s what actually happened.
The Judds came out on stage. They waved to the audience. They raised their joined hands in reunion-y triumph. Wynonna sang one word – one freaking word – and geysers erupted out of my eye sockets.
It was about the same time the quaking started, that shoulder-racking warning that lets you know this cry’s about to get real. Real ugly.
Why am I reacting like this? I thought. This is sooo freakin’ weird.
There were two reasons, it occurred to me after a while, once I had gotten my utter lunatic under control and turned back into Concert-Fun Riley.
One is simple. Cause and effect. If you ever hear Wynonna sing live, you’ll understand. The woman has a voice so big and so honest, you can’t help but respond to it.
The other is not quite so simple.
The Judds were a huge part of my childhood. They were the first band I ever saw live. Capitol Music Hall. Wheeling, West Virginia. The Rockin’ With The Rhythm tour. If I’m taking liberties here, they’re minor. I saw The Jets right around the same time at the Ohio State Fair, and we saw The Judds at that fair too. It was my first theater concert for sure, though. I was six or seven years old.
The Judds were also the first musical group I truly loved. How much impact they had on my dream of becoming a singer for the remainder of my childhood and adolescence is hard to quantify, but it’s safe to say they had some.
The rest, you could say, was timing. The Judds became such a big part of my life right after my parents’ divorce, and part of it I didn’t really share with my friends. Judds music was something I had with my dad and my sister. It was kind of our thing. And sitting in The Venetian Theatre in Las Vegas Wednesday night, two thousand miles from where they are, I realized it always will be.