I Saw The Judds for the First Time in 25 Years

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.

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  1. Music and smells…both etch themselves in our brain to produce visceral reactions decades later. Thanks for sharing your story. It reminded me of my first favorite song, “I Never Promised you a Rose Garden,” sung by the fabulous Lynn Anderson. When I was five I “requested” that song so many times that my mama finally showed me how to play a song on our record player (promising bodily harm if I scratched her records…good incentive to develop a steady hand). I sang and probably danced little circles in our weird olive green carpet. In my five year old mind that song was pure joy. I didn’t comprehend the words, just felt the music. Flash forward 35 years or so and there is a small news story about Lynn Anderson being arrested for shop lifting. Hadn’t thought about her in years so I googled her and while she had a lot of success she had her share of darkness, too. So then I read the lyrics, because I am not one of those folks that can remember lyrics. Same song, different light. Then a few more years later and another not so large news story about Lynn Anderson passing away. I felt like crying. I didn’t because tears don’t always come to me, but I felt weirdly affected for someone I never knew at all.

  2. Just was thinking of you and missing you…..I decided to visit your blog. I missed this post before. Love it. I was just telling Noah last week how we would sing The Judds together – funny. Miss you. Love you.

    1. Hey! Glad you found the post. Wish you and Dad could have been there to see it with us. Miss you and love you too. A bunch.

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