43 Years and more?

Earth Wind and Fire

Do you remember the movie “The Bucket List” starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman? The plot was two older men facing death soon creating a list of things they wanted to accomplish before their demise (or kick the bucket). I think we all could identify with the situation regardless of our age or health. It is a human trait to achieve particular goals, large and small, throughout our lives. I must say that last week was one of those moments in my life. Last Wednesday I went to a live performance of my longtime favorite musical group Earth Wind and Fire. This was not the first time I saw them perform live, but I really wanted to see them about five years ago – but was not able. In fact, Earth Wind and Fire made two appearances here in South Florida but unable to attend either. However, time does not stand still. I am getting older and the remaining members of Earth Wind and Fire are getting older too. If I missed this performance, I might not get another chance. Therefore, seeing Earth Wind and Fire live became a key item on my personal bucket list.

A recurring theme punctuated everything I did leading up to the concert last week. I heard repeatedly that this was Earth Wind and Fire’s forty-third year performing in the music business. Each time I heard that number, forty-three years, it made me think back and realize that as Earth Wind and Fire started and developed musically, I was there every step of the way. In fact, one of the major reasons I chose to pursue the music industry was because of Earth Wind and Fire music. Of course, there were other inspirations for me as a youngster, but Maurice White arrangements and productions were a premiere factor in my career choice.

The week was very special for me as I prepared for the concert and for this post simultaneously. I listened to very little other music except for Earth Wind and Fire. I looked at tape of past performances and interviews with group members, all in anticipation of a great performance. Each week I approach writing a post in a balanced, unbiased style. This week is very different. Why? Because I am featuring Earth Wind and Fire. Next week will be post number 200, and Earth Wind and Fire is the only musical act I chose to feature three times. That was not a mistake but it has happened because I feel that Earth Wind and Fire has consistently been the best vocal/instrumental musical group of the modern era. I am sure that many reading this post might disagree and present evidence based on record sales, net and gross concert revenue or some other music based barometer. I think EWF is great because of musicianship.

As I continued to get ready to leave Wednesday evening, I could feel a real excitement deep inside my stomach. I recall grabbing a couple of EWF compact disks as my daughter asked if I was taking them to get them autographed by group members. “No”, I responded, “I’m just taking them to listen on the way to the concert.” As I looked back at her, I am sure she did not understand. That’s okay; I wanted to prepare for the moment I had been anticipating for a long time. I got to the auditorium early with a few other early birds that grew into a sell-out crowd in no time. When Earth Wind and Fire took the stage, I realized how popular this group really was. I was not alone at all, as quite a few of us in attendance knew song lyrics and sang along happily, as EWF performed.

About fifteen minutes into the concert, Phillip Bailey gave all of us a hearty welcome. He then made a statement that defined real fans of Earth Wind and Fire. He said, “Real fans not only like the songs that are hits, but also those songs that were not as well known.” What Bailey said was the story of my life listening to Earth Wind and Fire. I really do like all of EWF’s albums. I listen to all of their albums…a great deal. Some people have told me they did not like certain EWF songs or albums. Not me! I guess that is what makes me a real EWF fan.  Of course, the song choice made me happy, and I am sure the extremely loud crowd enjoyed it too.

The music continued through the evening as those words I heard earlier in the week kept recurring, as Phillip Bailey repeated, “forty-three years of music.”  Those words highlighted what made attendance at this concert so important for me. My father use to say, “All good things must come to an end.” Earth Wind and Fire at some point will not be able to perform live, and no one knows for sure when that time will come. I was not going to take any chances. I am so glad I made the choice to see Earth Wind and Fire at least one more time. Who knows, maybe I will get another opportunity next year.

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