Saturday, October 01, 2005

On this day 11 years ago

Hanging on to the past has always been part of my life. When it comes to those people who have influenced and inspired me, I remember dates, hours, words, certain looks in their eyes, sounds of their voices... all of that is imprinted on my brain, never to be forgotten.

Exactly 11 years ago I was a naive, innocent 18 year old with dreams as big as the universe and with a trust and belief that nobody was able to shake. All of that strength and trust came from one single man - Garth Brooks. So if by now you didn't realize that this will be a LOOOOONG post, brace yourself and be warned.

September 27th and 29th were filled with "road trips" to see Garth and his band Stillwater in Stuttgart and Dortmund. The concerts were absolutely awesome but the best part was the fact that we'd managed to track Stillwater down and talk to each and everyone of them!!! I was in heaven.
With a heavy heart we left Dortmund and I resigned myself to the fact that it was my goodbye and I wouldn't see them until the next tour came round. But I knew they would play Hamburg on October 1st so after a short deliberation with myself I decided to just go. I felt I needed to tell them thank you, to let them know how much it had meant to me that they took the time to chat to me. I had no tickets for that night's show but I didn't want to see the show anyway. I just wanted to say thanks.

So on October 1st, 1994 I jumped on train to Hamburg. I could write a whole book on everything that happened between setting my foot on the train and getting to meet Garth but I think I'll keep it short.
Suffice it to say I made it to the concert venue and managed to sneak into the back yard where I had seen all the buses. I was hiding behind a run down little shed there when I saw him. He was going to the bus and I just got up and walked over to him and called his name. He turned around and smiled at me and I introduced myself and he said "Nice to meet you, I'm Garth" LOL Cause I didn't know!?!?!?!? LOLOL I continued to talk to him for a while, he was so incrediby nice and then he asked me if I wanted to see soundcheck? HELL YEAH!!! So he walked me into the arena, past people who kept saying hi to him. I don't remember being particularly nervous, it just felt very unreal. I told him how "The River" had changed my life and how I felt it was my "life song". He listened while we kept walking and suddenly I was inside, I could hear the music and we stood in front of the stage. I stopped dead in my tracks because Stillwater was on stage and some of them recognized me and waved. When Garth looked at me he asked if I wanted to go up on stage... OMG!!! I was freaked out. I walked up the stairs though and there I was - on his stage, with him next to me and Stillwater behind me.

I can't even begin to explain how totally out of this world this experience was. When I think about it now I just smile condescendingly at my 18 year old self thinking that it just wouldn't have the same impact on me anymore nowadays. But I remember what it was like back then. I remember that I told him something to the extent of "you must love it being up here" and he smiled and me and said "don't you?". At this point Stillwater was smiling at me and Mike even asked where Ally was. I was dumbstruck.
Garth left for a minute or so but then came back and told me we'd go and get tickets. I was like - what tickets??????? So he said he'd make sure I'd get tickets for that night's show. As he lead me off stage I waved goodbye to the band and followed him up some stairs into what turned out to be his dressing room. There he introduced me to his tour manager/friend Mickey and told him to make sure I'd get as many tickets as I wanted. He then gave me a hug, thanked me (he THANKED ME!!!!!!!) and I took off with Mickey. I ended up calling Iri and Brina to let them know that I'd gotten tickets to see the show that night and that they needed to come up to Hamburg.

The next few hours are jumbled in my head. I remember recording a short message on my dictaphone after I'd walked out of the building but not much else. Time passed and I was waiting for my friends to show up and they'd gotten lost in Hamburg and arrived quite late but eventually went to a guy who had some sort of list and my name was on it so we got the tickets and rushed in.

The concert started and I had a blast. I had my trusty little dictaphone with me and I knew which songs he would sing when. So when it was his turn to sing "The River" I hit the record button on that dictaphone. I can't remember ever being so glad to record something because what followed seemed like a dream. If I didn't have it on a little tape somewhere I wouldn't be so sure I hadn't made it all up.
He started the introduction by saying "This a song I hope some of you might like, some of you might recognize. I wanna sing this for Maky. She said that this is a song that she makes a lot of her decisions out of and remember, thanks for believing in the music but very front of all you gotta believe in yourself. The song is called The River". People started to cheer, Stillwater started to play and I kept thinking "Who's Maky? Who's that lucky girl?" and when I turned to Iri she was screaming "OhmyGod, OhmyGod!!!" and suddenly everything dawned on me and I pretty much broke down crying in her arms.

I recovered pretty quickly when I remembered that during the previous two concerts Garth had walked off stage into the crowd and indeed, he started walking off the stage this time too. I knew I needed to see him, somehow say thank you. I managed to get through to where he was and as he turned around he saw me and gave me a smile and then just enveloped me in his arms. He was still singing and when he let go I mouthed a "thank you" to him and gave him a thumbs up. Lucky for me, Brina took a picture of that exact moment so I have that to remember for the rest of my life (see below).
On the other hand, all this time there was a camera guy filming this whole thing (look at the picture on the very right) so there's a tape out there which has every single second of my special moment on it. And if it's the last thing I do, I will get a hold of that tape!!!

It would not be the last time I saw or spoke to Garth but it was the first time. And so very, very, very special. I will make sure that at some point in my life I will sit him down and explain to him just how much he has done for me, not just that day but with his music and with everything that he is.

It's been 11 years since then and yet, as I type this it feels like it was only yesterday. No matter how much shit I might think I've been through and how much more there is to come - those few precious moments in my life make me realize just how lucky I am. Now I just need to find a way to remember this when I'm down again ;-)