In which I get to live out a childhood dream alongside my own son...
This week's column is near and dear to my heart.
It's exceptional in that it really doesn't have a direct tie to Wayne County.
However, the dreams that inspired the journey I undertook this past weekend began here many years ago … a typical teenage kid, barricaded in his bedroom, listening to rock music while staring at posters of his favorite band and dreaming of stardom.
On Sunday evening, my son and I traveled to Philadelphia to see our all-time favorite band in concert.
Queen has risen from the ashes of Freddie Mercury's untimely death to conquer the rock world once again.
Led by original members Brian May and Roger Taylor, the band performed at the Wells Fargo Center before a crowd of nearly 21,000. And, with Adam Lambert up front, Queen's legendary sound more than lived up to expectations.
It's an experience I'll never forget, and one I'd like to share with you...
News of the World
I vividly remember the day Queen released the album destined to catapult them to superstardom in the United States.
It was a sunny Saturday morning in the fall of 1977. I'd just received my allowance, jumped on my bike and headed downtown.
On this particular day, I was waiting at the front door when Weniger Electronics opened for business. It took me all of 10 seconds to spot the now-classic album cover, snag a copy and make my purchase
I think I was out the door, and headed home in less than two minutes. While I was dying to slap it on my turntable, I was also eager to see what secrets lay inside the gatefold jacket.
So, I steered my bike down Church Street and into Central Park. There, with the Civil War soldier looming over me, I settled down on a bench and ripped off the cellophane.
“News of the World.”
Those of you familiar with this particular album will likely identify with the reaction of an 11-year-old kid with a hyperactive imagination.
I was simultaneously thrilled and terrified.
There on the cover and inside the gatefold were vivid images of a giant metallic robot … a robot that seemed to be in the act of destroying humankind!
I don't know how long I sat there bug-eyed on that park bench, but it was quite awhile.
By the time I slipped the album back into that bright yellow Weniger Electronics bag, I was starting to wonder if I really wanted to know what the “News of the World” was after all.
It wasn't lost on me that 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of this classic Queen album … and my pilgrimage to purchase it.
I regaled Alec with the tale as we drove towards Philadelphia and my own personal date with destiny.
(He giggled at my naivete and laughingly reminded me that “Family Guy” dedicated an entire episode to little Stewie's fear of that giant robot).
For those of you who aren't familiar with it (and for those who'd just like a quick reminder) “News of the World” was Queen's breakout album in the US.
It soared into the Top 10, eventually sold more than six million copies and spawned two monster hit singles. “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” are still staples of FM radio and can be heard at nearly every pro sports event in the world.
Over the course of a career that spanned three decades, Queen sold an estimated 300 million albums … and “News of the World” represented the band at its artistic peak.
While Alec and our friend Goran stood in line for $9 slices of pizza and $8 sodas, I went to scope out our seats.
I took an escalator up to the mezzanine of the Wells Fargo Center, then continued to climb until I reached the proverbial “nosebleed” section.
The venue seats nearly 21,000, but it's state-of-the-art and arranged so that there are no bad spots. We were going to be pretty high up, but our line of sight was perfect.
When I returned to the food court area, Alec and Goran were happily stuffing their faces and counting down the minutes until showtime.
It was here, standing around a hightop table and speculating which songs we might hear, that Fate smiled down on us.
A sharp-dressed man with a Wells Fargo nametag strode right over to our table as if he knew us. He made a crack about my Mets hat (Phillies fan of course!) and then asked if we were together.
When we replied that we were indeed, he asked where we were sitting.
When I told him, he simply smiled and said “No, no, no. Here.”
He handed me three different tickets, clapped me on the back and added as he walked away: “Enjoy the show, fellas!”
I'd never met him before and we never saw him again. And those tickets he'd just given us? They were on the floor eight rows from the stage!
And so, Alec, Goran and I spent the next two hours less than 50 feet from Brian May: Guitar Virtuoso, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and Holder of a Doctorate in Astrophysics.
Even though he'd just celebrated his 70th birthday, Dr. May showed no signs of slowing down. He nailed every solo he played, wielding his legendary “Red Special” with unbridled confidence.
The overflow crowd thrilled to the sounds of “Under Pressure,” “Fat-Bottomed Girls,” “Love of My Life,” “Don't Stop Me Now,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and, of course “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Alec, Goran and I savored every moment. We left with iPhones packed with pictures, ringing ears and ear-to-ear grins.
Aside from bragging about this amazing experience, the message I'd like to convey this week is a simple one: Don't dismiss those childhood dreams!
Make the effort to live them out, no matter how many grey hairs are now protruding from your battered old Mets hat.
Write that story.
Take that trip.
Ask her out.
See that show.
Drive to Philly for that concert.
I promise, you won't regret it!