And there he was… in all of his elderly glory. A tall, slender figure dressed all in black and sporting a haircut that would raise an eyebrow if worn by anyone else, snuck onto to the center of the stage under the cover of a blinding light show.
Now carrying his signature black Fender Precision bass guitar, the old man crept up to the center stage microphone, which by this point in his career was an action as common as brushing his teeth or wiping his ass.
As the light show fizzled out, he took a moment to shoot a quick look to each of his musicians; all of which reciprocated with a nod of assurance that they were prepared to carry out their holy duty.
He smiled, inhaled, and then –
Roger Waters, a man who I have idolized for nearly a decade at this point, and who up until now had only existed to me through his music, was now just a stadium’s length away from my face; which at this point was drenched in tears.
Yup… I cried at the site of a 73 year old man. This wasn’t a light stream either; this was a raging sentient tidal wave with parental issues of tears. I cried so hard and for so long that the Martha Stewart looking lady sitting in the seat to my left asked if I needed her to call an ambulance.
For the uninitiated, Roger Waters was the bassist, and co-lead vocalist for the progressive rock (and yes, it’s progressive rock, not psychedelic) group Pink Floyd from about 1967 to 1985. He took over as the group’s principal lyricist after the group’s original leader, Syd Barrett, had to leave because of mental illness.
Waters is credited with much of the concept heavy material that led to the group’s success in the mid to late seventies, including works such as “Wish You Were”, “The Wall”, and of course, “The Dark Side of the Moon”.
However, the good times didn’t last too long. After the troubled development of his last project with the group, 1983’s “The Final Cut”, Waters left Pink Floyd behind to focus on his solo career, branding the band as a “spent force creatively”, a real nasty insult considering that music is a medium that relies on creativity.
But you’re not here for a history lesson; you’re here because you want to know why my eyes started vomiting water just by looking at the man.
Well let me just say outright that this actually wasn’t the first time I had started weeping like someone watching Pixar’s “Up” for the first time at the sight of a former member of Pink Floyd.
I had actually seen David Gilmour, the band’s lead guitarist and vocalist during his tour the year prior and, just like at Roger’s show, I turned into a fire hydrant that got hit by a car.
So why lose my shit at the sight of two ancient artifacts from a bygone age? Is it because of their status and influence in the world of rock? Well I have seen Paul McCartney, a person whose influence in the music world dwarf’s that of Gilmour and Waters… so that can’t be it.
Was it because they were so beautiful that my simple primate brain could not handle their holy visage? No, they’re both kinda ugly actually. Waters looks like a crusty version of handsome Squidward, and Gilmour looks like what would happen if Gollum from Lord of the Rings ate about seven more Gollums.
Was there a source of freshly cut onions nearby? No, not to my knowledge.
Honestly, and this may sound crazy, but I think it was because of the fact that for the longest time, I really didn’t even believe these guys were real up until then. Wait! Don’t close the page yet. It’s not as stupid as it sounds.
I became a fan of the Floyd at a really young age, like REALLY young. So young that I’ve honestly been listening to this music for about a decade now. As the years went on, I became more and more fascinated by the story of the band and the lives of the individual members.
I watched countless interviews and snippets of concert footage, studied and picked apart every song, and even lowered myself to, *gags* reading a good few books on them.
I was like a Pink Floyd monk. I traded a fulfilling and happy existence for a life of celibacy and study (middle school was rough), all so I could tell people things like 1972’s Obscured by Clouds was actually a soundtrack album for the French film La Valee by Bar-
Ah shit there I go again. Sorry, force of habit.
It got to a point where I felt like I knew these people. It was as if they were longtime friends. Creepy, right?
So to finally see someone who up until that point had only existed to you in pictures, videos, and recordings in the flesh? Well, I think we already covered your reaction.
Was it a little over the top? Probably, yeah. I’ve seen hundreds of those Sarah Mclachlan commercials and haven’t flinched once, but the sight of an old dude with a guitar brings me to tears.
Funny how that works.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, just remember that you are in a public space.
Jonah Nink is a Freshman at UIC currently study english and communications. Listen to him say words on “The Longplay”, every Tuesday from 9pm to 10pm on UIC Radio.