Songs About Jane

Songs About Rain (Part 1): Gearing Up

Today I’m home early, having taken half the day off work to get ready for a concert I’m attending this evening with Chelley. It’s a Maroon 5 show at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA,  a large outdoor amphitheater thirty miles south of Boston where pop acts come to play during the summer months. With southbound traffic on I-95 already treacherous on usual evening, and with fans descending en masse to clog not only the streets but also the acres of rolling parking space around the park, I thought it wise to take some extra time off to come home and cool down before gearing up and getting out there tonight.

There’s just one issue: we’ve got lawn seats and it’s currently coming down in sheets outside. With the windows in the apartment open behind me and in adjacent rooms it sounds like a typical day in a south Asian jungle during the rainy season. Forecasters expect the deluge to continue all afternoon, warning as well of the distinct possibility of thunderstorms. And by golly if I didn’t just hear the first rumblings of such ominous nature now.

So what are we going to do? We’re going to press on and go on to the show, just as I’m sure the band will also go on with the show (though I do wonder what do performers do when a show is threatened by inclement weather…)

We’re going because that’s what hearty, active, optimistic people do, confound it… and because Chelley’s mother bought all the tickets for us and for Chelley’s sister and sister’s boyfriend, and there has not been, as of yet, any indication of there being a change in the plan.

So we’re going. And we’re going to enjoy it. So there.

All things considered though, I’m really looking forward to it. Before the dour downpour began to drown out the roads and rails around Bostontowne; before I began to compile a new mixtape list of songs having to do with such themes as sky, inclement weather, and bad luck (just a taste: Journey – Wheel in the Sky, Creedence Clearwater Revival – Hav You Ever Seen The Rain, and Dawes – Just My Luck); before I began to wonder why I couldn’t just put together a Maroon 5 Tribute band comprised of the members of our concert-going posse and spend the night in Chelley’s mother’s living room playing their songs ourselves instead– before all this I was looking forward to the show.

After all, Maroon 5 was the first new band that I really latched onto when I started college in 2004. Their first major album, Songs About Jane, was not only the first album a friend burned for me soon after getting to college, but it was also the first album that I would turn to early and often when compiling mixes for friends, families, and ladyfriend interests of mine during that time.

It was also one of the first albums I remember saying, “Wow. This whole thing is friggin’ great from beginning to end.”  Was it pop? Was it rock? Surely it was both. When most other pop musicians with their highly stylized and meticulously produced beats, instrumentation, and delivery generally struck me as no less simple and plain (if not over the top or trite), Songs About Jane struck me as a truer, deeper, and an overall more real form of expression. Something that felt genuinely ripped right from the heart and memories of the singer’s aching and longing for this one nearly ineffable lady.

Subsequent offerings by the band have not impressed me as much as I find there to be more pop, snap, crackle, and heavy-handed post-production studio pizazz than the deep, sincere lyricism and musicianship of their first set. I understand it and I respect it, but at first brush, it’s not for me (At this point I should say that if you’re looking for a 100% pop-friendly– “poptimistic” let’s call it– fan source, you might want to look elsewhere).

Nonetheless I’m looking forward to the whole experience. The venue. The parking. The concert grounds. And of course seeing that troupe of five now pop music veterans and one very special pop guest in the form of Ms. Kelly Clarkson working it out up there on that little ol’ stage (all of this coming from my much further off, and slightly swampier perspective of course).

I want to witness this band’s chemistry and see if I can be convinced that they’re still more than just five good looking guys from sunny California with batches of 3 1/2 minute morsels dripping and oozing with red-hot, top-40 fun, but I’ll be just as happy if they put on a decent show.

So we’ll go. And I’ll listen. And I’ll keep an open mind about what I see and hear. And if nothing else, I get to do my best Gene Kelly and sing in the rain.

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