Dear Rob, Paul, Adam, Kyle and Brian,
I’ve written about a million versions of this letter in my head because it is very important that I get this right. Because this is where it all started – The Beginning.
April 7th, 1997 at The Odeon – opening for Jackopierce. And 51 days later, at The Grog Shop. For $2. And again in August, October and then March of the following year. And then August 1998 at Blossom for $30. Meteoric rise? Understatement.
Matchbox Twenty – the first band I loved.
And imagine how different it all could have been. If the music wasn’t just so or if the lyrics hadn’t seemingly been written specifically for me. If Paul wasn’t so damned adorable playing those drums with his bare feet. If Adam hadn’t been so unbelievably nice to me. If Kyle wasn’t so good looking, Brian so quiet or if Rob didn’t have that certain something that oozed of stardom…
I was 16 and phenomenally uncool. I listened to your album, Yourself or Someone Like You, every day for over a year. I had a cassette taped copy of You & I & I recorded at radio station 99x and I’m pretty sure it was my most prized possession. I quoted you in my yearbook. My best friend Betsey and I named our Uniracers bikes after you guys on our SNES. A startling confession to make but it is the truth. Like I said, phenomenally uncool.
“Well everyone here hides shades of shame
yeah but lookin’ inside we’re the same.
We’re the same and we’re all grown now,
yeah, but we don’t know how to get it back to good.”
– Matchbox Twenty , Back 2 Good
It all has to do with that very first show in 1997. We were front row at The Odeon – my Mom had driven us down to The Flats for the show and, I think, waited outside in the car the entire time. I am certain I stared adoringly at you all as you played and sang the songs; I must have, anyway, because Adam came to the edge of the stage and handed me his guitar pick. Me! Little phenomenally uncool me in the front row. Amazing. I don’t think I stopped talking about it for months. (Years?)
And I was hooked on live music and the thrill of getting some silly acknowledgement from a the band that your love of their music and their art was appreciated. A drumstick here, a guitar pick there. A photo with the band after the gig (in the freezing cold, usually, at 1am). As I grew older and got my own transportation it was the recognition I craved. For one of them, any of them, to remember my name.
Allison, hello! Good to see you again. Isn’t Chicago a little far from Cleveland?
“While you were sleeping I was listening to the radio wondering what you’re dreaming when it came to mind that I didn’t care. And I thought, hell, if it’s over then I had better end it quick or I could lose my neve. Are you listening? Can you hear me?”
– Matchbox Twenty, Rest Stop
But I couldn’t keep up with you guys. Before I blinked, it seemed, you were selling out shows at ticket prices I couldn’t really afford. Even those who were there at the relative beginning for shows at The Grog Shop got lost amidst the massive crowd being reeled in by chart-topping hits (one after the other).
I never forgot you, though, or that first guitar pick I ever received from a band at a live gig which I still have in a safe place. Or the way it felt to get your autographs and see you smile at me!
It is because of you guys, and the fire you lit inside me, that I have followed live music so obsessively over the past 11 years. I’m not as avid as those who make a living by it, but I have been to 275 concerts and some of my closest friends are people in the industry.
“Some things in this world they don’t make sense.
Somethings you don’t need until they leave you,
They’re the things that you miss.
Oh, baby, baby, baby when all your love is gone
Who will save me from all I’m up against out in this world?
And maybe, maybe, maybe
You’ll find something that’s enough to keep you
But if the bright lights don’t receive you,
You can turn yourself around and come on home.
-Matchbox Twenty, Bright lights
You and your music inspired my love of music and it was partially my love of music that led me to study abroad. Which led me to a band who, when next touring America, led me to another band who eventually led me here to Scotland where I wouldn’t be if it weren’t, in a roundabout way, for you guys and your music. Convoluted, I know, but the idea is there.
So. Thank you. For lighting the fire. For making such good music that I still listen to rather more often than I’d like to admit. For putting out a Live DVD so I don’t have to cry when you come and play my city and I can’t make it to the gig. For continuing to strive towards that goal.
Without you five and your music none of this would have happened. And I really sincerely mean that.
Matchbox Twenty, How Far We’ve Come – Live from Abbey Road Studios
“I’m waking up at the start of the end of the world
But it’s feeling just like every other morning before
Now I wonder what my life is going to mean if it’s gone.”
-Matchbox Twenty, How Far We’ve Come
So, thanks guys. I grew up listening to you. How far we’ve come, indeed.
Keep up the good work.
Come and play Glasgow. Somewhere small (my house?). And please don’t charge me £30 for the ticket. Remember, I was there at the beginning.