Saturday Songs – August 18, 2012
Today’s Saturday song is one that has some personal significance for me. The song itself does not speak to me, nor do the lyrics have any special meaning for me. But the song itself will forever be associated with the summer of 1991 for me.
Queensryche‘s Empire had been released the previous year. I was already a Queensryche fan, getting pulled in by Operation: Mindcrime. So, it was a no brainer that I was picking up this album as well. Needless to say, I loved it… well, most of it. I’m not a big fan of Della Brown, but it’s still a pretty good song.
Fast forward to the summer of 1991. I had finished my first year at Syracuse, and was getting ready for the next. During this summer, one of the local radio stations (which has now changed formats) was running a contest with the prizes being front row tickets to Queensryche’s Building Empires Tour stop in Hartford, meet the band, and be entered for a chance to fly to London to see them perform at the Monsters of Rock Festival. All you had to do was listen for the Queensryche song and call in when you hear it. The contest itself ran for a week (Monday thru Friday, to be precise). On Monday, I heard this song.
I called in and was the right caller. I had won front row tickets to the concert.
That, in most cases, would have been enough.
The night of the concert, I was back stage for the meet and greet. There were a few other people there, including the four other winners of this particular contest. After everyone met the band and got their autographs, the five callers (and their guests) stayed back for the drawing for the trip to London. It was like a hard rock Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Lead singer Geoff Tate was spun around and picked one of five envelopes. I mentioned something offhand about not wanting to get a name he could not pronounce. When he opened the window, he uttered, “Oh, Christ,” and proceeded to do his best to pronounce the last name, my last name.
I did not expect to win the trip, but I had.
The concert itself was almost a blur. I remember missing the opening act (Suicidal Tendencies… not a fan, so I was not broken up by missing it), I remember a lot of the concert, and I remember a hot girl in a white T-shirt (who was one of the other callers) hitting on my trip tickets.
The weeks leading up to the trip were a whirlwind. I had never been out of the country, so I had no passport. So it was off to Stamford for a rush to get one. We were also arranging to make sure everything was ready for my trip back to college, since the flight back was the night before I was to leave for my sophomore year. And I had to figure out who I was going to take with me. That ended up being my mom, who had not had a decent vacation in quite some time.
The week we were in London was something I will never forget, and not just because it was the same week as the hardliner coup in the Soviet Union. It did not even matter that we got to the hotel mere seconds after the bus to Monsters of Rock left (I never did get to the festival). Instead, we played tourist the who week. We hit Madame Tussaud’s that day (a walk from our hotel). We went to the London Zoo, London Dungeon, the Tower of London, walked across Tower Bridge, all the touristy things.
It was the first and only time I had been out of the country, and I would not trade it for anything. And it was all because of Jet City Woman.