Thursday, April 30, 2015
Y is for YESTERDAY’S
The car was all packed and ready to go to Chattanooga, Tennessee, the morning of June 27, 1992. Frank and I were always eager for a little road trip to hear Velvet Melon, our son’s band. We went every Sunday night to hear them at their steady gig in Pensacola, but going away from home to hear them was a treat because we were able to see how much the boys were loved elsewhere.
As I remember it, our the drive was uneventful, a good thing, and we arrived at Yesterday’s, the club where they played regularly, in time to watch Jay and the guys set up for their gig. I’m sure that Frank helped them because he always pitched in and lugged musical instruments and sound equipment in whenever he was available at setting up time. I watched from a table in the bar, hardly taking my eyes off Jay, always amazed at the strong, handsome young man that he had become.
Yesterday’s began to fill with young adults eager for yet another wonderful evening of music by Velvet Melon, one of their favorite bands, if not their most favorite. They knew that the evening would be an active one, with lots of dancing and singing along with the guys. And so the gig began.
During the break after the first set, Jay came to chat with us, as he always did when we were present. He turned a chair around and straddled it when he came to our table. Almost the first words out of his mouth were, “You’ll never know the feeling I get when I have those guys on the floor right in my hands! Whatever I tell them to do, they do . . . clap, jump up and down, yell . . . whatever! How can a job be so much fun?” Some of our friends thought we were crazy for supporting Jay in his chosen vocation. They didn’t understand how we, faithful First Baptist Members, could approve of his making his living in bars. But, as Frank told many of them, if he had chosen to be a doctor, we’d have supported him. He just happened to choose music, and most professional musicians start our by playing in bars.
Toward the end of the gig, someone requested that the guys sing “Let It Be.” None of them knew all the words, but our son, ever the entertainer, told the person who requested it to write the words, and he’d sing it. And so he did. He got behind the keyboards, never having played the song before but knowing the tune, and played and sang The Beatles’ “Let It Be,” making someone in the audience very happy. Someone besides his mother, who was filled with pride in her boy.
The guys in Velvet Melon had recently rented a house in Nashville, and one of the reasons that we went to Yesterday’s that weekend was to see where they lived before heading to the Smokey Mountains for a camping trip over the Fourth of July weekend. We didn’t make it to the mountains because I had a terrible bout of vertigo, causing us to go home instead. There’s a whole additional story here that I’ll save for another time. I’ll just say for now that it was fortuitous for us to go back to Pensacola because of what happened just after we arrived at home. As we rounded the corner onto our street, we both noticed that the “Maintenance Required” indicator was flashing, a prophetic sign if I ever saw one because no more than forty-five minutes later, I found our precious boy dead in our bathroom.
Yesterday’s will always be a special place for us because that’s where Jay and the guys played their last gig. We were blessed because, once again, we packed up and hit the road to hear them.