You know, I was never really a huge fan of the band Boston. I was way more into them as a teen than I am these days. That said, I still find myself rather sad that Brad Delp, their lead singer who possessed one of those voices, passed away on Friday at just age 55. The cause of death is still undetermined, although the family has asked that donations be sent to the American Heart Association, if that’s any indication.
Anyway, it would be pretty hard to not like one Boston song out of the roughly 50-60 the band has in its repetiore. For some, it’s “Amanda.” For others, it’s “Smokin.'” For me, it’s probably “More Than A Feeling.” I think it’s their biggest hit and it’s also probably the Boston song that is still played the most on classic rock stations. Normally, this would mean that I never have to hear it again, but “More Than A Feeling” is exempt – and that’s because Delp’s voice on that song just nails it, running the gamut between soft and soaring, sad and uplifting.
I was a sophomore in high school and a much bigger fan of Boston when the eagerly anticipated Third Stage came out, eight years after their second album. Being in New England, it was almost the story of the year and if you think I’m kidding, chew on this: they sold out nine consecutive nights at the Worcester Centrum in 1986, two of which I attended. As the years progress, it becomes harder and harder for me to remember what happened in what year, but I can tell you with a certain degree of authority that 1986 was a terrific year for me. It was a year in which I began to discover songs beyond what was played on the radio. I saw my first arena rock shows. I had improved my grades after a horrific freshman year. It was just one of those years when so much bloomed. There was an explosion of optimism, lots of new experiences and good friends and great times in school. There will never be another year like that in my life.
So while I don’t really listen to Boston that much, Brad Delp’s voice and the band’s music hold a special place in my heart, because I associate them with some of those moments in a priceless, golden time.
What I love is that people around here have universally praised Delp this weekend, with many calling him one of the nicest people in rock and roll and an unassuming guy without even a smidge of ego and a ton of friendliness and approachability. I had always kept telling myself that I needed to go see his “other” band, the Beatles cover band, Beatlejuice. They played right here in Maynard about once every two months and I never got to see them. Now I never will. It was one of those things where I knew they’d continue to be back and I’d see ’em eventually. Damn.
They say that Delp had an uncanny ability to just nail all four Beatles voices and he always had such a great time doing it. Now I’m wishing I could have heard it for myself.