Since 1994, Collective Soul has been a band that has continued to connect with me and resonate during many changes both inwardly and outwardly in my life. When I was young and needed some inspiration, “Shine” was there on the radio…and when I bought the album and all my friends said, “Collective WHO?”
Nobody I knew had heard of this “One Hit Wonderband” at the time when I had already fallen in love with their music in a Rumi sort of way. What my friends did quickly learn by being around me so often, were the lyrics to Shine; we would sing it (poorly I might add), in unison while driving with the sunroof open and windows rolled down during the warm California summer nights of 1994.
When I was a depressed and lonely teen, all I had to do was skip to track 3 of “Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid” for a simple reminder that anytime I was pining over a lost love who wouldn’t love me back, I was simply “Wasting Time.” Even a decade later, when I had begun to explore my spirituality, I found a hidden gem on “Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid” by the name of “Heaven Is Already Here.” I was reminded of a very valuable yet simple lesson – many times the wisdom is already there, even if we’re not ready to listen to it. Trust me, I can now fully appreciate the wisdom of “Heaven Is Already Here” in a way that was impossible back in 1994.
Some might say that my passion turned to obsession when I began downloading as many bootleg concerts of theirs I could find online at a time when DSL and ipods didn’t even exist. Though it took me many hours just to get a few unauthorized (and very poorly recorded) songs onto my computer, it was always worth it. The more I listened to their live material, the more one thing become completely clear to me:
Collective Soul is even better live than they are on their albums.
Why do I think that is? Because they’re soulful, real, and they really bring themselves into their music and connect with their fans (you can even follow them on Twitter @Collective_Soul and read their blog). Each time they perform, it’s a unique experience for them as well as their fans. Collective Soul doesn’t try to play their albums live, they play live from their souls to share with the collective. They realize that their music isn’t about them, and it’s not about their fans – they know that it’s about the Collective Soul that is created when they and their fans become one.
I can say this with certainty because I’ve heard a LOT of their concerts. Not just the many many bootleg concerts of theirs that I pirated a decade ago and now have on my ipod… such as their cover of Ozzie’s “Crazy Train” from Woodstock (that’s what I was listening to as I wrote this paragraph)… but also the many concerts I’ve attended since they first started performing in California. Like the one over a decade ago in SF when they were nearing the end of the show and came on stage and said (paraphrasing):
“We haven’t played this song in years, and we weren’t planning on playing it, but a friend of ours requested that we play it when we are here in SF. We probably won’t play it again for several years.”
And that’s when they played Wasting Time, and I nearly fell into tears. I might have even had a tear in my eye, but being in my early 20’s and with a woman I didn’t know too well, I wasn’t feeling nearly confident enough to show that much sensitivity in public. That was definitely one of those times in my life I wish I had a voice recorder, or a technology that didn’t even exist yet like cell phones that can record video.
(Note: Collective Soul is going on tour again – Click here for 2009 Tour Dates Which show shall we meet at?”)
As I started to grow up no matter what album came out, there was always a song that was perfectly timed for who and what I was. In my early / mid 20’s there was “Gel” and “The World I Know” while I was growing up and starting to figure out who I thought I was, and perhaps who I even wanted to be.
Then over a decade since I had first heard them, they came back to SF again and played with Low Millions. This was the first time I’d heard their new album “Youth” and as soon as they opened with “Better Now” I knew I was in the right place at the right time. I had just started opening myself up to my spiritual path, and “Better Now” was aligned perfectly with this new time of personal transformation.
During that time, my former wife also thought she might be pregnant. As soon as they played “Satellite” I felt a surge of energy go straight into my heart. It turns out she wasn’t pregnant, yet the song stayed etched within me… and when she later became pregnant with our son, Quantum, I listened to “Satellite” nearly daily. (What’s that you say about Rumi?)
The other thing about that concert that truly meant a lot to me was afterwards, the band came down and met with us. I bought the album, and a sweatshirt, and every person in the band signed both with a sharpie. Though the CD eventually got destroyed by my very meddlesome 2 year old son, and the writing on the sweatshirt has faded into unreadability, the impact that Collective Soul has had on me throughout the better half of my life has remained etched in my heart.