You know that one song in your life that you always have to stop and listen to every single time it plays, no matter what else you might be doing? We all have that song, that “favorite”, that every time you hear it you’re just happier. There has been one song for virtually as long as I can remember that is that song for me: The Best of Times, by Styx.
I’ve heard the song performed live by just about every iteration of the band since 1990, and several times by Dennis DeYoung solo. I’ve heard it performed with all of my hearing, half of my hearing, none of my hearing, with a couple of different hearing aids, and now with a cochlear implant. While every single time was special for it’s own reason, this last one is the one that took me full circle.
Ed and I drove up to Merrillville, Indiana, to the wonderful Star Plaza Theatre. I was fortunate enough to have gone to see Dennis there last May – a couple of weeks before my initial implant evaluation – and he said he was going to start playing a show there every year. I thought he was joking until I was seeing him again already this year (and yes, I do have my tickets for the Feb 2018 show already). I tell myself, “this guy is almost 70 years old, who knows how many more chances I’m going to get to see him!”.
I was nervous and super excited. What was it going to sound like? The concerts I’d been to with my implant thusfar were definitely not “rock” concerts. Was it going to be too loud? Was I going to want to take it off? I’m not exactly thrilled with my current music program anyway, was I going to have to use my standard program? Turns out, I could listen with my music program, although I had to turn the overall volume down a couple of notches – which is identical to how I would hear the show previously with just my hearing aid.
I never thought I would hear this voice – this voice that has comforted me through so much, been there for me in my darkest and happiest of moments – the same way that I used to. While I wouldn’t say I completely remember what things sounded like with my natural hearing, this was the clearest and cleanest he’s ever sounded that I can remember. The first time I heard him sing live, I had only begun dealing with life with a chronic illness – having been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease only a year prior. I was still figuring out life. I still don’t claim to have the answer to anything in life, but I have learned to enjoy the best moments and try to let the rest go. This time was as good as the first time, maybe even better. I don’t know if his voice has just gotten better and more refined with age or if I just appreciate it that much more after all I’ve been through, but there will never be another voice or song that moves me like this one.
I can’t wait to go back and hear it again next year – my hearing will only be even better then.
Our memories of yesterday will last a lifetime. We’ll take the best, forget the rest, and someday we’ll find these are the best of times.