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My husband and I have extremely different tastes in music. I like country and operatic pop. He likes 80s-90s rock and trance and a bunch of other random stuff. He likes to poke fun at my favorite country songs by making up his own words and renditions. It has become a little bit of a game to us. And, over the last few years our tastes have begun to mesh just a little bit. I’ve found some awesome 80s songs that I like, and he’s found some country songs and artists that he likes.
Darius Rucker is one of those artists. Sometime last summer I was listening to a Darius Rucker song and Russ immediately recognized his voice as “Hootie” from the 90s rock band “Hootie and the Blowfish.” According to wikipedia, “In 2008, Rucker announced in an AOL Sessions interview that Hootie and the Blowfish would be going on hiatus so Rucker could pursue his solo career as a country music performer.”
I had liked Darius Rucker’s country songs since they first hit the radio stations back in 2008. With each new song that he put out, I became more and more impressed with not only his vocal style, but the heartfelt family ties that come through his music. His songs are clean and about real love and life, not about fairy-tale romance or trashy immoral relationships.
Anyway, back to the story…
Monday morning, September 12, we were driving somewhere with the radio on. I was surfing the country stations (of course). And Russ looked at me and said, “Hey how is Hootie doing?” So I mentioned some of the new songs that had come out and we just got to talking. Then he said, “Aprille, if you wanna go to a Darius Rucker concert sometime I promise I will take you.” So I pulled out my phone and started googling. I found out that there was a concert in 3 days at a local college an hour and a half from our house!!! I mentioned it to Russ and he said “we’re going!” I tried to make excuses about not leaving Ezra for so long and the length of the drive and blah blah blah. But he didn’t really give me a choice. He ordered me to check for tickets. We found 2 tickets available – ROW B – at stubhub.com. Highly marked up, but we splurged anyway and ordered the tickets.
I have to admit, I was a little bit in shock. We’ve never really been to a big country concert like that. I was worried about my husband’s deployment-related anxiety as sometimes loud music bothers him, but he promised that he would be fine because he would take ear plugs. I was also worried about spending a minimum of 6 hours away from Ezra, especially late at night before bed when he’s used to nursing. But he assured me we would work something out.
My mind started going through my list of friends and baby-sitters. And then I had a stroke of genius. One of my close friends who has a baby a few weeks younger than Ezra (we met in birthing class) moved a few months ago to a town that was within an hour of the concert location (and about an hour and a half from our house). It was going to add about an hour of travel time for us but would cut down on the amount of time that we would have to be away from Ezra, and he would be with an experienced mommy and a baby-friend! I called and she was more than willing to babysit for the evening. That’s when I started to get really excited.
Thursday evening, the evening of the concert, I checked the maps one last time and determined that, with travel time and giving us time to drop off Ezra, we needed to leave the house at 4:30. We left a little bit late and were really rushing. Until…I looked down at my phone and realized that we had crossed over into central time! So, we gained a whole hour and had time to spare! We got to my friend’s town and Russ treated the three of us to Olive Garden!!! (It was a VERY quick meal but so worth it!) And then we went across the street for REAL Starbucks! (For those that don’t already know, we don’t have a Starbucks or an Olive Garden in our town!)
We dropped Ezra off at the sitters house and made it to the concert just as they were getting ready to close the doors! Our second-row seats were AMAZING and the hall was small and intimate! We knew we were in for a great night!
The concert was opened up by a small-name singer named Mallary Hope – who was absolutely wonderful! She wrote most of her songs and they were all extremely heartfelt. She was funny and really interacted with the audience well – a great ice breaker. Russ and I were BOTH impressed. (And for Russ not being into country music that much, that says a lot!)
During intermission, Russ struck up a conversation with the man sitting next to him–an older Korean war veteran attending the concert with his wife. They enjoyed exchanging war stories – it was very neat to watch.
Then Darius Rucker took the stage. His concert was eclectic and packed with hit after hit. He sang all of his country songs like “Alright,” “This,” “Comeback Song,” and “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” (a song that has gotten me through so many sleepless nights as a new mom.) But he also sang some of his songs from Hootie and the Blowfish, as well as some random hits from the 70s, 80s, and 90s (most of which Russ knew!) It was really awesome because there were songs for me, songs for Russ, and songs that we both knew and could enjoy together. We BOTH enjoyed the whole concert and Russ didn’t even have to wear his earplugs at all! We laughed, we danced, we sang – and Russ even made up his own renditions of some of the songs and sang them in my ear.
He left the stage and then came back for his encore. My first thought when the music began was “oh man I forgot about this song.” I tried to sing along with “History in the Making,” but it only took about 30 seconds before I had to just stop. I turned around and hugged Russ – he held me while I cried. I’ve heard the song a bazillion times and never cried but it was like hearing it for the first time. I realized, while standing there holding my soldier, handsome in his combat uniform– home from Afghanistan for a brief 2 weeks–that we were making a historical moment. It was a moment I wanted to hold on to, to cling to…and one I didn’t ever want to forget.
When you are a military family and you spend so much time apart, it makes you so much more grateful for the time you have together. You survive while struggling to live separate lives, but then when you finally come together, you splurge and try to make enough amazing memories to get you through the months apart. This was one of those memories.
If the night had ended there it still would have been perfect…but it didn’t. Darius Rucker finished the last song of his encore set, “Purple Rain,” and while the music was still playing he started interacting with the audience by shaking hands with people on the front row. We were in the second row but he was still close and it was very neat. Then he took off his hat, pulled a marker out of his back pocket, and signed his hat. We figured (along with the rest of the audience) that he was going to throw it out randomly into the crowd for someone to catch. But instead, he walked with purpose right across the stage toward us. He pointed to Russ and held out his hat for us to take – Russ gave him back a unit patch that he pulled out of his uniform.
It really was surreal. Darius Rucker is just a man – but getting to interact with a celebrity was pretty neat. And it was so special to us that he noticed my husband, an American soldier, and took the time to recognize and honor him for his service. We felt so honored and humbled all at the same time. Russ put the hat on my head and I walked out of the hall with it on! People were coming up to us and saying “congratulations” and “thank you for your service” and we kinda just walked out in a daze! It was such an amazingly awesome experience.
We drove to pick up Ezra (who had been an angel) and then continued the hour and a half home. We were exhausted and drowsy and had to switch off drivers a few times. We didn’t get home until about 2AM at which point Russ and Ezra crashed on the couch. It was so sweet!
I’m so glad that we took this chance to get away, to have a date night, and to do something spontaneous. It’s definitely something that I will never forget. A night that is “at the top of the charts” in the history of our relationship. Definitely “History in the Making.”