I’m a pop music nut. In fact, it’s been one of the most important parts of my life, as far back as I can remember, back to Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers and novelty songs like “The Witch Doctor” and “Alley Oop,” which appealed to six-year-old me.

And I’ve never let being alone stop me from seeing one of my favorite musicians perform live when they come to town. I used to buy two tickets, thinking I’d wrangle a friend into going with me. But I didn’t want to ask them to pay for their ticket since it wasn’t their idea to go in the first place. And my budget is such that I couldn’t keep buying two tickets for every musician I wanted to see. And frankly, I don’t know anyone except my daughters who likes the music I do. (And I must say, my most memorable concerts were those I attended with them: most notably Wilco at Rock the Garden the summer of 2003 — it was Sarah’s first summer coming home from college, right after freshman year. She’d sent me the tickets as a Mother’s Day gift. I wondered who I’d go with, and Wayne reminded me that she would be home by then, so SHE would be going with me, making it doubly good — I was excited! Then Kate wanted to come, too, so we got her a ticket.) (You could do that back then. Now, Rock the Garden sells out in hours.)

Wilco was still a struggling band. Their label had dropped them, but they put out Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, anyway. Besides being fantastic music, it seemed to eerily predict — or presage, might be the better word — the fall of the Twin Towers. (U2’s “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” was the same.) Saran & Kate are experts at squirming right to the front of the crowd, and I grabbed onto them and followed till we were very close to the stage. Bad Plus opened for them. They performed all of YHF, followed by a set of rockers from previous albums.

Other great concerts with the girls: Ben Folds and Aimee Mann in Central Park, the summer of…2000 or so. The summer the A/C went out in the Previa right past Chicago, but we pressed on, through Ontario, Niagara Falls, Seneca Falls, Cornell, and NYC. I’ve seen Wilco in Minneapolis at the State with Kate, and we saw Missy Higgins at First Ave.

BUT I DIGRESS! which I can so easily do, especially when it comes to music.

About 10 years ago, at a Wilco concert, looking at the empty seat beside me that I had paid for, but I couldn’t find anyone to go with me, I decided enough was enough. I could start going to concerts alone. Because once you get there, it’s all about the music, anyway. And you can enjoy without worrying that the person you’re with hates the music or isn’t having fun, which has happened to me.

Here’s a rundown of some musicians I have seen while going to concerts alone: Aimee Mann, Nick Lowe, Wilco, of course, Bob Dylan, Richard Thompson, Mavis Staples, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, The Swell Season, ah — the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Ray Davies, Sondre Lerche, Amadou & Mariam, PRINCE — out at Paisley Park, Peter Asher, Bon Iver (being the hometown band from Eau Claire 🙂 ), Music on a Stick at the State Fair, which was Jeremy Messersmith, Dessa, the Jayhawks and Supersonic, and I’m sure there are more. There are also plays and musicals: at the Guthrie, the Orpheum, the Jewish Theater Company, the Ordway, the Lab Theater. Additional venues have been the State Theater, First Ave, the Cedar, the Varsity, the Fitzgerald, Midway Stadium, the Minnesota Zoo amphitheater, Temple Israel, and the Dakota. (Man, I’ve been to a lot of concerts and plays!)

There are a few performers who are like old friends, and I would happily see them whenever they come to town. Aimee Mann is one of those. I’ve seen her at Central Park in NYC, the Guthrie, the Minnesota Zoo, the Dakota and First Ave. Tonight, as I write, she is at the Fine Line Cafe with Ted Leo, playing as The Both. I really like them, and I so wanted to go. But this is starting to wear on me some. Going to clubs alone feels a little stressful, and this was a particularly late set: opening act at 9. And there’s the parking issue, being downtown. And the waiting around, trying to find a good spot and having to hold that spot, standing on your feet for hours. I wouldn’t have gotten out of there till close to midnight. And my night vision for driving has gotten really crappy. I have no depth of vision at night. Plus tomorrow night I’m going to Nickel Creek at the State. I couldn’t pass that up.

So I regretfully, regretfully decided not to go to the Fine Line tonight. Phooey. And it’s a small place with a low stage, I read, so you can feel really close to the performers. But I just can’t go to everything. And this place is unfamiliar, so I would have had to stake out parking, which stresses me because I want to park somewhere I can feel safe walking back to late at night. So I gave myself permission to just be an old fogey tonight and stay in.

But there are videos of The Both on YouTube. Plus a Tiny Desk Concert. A virtual concert in the comfort of my home. So I’m going to mix up a blueberry fizz and go watch these: