Friday, May 23, 2008

The Face on My Bedroom Wall....

"He's the face on the bedroom wall / The CD on the bedspread / When he meets her he's gonna fall / He just doesn't know it yet..."

"Idol Eyes" by Tinatin/Arnie Roman/Russ DeSalvo

Every one of us has had a teenage crush on either a pop icon/rock star or a Hollywood heartthrob at some point. I was never a big fan of gorgeous movie stars, such as Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, etc. and instead of falling in love with an image on the screen, I fell for a husky voice of Bryan Adams singing the end credits of "The Mirror Has Two Faces" with my absolute obsession of a lifetime - Barbra Streisand.

Having been brought up on classical music, I rarely listened to pop/rock, so when my school friends told me about Streisand's upcoming duet with Bryan Adams, I decided to check it out and asked my dad to drive me to one of the rare foreign music stores on the outskirts of Moscow to "hunt" for my copy! Living in Russia, we were hardly exposed to singles, let alone on-time album releases (let's not forget, this was before the "internet boom"), so getting my impatient hands on a hot copy of the soundtrack was out of the question. Instead, I decided to buy Adams' latest release - "18 til I die"... That was IT!

I've always had a habit of listening or watching something I'm instantly hooked on 24/7, so this 13-track album became an immediate "Tinatin obsession". When I brought a copy of "The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You" (doesn't Bryan Adams have the longest song titles? But it works!) to school the following Monday, my friends could NOT believe that Tina, the easy-listening girl had all of a sudden become a fan of a rock star. Little did they know I'd be going on and on about this rock star for the remainder of my high school years and would soon be labeled as "Mrs. Adams"...

As soon as I heard that Bryan Adams would be visiting Russia during his '97 European tour, I ran to my dad and begged him to take me. Could he ever say no? He never has - through thick and thin - he has always granted my most surreal wishes, that is, without spoiling me too much :-) (for those of you wondering who my dad is - no, he's not an oil mogul - he's an architect and a painter, so take it easy :-)

I can still remember queuing up in front of the Kremlin Palace, desperately waiting to finally see and hear my new favorite artist LIVE. I had never been the "fanatic" type, could care less about autographs and "let's take a picture together" nonsense, but I did buy a bouquet of flowers... Cheesy, but let's face it, I had just turned 13!

A few weeks prior to the concert, I had invented a new technique for "faking" duets on my sound system, and had recorded a few of them with Bryan Adams in my bedroom... Sounds indecent but it was perfectly innocent, albeit the piracy, but who knew at the time...! So I thought, "what have I got to lose if I take the tape with me? Who knows..."

It was my first rock show and I had an absolute blast! I even managed to get to the very front of the crowd (I've always been a persistent young lady) and had my moment with Keith Scott, Adams' guitarist and an ultimate heartthrob - sooo charming!!!

So, who got the bouquet of red roses? Keith! And the tape? Bryan's sound engineer!!! Poor guy, he must have thought I was a sweet little Russianette who had recorded an audio love letter to her idol!

Years went by and my love for the Canadian charmer became bigger and stronger - his billboards, rare B-sides, photographs, etc. filled my room and every new album was a celebration in itself for me and a difficult period of a few intense weeks of loud listening pleasure for my folks!

In November of 1999, while having lunch with my mom and her friends, I overheard on the radio that was turned way down about Bryan Adams' upcoming show at the Kremlin Palace, and I literally FLIPPED!!! I knew I had to go, and this time I wanted to sing with him - bold or what?!?!

Guess who I went with? I couldn't even imagine going back without my DAD! And I even asked him for an additional favor - could he please draw up a nice poster for me? Not your average "I 'heart' U" either!

In the middle of the gig at the HUGE Kremlin venue, I pulled out the billboard that read "I WANT TO SING WITH YOU" and instead of holding it up, I gently placed it across the stage right in front of BA's mic stand... He couldn't miss it, and he didn't! Throughout the show, he kept asking me why I wasn't singing along - but that wasn't what I wanted!!!

If you've ever been to one of his gigs, you'll know that in the middle of the set, he asks one of the girls from the audience to sing "When You're Gone" on stage with him. Not being keen on this song and having my own BA "repertoire" under my belt long before, I decided not to volunteer and wait for the next round instead.

So when the horrible, out of tune "Russian" rendition of the song was over, I literally climbed up on the stage (for those of you who don't know me, this is SO unlike me, it's ridiculous!) sat down comfortably on the edge and "started chatting with Bryan. I'll never forget Keith's face, he didn't know what was going on and kept smiling with a blank question mark across his face! The security guard ran up to me and tried to get me to come down, but I very calmly carried on "chatting away" with Bryan who kept repeating "But we're not doing any more songs tonight, we'll do it another time..." Now that I look back, I cannot believe how bold and persistent I really was at such a tender age.

I was SO upset, imagine being 15-16 and feeling so "rejected" :-) Throughout the remainder of the show, Keith kept smiling his reassuring grin and it made me feel somewhat better. By the end of the night, Bryan kneeled down, shook my hand and said "Good luck with your career." (I just remembered, one of the organizers of his show had given him my little demo prior to the show, if I'm not mistaken, otherwise how would he have known...)

I couldn't get over this for days on end and I refused to listen to Bryan Adams' music for... A few days :-)

Years later, I had the privilege of meeting and working with some of his most devoted collaborators and musical partners and I have to admit, every single time I'm working with one of his co-writers, I remind myself of those teenage years of madness and don't for a second regret all the love, commitment and youthful devotion I had invested into my admiration, infatuation, whatever you may want to call this... Isn't this one of the reasons why I do what I do and why I love it so much?

And then I wonder if nowadays young teenagers still experience the same level of utter love and depth of admiration for current artists? Back when I was growing up, we didn't have the luxury of double-clicking an icon on the computer screen and diving into our favorite artists' entire libraries of iTunes, digital photographs, You Tube videos, latest online gossip, etc. Instead, I had to walk across the city of Moscow in the freezing cold of Russian winter to get a copy of a hush-hush foreign imported magazine with a 2-page spread interview with one of my idols - and the entire process was sheer ecstasy in itself. On the one hand, it is wonderful and fascinating that we are so "connected" to the world as a whole through the online web, but on the other hand, I do miss and also cherish the adventure behind getting every record, every magazine cover, every concert ticket... Nothing can replace the thrill - it only made my love and passion for music even deeper, stronger and all the more exciting!

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