Bily Crystal wrote in 700 Sundays that he felt old when Mickey Mantle died, his first childhood hero’s death forcing him to deal with mortality. I felt the same way when Willie Stargell died in 2001, on the very day that the more-than-lifesize statue of him was to be unveiled at the new Pittsburgh baseball park. Earlier this week Yes cancelled their “Close to the Edge and Back” tour due to the hospitalization of lead singer Jon Anderson. Yes was the first band for which I developed true fanaticism, with multiple playings of “Close to the Edge” and “Yessongs” fueling the completion of innumerable nights of algebra, trig and differential equation problem sets. Anderson is suffering acute respiration problems, and suddenly I feel very old as one of my favorite rock singers is suffering from problems treated with, not caused by, serious chemicals.
A Yes show was also among the first to which I took my son Benjamin, at the ripe age of four (he made it through the first set). During the last Yes tour, we journeyed to Philadelphia to see them, and when Jon Anderson took a jaunt through the crowd Ben managed to touch his hand as he jogged by our seats. Wishes for a complete recovery to Jon Anderson so maybe we can catch (at least) one more tour with even more heartfelt high-fives from your fans of nearly four decades.