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Lionel Richie and the soundtrack of life
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Lionel Richie and the soundtrack of life

“We’ve been together for a long, long time,” Lionel Richie said while on stage at the Ak-Chin Pavilion here in Phoenix as part of his “All the Hits, All Night Long” Tour.

He was talking to his longtime fans, fans that were listening to his music when he was with the Commodores starting in 1968.

Richie has spent more than an eternity in the music business — 46 years — and even though he hasn’t released much new material, he can still pack in the crowds. Perhaps it is because we feel like “we’ve been together for a long, long time.”

It seems that way for me.

I’ve been listening to Lionel Richie’s music for 30 years — ever since I was a kid — mostly because my dad would pop the “Dancing on the Ceiling” cassette tape in as we drove around.

That’s the thing about music, though; it sticks with you. When Richie was singing, “Penny Lover,” “Hello” and “Say You, Say Me,” I couldn’t help but reminisce about riding in the back of my father’s Pontiac Bonneville singing along — just as I was last night.

Events become soundtracks in our lives. Sometimes, we fall in love to a soundtrack or endure break-ups through songs. Richie reminded us of that. He said, “We’ve been through a lot together. When I broke up, you broke up. When I fell in love, you fell in love…and when you did…you called on Lionel Richie.”

Music is personal, even if sometimes the ballads are cheesy or the break-up songs are overly dramatic. Lionel Richie understands this — that music touches us all in all different ways.

Sometimes it’s just fun and makes us dance. Richie got the crowd on its feet as he performed several hits from his Commodore days, like, “Lady,” “Sail,” and yes, even “Dancing on the Ceiling.”

All of those reasons were enough to see Lionel Richie live: Because of the memories his music recalls; because his songs remind me of childhood. For others, it’s thinking about falling in love.

I’ve been fortunate enough in the past five weeks to have covered a lot of memories through concerts alone. In May, I saw my favorite group, OutKast. Last week, it was Billy Joel, who always reminds me of my mom. With Lionel Richie, it was memories of my dad that came flooding in.

I love that about music; it’s unique that way. Everyone has their own soundtrack — mine just happens to include OutKast, Billy Joel and Lionel Richie.

So, yes, Lionel Richie, your music has been a part of my life for “a long, long time,” and it will continue to be for a long time to come.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Lionel Richie Set List, June 8, 2014, Ak-Chin Pavilion:

“All Around the World”

“Penny Lover”

“Easy”

“Ballerina Girl”

“You Are the Sun”

“Truly”

“Running in the Night”

“Still”

“Oh No”

“Stuck On You”

“Dancing on the Ceiling”

“Three Times a Lady”

“Sail”

“Fancy Dancer”

“Sweet Love”

“Lady”

“Just to be Close to You”

“Endless Love” (the audience sang Diana Ross’ part)

“Say You, Say Me”

“Brick House/Fire”

“Hello”

“All Night Long”

Encore: “We Are the World”