Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

We’ve all been there, right?

Beautiful song.

Damn, he will be missed.

Beautiful.

This coming Sunday I shall fulfill another item on my Bucket List – to see The Pixies live and in person. The Pixies started in 1986 and influenced bands like Nirvana, Radiohead, the Strokes, Bush, Blur, Weezer, and just about every other alternative band of the 90’s and since. Their lead singer, Black Francis, also released a few albums in the 90’s as Frank Black, and those albums were stellar as well. Anyway, I cannot wait.

A great R&B song from the early 70’s. Great message, and the lead singer is the father of Cuba Gooding, Jr. LOVE it.

His last song.

So damn good. Listen.

With alt legend and former Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg.

My favorite Tom Petty song.

Yesterday was Glen Campbell’s birthday. In addition to being one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived, he was an amazing singer. Before he hit it big later in the 60’s, Campbell played on recordings by Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Jan and Dean, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Phil Spector. He even toured with the Beach Boys. After that he had an amazing solo career that included the songs Gentle On My Mind, Galveston, By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Wichita Lineman, Rhinestone Cowboy and Southern Nights. In 2011 he released an album called Ghost on the Canvas that included collaborations with guys like Paul Westerberg (writer of the title track), Jakob Dylan, Chris Isaak, Rick Nielsen and Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins. Great stuff.

In 2011 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, and hasn’t performed since 2013. Anyway, Happy Birthday to the great Glen Campbell, an incredible and sometimes forgotten music legend.

Here he is in the late 00’s still sounding great. At the bottom is an even more recent song. Good stuff for real music lovers.

Wichita Lineman

Galveston (unbelievable guitar solo)

By the Time I Get To Phoenix / Galveston

Gentle on My Mind

Finally, here’s “Ghost on a Canvas” written with Westerberg.

Beautiful.

I first heard this song back in 1973 when ELO appeared on The Midnight Special. The strings, the sound . . . I was blown away. Thus began a 40+ year love affair with Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra. So damn good.

A friend of mine and I have been discussing Pet Sounds, the amazing Beach Boys album that is widely considered as one of the top one or two in music  history. Legend has it that when The Beatles first heard it they believed they could never top it, and its debatable that Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band actually did. I own the Pet Sounds Sessions Box Set, and it’s simply amazing. You can hear all the talking in the studio, Brian Wilson instructing the musicians, everything, and it’s fantastic. The Set includes the music without vocals as well as the vocals without music. Listen to the songs below. Just heavenly, and pure genius.

True Beatles fans are well aware that the boys from Liverpool were capable of some crazy stuff, especially later in their career. After all, they wrote a song called “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” about a murderous bro who killed people with a hammer. The song was done with such a pleasant, melodious tune that people didn’t really care. They also recorded weird songs like “Revolution #9” that has to be heard to be believed, because it’s that damn weird.

Still, it began way before those two tunes, as early as 1965 on their Rubber Soul album. At this point The Beatles were still sort of thought of as four lovable Mop Tops and not the anti-establishment hippies they’d be looked at as later. Once again, the song I’m about to talk about is upbeat, with a pretty melody. But, when you listen to the lyrics it paints a much darker picture.

The song is called “Run for Your Life” and it is downright frightening. A video is below, but let’s examine the lyrics first. Since the Beatle that wrote the song always sang lead back then, we can assume John Lennon penned this little ditty. Why am I not surprised? With a deep breath, let us proceed . . .

Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man.

Well, well. Didn’t beat around the bush, now did we? That’s a little harsh, man. Jeebus.

You better keep your head, little girl
Or I won’t know where I am.

So basically John is saying, “Sweetie, better keep your head or I’ll lose mine.” Good God.

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end, little girl.

A-n-d, there it is. Cheat on me and die. Boom.

Well I know that I’m a wicked guy
And I was born with a jealous mind
And I can’t spend my whole life
Trying just to make you toe the line.

I know, I know, not a real New Age way of thinking for sure. Making a woman “toe the line” is a little outdated, fo sho.  Then again, so is threatening to commit homicide if they don’t. John actually touched on his jealousy issues later on when he wrote “Jealous Guy” as a solo artist. However, Mr. Lennon wasn’t done making his point.

Let this be a sermon
I mean everything I’ve said
Baby, I’m determined
And I’d rather see you dead.

Because nothing makes a song come together better than combining religion and manslaughter, amirite?

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end, little girl.

From this point forward the boys pretty much repeat their morbid threats of death until they merrily fade out at the end.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the song is that their was no public outcry, no wringing of hands, really no complaints at all about the song. Nobody said, “Hey, isn’t that Beatle dude threatening to kill his girlfriend? That doesn’t seem right.” Hey, it was a simpler, more naive time. Folks just rolled with it.

Then again, there were artists like Liberace and Little Richard who in retrospect were clearly gay, but I don’t remember that occurring to anybody either. On the other hand, I was 9-years old so what the hell did I know about the world?

Maybe this song was the beginning of the end of the innocence, you know? Because shortly thereafter music took a turn from being mostly about love, cars, and dancing to being about the Vietnam War, Civil Rights, sex, and doing drugs.

The Beatles. Always ahead of the times, man. Anywho, turns out YouTube has been scrubbed of all Beatle tunes, which sucks.Still, I found the song being performed by a Beatles cover band, and quite nicely, it turns out. Enjoy.

Note: The song “Baby, Let’s Play House” actually featured the lyrics “I’d rather see you dead little girl, than to be with another man” back in 1954 by Arthur Gunter, then in 1955 by some dude named Elvis Presley. People were weird back in the day, man.

Watch the faces of the guys in Pearl Jam when their hero comes onstage at about the 3:40 mark. Priceless.

I realize about 7% or less of the folks who visit this site will give a damn, but as I’ve said before it’s my site and if it fascinates me then I’m posting it. Anyway, The Cowsills are a band who had hits in the late 60’s like “The Rain, the Park and Other Things”, “Hair”, and “Indian Lake.” The TV show “The Partridge Family” was actually based on this (mostly) family band. I particularly liked the song “The Rain, the Park and Other Things”, so I was looking for the song on YouTube the other day. This led to more nosing-around, and it turns out the damn band is still touring after all these years. Who knew? Again, this may be of interest only to me and 3 other people but I thought I’d compare the band singing in the 1960’s with the band singing in the 2010’s. And you know what? They’ve aged pretty damn well. First, let’s take a look at them back in the day:

Now let’s fast-forward nearly 50-years. To my surprise, The Cowsills are still pretty good and maybe even better. Take a look:

 The Cowsills, man. Still doin’ their thing.

PS- I did some reading on these guys and their story is pretty sad in many ways. From an abusive father to a brother who was kicked out of the band and subsequently passed away, it’s amazing they’re still playing.

cowsills

So I was having a conversation with a friend the other day and the subject of time travel came up. This is not a surprise because it fascinates the hell out of me and I enjoy discussing it. You realize there is nothing in the laws of physics to prevent time travel, don’t you? It may be extremely difficult to put into practice, but it is not impossible. You know how jets can exceed the speed of sound? That “BOOM” you hear is the sound of the plane breaking the sound barrier. Then, when you look up the jet is way ahead of the sound, right? Now imagine a jet that could exceed the speed of light. I know, doesn’t sound plausible but neither did airplanes, the internet or Donald Trump back in 1850. Anyway, since the jet was faster than light you’d look up and see its image but the jet would actually be somewhere farther ahead. Still with me? Now imagine that same jet flying in a big circle. Soon the occupants would see themselves up ahead, but in an earlier time. And the bigger the circle the farther back in time the jet up ahead would be. Make sense? OK, sorry to ramble, but the conversation soon turned to what historical events we’d love to go back and witness, and eventually to this blog. Let us commence . . .

CONCERT

Sure, seeing The Beatles on Ed Sullivan live or maybe even being at Sun Studios the day the Million Dollar Quartet jammed would’ve been great. But my choice would be going to a show at The Cavern Club on 10 Matthew Street, Liverpool, in the early summer of 1963. The Beatles performed 292 times at the club in 1961, 1962 and 1963, culminating in a final appearance there on August 3rd, 1963—one month after the group recorded “She Loves You”, and 6-months before their first trip to the United States in February of ’64. The Cavern Club is where The Beatles partied, lived, and where they honed their craft. Being there just one night, just before they burst upon the world, would be amazing.

Note: There’s a wall sculpture that hangs on Mathew Street today with words that say simply, “Four Lads Who Shook the World.” Someday I hope to see it.

SPORTS

I’ve been lucky enough to have attended the Final 4, the World Series and the NBA All-Star Game. I also saw Hank Aaron tie Babe Ruth’s career home run record. On a embarrassing note, I had tickets to the NBA Dunk Contest the year Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins went at it but missed it due to circumstances I won’t go into here. Note: I went into it here. Still, if I had to pick it would have to be the college basketball championship game in which UCLA center Bill Walton was nearly perfect,  scoring 44 points on 21-of-22 shooting as his Bruins topped Memphis State. Walton was my favorite player, a team guy, and a joy to watch. Sorry, Magic and Wilt.

HISTORY

Would I have wanted to be there the day Joshua Chamberlain’s troops ran out of ammo at Gettysburg and he made the history changing decision that culminated with him yelling, “BAYONETS!” before leading his troops down Little Round Top? Hells to the yah I would. I’d also love to be there on November 22nd, 1963 so I could either stop John Kennedy’s assassination or at least find out what really happened. Still, if I had but one choice it would be to spend the evening of December 25th, 1776, with General George Washington, the night he made the decision to turn his bedraggled troops around, cross the Delaware, and attack the dreaded Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey. That battle turned around the Revolutionary War. That evening George had read this excerpt from Thomas Paine’s “The Crisis”, published 2-days prior:

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

And then he attacked, turning the war in our favor. Without George Washington’s courageous decision that night, you may not be where you are right now and reading this blog. I’d have loved to be sitting around the campfire with him that night.

I know there will be many differing opinions, and I’d like to hear them. So, what say you?

Lewis, Perkins, Presley and Cash.

The jam session to end all jam sessions started innocently enough on December 4th, 1956,* at the Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. But before the day was over, rock legends Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins would end up singing and recording together.

*By the way, that was exactly 1-year and 1-day after yours truly was born. Weird to think I was hanging out in my crib 586.9 miles to the northeast that day.

The session pretty much happened by pure chance. Carl Perkins, who by this time had already recorded a big hit with “Blue Suede Shoes,” had come into the studios to record some new material. Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, had brought in his latest signee, a cat by the name of Jerry Lee Lewis, to play piano on Perkins’ record. Jerry Lee was pretty much unknown at the time. Interestingly though, his first Sun single would be released just a few days later.

Then, sometime later in the early afternoon, 21-year-old Elvis Presley, a former Sun artist now with RCA Victor, arrived to pay a casual visit. Elvis already had hits with “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hound Dog,” and “Don’t Be Cruel.”

After chatting with Phillips in the control room, Presley listened to the playback of Perkins’ session, which he thought was very good. Then he went into the studio and the historic jam session began.

Then incredibly, a little later Sun artist Johnny Cash showed up. Johnny had already had a few hits on the country charts by this point, including “I Walk the Line.”

An engineer named Jack Clement was working that day and had the good sense to hit the record button, saving much of the session for posterity.

During the session, Sam Phillips called a local newspaper and alerted them of what was going on. Bob Johnson, the newspaper’s entertainment editor, came over to the studios with a photographer. Johnson wrote an article about the session, which appeared the following day in the Press-Scimitar under the headline “Million Dollar Quartet,” hence the name.

Amazingly, on an otherwise unremarkable early-December day in 1956, four artists who would each go on to contribute greatly to popular music all ended up on the same studio, just jamming and doing what they loved.

It was to be the one and only time they’d sing together.

Another reason Bruce is the best.

bruce-springsteen-groinw-up-teen

Chills.

kazooka

I was talking with a friend the other day and he brought up my odd habit of serendipitously running into rock stars over the years. Man, that was a weirdly worded sentence. Anyway, it is sort of interesting so I thought I’d put them all together in one magnificent blog for your Sunday afternoon reading pleasure. Consider it my gift to you, my loyal readers. You’re welcome. Let us begin . . .

Meeting David Crosby

My regular readers will know that I have a habit of running into famous david-crosby-birthday-august-14people, most notably rock stars and their ilk. In fact, sometimes their ilk are more fun than the rock stars, if you know what I’m sayin’. My encounter with Soupy Sales in a Cleveland Airport bathroom is legendary, and I was once nearly beaten to death by one of Eminem’s bodyguards. Good times. Anyway, here’s another of my many rock star run-ins.

It was late summer 1999, and I was in Cleveland with my late, great, good friend Tim to see the Cleveland Browns open their new stadium. We were staying at the Renaissance downtown and I rose early on the day of the game to go down to the lobby and find a drink newspaper. As I was heading down, the elevator doors opened and a guy with shades stepped in and leaned against the wall opposite me. After about 30-seconds of awkward staring from me and nervous avoiding eye-contact from him, the following conversation transpired:

Me: “Man, you look just like David Crosby.”

David Crosby: “Mmrumph.”

Me: “You are David Crosby, aren’t you?”

David Crosby: “Yep.”

Encouraged, I babbled on for a few minutes about his music. At some point I think I wore him down and he realized I actually appreciated and knew his work. I believe that because he proceeded to open up and actually began a nice, intelligent conversation with me regarding the state of rock music, as it was, in 1999.  The fact that I may have mentioned him providing the sperm for Melissa Etheridge’s successful attempt at motherhood didn’t seem to bother him at all. Hell, at one point I didn’t think I was going to get rid of him. He finally walked with me through the lobby, wrote me a nice note and autograph, and actually gave me a bear hug that went on j-u-s-t a smidge too long before he left.

All in all a nice, albeit somewhat weird, encounter that I’ll never forget.

Anyway, David Crosby and I?

Buds.

Running into the Runt

This was a quick encounter but special nonetheless since it involved one of myTodd Rundgren musical heroes, Mr. Todd Rundgren, once known as “Runt.” Read on . . .

I was casually walking through City Center in C-Bus a few years ago (City Center was a cool mall, amirite?) when I ran into a rock and roll legend right there in the record store. My hands flew to my face as I yelled this:

“TODD RUNDGREN!”

Because I’m quick like that, ya know? Immediately his hands flew to his face as he responded:

“YES!”

Bastard was mocking me.

Anyway, after a couple minutes of my blathering on about his music and what it meant to me and him realizing not only that I wasn’t a lunatic but I in fact knew what I was talking about, we had quite the in-depth conversation about the state of music in general. Finally, I moved on to get a corndog and he left for parts unknown.

And that was my brief encounter with Todd Rundgren. Nice life-moment for me, I must admit.

Pimping for the Electric Light Orchestra

I guess it was around 1977, and a friend of mine named Omar was a roadie that lynneworked shows around the midwest. He never traveled with a band, but rather was hired out as part of a group of guys to help set up shows and whatnot. Anyway, he got to know a lot of bands, had access to backstage passes, and he included me occasionally.

One night I get a call asking if I wanted backstage passes to the Electric Light Orchestra Show at St. John Arena in C-Bus. Well, hell yes. I was a big fan and still am to this day. It’s well known how I feel about Jeff Lynne and his absence from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. With his work with ELO, The Traveling Wilburys, George Harrison and others it’s a damn shame he’s not in there, an absolute travesty.

But as I’m prone to do, I digress.

I eagerly snatched up the backstage pass and looked forward to the show. To say I was amped for this one was an understatement of the highest variety. I couldn’t wait for the show, but more importantly getting backstage and meeting the boys themselves, in particularly Jeff Lynne. The day finally arrived and I headed over to the arena. By the way, I was living at 178 West 8th Avenue, Apt. C, just south of campus, which is not relevant but is nevertherless burned into my brain forevermore. Alas, when I got there I found that I never had a ticket to the show, just a backstage pass, and it wouldn’t get me in at any of the regular gates. What the hell? I was flummoxed. Just when I was at my lowest, in despair and ready to head to High Street and drink away my pain, I heard a voice . . .

“Shoe! Hey! SHOE! Over here!”

I look around, and there walking towards a side door was my boy Omar. They had those portable iron fence things blocking people, and it formed a path the band took from their bus to the arena. I ran over and told Omar of my plight, and at that point he just told me to hop the fence and follow him in with his group. A guard started to object but a long-haired guy waved him off with the classic, “He’s with us.”

Only then did I realize the long-haired cat was none other than Bev Bevan, ELO’s drummer. Seems Omar had been sent to get the band from the tour bus and I happened along at the right time. I recognized a couple other guys, but my hero Lynne was nowhere to be seen.

I made my way in and ended up at the side of the stage and was never told to move, evidently due to the pass I had hanging from my neck. The show was great and the view was interesting to say the least. Let’s just say some of those girls in the front will do, well, almost anything to get the attention of the band.

However, it was after the show when the real fun began.

I really had nothing to do immediately following, and Omar was busy doing what roadies do, so I just wandered around looking for the party.

Lucky for me I found it.

It was basically a curtained-off area with some tables and chairs scattered about, along with a boatload of various types of boozes and appetizers. I also remember candles and a lot of incense.  There were also a couple of tables with some other stuff on them that I really don’t feel comfortable mentioning here. I’m sure you could guess pretty easily. Hey, it was the late 70’s after all. I grabbed a beer and took a seat on a comfy little loveseat type of thing that was positioned in a good spot and prepared to watch the festivities.

After a half hour or so the man himself walked in, Mr. Jeff Lynne. He was shaking hands and people were generally fawning over him, so I decided to hold back and play it cool for a bit. A couple of times I could have sworn he actually looked over at me, but I figured it had to be my imagination.

A little later my buddy Omar came walking in, looked over, did a double-take, and did the old olympic speed walk over to me.

Omar: “What the hell are you doing? Jesus.”

Me, offering him a beer: “Thanks, but you can call me Shoe. What’s wrong with you?”

Omar: “You’re in Jeff Lynne’s chair, dude. Get the hell up.”

Me: “Really? Nobody’s said anything.”

Omar: “Get. Up. NOW.”

Me: “But it’s a really comfy chair.”

Omar: “Good God, man, you’re going to get me fired. Get up. Why do you think this chair is at the front of the room and on a raised platform?”

Me, glancing around: “Wow, it is in a good spot. And I never noticed the raise platform thing. Damn. Are you sure I can’t stay here? Nobody’s said a word.”

Omar: I’m saying a word! Oh God, here he comes.”

At that point I was done messing with my friend and thought the best course of action might be to actually get up. Lynne came over and stopped right in front of us, I’ve no idea why. For a second I thought I was going to get yelled at for sitting in his chair but as it turns out he had a question, and for whatever reason he thought I might have the answer . . .

Jeff Lynne: “Mate, do you know where we might find some tarts?”

Me: “Pop Tarts? I’m sure somebody could run and pick some up for you.”

Jeff Lynne nods approvingly. He was looking at a man of action, a go-getter, a quick decision-maker of the highest order. I was impressing Jeff Lynne! How awesome I was!

But he was still staring at me.

Me: “Oh, you want me to go get them?”

Jeff Lynne: “That would be wonderful. How long will it take?”

Me: “Well, there’s a 7-11 nearby. It should only take a few minutes.”

Jeff Lynne, my hero, again nods approvingly. I only learned later that he had no idea what a 7-11 was.

At that point, as I’m walking out, another roadie dude comes running up to me with a weird look on his face.

Roadie: “Dude, do you understand what he wants?”

Me: “Sure, he wants some Pop Tarts. Do you guys have a toaster in here?”

Roadie: “No, no, no. Dude, tarts are hookers. He wants some hookers.”

Wait. What? Pop Tarts I was good for. Ladies of the Night? Hey, I was good but not that good. Who did he think I was, a pimp?

Good God.

At that point, as you could imagine I was in a bit of a pickle, because, well, I’d just promised I’d supply the leader of the Electric Light Orchestra with some hookers. Not exactly my specialty.

In retrospect I probably could have run over to High Street, gone into a bar, told some girls ELO wanted to meet them, taken them over and hightailed it out of there before the confusion ensued. As it happened though, I only did one of those things.

I hightailed it out of there.

What can I say? I had no idea what to do, I was pretty sure I’d never meet Jeff Lynne again, so I vamoosed. Cut and ran. I scrammed.

I never heard exactly what happened after I left. Omar had gone on to load some trucks or something so he had no idea. Maybe somebody else took care of the band. Maybe something else grabbed Jeff Lynne’s attention.

Or maybe, just maybe, he sat there for hours in his special chair, watching the door, waiting for the tarts that never came.

The Legend of James Taylor’s Jacket

Well, it’s a legend in my circles anyway. And yes, kids, I have circles.

Anyway, as many of you know I have a jean jacket that 1once belonged to James Taylor. For you younger readers there was a pretty good singer known as JT before Timberlake. Here’s how I got the jacket . . .

I went to see JT at Blossum Music Center back in ’78 with friends Tom E and Chris B. After the show we ambled down to the side of the stage, just getting a look at the setup really. The roadies were tearing down the set, wandering around doing this and that. At some point I look up and say, “Hey, look. He left his jacket hanging on the mike stand.” He’d worn it onstage and had taken it off during the show.

Anyway, one of us (probably Tom) gets the bright idea to try to grab it. Nice plan but the place was crawling with security and roadies. I turn to Chris for ideas, turn back around, and Tom had already jumped the railing and was halfway across the stage. He was just casually walking like he belonged there. A couple of guys glanced at him but didn’t say a word, either because he looked like he belonged or because he was 6′-3″, 280 lbs and looked like he could rip your heart out and show it to you before you died (which by the way he could have but that’s another story). He casually grabs the jacket, throws it over his shoulder, and hops off the other side of the stage as Chris and I run frantically around to meet him. We walk away without looking back, expecting at any moment to hear, “Stop them! Thieves! Thay have James Taylor’s jacket! For God’s sake stop the bastards!” Except it doesn’t happen, and we make it to the car.

The Jacket.

The Jacket.

At that point Tom tries it on. Obviously too small. Chris grabs it. Too big. Heh-heh. Fit me perfectly. Apparently, in ’78, James T and I were exactly the same size.

And that’s how I came to own James Taylor’s jacket.

By the way, later I woke up wide-eyed in the middle of the night, realizing I hadn’t checked the pockets. The possibilities were mind-boggling. Carly Simon’s phone number possibly? Alas, nothing. Damn . . .

 

How Peter Cetera Once Ruined a Relationship. Mine.

It was the late 70’s and a bunch of us went down to The Natti to catch a

cetera

Yes. This guy.

Chicago concert. This was back when Chicago was cool, still using horns in their songs, long before they went all schlocky and sappy with the lame ballads. Sure, they did slow stuff like “Color My World” before, but unfortunately Peter Cetera sort of took over with tunes like “You’re the Inspiration” and “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” and it all went downhill from there. It would have never happened had guitarist Terry Kath knew that gun was loaded when he put it upside his head, but that’s neither here nor there. Well, maybe to Terry.

But I digress. And maybe there’s another reason I don’t like Peter Cetera.

Back to the concert. This was before those 11-people got crushed to death at The Who concert, so it was still General Admission at the gate. Trust me, when it was General Admission I always ended up right down front, and that’s where this all started.

The show was great, Robert Lamm and Cetera and the boys were rockin’, and my date and I were having a good time. Keep in mind I’d been dating this girl for about 2-years, which will become relevant shortly. Anyway, after a couple of the obligatory encores the lights came up and we’re sort of standing there talking to friends, waiting for the crowd to thin. At that point some guy comes walking up to my girlfriend and asks to speak with her. Hell, I thought something had happened, an emergency or something, and he had been sent to find her. He sort of took her elbow and walked her a few feet away to have a private conversation. She listened intently and nodded her head a couple times, the guy did the same, then she turned and walked back over to me.

The guy stayed where he was. I was getting a bad vibe.

What followed was a conversation that basically ended a relationship.

Me: “What was that about? Is everything OK?”

Her: “Yes, it’s . . . fine.

Me, senses on high alert: “So. . . what’s up?

Her: “W-e-l-l . . . that guy told me that Peter Cetera wanted to ask if I’d like to come out to his bus.

Damn Cetera. Lotta nerve, huh? But my girlfriend was just looking at me.

Me: “Uh, you know what he wants, right?”

Her: “Yes.”

Next came the words that are etched in my mind to this day.

Her: “What should I do?”

Wait. What? What should I do? What should I do?

Me, after about 15-seconds of stunned silence: “What should you do? Well, do what you want, but Mr. Cetera better be ready to give you a ride back to Chillicothe because if you get on that bus I’m not waiting on you.”

At this point she actually thought about it for a minute and discussed it with her friends. Then, she decided she’d stick with me. Boy, did I feel special. Did I mention we’d been dating for 2-years?

Turns out she probably should have gone to the bus. And stayed there.

As you can imagine, we had the “How could you have even considered going off with Peter Cetera like that? How?” conversation about 173 times over the next couple of weeks, and naturally she had no reasonable answer. What was she supposed to say, “Well, I thought it would be nice to boink a rock star?” After that it was all downhill. I couldn’t get past it.

Yes my friends, fame and money are a powerful attractions indeed.

Then again, could I resist if Kate Beckinsale saw me somewhere and sent an assistant over with an invitation to board her bus? No freaking way. Probably not.

Wait. So I would do the same thing I was mad at my girlfriend for considering? Something’s wrong here.

Maybe it’s a double standard?

Maybe I should have just laughed it off?

Maybe I made a mistake?

Maybe I overreacted?

Crap, the more I think about it now the more I think I’m guilty of all of the above and was being a jackass. Or maybe I wasn’t? The mind reels. I’m so confused.

So I come out of this little self-therapy session realizing three things. The first is that I’ll never fully understand the whole dynamic between men and women. The second is that I still hold a grudge against Peter Cetera. The third? I really need to let this go.

Sigh.

Bodyguarding Beck

beck-1

His life was in my hands.

A few years ago I had a rather interesting experience involving Beck. Here’s how it went down:

A buddy of mine used to work for a company in C-Bus that provided concert workers. You know, to take tickets, stuff like that. He asked if I’d be interested in working one of the shows and I said sure, what the hell, might be fun. So, he talks to the folks in charge and they make the approval. Didn’t know me from Adam but that didn’t seem to bother them. A couple of weeks later I get the call – Beck is playing Veteran’s Auditorium and they needed extra workers. Cool. I mean, at the time Beck was one of the biggest rock stars on the planet, a darling of the critics. Anyway, we get there, are given the yellow T-shirts with Security on the back, and then the head guy comes in to assign jobs.

He goes down the line, grabs my buddy and his wife, and tells them they’ll be assigned rows to help people get seated. Awesome. They’d get to stand there and watch the show. He looks me up and down and says, “I’ll need you in the back” then walks away. Damn. My friend looks at me and says, “Sorry dude. Looks like you’re out at the back door or back gate or something. Sorry you won’t get to see the show.”

Oh well. I took a shot, right?

Finally the guy comes back for me and says to follow him. I do and we end up in the “back”, as in “backstage.” He says, “I want you to stand right here. Under no circumstances do you let anybody through this door.” I look up at the door that says “Beck” on it and ask rather wittily, “You want me to guard Beck’s dressing room?”

And he sure enough did.

Just me, who’d never guarded anything in his life, as the only thing between Beck and the hordes of lunatics wanting a piece of him.

I stood there for a couple hours trying to look menacing, the opening act started, and finally some guy walks out the door – Beck’s drummer. He sits on the floor across the hallway from me and we proceed to shoot the breeze. A few minutes later another band member comes out and sits down as well. Long story short, pretty soon the whole band was out there, including the man himself, Beck, and his three backup singers.

I eventually sit down because they asked me to and I figured it was OK. The only time I froze for a sec was when the drummer asked me what I was currently listening to. I really didn’t want to look like an idiot so I said The Eels. I breathed a sigh of relief as that answer was met with approving nods all around. Sweet. At that point I believed, perhaps irrationally, that I’d earned instant credibilty.

Eventually they all went back inside to get ready, and upon their return I was invited to stand at the side of the stage and watch the show. Very cool. To top off my evening, afterwards Beck requested that I escort him safely to the bus, which I did. Dude must have thought I was a trained professional or something.

Maybe the best part was later, when I met up with my friend and he asked how it was in the back. “Well,” I said. “Let me tell you about it . . .”

Steven, Joe and Me: Meeting Aerosmith

My boys. Well, for a minute.

My boys. Well, for a minute.

Back around 1978 Aerosmith was on a bit of a downward spiral. Something about drug addictions and whatnot. Anyway, it was after “Dream On” but before the album “Permanent Vacation” marked their return to prominence. A friend of mine was a regional roadie, one of those guys who doesn’t travel with the bands but works a certain area where he helps set up shows and the like. Well, he had backstage passes to Aerosmith and asked if I wanted one.

Well, yeah.

I watched the show (not so good actually – something about drug addictions and whatnot) then headed backstage for the festivities. I don’t really know how to explain it other than saying it’s exactly what you’d expect it to be. Lots of girls, drugs, alcohol, and things I didn’t recognize and haven’t seen since. Rock and Roll decadence at its highest form. Back in those days I blended right in. My hair was as long as theirs and I looked like a taller Charley Manson, minus the God complex and murderous intentions (well, maybe just the God complex).

I worked my way over to Steven Tyler and struck up a conversation, probably saying something witty and insightful like “nice show” which incidentally would have been a complete lie. He looked at me through glazed-over eyes and offered me a beer (for the record, it was a Stroh’s – dead serious). One thing led to another and I ended up on a couch sitting between Tyler and Joe Perry.

Kids, there once existed a picture of me, between those two, all three of us holding up a beer for the camera with half-crazed smiles on our faces. Later, in one of the dumbest moves of my life, I gave the picture to a girl I was dating, who displayed it proudly on her apartment wall. Sadly, when we had an ugly break-up, she hit me where it hurt most – she burned the picture.

For years I waited for her to show up and say she had really kept the picture, then hand it to me with a smile. That moment never happened, but there’s still hope, right? Right?

Damn it.

When a Beach Boy Tried to Steal My Girl

In the late 70’s I went to see The Beach Boys, again at Riverfront Coliseum in The Natti.

love-beach-boys

Assclown.

It marked the return of Brian Wilson, quite a big deal at the time. Anyway, we were once again right down front. From the get-go Mike Love was paying special attention to my date, at one point getting down on one knee and singing a song right to her face. I don’t remember the song, probably because I was too busy watching the security dude and figuring my odds of getting a shot at Love’s nose. Eventually Love actually sent a guy down to ask if she was interested. She said no and he never came close to us the rest of the show. Bizarre experience. And oddly enough, a few years later almost exactly the same thing happened with Peter Cetera of Chicago.

So there ya go, some of my encounters with rock stars. Some face-to-face and some otherwise, but encounters still. I’ve had some near misses as well, like when a buddy of mine left the roulette table in Vegas and went to his room. On the elevator on the way up, the doors opened and in walked Alice Cooper. Surreal, and I was jealous. After hearing this I spent hours looking for Alice Cooper but alas, nothing.

Have a great day.

So Lady Gaga is performing at halftime of this year’s Super Bowl halftime show. Good luck matching this, the year Bruce tore the stadium apart.

[Update: You have to watch it on Youtube due to the communists at the NFL]

bruuuce

What a song.

ADKX33 BOB DYLAN at Mayfair Hotel London 3 May 1966

Boy, was this a hard one. How to narrow down such a list? First off, I had to come up with some sort of criteria, and after weeks seconds of deliberation I came up with one. These are songs that I simply never get tired of hearing. They don’t have to have great lyrics, although that’s a plus.  Sometimes it’s just the melody or the tune, and sometimes it’s sort of undefinable. You like what you like, right? Hey, I’ve admitted my appreciation of Kelly Clarkson and The Osmonds before. I ain’t skeered. And as for all you high-falootin’ judgemental musical elitists who don’t think my favorite songs are up to your standards, you can go straight to hell. Merry Christmas everybody!

So in no particular order, let us commence. Click on the title to hear the song.

Caroline, No – The Beach Boys (1966)caroline

  • Just a heart-wrenching, sad, gorgeous song. Touches me every time I hear it to this day. Brian Wilson’s writing at its peak: “Where did your long hair go? Where is the girl I used to know? How could you lose that happy glow? Oh Caroline, no.”

So Very Hard To Go – Tower of Power (1973)

  • Those horns, man. The Tower of Power horn section is legendary. Once again, it’s a beautiful song about lost love. “Cause I could never make you unhappy, no, I couldn’t do that girl. I only wish I didn’t love you so, it makes it so, so very hard to go.” Seriously though, click on the link and listen to the horns.

Imagine, Take 1 – John Lennon (1971)

  • Sure, the released version is great, but this pared down outtake is simply stunning. Recorded at John’s house, you can even hear someone say, “Quiet in the kitchen, please” at the beginning. Note: I own a piece of the front door to that house. Not even kidding. Thanks, second wife.

Church of Logic, Sin and Love – The Men (1992)church

  • Just a blast of Rock & Roll that came out of nowhere from a completely unknown band. Released during the height of grunge but not grungy at all, it has everything – melody, a searing guitar, and cool but rather weird and enigmatic lyrics. I can’t get enough of this tune. On a related note, I got to know drummer Dave Botkin on FB and am happy to report he’s a pretty righteous dude. Love. This. Song: “The Thing ahead sixty miles, do not miss. Not for the squeamish or depressed, Not for the unbelievers, truly obsessed. Something you just don’t wanna miss. It’s the kind of place where space explorers could have landed around 1963 when Kennedy was in Life Magazine, And everything was aquamarine . . . aquamarine.

Dialogue Parts 1 & 2 – Chicago (1972)

  • In Part I of this song, the lyrics are a dialogue between two young people with different views. The first person (whose lines are sung by Terry Kath) is very concerned about events of the early 1970s, such as war, starvation, and “repression closing in around.” The second person (whose lines are sung by Peter Cetera) maintains that “everything is fine.” Musically, the song is also a dialogue between Kath’s rhythm guitar and Cetera’s bass. As Part I comes to a close, Kath’s character sarcastically endorses the other character’s worldview, saying “You know you really eased my mind, I was troubled by the shapes of things to come.” The response, which hints at an acknowledgment of culpability: “Well, if you had my outlook, your feelings would be numb – you’d always think that everything was fine.” Just an outstanding song, and both Kath and Cetera tear it up on their vocals. Part 2 is the whole band singing, “We can make it happen.”Awesome stuff.

Have You Ever See The Rain – Creedence Clearwater Revival (1970)

  • In my opinion the best song by the legendary Creedence Clearwater Revival. CCR leader John Fogerty has said in interviews that the song is about rising tension within CCR and the imminent departure of his brother Tom from the band. He said the song was written about the fact that they were on the top of the charts and had surpassed all of their wildest expectations of fame and fortune, but somehow all the members of the band at the time were depressed and unhappy. Thus this famous line: “Have you ever seen the rain, coming down on a sunny day?” It touched me deeply, and I still love it today.

Sitting Still – REM (1983)rem

  • Listen to that jangly guitar. That was the beginning of alternative music for me. It seems rather unremarkable today, but that sound led to the creation of bands such as Dinosaur Jr, Beck, The National, Pavement, and yes, Radiohead, Coldplay and Nirvana. Kurt Cobain himself said that Nirvana was heavily influenced by REM. REM created the model for alt music, and this song is vintage, classic REM.

Oh Girl – The Chi-Lites (1972)

  • Again, a song straight from an aching, broken heart. 70’s R&B as only The Chi-Lites, and lead singer Eugene Record, could sing it. A beautifully sad song of despair, and one of my favorite tunes ever.

Acadian Driftwood (Live from The Last Waltz) – The Band (1976)

  • Here’s what’s beautiful about music – that a Canadian song describing the forcible displacement of the Acadian people after the war between the French and English could have such an effect on a 20-year old kid from southern Ohio. Robbie Robertson’s lyrics were influenced by Longfellow’s poem Evangeline, which describes the deportation of the Acadians. Just a beautiful, haunting, intelligently written song that still touches me to my core.

Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan (1965)

  • “How does it feeeel?” This was one of Dylan’s first “electric” tunes, and it still soars majestically today. Rolling Stone magazine named the song the #1 rock song of all-time, and that’s hard to disagree with. We used to discuss this song in my 8th grade Reading class because it was so well written. Dylan, man.

Do It Or Die – Atlanta Rhythm Section (1979)

  • I’ve always loved the mood a good ARS song could bring to the table, songs such as “All Night Rain” and this one. It’s an ultimately uplifting song about surviving, and I loved lyrics like this: “Do it or die now, stand your ground. Don’t let your bad breaks go gettin’ you down.
    Even when times get rough, and you’ve had enough, you still gotta try. Do it no matter what the people say, they don’t even know you.” Rodney Justo’s soulful, heartfelt vocals make the song even better.

Nowhere Man – The Beatles (1965)the_beatles-nowhere_man_s_8

  • It should come as no surprise that the four guys from Liverpool were the first to write a song that made me think. Before “Nowhere Man” I just liked music for the beat and the melody, never expecting to learn anything. Still, when I heard these lyrics I was mesmerized . . . “Doesn’t have a point of view, Knows not where he’s going to, Isn’t he a bit like you and me?” You know, I was just a kid but I knew exactly what they were saying – wake up, young man, and see what’s all around you.

One Step Up – Bruce Springsteen (1987)

  • There’s just something about this song that hits home with me. Something about a guy trying to find peace and to keep his head above water is sort of universal. “When I look at myself I don’t see, The man I wanted to be, Somewhere along the line I slipped off track, I’m caught movin’ one step up and two steps back.”

E’s Tune – E (1992)

  • One of my man Mark Oliver Everett’s early songs, before he founded the Eels. Who can’t relate to these lyrics? “Life’s just an ugly mess, The angry souls in such distress, Still there is a time when moments can be sweet, And it feels like someone’s smiling down on me.” Amen brother. This song strikes a chord with me on every level. Period.

Over the Rainbow – Eric Clapton (2002)

  • Probably my favorite song of all-time, and this is my favorite version. I am touched every single time I hear it. Sad and plaintive, but uplifting at the same time. It’s performed not particularly slow, but not fast either. Mid-tempo I guess. Whatever it is, I love it. Oh, and it’s performed live, folks. Love Clapton’s vocals on this one too. And oh, by the way, if it’s not played at my funeral I’ll come back and haunt all y’all.

We’re the Same – Matthew Sweet (1993)

  • Rolling Stone called this quite possibly the best song of 1993, and I couldn’t agree more. Just a pure pop confection of jangly guitars and gorgeous melodies. Matthew Sweet at the height of his powers. Sweet once said he was inspired to play guitar when he first heard “Sitting Still” by REM.

I Can Stand a Little Rain – Joe Cocker (1974)

  • This is a song about fighting back when you’re at your lowest, and the melody reflects that. It starts out slowly but builds to a crescendo towards the end, giving the listener hope that it’s going to be O.K.: “I can stand a little sorrow, I can stand it till tomorrow, I can stand a little strife, Just another taste of life, I can stand a little love, But when I’m on my last go-round, I can stand another test, Cause I made it before and I can make it some more.” Hell yes.

Looking for Space – John Denver (1975)

  • This song is about looking for the definition of who you are, by finding out where you are, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. The lyrics are quite profound in a simple way:  “It’s a sweet, sweet dream, Sometimes I’m almost there, Sometimes I fly like an eagle, And sometimes I’m deep in despair. All alone in the universe, sometimes that’s how it seems, I get lost in the sadness and the screams, Then I look in the center, suddenly everything’s clear, I find myself in the sunshine and my dreams.” Another song that just hits home with me on an emotional level.

Oh, Shenandoah – Van Morrison (1998)

  • This is a traditional American folk song of uncertain origin, dating to the early 19th century, and it’s about the Missouri River. There are many, many versions, and the song has been covered by everyone from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen to Tennessee Ernie Ford. However, I love this version by Van Morrison the most. Just a gorgeous song that I’ve loved since I was a kid, when I first heard it on a TV show called “A Man Called Shenandoah.” Every time I hear it I get hit right in the feels. Love this song.

Lay Down Burden – Brian Wilson (1998)brian

  • Another Brian Wilson tune, this is a song from his great Imagination comeback album in 1999. It’s another sad one about the death of his brother Carl, and again he lets us in on his innermost feelings: “So many years spent running away, How many times I wished I could stay, Too much emotion a hole in my heart, Feeling alone since we’ve been apart, And if I had the chance I’d never let you go, Just want you to know. Lay, lay me down, lay me down, Lay down burden.” Gorgeous melody and classic Brian Wilson harmonies as well.

I Will – The Beatles (1968)

  • One of the simplest songs Paul McCartney ever penned, yet one of the most beautiful. On the “White Album”, this tune was a favorite of mine and my best friends Tom and Andy. In fact, Andy sang it to us a few days before he passed away. I’ll never hear it again without thinking of him.

So there ya go. What are your all-time favorite songs?

Note: I lied. I listed 21 songs.