Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Too sad.

There are few things I like to do more than watch a live rock concert. Something about the energy, the whole vibe, just seeing someone performing music you love up close and in person is amazing.

I’ve been to hundreds of concerts in my life, and I’ve witnessed some crazy stuff. It’s always a special treat when things go off the rails a little though, ya know?

Without further ado, here’s some of the weirdest stuff I’ve seen at live shows . . .

Westerberg, man.

About 10-years ago I went to see Paul Westerberg at The Newport in Columbus, and it was a helluva show. The former front man for the legendary Replacements was outstanding, man. so much so that a friend of mine said this after the show:

“That’s the first time I ever felt like I was watching a real rock star.”

Amen, brother. Anyway, Westerberg was all over the stage, even laying on his back at one point as he played guitar, and performed all the good stuff as well as some offbeat covers such as “If I Had a Hammer” and “Daydream Believer”. But on to my point. About halfway through the show Westerberg was having some sort of trouble with his guitar strap and stopped to fix it. A roadie walked onstage to try and help, and Paul became unhinged. He turned and screamed, “Get the FU@K away from me!” The poor dude then sort of shuffled backwards off the stage, the venue got deathly quiet for a few seconds, and the Westerberg went back to the song as if nothing happened. Weird moment.

Dude loves his tambourine.

A couple years ago I was at a Gin Blossoms show in Columbus, and lead singer Robin Wilson handed his tambourine to a woman in the front row. I’d seen these guys a couple times before and knew it was part of the shtick, that the audience member would play it for awhile and hand it back to Wilson. This time, however, the idiot lady took it and vamoosed. As the band watched incredulously, Wilson finished the song and then lit into the tambourine thief, screaming something along the lines of, “You f**cking b**tch! Bring back my f**cking tambourine!” Dude was livid, man. Must have been his special tambourine or something. I mean, I know the Blossoms are 20-years passed their heyday but I figured they could afford more than one tambourine.

Note: I looked it up. They can cost up to $200 and more. Yikes.

Note 2: Who can’t play a tambourine? I mean really? I’d kill on a tambourine. Hell, I may buy a tambourine and join a band.

Back in the late 90s I went to see Dan Fogelberg. Yes, I liked Fogelberg. I’ve seen him a few times. So shoot me. Soft Rock never hurt anyone. Don’t judge, people. Besides, he’s dead now so you’re just being mean. Anyhoo, the opening band had finished and Fogelberg walked out to thunderous applause. He sat down at the piano, played a few notes, then slammed his hands on the keys and scared the bejesus out of everyone. Then got up and stormed off the stage. As we sat there in stunned silence, some poor roadie walked sheepishly out on the stage, played a few notes as he tuned (or retuned) the piano, then got up and walked/crawled/slithered back from whence he came. Then ol’ Dan came back out like nothing had happened and without  word of apology sat down and proceeded to play a blistering version of “Leader of the Band”, except not really because it’s a slow ballad. Anyway, surreal moment.

E.

I’ve seen The Eels several times, and lead singer Mark Oliver Everett is always a laid back guy. He interacts with the audience but he’s always really light-hearted and funny. However, even The Man Called E can be pushed over the edge. Well, sort of. A few years ago some jackass kept yelling at the top of his lungs during an Eels show. I mean this was going on during songs, during E’s talking and during quiet intervals. Finally, E had enough. He looked up to where the guy was in the balcony, took a deep breath, and said calmly, “Hey Screamy. If you don’t shut the hell up I’ve having you thrown the f**ck out of here.” Crowd roars, Screamy shuts up, problem solved.

Back around 1979 I watched Aerosmith in the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Columbus, Ohio. This was the infamous show where I ended up backstage on a couch with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. Oh, and photos were taken, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, during that show I distinctly recall Steven and Joe nearly brawling onstage. No idea what caused it, but at one point I was fairly certain Perry was going to beat Tyler over the head with his 1960 Gibson Les Paul geetar. Good times.

At some point a bit before The Who tragedy at Riverfront Coliseum (my dates are a little fuzzy) I saw Led Zeppelin there. The whole festival seating/general admission thing was obviously in place, and it was pretty ugly. We got there real early, around 2:00 PM in order to get in line. The coliseum’s policy at the time was to open just 4 doors at around 6:30 PM (again, hazy) for the 8:00 show. We were right up front, and a little after 5:00 PM things began to get ugly. Remember, 4-doors for 12,000 people. Idiocy. People in the back began pressing forward and those of us in front were getting crushed against the doors. Guys were begging the security inside to open up, but they weren’t listening. A police chopper suddenly appeared and began hovering about 30-feet up, and a guy with a bullhorn was telling people to back up. Nobody was having it, and at one point I remember a beer bottle being thrown at the chopper and shattering off its side. By this time I was seriously in fear of not making it out of there. My arms were pressed against my sides so tightly that I couldn’t raise them. Occasionally my feet would rise off the ground and I’d have to completely go wherever the crowd took me. Scary stuff for sure. The worst part was when the crowd would start to lean and you feared getting crushed. It was hard to breathe and several people passed out but obviously didn’t fall down. Surreal as hell. Finally, an ignorant security guard did a dumb but ultimately good thing – he cracked a door open, ostensibly to tell somebody when the gates would open. At that point the door was ripped open and the crowd poured in. Glass was flying everywhere, and as I was being pushed through a guard reached out and ripped a flask from my neck, nearly slashing my throat. No tickets were taken and chaos ensued. After I got away from the rushing crowd, I sought out a cop and yelled, “If these people don’t start opening more doors somebody’s going to get killed here!” A prophetic statement, unfortunately. When the news came down months later that 11-people were killed at The Who show, I wasn’t surprised. I knew exactly what had taken place. Oh, and by the way, I scored a front row spot. Hey, it was Zep.

Speaking of that Who concert, yes, I had tickets. I know, I know, probably a million people claim they had tickets, but I did. Tom, Andy and I were on our way to Cincinnati, decided at the last minute to go to a party in Columbus, and the rest is history.

I once attended the “Frampton Comes Alive” tour,  a huge outdoor show in Florida. There were several bands before Frampton, and one of them was Kansas, of “Dust in the Wind” fame. They came out and it was clear from the get-go they were tanked. Just smashed, drunk and/or high as hell. Midway through song two they just turned and walked off the stage. The crowd basically rioted until something pretty cool happened. Rick Derringer, who had played a short set earlier, returned to the stage and started playing. Slowly the crowd got into it and eventually he was actually playing requests. That’s a true pro right there, and he saved everyone from a potentially nasty situation. When Frampton finally came out he thanked Derringer profusely and even called him back out for an encore. I’ll always have fond memories of Rick Derringer because of that day.

You see, rock shows, as in life, don’t always unfold as you might expect them to. And that what makes it fun, right?

No, Michael Jackson did not invent the Moonwalk. Did he improve upon it? Oh yes he did. But invent it? Oh no he din’t. When Michael unveiled his “Moonwalk” back in the early 80’s on that Motown Special it sort of startled the living hell out of everyone, including me. Here’s a clip. Wait for the 3:40 mark, when the audience actually shrieks at this seemingly impossible move. On a related note, if you don’t see the talent of MJ in this video you are blind, ignorant, and unfit to live in a civilized society.

But as I said, although MJ may have improved upon it, he didn’t come up with it. Here’s a cool cat named Bill Bailey who moonwalked right off the stage back in ’55. Wait. Nobody walked on the moon until ’69. Perhaps it was called something else? Research required. Anywho, here he is . . .

Next up we have my man Ronnie Hawkins. The Hawk sort of got lost in the whole Elvis/Carl Perkins/Jerry Lee Lewis and others madness, but damn was he good. He did something called The Cosmic Glide or Front Glide, pretty close to a moonwalk fo sho. The Hawk was cool.

And here’s a dude from back in the day named Dick Van Dyke. He was an actor on the creatively named Dick Van Dyke Show. Trust me kids, it was pretty funny. Anyway, this isn’t technically a dance, but it has all the elements of a moonwalk nonetheless. Behold . . .

Finally, here’s a video showing Sammy Davis Jr., Bill Bailey and others busting MJ-like moves long before that Motown Special. Pretty cool.

Ever heard of a music mashup? It’s one of those deals where somebody takes videos from two different groups and mashes them up into one. Although it seems a little sacrilegious in some ways, in others it’s sort of fascinating. It’s hard to look away, if you know what I mean. Let’s take a look at a few . . .

TAKE ALL MY LOVING: A-HA/THE BEATLES

NEVER GONNA GIVE YOUR TEEN SPIRIT UP: RICK ASTLEY/NIRVANA

THE TROOPER BELIEVER: IRON MAIDEN/THE MONKEES

A DAY IN THE WONDERWALL: THE BEATLES/OASIS


Good stuff. Reminds of some things I’ve seen personally. I feel a blog coming on.

One of the great songs of the early 90’s.

Beautiful.

Man, it was difficult to narrow this list down. There were a thousand musicians who stepped up and made statements musically during the Civil Rights Movement. These just happen to be my favorite moments. Let us proceed. Oh, and click on the title to hear a song if it applies.

PETULA CLARK AND HARRY BELAFONTE TOUCH ON NATIONAL TV

Yes, I said “touched.” Petula Clark was one of the most popular recording artists of the 1960s. She sang songs like “Downtown”, “Don’t Sleep in the Subway”, and “I know a Place”, good tunes all.

In early 1968, Clark was given the chance to host her own special on NBC. She had, as a guest star on the program, the popular singer and noted civil rights activist, Harry Belafonte.

Incredible as it may seem now, the show made waves when, during the performance of an anti-war song written by Clark, “On the Path of Glory”, Clark locked arms with Belafonte.

The program was sponsored by Chrysler, and a vice-president of the company, Doyle Lott, was present at the taping in early March of 1968. He took issue with the “interracial touching,” and asked them to use a different take of the song (they had filmed a number of different takes). Clark and her husband (co-producer of the special), Claude Wolff, objected.

To make sure that they could not be overruled, Wolff told the producer of the special, Steve Binder, to actually destroy all other takes of the song. Binder checked with NBC, who said that they’d defer to whatever he decided to do. He agreed with Wolff. Binder later recalled telling the editor to erase the other takes and the editor actually made him sign a document attesting that Binder was taking full responsibility for the erasure of the other takes.

The whole situation made major public waves, and attracted a lot of publicity for the show. Bottom line, good for everyone who fought the good fight that day.

The show aired on April 8th, 1968.

CHUCK BERRY’S DUCKWALK INTEGRATES SOUTHERN DANCE HALLS

Rock n’ Roll played an immeasurable part in getting blacks and whites together in the 1950s. Rock music itself was the result of a blending of the blues and country, sounds that had been pretty seperate the previous couple of decades. The early face of this wild new genre was Chuck Berry, and his risqué lyrics and signature moves sent teenagers of all colors into a frenzy. A few years before Elvis’s pelvic thrusts would define a generation, Berry’s “Duckwalk” guitar solo created such demand from black and white audiences that clubs would hold integrated parties with velvet ropes running down the middle of the dance floor to keep the races separated. Soon, the velvet ropes would disappear. Rock can’t see color, kids.

JAMES BROWN SAVES BOSTON FROM RIOTS

The spring of 1968 was darkened by the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the subsequent rioting that took place in cities across the country. Boston, Massachusetts, wasn’t spared, and on the night the news broke, kids took to the streets in Roxbury, Dorchester and the South End to express their rage. James Brown was scheduled to perform there the next day, and the city decided to broadcast the show on local TV to keep folks in their homes and off the block. During the concert, attendees ran on stage and the police began to swarm, but Brown halted them and addressed the kids directly. “Now I ask the police to step back, because I think I can get some respect from my own people.” The crowd obliged, and the concert went on without incident. The next day, he walked through the hoods of the Bean and personally asked the people not to riot, promising, “there’s another way.”

BILLIE HOLIDAY RECORDS “STRANGE FRUIT”

“Strange Fruit” was first performed by Billie Holiday in 1939, and it paints a portrait familiar to southerners in the first half of the 21st century. The song describes “a strange and bitter crop” with “bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,” an illustration of a then all-too-common sight – a lynching. The song is weird because it sounds sort of romantic and sensual. Only when you really listen to the lyrics does the real, more sinister meaning of the song become clear. Just a chilling song, really.

RAY CHARLES REFUSES TO PLAY AUGUSTA

After Bell Auditorium announced that Ray Charles was going to do a show there in 1961, students told Charles the dance floor would be for whites only and the upper balcony would be sectioned off for blacks. Ray immediately took a stand and cancelled his appearance. The venue fined him for breach of contract, expecting him to back down. Instead, in one of civil rights history’s greatest boss moves, he paid the fine and didn’t play another show in Augusta, Georgia until it was desegregated. Ray, man.

MARVIN GAYE RELEASES “WHAT’S GOIN’ ON”

Marvin Gaye needs no introduction: his name has become synonymous with the rich legacy of Motown and the soulful R&B that came to define Black music for decades to come. It should come as no surprise that the man released his (arguably) best single eleven albums into his career. “What’s Going On” is all at once a gripping protest song, a syrupy love song and a giddy party starter. When the track dropped in 1971, Gaye was struggling through the sudden loss of his frequent collaborator and close friend Tammi Terrell, a brother that had been shipped off to war, and a country that was still mired in the dregs of violence and racism. Although inspired by an act of police brutality, “What’s Going On” led to some of Gaye’s most bright-eyed work on the landmark album of the same name, and gave the movement one of its defining anthems.

BOB DYLAN RELEASES “THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN'”

I’ve always thought of this classic song by Dylan as more anti-Vietnam than pro-Civil Rights, but the lyrics can apply to both. “This was definitely a song with a purpose,” Dylan would later say. “The civil rights movement and the folk music movement were pretty close for a while and allied together at that time.” That same year saw the arrival of the Civil Rights Act, putting an end to racial segregation in the US. Songs like this one were the soundtrack to the movement.

SAM COOKE RECORDS “A CHANGE IS GONNA COME”

After hearing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” Cooke wanted to write a song about race that had the same impact. He’d encountered racial turbulence in the year prior when he and his tourmates tried to book a “whites only” hotel and were arrested for disturbing the peace. That incident was the inspiration for “Change,” and the song became a massive success in the black community after its release in 1963.

JOHN COLTRANE RECORDS “ALABAMA”

In the early morning hours of September 15, 1963, four members of the Ku Klux Klan planted a box of dynamite under the steps of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The bomb was detonated a few hours later, murdering Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair, all under the age of 14. The incident became a lightning rod for the Civil Rights Movement, which was exactly what the KKK didn’t want. Another unintended consequence – it inspired jazz legend John Coltrane to write and record the stunning song “Alabama”. The song, without lyrics, is a mournful tribute and was patterned after Martin Luther King’s “Eulogy for the Martyred Children,” the speech he gave at the funeral for the four girls. That same year, Coltrane performed the song live on television’s Jazz Casual in front of a stunned, spellbound national audience.

PHIL OCHS RECORDS “HERE’S TO THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI”

Phil Ochs was never one to mince words, and this song was no exception. After visiting Mississippi and being outraged at what he saw, he wrote this blistering tune where he lays it all on the line. Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

Here’s to the State of Mississippi,
For underneath her borders, the devil draws no lines,
If you drag her muddy rivers, nameless bodies you will find.
Oh the fat trees of the forest have hid a thousand crimes,
The calender is lyin’ when it reads the present time.
Whoa here’s to the land you’ve torn out the heart of,
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of!

Yikes.

Like I said up top, I know there are many other songs and incidents that I could have listed, but these are the ones that stand out to me. If you have any suggestions feel free to comment.*

*See what I did there? Feel free? Civil Rights Movement? Never mind. 

 

 

Love these guys.

Freddie was amazing.

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.