Archive for the ‘Rock Music’ Category

You guys know how all these wild conspiracy theories interest me. JFK, the supposed death of Paul McCartney, hell, I even posted about cartoons and the movie Back to the Future predicting 9/11. And have I mentioned that Stevie Wonder may not be blind? Anywho, this stuff make compelling reading even if you’re 99% certain it isn’t true.

Still, there’s that 1%. That’s what makes it all fascinating.

Anyway, what you’re about to read and see may be the wildest, most outlandish theory of all – Elvis Presley was an extra in Home Alone.

Because of course he was.

There is a scene midway through the film, where Catherine O’Hara’s character is bartering with an airline employee over a ticket counter in a Scranton Airport. A bearded man in a sports coat and turtleneck hovers over her left shoulder, occasionally expressing his impatience with his body language. This man, many believe, is played by none other than The King himself. Let’s take a gander . . .

Huh. Well, Elvis grew a beard for the movie Charro back in the 60’s. Let us compare:

Damn, that is a close resemblance. But oh, there’s more.

Well, now I’m all shook up. Say no more. I’m convinced. I know suspicious minds won’t concur, but Elvis was in the movie Home Alone 13-years after his alleged “death.” Come on Elvis. Don’t be cruel. It’s now or never. It’s time for your big comeback.

Have a blue Christmas everybody!

PS- If you know that actor’s name please don’t tell me. Let me keep on believin’.

 

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Oh hell yes.

Word for word.

As many of you know I’ve had an incredible streak of luck at rock shows and with rock stars over the course of my lifetime. I’ve run into Todd Rundgren in a mall, Mark Oliver Everett on the street, and David Crosby in a hotel elevator, among others. I also saw Eminem in the Detroit airport once, and were it not for two behemoth bodyguards I’d have had a nice, civil chat with him. I’ve also bumbled my way into being Beck’s bodyguard, and Jeff Lynne once asked me to get him some tarts (I swear I thought he meant pop tarts – true story) backstage at an ELO rock show. At many a concert I’ve simply walked by security to get to the front of the stage, usually by just acting like I belonged there. Hey, you can’t argue with my success rate.

Note: I wrote about all this in a blog titled Lines and How I’ve Avoided Them: A Retrospective. Read it, and keep a pen or pencil handy to take notes. I also wrote about my rock encounters in an award winning retrospective titled Random Rock Encounters, a must-read if one ever existed.

Which brings us to last night.

Although I knew the Foo Fighters were coming to Cincinnati, for whatever reason I didn’t pull the trigger on getting tickets. Then, at about 2:00pm on the day of the show I got online and scored a ticket, albeit behind the stage. Hey, I wasn’t worried, I thought just getting into the arena would be enough. I’d figure the rest out when I got there.

Upon arrival I went down to my seat, and sure enough I was smack dab behind the stage with a backdrop blocking everything in front of me. Seriously, the fact that they sell tickets for those seats is an absolute sham and a rip-off of the highest order.

For most, that is. Not me of course.

As I stood there planning my next course of action, an usher walked up to me and asked if I needed help. It was then I just shrugged my shoulders, pointed to the humongous backdrop in front of me and asked, “I can’t see a thing from here. Is there anything you can do for me?”

Turns out there was. She looked around nervously, reached inside her jacket, pulled out a wristband, and put it around my wrist. Incredulous but not really, I asked her where it would get me.

Her response? She pointed down to the floor in front of the stage.

Boom. Floor pass baby. Seriously, within 30-seconds of showing her my ticket I’d gone from the worst seat in the house to, arguably, the best.

All I could do was give her a hug, tell her “Bless your heart” and head on down to be with my people in front of the stage, where I most certainly belonged.

The next 4-hours were rock and roll bliss, from the opening act The Struts to the freakin’ Foo Fighters, who gave one of the top five concert performances these eyes have seen and these ears have heard. Dave Grohl? National Treasure, man.

And I got to see it all up close.

But how did I get there? I really have no damn idea.

Steve Forbert has been a favorite of mine since his first album back in 1978. He’s just one of those guys that writes music that speaks to me, ya know? He never really hit it big and had only had one real hit, Romeo’s Tune. Still, he’s been churning out albums and touring for nearly 40-years.

It’s really hard to describe his style, so I’m not even going to try. I will say that Steve Forbert is a true poet, and an absolute master storyteller and lyricist. And perhaps the most unique thing about Steve Forbert is his voice. Listen to it, man. If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’. I’ve been lucky enough to see him live a few times and even met him once. Highly recommended.

Factoid: Steve Forbert had a cameo appearance in Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” video, playing her boyfriend.

After beginning with about 70-songs I have meticulously narrowed it down to my Top 10. Let us commence . . .

10. Hope, Faith & Love (1988)

Just an optimistic song about three things we all need.

I need hope to look for the good through the bad
I need faith to know I ain’t lost what I had
When they’ve lied and cheated me
And tear what I care for in two
Oh, I need love, to rise up above and renew.

9. Goin’ Down to Laurel (1978)

A beautifully simple song about going to see a girl.

Well I’m goin’ down to Laurel
It’s a dirty stinkin’ town yeah
But me I know exactly what I’m going to find
Little girl I’m goin’ to see
She is a fool for lovin’ me
But she’s in love and love’s a funny state of mind.

8. Prisoner of Stardom (1982)

A song about a young woman from Ohio who, although she’s hit the big time, finds it’s not all it was cracked up to be.

She’s a prisoner of smiling
It’s expected night and day
Its a burden on her everywhere she goes
Still she’s looking for some magic
Like those teenage magazines
That she read in ’65 in Ohio.

7. Lonely Girl (1980)

Just an absolutely gorgeous song about a sad and lonely girl.

All the guys who dance for you, they’re so unsatisfied

Their hungry hands come reachin’ out, to get your bows untied

And I come ’round to sing to you, starvin’ just like them

As I talk with you and long for you, and sing my midnight hymns

To a lonely girl.

6. He’s Gotta Live Up to His Shoes (1981)

A great song about a guy who’s a big talker, but now he has to back up his big mouth.

So let him walk
Let him walk real proud
And let him talk
Let him talk real loud
And let him do
Anything he choses to
He’s gotta live up to his shoes.

5. Laughter Lou (Who Needs You?) (1980)

Rolling in at #5 is a song that rips some dude to shreds. Everyone has a Laughter Lou in their life, believe me.

You criticize most everything, hey but what have you ever done?

You’re always putting something down or laughin’ at someone.

Can’t never tell what’s somethings like ’til you’ve been there yourself

You’ve spent your whole life sitting down, just watching some else.

You criticize most everyone, but what have you got to show?

At least the ones you’re putting down, got up to have a go.

Tell me Laughter Lou, who needs you?

4. Romeo’s Tune (1978)

Ah, Steve’s biggest hit. It’s been covered by Keith Urban, among others. Just a catchy, pretty, uptempo song with, as always, amazing lyrics. Fantastic piano as well.

Oh, Gods and years will rise and fall
And there’s always something more
It’s lost in talk, I waste my time
And it’s all been said before
While further down behind the masquerade the tears are there
I don’t ask for all that much I just want someone to care.

3. Say Goodbye to Little Jo (1979)

I love this song about a man defending a woman from a guy she wants nothing to do with anymore. In this song some man is completely eviscerated by Steve.

You’ve shown so much of your hate
She’s seen so much of your greed
She’s taken shit for so long, yes, yes
You ain’t got nothin she needs
You don’t deserve her no how
Go fading back into fate
Go sit ya down where ya were
Don’t grab and beg, it’s too late.

2. Search Your Heart (1988)

A beautiful ballad of encouragement that tells us to never, ever give up.

The world is too much with you all of the time
You got no space for grace inside of your mind
Some things can’t be conquered
So your thoughts all say
But if you search your heart
You’ll find a way.

1. Settle Down (1978)

Ever hear a song that just speaks to you? It’s almost as if you could have written it about yourself? This is once such song for me. One of my favorite songs of all-time.

Well, I hear you when you whisper
And I’ve seen your nervous eyes
I’ve known your fear and held your doubtful hand
You’re judging way too soon
You’re underestimating me
Sometimes I rock a bit but I can stand.

So won’t you settle down, settle down
Baby love, my baby love
Don’t quit your faith in me.

So yeah, Steve Forbert. Love his music. If you’ve liked what you’ve heard here’s an entire concert from ’79. Enjoy.

 

Great new song by Jack Johnson. Timely lyrics as well.

One of my Top 10 favorite artists. Never gets old, man.

Well I’m goin’ down to Laurel,
It’s a dirty stinkin’ town yeah,
But me I know exactly what I’m going to find.
Little girl I’m goin’ to see,
She is a fool for lovin’ me,
But she’s in love and love’s a funny state of mind . . .

Or maybe you did. What do I know? Anyway, cover songs are nearly as old as music, and while some are highly credited, some are decidedly not. It’s almost as if some artists don’t want people to know the song had been done previously.

I started with about 30-songs but narrowed it down, cutting songs like “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston that was originally a Dolly Parton song. I figured a lot of people already knew that one anyway. The 18 I chose are covers that I thought maybe people would find surprising.

But like I said, maybe not. Still, I’m willing to bet there are at least a couple of surprises on here, even for the biggest music aficionados.

Sidenote – There are a thousand white artists who took black artists songs and made them hits. Hell, Pat Boone made a career out of lifting Little Richard songs and creating bestsellers for white audiences. And man, did they suck. Listen to his version of “Tutti Frutti” by clicking here and you’ll get my drift. That’s brutal, man.

Without further ado, here are my 18 Songs You Didn’t Know Were Covers (or maybe you did):

House of the Rising Sun – The Animals

Nope. Not an original. In fact, the author of the song is unknown. It’s a traditional folk song believed to be brought from English immigrants in the 1800’s and appropriated to a more current form in New Orleans. Here’s a version from 1933 by Tom Clarence Ashley & Gwen Foster:

Bet that got your attention, huh? Let’s continue . . .

Twist and Shout – The Beatles

Eh, maybe some of you knew this was a cover. Still, I had to include it.  The Isley Brothers did a killer version as well. Here’s the original by the Top Notes in 1961:

Factoid: The song’s original title was “Shake It Up, Baby”.

Got My Mind Set On You – George Harrison

This was a big Jeff Lynne produced song for George back in 1987, but a cool cat by the name of James Ray did it first, way back in 1963:

Cum On Feel the Noize – Quiet Riot

Quiet Riot blatantly swiped this one in ’83, but my boys from Slade had rocked it 10-years prior, back in 1973. On a related note, Slade was a great band. Listen to “My Oh My” and “Run Runaway” to get the vibe. Good stuff.

Tainted Love – Soft Cell

This tune was originally performed by Gloria Jones way back in 1964. Marilyn Manson also recorded it in the ’90s, but Soft Cell had to biggest hit with it in the ’80s. But here’s the very first version:

Hound Dog – Elvis Presley

Elvis pilfered a lot of songs, just like Pat Boone. The difference was that Elvis performed them with a helluva lot more soul. “Hound Dog” was first done by the legendary Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton back in 1952. Just an awesome performance:

Damn that’s good.

Turn! Turn! Turn! – The Byrds

Before The Byrds had a monster hit with this featuring beautiful harmonies and jangly guitars, Pete Seeger sang it with just an acoustic guitar and a gravelly voice. Give a listen:

Respect – Aretha Franklin

Yep this was done by none other than Otis Redding prior to Aretha’s version. Of course, coming from a woman (especially in the 60s) the lyrics took on a whole new connotation. In addition, Aretha added the iconic R-E-S-P-E-C-T to the song, and the rest is history. However, here’s the original:

Love Hurts – Nazareth

Now here’s a good one. Did you know that the Everly Brothers recorded this song first? Sure did, w-a-y back in 1960. Here’s proof, ya skeptic:

I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow

Before the all-girl group made this a smash back in the 1980s, a band of dudes called The Strangeloves recorded it in the Swingin’ ’60s. Here it be:

Those go-go dancers were fabulous, amirite?

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper

Now here’s a weird one. This song was originally performed and sung by a man, and his name was Robert Hazard. Weird but true. He released it in 1979, 4-years prior to Miss Lauper. Here ’tis:

Blinded by the Light – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

Again, some of you may know this but it must be included. This one was originally written and recorded a young singer by the name of Bruce Springsteen, and it was on his “Live from Asbury Park” album in 1972, with Manfred Mann’s version coming out in 1976. This is actually a rare case where I prefer the cover. Sorry Bruce. Anyway, here’s the real deal:

Crazy – Patsy Cline

While this song is identified almost exclusively with Patsy Cline, she wasn’t the first to sing it. It was written and sung by none other than Willie Nelson. Oddly enough, Willie Nelson’s own version was released after Patsy’s. Willie was a popular singer-song writer who had written many hits for other artists, but had never released his own record. Here’s his beautiful original:

Time Is On My Side – Rolling Stones

Before The Stones had a hit with it, a singer named Irma Thomas had recorded it in 1963. And man, I have to say I like her version better. If you listen you can see The Stones pretty much copied it straightaway. By the way, if you want to get technical, the tune got its start as an instrumental for trombonist Kai Winding and his Orchestra earlier that year. Here you go:

Hey Joe – Jimi Hendrix

Here’s another tune that is almost solely associated with one artist but in reality is a cover. You see, it was performed earlier by a band named The Leaves. I know, I’d never heard of them either. Great song though. Classic garage band rock.

The First Cut is the Deepest – Rod Stewart

I’ve never been a fan of Rod’s covers, and this one is no exception. Here’s the original done by somebody named P.P. Arnold. Oh, and the song was written by Cat Stevens. Cool.

I Love Rock & Roll – Joan Jett

Yep, bet you never knew that this song was first sung by The Arrows back in 1975, did you? And they did it well, I might add. Honestly, it’s badass. Check it out:

Dazed and Confused – Led Zeppelin

Ah, let us conclude with this gem. Although Zep is widely identified with this song, it was in fact sung first by a gent named Jake Holmes in 1967. Hey, I kid you not. The song was also recorded by the Yardbirds. Led Zeppelin, who also have been accused of stealing the riff for “Stairway To Heaven” off the song “Taurus” by Spirit, somehow managed to pull off a separate copyright for their cover. What? Jimmy Page discovered the song when Holmes opened for the Yardbirds in 1967. Incredibly, Holmes later discovered his own track on Led Zeppelin’s album. He wrote Page asking for credit, but never got a response. Here’s the original:

So there ya go, 18 Songs You Didn’t Know Were Covers But Maybe You Did. Seriously though, I surprised you with a few, right?

 

Loved this ’90s alternative band. First, a slow version from a few years ago. . .

The original video . . .

With The Eels you never know what you’re going to get. Here are some examples:

Or you might get this . . .

From his “Gorilla” album in the mid-70s. I always thought it described the power of music perfectly.

I know, I know. Awkward title. Live with it.

Anyway, this was a tough one. The Fab Four have put out over 70-albums of material and recorded over 1,000 songs since parting ways in 1970. Narrowing these lists down to a mere 5 was difficult, and for that reason I’ve taken the liberty of adding honorable mentions. Hey, it’s my site. Let us begin with Mr. Lennon . . .

JOHN LENNON

Imagine (1971)

You have to start with Imagine, right? Just a hauntingly beautiful song. Love its simplicity too. An iconic and era-defining song for certain, and it is generally ranked as one of the best songs in music history. In fact, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it at #3 on its Top 500 Songs of All-Time list.

#9 Dream (1974)

Surreal and dreamlike, John said this tune came to him in a dream. He also said that the song was just “churned out” with “no inspiration.” Yep, John didn’t like it. I, however, loved it. Factoid: The phrase repeated in the chorus, “Ah, böwakawa, poussé, poussé”, also came to Lennon in a dream and has no specific meaning. Originally he pronounced it “pussy, pussy” but the record company bitched, hence the safer pronunciation. Factoid #2: The record peaked at, coincidentally, #9.

Beautiful Boy (1980)

This was written for John’s final album, Double Fantasy, and it includes one of my favorite lines ever written for a song:

“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

The song is all about the love John Lennon had for his son Sean, and he conveys that love beautifully. Just a gorgeous, heartfelt song. Factoid: That quote can be traced back to a 1957 Reader’s Digest article which attributes it to some dude named Allen Saunders. I’m still giving John credit though.

Mind Games (1973)

John had this song in his back pocket since 1969 and finally released it in ’73. It’s one of John’s most upbeat and positive songs, evidenced by lyrics like “Yes is the answer . . .” Factoid: The song’s original title was “Make Love Not War.”

Woman (1980)

Another beautiful song, this time written for John’s wife Yoko. It was also on his last album, and he said in interviews prior to the album’s release that the song was written for all women. Factoid: At the beginning of the song you can barely hear John whisper, “For the other half of the sky.” He was referencing a Chinese proverb that was about women and men.

Honorable Mention: Working Class Hero (1970), Nobody Told Me (1980).

PAUL MCCARTNEY

Jet (1973)

This one was named after Paul’s dog. It was on Band on the Run, and I’ve always loved it. The soaring chorus just blows me away every time. I’ve seen McCartney live several times (OK, it’s 9) and “Jet” always blows the roof off the joint. It’s a Power Pop gem, and legendary music critic Dave Marsh referred to it as a “grand pop confection” that represented the only time McCartney approached the “drive and density” of his tenure with the Beatles. I agree. Factoid: I have never understood the lyrics to this song.

Junior’s Farm (1974)

This might be my favorite Paul McCartney tune of all-time, and the searing guitar solo by Jimmy McCullough is incredible. Not kidding, watch the video and tell me it isn’t. Love. This. Song. Factoid: McCullough wrote and performed a song called “Medicine Jar” for a Wings album a couple years after “Junior’s Farm” was released. It was an anti-drug song. A few years later McCullough died of an overdose.

Band on the Run (1973)

Love the change of pace I this song. It’s like three songs mashed together, a multi-part song. The first verse has a folky feel to it, complete with harmonies. The second verse is almost an early grunge sound, and finally, the last part of the song features that infectious, melodious hook that made it a hit. Part of the critically acclaimed “Band on the Run” album.

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (1971)

Stitched together from snippets Paul had from the Abbey Road sessions. It’s loaded with sound effects, vaudeville jokes and time and style shifts that make it one of the wildest-ever Top 40 hits. The song is a rare combination of playfulness, experimentation and a gorgeous melody that I love. The “Hands across the water” chorus still touches me today.

Here Today (1982)

Paul’s touching tribute to John Lennon, written shortly after he was murdered.

And if I say I really loved you
And was glad you came along
Then you were here today
For you were in my song.

‘Nuff said.

Honorable Mention: (I Want To) Come Home (2009), At the End of the End (2004), Maybe I’m Amazed (1970), Getting Closer (1979), Magneto and Titanium Man (1975).

GEORGE HARRISON

Blow Away (1979)

This song is relatively unknown but I love it. Released during the disco and punk era, it stood on its own as a straight, simple rock recording, and I loved the catchy melody. Factoid: George said that the song arose from feelings of frustration and inadequacy resulting from a leaking roof at his home in England.

My Sweet Lord (1970)

The first #1 song by an ex-Beatle. George was later hauled into court, and lost, on charges of copyright infringement because of the song’s similarities to the Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine.” The courts said he subconsciously copied the melody. Still, “My Sweet Lord” remains a masterpiece of rock spiritualism as well as an amazing song.

This Is Love (1987)

I don’t know why but I’ve loved this tune from the first moment I heard it. I also love these lyrics:

Since our problems have been our own creation
They also can be overcome
When we use the power provided free to everyone
This is love.

It’s produced by Jeff Lynne, and you can certainly tell if you’re a Lynne fan like myself. Beautiful tune.

You (1975)

George wrote this gem for Ronnie Spector, formerly of The Ronettes. The song has a series of amazing sax solos by the appropriately named Jim Horn. Not kidding. Factoid: George has said this song is a tribute to 60’s R&B. Just a pure rock classic.

Crackerbox Palace (1976)

It’s just an odd little song about a man George had met, but I love the catchy melody and quirky lyrics, beginning with the opening line . . .

I was so young when I was born,

My eyes could not yet see . . .

From his great Thirty-Three & 1/3 album.

Honorable Mention: This Song (1976), It’s What You Value (1976), What Is Life (1971), Give Me Love (1971)

RINGO STAR

It Don’t Come Easy (1971)

Don’t think Ringo had a bunch of good songs? You are incorrect, sir. Or madam. Because Ringo had arguably the greatest post-Beatle hit ever with this song. It was co-written by George, but Ringo’s voice gives it its identity. A true rock classic that grabs you at the opening notes.

Photograph (1973)

Another #1 hit for Ringo, and once again George helped out on guitar and co-wrote. Great chorus that is catchy as hell. It’s basically about a photograph being the only thing left from a broken relationship.

Every time I see your face
It reminds me of the places we used to go
But all I’ve got is a photograph
And I realize you’re not coming back anymore.

Walk With You (2009)

Ringo got a guest appearance from none other than Sir Paul McCartney on this beautiful number, which is one of his prettiest songs ever. Just a gorgeous, heartfelt song.

Liverpool 8 (2007)

This is an autobiographical song about Ringo’s days with The Beatles as well as growing up in Liverpool. It’s a touching yet upbeat song that includes crowd involvement at the end. Great song.

No No Song (1975)

This song, written by Hoyt Axton, reached #3 on the US charts. Incredibly, the song described attempts to sell marijuana, cocaine, and moonshine to a recovering addict who refuses it all. Helluva theme, right? Factoid: Hoyt Axton also wrote Three Dog Night’s classic hit “Joy to the World.”

Honorable Mention: Oh My My (1974)

So there ya go. I’m sure you have your post-Beatles faves. What say you?

Listen, I rarely use exclamation points at the end of my titles but if any video deserves it it’s this one. I swear to God this may be the single greatest Christian band in the annals of Christian bands. I feel like going to church right now, not even kidding. And that lead singer is straight fire. This band has it all – the moves, the hot keyboardist, mind-blowing backup vocals, just pure electric on all levels. These cats have a straight line to Jesus, no doubt about it. Breathtaking really. Now excuse me while I go download Sonseed’s entire catalog.

Listen, I’ve seen some good drummers in my time, but never have I seen a drummer whose command of the stage simply overshadows everyone else in his immediate vicinity, or dare I say not so immediate vicinity. Hell, this dude is a Black Hole of drumming, everyone in his wake is sucked in and disappears in the beauty of his awesomeness. This bro needs to be at the front of the stage, man. I’m mesmerized. You can put my man at the back of the stage but I’ll be damned if he’ll be ignored. Drum on, drummer.

The internet has gone udderly wild for a Texas calf’s uncanny resemblance to Kiss frontman Gene Simmons. The baby cow, named Genie, was born on Friday at a ranch in Kerrville, Texas, and even likes to stick out its tongue like the rocker. Hill Country Visitor, a tourism agency that promotes the region of Texas Hill, shared the image on Facebook, joking that Simmons could be the father. Simmons himself was delighted, tweeting: “This is real, folks!!!” The bovine doppelgänger’s markings quickly drew comparisons to Simmons, who is famous for his long tongue and black-and-white face paint.

Let’s get this out of the way first – that cow looks nothing like Gene Simmons. Not even close. Face paint is all wrong. “Uncanny resemblance”? Uh, methinks not. And what cow doesn’t like to stick its tongue out? That’s what cows do. It’s pretty clear to me that Hill Country Visitor is working the whole tourism angle a little too hard with this scam, man. And what’s up with these shanksters suggesting Gene Simmons fathered a cow in the first place? That seems sort of rude.

PS- I also have a beef with writers who get cute with puns like “udderly wild.” That’s just cheap blogging technique right there. Not very well done. Of course, writers like myself are rare. Well, gotta get moooving.

PPS – I hate myself right now.

There’s a new day breakin’.

Everyone knows the story of how Quincy Jones produced this song, which was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and how everyone got together after the American Music Awards to record it. It’s pretty incredible how this many major artists were talked into getting into one studio for a single recording. Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper (who just may have stole the show), Daryl Hall, Steve Perry, Paul Simon, Tina Turner, Willie Nelson, Kenny Loggins, and many more all in one room. Crazy stuff, and I can’t imagine it happening today. Also, watching it again, it’s striking how absolutely stunning many of the vocals sound. The variation is styles, how it all somehow blended together, it was really a once in a lifetime occurrence. Anyway, here’s an encore . . .

Pretty amazing list really, and it largely speaks to the vanilla tastes of the general public. I mean, there are some good songs, but it’s telling that while songs like “Macarena”, “You Light Up My Life” and “That’s What Friends Are For” are on the list, there’s nothing from Led Zeppelin, Queen, REM, AC/DC, Michael Jackson, Eminem or Nirvana. I also found it interesting how jarring it was when Elvis hit the scene in 1956, and then The Beatles in 1964. Big changes indeed. Oh, and what song was most popular the year you were born? Mine was “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” by Perez Prado. Yeah, me either.

Anyway, enjoy.

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One of their most beautiful songs.

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.

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