When I was old enough to remember listening to and caring about music, we lived in the middle of nowhere, a town in Michigan so small that when I visited it for the first time in 25 years, my first question to my mother was, “Where did you shop? Where did you buy clothes?” But there was a local FM station and at night I could twist the gold dial of the radio my mother gave me and could pick up Chicago radio, WLS, and Detroit radio sometimes, in the summer when the sky was clear. I would ride my bike to the discount store that had a tiny music department, sheet music and some albums and cheap acoustic guitars. I would pick up the goldenrod-colored fliers that had the Billboard Hot 100 and mark the songs carefully, the ones I knew vs. the ones I hadn’t heard vs. the ones I wanted to own. I would make a purchase of one or two 45’s and reverently flip through the albums. The only albums I owned were K-tel compilations, it wasn’t until my 8th birthday until I had enough cash of my own to buy an actual LP (School’s Out and We’re An American Band, for the record. There were also some David Cassidy purchases, later).
It was inevitable, it being New Jersey, and it went on all night – adding “Promised Land” at the end of ISHFWILF, thanking Bruce for the loan of the hall, getting the crowd to “Bruuuuce” them. It was inevitable, and I knew it was coming, but when Bono went to the front of the stage and pulled out the sign – and that person had to have gotten online at the stroke of dawn to get that spot – it didn’t make it any easier, as he proceeded to dedicate “Moment of Surrender” to the E Street Band. And again, again, even with all of that, even though I knew it was going to happen, I’d seen the video, I’d heard the song files from Oakland, Bono invoking the last verse of “Jungleland” in New Jersey, across the parking lot where we stood and watched them all there not that long ago – well, goddammit, you learn from the best, you Irish bastard.
Give my regards to Junior Walker and King Curtis.
more later, when I can manage it.
and if there’s one thing
could do for you
you’d be a wing
in heaven blue
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Attn: GIST Research, 10 Brookline Place, W. Brookline, MA 02445
There is not much to say, not much that needs to be said. The night was about playing the songs, making them as big and bold and bright as the fantasies everyone had the first time they heard them, songs that made them pick up a guitar or write a song, take a chance.
Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert changed my life.
I was watching it long before I probably should have. I would strike these deals with our babysitters on Saturdays, if they let me stay up to watch Don Kirshner, I would make sure the rest of the kids (and there were four of us) would behave and go to bed with no problem. This worked on all of our sitters except Ann from next door, who – because she LIVED NEXT DOOR – felt a need to be more accountable than the other random girls who showed up at our house to watch us while my parents went out.
When I was in LA in July, I made a side trip to pay my respects to both Johnny and Dee Dee, who are buried in the same cemetery in Los Angeles. On the occasion of Johnny’s birthday, I thought I’d mention it here.
I called her Miami, because she (like me) had a thing for Steve Van Zandt, back when he was Miami Steve, back when this was a band that wore hats! She wore hats, too. We all had nicknames for each other, stupid, dumb, nicknames – I quite honestly cannot remember any of mine – because we wanted to be a gang, an exclusive club with nicknames and handshakes and secret rituals and inside jokes.
As much as I always wanted to, I never made it to Minneapolis until this year. Probably because I was smart enough to know that it wasn’t like every band I cared about would be standing on the street corner waiting for me as I got off the bus. The closest I came was when I was moving back to NYC from Seattle, a logical overnight stop was just outside of Minneapolis, and I took a morning detour long enough to stand in front of the Let It Be house for a few minutes and take a few pictures.
I hated Malcolm McLaren when I was old enough to have an opinion about him for the same reasons I hated Aerosmith and KISS back then: I saw him as having ruined, and then stolen, the best of my beloved New York Dolls. Through the lenses of my blinding teenage love, the Dolls broke up because he killed them, while their pale, feeble imitators were able to make a living at it.