Periodically, my fab friend Stacey at Vertigo Music needs to make some space in her store, so she has these awesome “Buy 1, Get 11 Free” sales for the dollar bins. I went in and the pickins were GOOD. So good I bought 2 and got 22 free! Wheeee!
I love a lot of things. Very high on the list of those things include Woodstock, NY, The Band, Levon Helm, and Rick Danko. Tonight we are going to see Ain’t In It For My Health, the movie about Levon. I am prepared to bawl my eyes out.
In August of 2000, literally immediately after my sweet Granny’s funeral, I booked it up to Woodstock (something I did quite often back then). I went to the now-defunct Joyous Lake bar (not nearly as good as the sadly long-defunct Tinker Street Cafe, former Cafe Espresso and downstairs neighbor to Bob Dylan. Now THAT was a bar). There I saw Levon drum with his band at the time, The Barn Burners. I went up to him during a break, giddy and nervous and probably a little drunk, and said hi and how much I dug the band and blah blah blah. He was SO nice. I asked if we could get a picture and I can still hear his voice to this day: “Why, SURE!” (But “sure” sounded like “shore.”) So we took the pic and he said, “Now, how ’bout a kiss for good luck?” He went in for a kiss on the lips and I was so nervous and dumbstruck that I moved my face away. He said, “Now, let’s try that again.” And I kissed Levon Helm. It was a sweet peck on the lips and he KNEW he just rocked my world. He made me feel like I was the only chick in the room. Oh, Levon. I love you. I just remembered that the next night I saw Garth Hudson playat the same bar. Epic weekend, man.
When he passed away, I wept. I truly did. I loved him. He was just an awesome, awesome guy and fantastic musician. I expect to do some weeping tonight as well.
I went up to Woodstock in October to see Levon again. I also said hello to the lovely and amazing Rick Danko, whom we also lost too soon.
I’ll let you all know how many boxes of tissues my Band friend Shari and I go through tonight. There is also a producer Q & A, so it should be really amazing.
On one of the pics of Levon’s resting place you will see a green little girl’s hair clippie. Hazel took that out of her hair and left it for Levon, unprompted. It was magical. Not that she knew what she was doing…I think she saw all the other trinkets on the ground and wanted to leave something, too. Hazel. Named not only after Chris’ great aunt Hazel, but also this Hazel.
The top ten greatest concerts of my life, in order of epic-ness, Part One:
1. Pink Floyd, Veteran’s Stadium, Philadelphia, 1994. I was in the 9th row and it’s like that crazy concert swallowed me whole. It was insanity. Beautiful, epic insanity. I can’t even begin to describe it. The pigs, the airplane, the giant disco ball that spun so fast I thought that I was going to be flung out of the universe…it was perfectly crazy and beautiful and worth every penny. I was a 21-year old hippie chick at a huge summertime Pink Floyd show in the 9th row and I was happy as a clam. It literally blew my mind (as demonstrated when I passed out during the 3rd song. But I thankfully recovered quickly and had the time of my life). That concert is gonna be tough to beat.
2. Bob Dylan, Temple University, Philadelphia, 1999. This little show actually trumps that Pink Floyd show in a different way. It’s not only because the music was just fantastic and I was in the front row, but because during the first guitar solo of “Folsom Prison Blues” (a fact that in itself makes it a killer show. Dylan rarely does covers), he wiggled on over to me and crouched down a little and aimed his guitar neck at me and, while making a “POW!” face (a really sexy “POW!” face), he pretended to “shoot” me with his guitar and then sauntered away, his gaze ever so slightly lingering. I have a bootleg of that show and whenever that part comes up I still squee a little bit. Oh, Bob. Thank you for that.
3. The White Stripes, Grand Opera House, Wilmington, 2007. What stands out about this show is that not only did we have INSANE seats (front row on the side), and not only was it a gorgeous venue, and not only did they totally rock (obviously)…but their album (“Icky Thump,” which would end up being their last) had been out only a few days and the entire place sung along to the refrain of “I’m Slowly Turning Into You” like it was a beloved favorite. They stopped playing and we sang our hearts out. So, clearly everyone had been devouring the album for those few days and everyone loved that song. The whole show was magic like that.
4. The Strokes/White Stripes, Radio City Music Hall, NYC, 2002. This was one of the greatest rock n’ roll nights of my life. The show itself was fantastic (both bands were total media darlings at this moment in time, and played only 2 shows together. This one in the Strokes’ hometown, and the other in Detroit, which was the White Stripes hometown). We were a few rows behind Ellen Barken and her kid. Beck was there, too. But after the show was over is where the real story is. It was even given coverage in Rolling Stone, and I think I may have been the luckiest girl there. We walked around the building after the show, and Jack White and some Strokes were hanging out in the open 2nd-floor windows (probably smoking). I was one of the first people on the scene and I looked up and said hi to Jack. He took a champagne bottle and poured it out of the window, trying to get it in my mouth. He missed and I got drenched. Which was obviously totally fine. Then he threw down a bouquet of flowers, which I still have (dead but fairly intact). By this time the entire crowd was there, screaming like they were the Beatles. The cops came to redirect traffic because the crowd was blocking the street. They all threw stuff out the windows (I still have a carrot from their backstage veggie tray in my freezer) and they talked to us and you could tell they couldn’t believe this was happening to them. It was one of the greatest nights of my life. Until…
5. Beck, Zellerbach Theater, Philadelphia, 2002. Two days later, I saw Beck in a teeny intimate venue for a solo acoustic warm-up tour (he was about to hit the road with the Flaming Lips as his backup band. Man, 2002 was a just killer year for music). I was an active member of the Beck BBS (his message board) and the admin asked us what our dream set list would be for this tour. I mentioned that I thought the song “Beautiful Way” from “Midnite Vultures” would make a good acoustic song. Well. Not only did he play it, but it was the ONLY time he played it on that tour. WHAAAAAT??? I also met him after the show and he hugged me and I was the happiest girl in the world who just had the coolest weekend of her life.
Stay tuned for the bottom 5!
Music is essential and gorgeous and these are my favorite essential gorgeous albums that have come out in the past 20 years. I have to limit it to this time frame because if I even begin to try to include stuff from the 60’s, I will literally be doing this all day. These are the recent gems that I don’t like to live without. Please feel free to check them out.
Bob Dylan: Time Out Of Mind (spooky and haunting and gorgeous), “Love and Theft” (Americana, quirky, genius), Modern Times (old-timey yet timeless, just brilliant and beautiful)
Eddie Vedder: Into the Wild soundtrack (folksy and freedom-anthemy), Ukulele Songs (I am OBSESSED. This album is PERFECTION)
Beck: Odelay (life-changing fabulous-ness), Mutations (a trippy collection of “throwaway” songs. This guy’s throwaways are better than most artist’s best work), Midnite Vultures (pure parody, honest homage, and raucous fun), Sea Change (this album will break your heart)
The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, Jack White solo: everything. Everything this man does is worth a zillion listens. I know every White Stripes album (except Icky Thump, my least favorite) inside and out. Jack is a genius. A hard-working, innovative genius.
The Shins: Chutes Too Narrow. Purely perfect “indie” pop. “Gone for Good” is just so, so good.
The Tallest Man on Earth: everything. It’s all fantastic. He’s from Sweden, and there’s a lot of just him and his banjo and the sound of his heart breaking. I love this man.
Father John Misty, “Fear Fun.” You knew this was coming. My current fave-rave. He used to be the drummer for Fleet Foxes, also a band worth checking out. But FJM…man. I’ve been listening to it at least once a day for months and months and months. Can’t say enough about this guy. I am waiting with bated breath for his follow-up, “I Love You, Honeybear.”
Elliott Smith – everything. This guy was troubled, moody, sad, brilliant, and his life ended tragically. Perfect recipe for me to like someone’s music.
Tyler Ramsey, The Valley Wind. Another haunting, gorgeous collection. This guy’s day job is guitarist for Band of Horses, another band I enjoy. I was really into this album in the autumn of 2011. I did a lot of driving around with the babies, looking at the leaves. Perfect soundtrack for that.
The Strokes, Is This it. I was obsessed with this album when it came out. I’ve seen the Strokes many times over the years and they are fantastic live. But they never topped their debut, in my mind. This is total NYC-Trust-Fund-Gritty-Hipster garage rock from a band of cute boys. Can’t go wrong with that combo.
Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Ash Wednesday. Elvis is the son of Anthony Perkins (yes, THAT Anthony Perkins) and a model from the 60’s named Marisa Berenson. His father died of AIDS and his mom was on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. Then he made this album. So obviously you need to check him out. EP ID is also fab.
I’m kinda thinking I should have made my list go back longer so I can include Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys (Check Your Head also missed my cutoff by one year) and the mighty Appetite For Destruction by Guns N’ Roses. And of course, Nirvana’s Nevermind. Those albums stand the test of time for me.
I just realized I’ve seen almost all of these bands I mentioned live. Even Nirvana, which always seems to impress the youngins. But no need to be jealous; it was a terrible show. I highly recommend seeing Beck – his shows are fantastic. He is a true artist…he puts insane creativity into everything he touches. Anytime Jack White comes within a 100-mile radius of you – GO. I mean, just go. It’s so sad that The White Stripes are no more. I saw them 5 or 6 times and they are among the best shows I have ever seen by anyone. The last time was at the Grand Opera House is Wilmington, DE in 2007. Everyone who was there probably counts it as the best show they have ever been to by any band. It was really that special. The Shins were just ok the 2 times I saw them. FJM was pure magic.
Ok, I will stop because I want to make a Top Ten Best Concerts of my Life list. And the Ten Worst. Man, I love geeking out with my lists!!!!