It’s been a tough few years for legendary musicians. In recent years, we’ve lost David Bowie, Prince, Chuck Berry, Lemy, Glenn Frey to name a few. Some went way too young, while others just got old and did what old people do. Although the circumstances don’t really matter, it always sucks to see an artist you never got to see live in concert go down.
With all of these musicians kicking the bucket, it put me into overdrive. Musicians have always lived the “it’s better to burn out than to fade away” lifestyle, so the shelf life for these people isn’t always the best. Some people want to travel and see World Heritage Sites, others want to take a shit in every state. Me? I am making it a mission to see as many of the musical greats as possible. There is no methodology other than checking Ticketmaster and following bands to see which concerts I can swing.
I used to work with an interesting fellow. Jack was a session drummer, a DJ and a roadie that enjoyed the 70s and 80s too much which is why he was working at a golf course in his later years. When he wasn’t showing up drunk to work, Jack would regale me with stories of attending concerts that I’d trade my left nut to see. Led Zeppelin, The Grateful Dead, The Who, you name a classic band and Jack likely has seen and/or met them. He’d tell me stories of how he’d be so fucked up he couldn’t tell his head from his ass while doing every drug under the sun.
I feel like you can learn one thing from every person you meet in some form or another. Jack always told me, “Go see as much live music as you can, because the stories are great and you never know what will happen.” I never really thought about it until recently, but the man had some wisdom for an old burnout.
Imagine going to see Led Zeppelin right when Led Zeppelin IV hit. The months of anticipation for a new album, the tour that followed. The anticipation of walking down to the record. Today, while I love the internet, we are flooded with garbage. Anyone with a MacBook Pro can make “music.” The arts are being defunded like they stole something. Whatever happened to rock n’ roll? As someone that has played bass on and off for 15+ years, it is hard to appreciate these bullshit robot AOL dial-up noises that everyone seems to like. Pushing buttons and making beats is not music.
This past weekend, I went and saw Brian Wilson (the Beach Boy not the pitcher) for his 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds in Newark. Along with not dying in Newark, I got to see a living legend. The guy created one of the greatest albums of all time in Pet Sounds and he played it in its entirety. The album changed the way people thought about how music can be made and blazed trails for artists today. There’d be no Sgt. Peppers without him.
I took my mom and my woman to go see him. At the show, my mom ran into a friend and they chatted a bit. The friend asked what we young people were doing there (I bought the tickets) and remarked, “You’re lucky your son has good music taste. My kids listen to all that electronic stuff.” Mr. Wilson put on a wonderful concert. Baby Boomers were dancing like they were on the Ed Sullivan show and it was great sharing the moment with my mom.
Popular music of today just doesn’t do it for me. I couldn’t name you one Bieber song and when he came on the radio the other day, I genuinely thought it was a woman singing. That’s not to say great music isn’t being made right now, but it isn’t laid out on a silver platter like it used to be. You have to sift through hours of formulaic shit that has been boiled down to the lowest common denominator.
After writing for this site, I wanted to see what all the hullabaloo was about and tried to listen to the Chainsmokers. I’m not sure how you people do it but I wanted to take an awl to my ear drum. The worst part is, I can’t even say I’d see them if they were free because I have seen them for free; they played a show at my college a few years ago I attended and forgot about, but I do remember wishing for an asteroid impact.
So, I beseech you all: go see Roger Waters, go see Tom Petty, go see fucking Hall & Oates because they won’t be around forever (and they are touring this year). I had a blast drinking beers and making memories with my family, so if you’re looking for a Mother’s or Father’s Day present, there’s your idea. Get them concert tickets and go with them to see something from their youth. You’ll always regret the things you don’t do way more than anything else. .
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