Thursday, August 6, 2009

GMVW # 83: "Night School"

Gem Music Video of the Week # 83:  Night School
Song:  Memory Motel by The Rolling Stones
(Songwriters: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards)
August 6, 2009

It was a picture-perfect summer afternoon on a middle-of-the-work-week day in 1989.  This I am sure of.  Dad walked into Jen and Dale’s home and appeared to be somewhat perplexed.  He may have even rubbed his eyes while doing a double take at the clock and calendar.  Was the scene that unfolded in front of him an aberration? 

The house had been overtaken by revelers.  Rock music was blaring on the stereo.  Wasn’t everyone supposed to be working?  After all, many at the party were several years out of college.  The economy wasn’t that bad, was it?  Out on the deck a line of people: Was this a modern day version of the depression era soup kitchens?  I guess that would depend on ones perspective, because this was a beer line.  What was going on? There was only one answer:  We were all a bunch of flunkies! All that college tuition down the tubes!

I filled Dad in: Serious Rock and Roll was to be played that evening at Foxboro Stadium in the form of The Who. This was a certified big event, and everyone had taken the afternoon off from their respective jobs.  Now I’m just guessing, but Dad may have right then and there absorbed just how powerful of a hold Rock music had on our generation at that time.  It was a unifying moment.  Who knew it was fleeting (I guess in some ways we all did).

Many of my fondest memories are of going to concerts with friends and family.  Often, it’s not just the concert, but also the pre-show build-up that comes to mind.  Concert events have always been a great opportunity to reconnect and celebrate with like music minds.  Concert attendance started for me with a Rush show at the Providence Civic Center in 1978.  I believe Pete, Mac, Jeff and Dave were all there for that one.  Next up was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at a small Worcester theater with Matt Garrity the same year. 

The flood gates opened up after that, and so did the memories.  Several shows have already been discussed: the Foxboro trifecta in 1983 (Gem # 36-38); Ray Davies at the Westbeth Theater in New York City with Mac in 1997 (Gem # 17); The Band with Nancy on New Years Eve in 1994 (Gem # 19), The Who performing Quadrophenia at Madison Square Garden with Nancy, Kurt, Becca, Dave and Mac in 1996 (Gem # 22); Lou Reed at the Orpheum with Mac, Dave, Becca (Gem # 54). 

But there was so much more, including (off the top of my head) REM with Pat at Great Woods; Jonathan Richman in Montreal with Fred and Mac; Arlo Guthrie at the Old Vienna with Nancy and Jeff; 10,000 Maniacs at Great Woods with Mac; Joe Jackson on the Boston Common with Joe; Elvis Costello at the Cape Cod Coliseum with Mac; The Who in Buffalo with many rowdy Canadians; Ronnie Wood in Kenmore Square with Nancy and Mac; Eric Clapton in Providence with Nancy and Dave; Richard Thompson at the Somerville Theater with Fred;  Richie Havens in Lowell with Nancy; The Pogues at the Orpheum with Phil and Mac; Pete Townshend at Harbor Lights with Dave, Becca, and Mac; Van Morrison at the Orpheum with Nancy, Kip, and Fred; Roger Daltrey at the Orpheum with Mac and Bouv; Neil Young and Crazy Horse at Great Woods with Bouv; John Entwistle at Mama Kins with Mac; and the recent Leonard Cohen show at the Shubert Theatre with Nancy.  There were also several fantastic Grateful Dead concerts and numerous other Who, Jonathan Richman, and Neil Young events.  Many other shows come to mind.

Music Festivals have been huge as well.  There was the overnighter at Buck Steep Manor and other big events in Burlington VT, North Adams MA, Amherst MA, Wachusett Mountain Resort, Ottawa, Tanglewood, Southern Rhode Island, UMass Boston, Lowell, Newport RI, and Craftsbury VT.  All are reflected on fondly.

And then there are the Rolling Stones shows.  There’s something about Stones concerts that makes the actual event much larger than the band itself.  There’s so much history there, and the music spans many generations. The crowd is always very diverse, and most know their stuff. They are true fans, which contributes to the charged atmosphere. The band has so many solid songs in their catalog, that they can do no wrong when putting together a set list.  I’ve seen them 4 times, and it’s always a momentous occasion.

As mentioned for Gem # 41, the Rolling Stones are the only band I’ve seen that has truly mastered the large outdoor football stadiums (I hear U2 are pretty good on the big stage as well).  Other bands are at their best at places that range in size from a small night club to an indoor arena.  The Stones can be at their best at any location, and this includes the largest of venues.  They’ve figured out how to connect with the crowd, and have done so in a number of creative ways, including: Using a walking bridge to a smaller stage in the middle of the field, where they perform 3-4 songs; designing stage wings that extend far to the left and right of the stage for Jagger and Co. to strut out on; touring with top-of-the-line audio and video equipment and maximizing on it’s use; using multi-level platforms; unveiling outrageous stage props half way through a show; and launching fire works to wrap things up.  Mostly though, they are true professionals who give you a great show despite their well-acted devil-may-care reputation.

Attending most of these shows with me over the years have been fellow Stones enthusiasts, Amy and Paul.  Nothing is better than going to a show with someone who is in the moment, and both Amy and Paul have fulfilled this role each and every time.  There’s no discussion of work or other mundane topics.  It’s all Stones most all the time (there has to be some room for small talk).  So, by the time the band takes the stage, I’m primed.

One great thing about Stones shows is that the band has always recognized their influences.  Their shows have included guest appearances by the likes of Muddy Waters, BB King, and John Lee Hooker, and they often cover old blues songs such as ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘I’m a Man’.

Gem Music Video of the Week is a Citarell favorite (and mine): ‘Memory Motel’.  This live version includes a guest appearance by Dave Mathews.  Keith Richards adds his part to the lead vocals (“She’s got a mind of her own, and she uses it well, yeahhh”).  The next link after the Gem video is a live version of ‘Monkey Man’, another favorite.  It was during the performance of this song in Foxboro, that the band seemed to pull off a magic trick, sucking the air out of the stadium through the speakers as the mid-song guitar playing of Ronnie Wood transitioned to that great roller-coaster-like sound you hear from that point on.  At least it seemed like a magic trick. Maybe it was the Rumple Minze. Below Monkey Man is a made-for-MTV-type video of ‘Worried About You’ from the ‘TattooYou’ album.

Thanks to all who have enjoyed live music with me over the years.  It’s been a “Gas, gas, gas!”  Hopefully there are plenty of more opportunities on the horizon.

- Pete

Gem Music Video: Memory Motel

Monkey Man

Worried About You

About the Video: Live with Dave Mathews (2003?)

Video Rating: 1.5 (There may not be a better version, however)

Best Feedback: Paul

Nice pickens Pete!  Yes - that show at Foxboro was "memorable" - we even named our dog Hanna after that song and of course Amy and I visited the Memory motel out in Montauk  a few years ago -- We have to go to another show soon!  You have now made up for the Bill Clinton post card that I received in my mail box last week.  To think that there would be a day that I would actually say "I would rather have Bill (or Hillary!) Clinton in the White House" is mind boggling but true!  (lets not go down that path right now)  BTW - the post card did make it on to the dart board - I have never had so many bulls eyes! 
My Reply:
Postcard?  What postcard?

I'm not sure if this is related, but when I was in Little Rock, we swung by the Clinton Presidential Library and saw that they were adding a "Citarell Wing".  Someone mentioned the amazing generosity of donations for the library from the Northeast.

- Pete

And: Jeff

Thanks, Pete.  The Mose Allison show has go me all in a kink, but I am not gong to miss it being so close to home and all.  I had hoped to ride bike up there for the weekend, but now will, at best, have to drive quickly Sunday mornin to get up there in time and then just head back home that night.  not even sure if I will make it, but the confluence of the Kennedys and Gandalf together at a show is always a hoot, not to mention Gorka.  Tell Gardner, Leslie or anyone else who is still interested in going out and hearing some excellent music.

My first shows in high school had little to do with what I really ended up liking over time.  But they were some of what I was into at the time, and being out in boonies, didn't get to see some of the much more intense stuff only 80 to 200 mi away.  Nevertheless, I saw a killer James Gang show in a little auditorium around 71, and prior to that, Sly & the Family Stone, Steppenwolf, Zappa, and I think Emerson, Lake and Palmer. although the latter may have been later along, but back in Harrisburg where I saw some of the others.

The big deal was a local band playing every Sunday night in a little field house in Hamburg (PA not GE!).  They did a little bit of their own stuff but mostly great authentic covers of Hendrix, Ten Years After, Spooky Tooth, CTA era Chicago, and the best version of Just Like a Woman I have ever heard, to this day.  The scene there was our own little pure hippie culture, with Steam Machine.

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