Every now and then I get taken back to the past. It’s usually a song or a sight or a smell that does this to me and sometimes it’s not too comfortable an experience. Let’s face it we all have those moments, times, places that we would rather imagine did not happen. The human brain is incredible at editing itself at so we appear more noble than we really are. We can’t make ourselves taller or more attractive but we can certainly make ourselves appear to have made better choices than we really have in reality. This week it was a happy place I went to and all because of a Neil Young concert I remembered.
It began as an attempt to justify spending upwards of $300 to go see Neil Young in Seattle. Now don’t get me wrong I could easily justify this for myself, my wife however has a different view of our personal finances. I saw this as an opportunity to increase our memory bank of incredible memories, she says it as less cash to allow us to actually eat this week. I then went through a deep sadness about this, to get myself out of it I reminded myself that Crazy Horse may be one of the worst bands in history, I’ve seen Neil Young countless times and missing this tour won’t be so bad. The reality was I was crushed, I have just finished the memoir, I am in an obsessive phase about Neil Young and why can’t my wife, life partner understand how important this it to me. Well the truth is she does but practicalities like feeding our children are more important to her.
To make myself feel better I opened dimeadozen to see how the tour was going and there were two shows from 1999 sitting there. Neil Young live solo at the Arlene Schnitzer concert hall in Portland Oregon. I went to one of these for my birthday that March, it was the second show on the 9th. It has from that day forward stood out as the most amazing concert I ever went to. I clicked download and watched little green bars fill up. Then fear set in, would it be as good as I remembered? These things are often greater in our memory than reality. This show has stood in my memory as the standard by which all other shows have been judged. Neil prowling the stage picking up guitars. banjo’s and playing the piano, telling stories laughing, losing the thread and then playing Last Trip To Tulsa. I looked at the track list, yes Last Trip was there as was Old King, Albuquerque and Pocahontas and so many other classics.
Finally it downloaded, time to listen. I waited two days in the end, maybe it was a rotten recording after all.
When i did get up the nerve it was in the jeep during a torrential rain storm driving north on I5. Suddenly I was 13 years younger sitting on the edge of Row G at the Schnitzer holding Michelle’s hand and holding my breath as a musical hero stalked onto the stage, flannels, scruffy hat and battered guitars. I remember crying on the night, and I cried in the car as the rain beat down and suddenly all was well with the world. From the first note of Tell Me Why, the rambling story about Elvis the dog, the pump organ on After the Gold Rush, Old Man and Pocahontas it was all there exactly as I remember it. It is energizing when our memory and reality coincide, it is also good when what we remember was the truth.
People have conflicting thoughts on bootlegs, maybe it is stealing from the artist, maybe it’s the new radio, I know I spend way too much on albums every week and own everything this man has released, the good, the bad and the ugly but I want to thank the taper who took me back to that wonderful show in 1999 and let me relive the past and made it a little more bearable that I will miss the Crazy Horse show, but I do get to buy Psychedelic Pill next week.
I also get to go see Robyn Hitchcock next week so all is good in the world. Robyn may not be as great as Neil Young but he is definitely an original. But more of that later maybe.
The listening this week:
Well Neil Young March 9-1999 and March 8-1999
Talking heads- Remain In Light
Flaming Lips-The Soft Bulletin