“Did Dylan get up there?” asks Michael Moynihan. “I mean, I can see Harrison doing it.”
Michael and Matt Welch have just finished taping an episode of the Fifth Column podcast and I’m telling them a story of how, in 1987, I saw Taj Mahal at tiny western bar on Lankershim Boulevard, how Bob Dylan, George Harrison and John Fogerty had been standing at the bar. What was the name of that club again?
“The Palomino,” says Matt.
Right, and I tell Michael that Dylan did get up up there; they all got on a stage the size of the rug in my living room, where we are currently sitting, working through a bottle of really good bourbon sent by a Fifth Column fan, and that the thing I remember most is when Fogerty, who’d been barred because of some Creedence Clearwater Revival legal thing from singing his old songs, said, “Fuck it,” and sang them, and they all sang along.
Michael asks if we’ve seen the video of the Stones busting in on Muddy Waters playing a club in Chicago in 1981. Have not. He pulls it up on YouTube and, oh my god, Mick’s hair, Matt should grow his like that…
"So good," he says, and we watch the Stones and entourage, all skinny bodies and egret hair, wedge themselves into a front table. The club-goers are maybe less bananas that I’d expect them to be at the Stones walking in, but their reaction is bigger than that of a waitress with what look like curlers in her hair, whose attitude seems to be, I’m trying to lay down some drinks here!
“Mick JEK-ka! Let’s get Mick JEK-ka up hea!” says Waters, and up goes Mick, it takes exactly two sentences of “Baby Please Don’t Go” before he is cock-strutting and dueting with Waters, who then shouts, “What about Keith?” And Keith -- vest, cigarette, eyeliner -- climbs on top of the table, gives the be-curled waitress a hug, and gets onstage. A guitar player with a complexion like a boiled fish lays down his guitar – there’s no chance of sharing – but Keith is handed a different one and proceeds to absolutely smoke it. And the “whoa!” on Waters’ face, you cannot miss it, the man is impressed, they all are, they know how good it is to be here, and here comes Ron Wood in his shirtsleeves, and they all just burn it down.
“So, fucking, good,” Michael says, and he’s cuing up the Replacements, cuing up Pavement, this is Fifth post-game and the reason why taping nights sometimes run until three am.
And then we are talking about Glen Campbell, we are all longtime and forever fans, “Wichita Lineman” and “Galveston” and “Rhinestone Cowboy” are, I promise you, good things to wake up to, and someone says something about, if you don’t believe there’s a thing called Americana, you only have to look at Campbell, that there is no place he could have come from but here. And Michael cues up “Ghost on the Canvas,” which Campbell recorded in 2012, when he was already suffering with Alzheimer’s; he would enter long-term care soon after and die of the disease five years later. But in the video, he is shining, he is a shining man whose milky-blue eyes stare right into the camera and also, are seeing past it.
“I know a place between, life and death for you and me,” he sings, and between shots of starbursts and pinwheels and Campbell’s hipster band, there is Paul Westerberg, watching Campbell on an old black & white TV, and then trying to hang canvases with portraits of Johnny Cash, of Buck Owens, of Campbell. What can you do, to hold on to the people who mean so much to you? If you are Westerberg, you write a love song for Glen Campbell, who sings it for you.
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Love those kinds of nights.
Good stuff, Nancy. Just really cool stuff. Have a great Thanksgiving.