Leader of the hacks

Toasting and roasting Steve Morse
By JON GARELICK  |  January 17, 2006

I didn’t stick around long enough to see whether U2 played, but I did catch a good chunk of the “Steve Morse Review” at the Paradise on January 9. In case you missed it, this was a chance for the “local music scene” to thank the exited senior Globe pop-music critic for holding down the most tit job in town for 30 years. Organized as a kind of toast/roast by the Don Law/Tea Party Concerts/Clear Channel folks and freelancer Tom Kielty, the “Review” of Steve attracted the usual invite-only list of aging who’s-whos and smatterings of youthful rock-and-roll hoodlums. Don Law Himself gave a keynote speech (only funny line: a mention of Morse’s “prematurely black hair”) before turning the event over to his top capo, Dave Marsden. Then there was a string of sometimes sorta funny tributes that weren’t nearly as biting as they could have been. Come on, guys — the dude no longer has any power: roast him, for fuck’s sake.

Everyone pretended that the reason Steve got all that “exclusive access” was because he is probably the greatest rock-and-roll journalist who ever lived. It seems no one noticed that he was the critic for the Boston Globe. As in: Boston’s only daily paper that matters.

Whatever. Give the guy his props. In his thank-you address, Steve himself estimated he went to about 250 shows a year — “300 when I was between marriages.” And God bless him for that. Peter Wolf poignantly remembered the good ol’ days of the Boston scene when he and Morse and, apparently, Van Morrison, whooped it up and “threw up on each other.” Then he read the lyrics of his “Cold Heart of the Stone.”

The Laws actually gave Morse his two aisle seats from the Orpheum and Great Woods/Tweeter Center. As Steve sat in the Great Woods/Tweeter chair stage left, long-time Tea Party ticket manager Paul MacDonald said he was glad that Steve would no longer be on “the Don Law payroll” and did a Bono routine in a “Bono jacket” (black, fringed), “Bono hat” (black cowboy), and “Bono glasses” (amber-tinted ski goggles — the Fly, get it?) and sang . . . “Nobody Does It Better.” Former Herald music writer Dean Johnson gave Steve a framed yellow legal pad and made a big deal of tipping his hat to his rival — that hat dramatically revealed to be a . . . Woodstock tie-dye baseball cap! Which he tipped and then walked off stage with! (Wasn’t he supposed to give it to Steve? Get us rewrite.)

There were video tributes from Steven Tyler/Joe Perry and Jimmy Buffett, e-mails from James Taylor and Bruce Springsteen and Billy Fucking Joel. Perhaps the best phoned-in tribute was from former Don Law booker Jodie Goodman (now working for Clear Channel in San Francisco), who appeared on the video screen in a still photograph, déshabille in bedclothes, bare shoulders exposed, as her recorded voice thanked Steve since “I only had to sleep with you twice” and “You never hit on my girlfriends . . . unless you were drunk.”

Everyone listed as many shows he or she could think of that Steve saw, and Steve ran down the list of Paradise shows: U2, the Police, Tom Petty, the Pretenders, Warren Zevon, Elvis Costello, and on and on. Steve was clearly touched, thanking fellow Globies and telling us to be nice to Joan Anderman (his heir apparent). When he started thanking the “late-night spots” — Dunkin’ Donuts, White Hen, and Hi-Fi Pizza — we figured it was time to leave.


longer version of this article first appeared on ThePhoenix.com's music blog, On the Download.

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