Loose Ends

By JON LANDAU  |  May 19, 2006

But in those days, I didn’t see myself as a critic ­— the writing was just another extension of an all-encompassing obsession. It carried over to my love for live music, which I cared for even more than the records. I went to the Club 47 three times a week and then hunted down the rock shows — which weren’t so easy to find because they weren’t all conveniently located at downtown theatres. I flipped for the Animals’ two-hour show and Rindge Tech; the Rolling Stones, not just at Boston Garden, where they did the best half hour rock ‘n’ roll set I had ever seen, but at Lynn Football Stadium, where they started a riot; Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels overcoming the worst of performing conditions at Walpole Skating Rink; and the Beatles at Suffolk Down, plainly audible, beautiful to look at, and confirmation that we — and I — existed as a special body of people who understood the power and the glory of rock ‘n’ roll.

I lived those days with a sense of anticipation. I worked in Briggs & Briggs a few summers and would know when the next albums were coming: The disappointment when the new Stones was a day late, the exhilaration when Another Side of Bob Dylan showed up a week early. The thrill of turning on WBZ and hearing some strange sound, both beautiful and horrible, but that demanded to be heard again; it turned out to be “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” a record hat stands just behind “Reach Out I’ll Be There as means of musical catharsis.

My temperament being what it is, I often enjoyed hating as much as loving. That San Francisco shit corrupted the purity of the rock that I loved and I could have led a crusade against it. The Moby Grape moved me, but those songs about White Rabbits and hippie love made me laugh when they didn’t make me sick. I found more rock ‘n’ roll in the dubbed-in hysteria on the Rolling Stones Got Live if You Want It than on most San Francisco albums combined.

For every moment I remember there are a dozen I’ve forgotten, but I feel like they are with me on a night like this, a permanent part of my consciousness, a feeling lost on my mind but never on my soul. And then there are those individual experiences so transcendent that I can remember them as if they happened yesterday: Sam and Dave at the Soul Together at Madison Square Garden in 1967: every gesture, every movement, the order of the songs. I would give anything to hear them sing “When Something’s Wrong with My Baby” just the way they did that night.

The obsessions with Otis Redding, Jerry Butler, and B.B. King came a little bit later; each occupied six months of my time, while I digested every nuance of every album. Like the Byrds, I turn to them today and still find, when I least expect it, something new, something deeply felt, something that speaks to me.

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