Tag Archives: Elvis Presley

A Concert Full of Pet Peeves

15 Jun

Many of you know that I am a concert fanatic. The genre of music does not really matter. I just like to hear it live. Through the years, this fanaticism has created a lot of experiences. Great concerts. Bad concerts. Great venues. Bad venues. This, by no means, makes me a concert expert. However, I know a bad one when I see one. Heck, I even wrote an open letter to Madonna about the disaster that she called a concert.

I write all of that to write the following. This week, my wife and I saw a bad concert. In fact, it hit on a bunch of our concert pet peeves.

Ann Wilson of Heart was the performer. Actually, that is what the ticket said. Ann Wilson of Heart. While that was technically true, the ticket was sort of false advertising. More on that in a minute, we have to get to the list of badness.

The “We Love You” Fans – Everyone gets excited for concerts, and this excitement grows when the performer is one of your all time favorites. I understand this. Heck, that is why I like concerts. However, I have never yelled “We Love You” to a performer.

Here is how it usually goes. A song is over. The performer takes time to talk to the audience. Then it happens. “We Love You, Ann Wilson!” Some performers respond. Some performers ignore it. I am not sure which approach is best, but Ann Wilson chose the second option. The woman behind us could not get enough, and yelled it consistently throughout the show.

What causes people to do this? Once may be fine. You are expressing your adoration. You want the performer to know how much you care and how happy you are that they chose your city for a concert. However, the continuation has to mean something else. It has to mean that the “We Love You” person wants the performer to acknowledge them. Say “I Love You, Too” and let that person know that they care just as much.

It could mean that they want a personal connection. This performer is an important part of their existence, and they want to be a part of the performer’s existence. There should be a psychological study on the “We Love You” people. No matter the psychosis, please stop yelling. Ann knows you love her. We know you love her. Guess what, none of us care. Just listen to the music.

Wait, the music. That is the next pet peeve that this concert was able to accomplish.

Play the Jukebox – Several years ago, I saw Elton John in concert. After playing a few new songs, he told the crowd not to worry. He was going to play the jukebox. He meant that he was going to play all of the old hits that made him famous. Those were the same hits that people bought tickets to hear.

I know that performers want to stay creative. They want to show people that they can still produce great stuff. However, they need to understand that people want to hear the old songs. They want the music to take them back in time. Ann Wilson does not understand this. Over a two-hour show, she sang three songs from Heart. Those songs would have gotten people out of their seats. Instead, they sat there and listened to songs that they did not want to hear. Even the “We Love You” crowd just sat in their chairs.

Here is another weird thing. She did not sing that many new songs. She sang a bunch of old songs that other people recorded. Elvis Presley. Jimi Hendrix. The Who. Buffalo Springfield. This list goes on and on. Hey Ann, if you are going to sing old songs, then you may as well sing your own. I left there thinking that she has created a glorified cover band.

Ann Wilson has a great voice, and she showed it off. However, we wanted to hear that voice sing songs like:

“Magic Man”

“Dog and Butterfly”

“Dreamboat Annie”

Other songs can be sprinkled in, but the songs that made her famous should have been at the heart (pun intended) of the show. As I wrote earlier, the ticket said Ann Wilson of Heart. It did not say Ann Wilson Who Is Trying To Separate Herself From What Made Her Famous.

Although, I did notice a trend in some of the songs she chose, and that leads me to the next pet peeve.

Politics on Stage – I go to concerts to be entertained. I go to concerts to escape the world for a while. This means escaping politics. However, Ann Wilson wanted to get political. She started talking about the political landscape and how she wanted to relieve us of our confusion. That is really not her role. Her role is to sing “Barracuda.”

Instead, she sang protest songs from the late 1960s and early 1970s and was subliminally telling us how relevant they are today.

I teach a class on the History of Rock and understand that artists have always wanted to make statements with many of their songs. However, I do not need an aging rocker telling me how I should feel about politics. I have seen Ted Nugent in concert and did not want to hear it from him. Now, I have seen Ann Wilson in concert and did not want to hear it from her.

If I want to hear about politics, then I can get on Twitter or turn on some news channel. When I go to a concert, I do not want to hear someone’s opinion that is no more important than my own. I want to hear some great music.

I did not yell my advice to the stage in between the “We Love You” shouts. However, I will give it now. Ann Wilson should understand that she will always be Ann Wilson of Heart and people purchase tickets to hear those songs. If she did, then maybe the venue would actually be full. Oh yeah, those people yelling “We Love You” would probably love you more.

Things I Think

25 Mar

I think…

the speed limit means that you can actually go that speed.

cracks in concrete are canyons for ants.

Escape from New York is the best movie Kurt Russell ever made.

the Jessi Colter and Waylon Jennings version of “Suspicious Minds” is almost as good as the Elvis version.

the iPhone is the most addictive drug in the world.

that only rocks live forever.

the Freedom of Speech is under attack from people who only want to what they want to hear.

more people need to like history.

John Wayne and Clint Eastwood should have made a Western together.

people who are famous for no reason should lose their fame immediately.

people who throw chewing gum on the ground should have chewing gum stuck on them.

trees communicate with each other.

a remake of Escape from New York is a bad idea.

married life is a great life.

football, my favorite sport to watch, will one day be banned.

truffled macaroni and cheese is terrible.

I need to buy more vinyl.

reality television is the worst form of entertainment ever invented.

chairs are better than couches.

blogging is awesome.

 

Bad Football and a Musical Complaint

7 Nov

Lately, I have watched some bad football. The Tennessee Titans leave a lot of be desired. The season of the Tennessee Volunteers has gone from great promise to a quagmire. I am also reading a book about an infamous game in the history of Cumberland University. For those who do not know, our school lost to Georgia Tech 222-0. It is the biggest defeat in the history of college football.

Sam Hatcher, who I have known for years, wrote a book to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the game. Heisman’s First Trophy: The Game that Launched Football in the South is an interesting read that provides a great story of the game. I would recommend it to anyone. Some of it is fictionalized, but the heart of the story remains true.heisman-book

I have been surrounded by bad football, but I have also witnessed some bad halftime performances. The University of Tennessee Marching Band is known as the Pride of the Southland, and they have been performing something called the “Circle Drill” for 50 years. I know that because they announced  that this year is the 50th anniversary of the routine. Certainly, it is a difficult marching formation to perform, but I have one request.

PLAY SOME NEW SONGS!

I have been watching the “Circle Drill” for 42 of the 50 years that it has been in existence, and they have played the same songs the entire time. I can even recite the announcer’s script.

They do a musical tour of Tennessee by starting out in Memphis. That is when they play Elvis Presley’s “signature” tune “C.C. Rider.” Then, they go to Chattanooga with “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” Next is a visit to Nashville with “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” They end up in Knoxville with “Rocky Top,” the school’s unofficial fight song.

I understand “Rocky Top.” It fires up the crowd and needs to be played. However, it is time to spruce up the rest of the collection. Tennessee is one of the most musical places around. I know they can do better.

First, “C.C. Rider” is not the “signature” song of Elvis Presley. I guarantee that if you ask anyone to name and Elvis song that one would not be mentioned. I would choose “Hound Dog.” Here is the other thing. Elvis was not the only creator of songs in Memphis. What about doing a Tina Turner songs? Or an Isaac Hayes song? What about a Blues classic or something from Stax Records?

I know that “Chattanooga Choo Choo” is an obvious selection for Chattanooga. However, they could throw the crowd a curve with “Chattanooga City Limit Sign” by Johnny Cash. How about “Lookout Mountain” by Drive-By Truckers?

Nashville, otherwise known as Music City, is home to hundreds of artists and thousands of songs. I think they can find a new one. “Nashville Cats” by The Lovin’ Spoonful would be a great pick. Heck, they could shock the world by playing a Jimi Hendrix tune. It would work since he spent his early days in the clubs on Nashville’s Jefferson Street. I cannot even do this paragraph justice. There are so many songs to play that they could close their eyes and pick one out of a songbook.

Better yet, they could get the band from Tennessee State University to do the “Circle Drill.” I know the Aristocrat of Bands and the Sophisticated Ladies could circle it up.

Four Corners – The Grand Canyon

28 Aug

Wow, a lot has happened since the last post about our Four Corners adventure. School started. I had to get a root canal. It has been an eventful series of days, but it is not time to write about our day at the Grand Canyon.

The day began at the hotel’s continental breakfast, but this was like no other continental breakfast. First, it was packed with people. Second, most of those people did not live on this continent. From the time that we arrived at the Grand Canyon, we noticed that people were speaking a myriad of languages. I tried to keep track with how many but lost count. All I know is that people were from all over the world.

This brings me to another point. I have always said that the Grand Canyon is something that everyone should see if they get the chance, and we were surrounded by people who traveled from around the world to see it. However, there are people in the United States who will not go. I understand that not everyone can afford it. I am writing about the people who do not go because they are too focused on going to the beach and eating shrimp cocktail while drinking a margarita. This is a great country with a lot of great places to visit, but people keep going to the same old places. A ton of people followed our trip on Facebook and talked about how fun it looked. They talked about how they would love to do something like that. Well, you cannot see the Grand Canyon in the panhandle of Florida.

Alright, my rant is over. Now, it is time to get on with the fun. On this morning, we had plans to do something that I had always wanted to do. We flew in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon. I think everyone was nervous, but it could not have been a better experience. As we flew to the canyon, music played in our headphones. We had a feeling that we were close when they starting playing the music from 2001: A Space Odyssey. You know, the same music that Elvis used to come on stage with. Then, the land under us disappeared.

We got some great pictures.

Like this one.image-45

And this one.image-46

And this one.image-47

However, this is my favorite.image-44

After the helicopter ride, we went to the National Geographic Visitors Center and watched an IMAX movie about the history of the Grand Canyon. Then, we drove to the edge of the canyon to buy souvenirs and take more selfies.

Then, we went back to the hotel to relax and get ready for dinner. Not much happened in the afternoon, but I had an interesting experience in the hotel lobby.

I made myself ready for dinner and left the room to let the ladies get ready. I went to the lobby to read the newspaper and play on my phone. It was not as rushed as it was during breakfast, but there were people arriving to claim their rooms for the evening. There were two people, an African American man and an African American woman, working the desk.

Suddenly, a Japanese woman walked in and asked if they had a room available. Both desk clerks immediately said no. The lady left. A few minutes later, a tired and haggard white guy walked in. With his American accent, he said something like, “I guess you guys don’t have a room.” The lady said that she would look. She got on the computer and found a room for him.

Our nation is filled with racism. If we think that it is no longer a problem, then we can turn on the television for a reminder. In that lobby, I learned that racism can come in different forms. We, as Americans, can be racist in situations that I never realized. The Japanese woman was sent away without a thought. The white American was taken care of.

After that bit of enlightenment, we went to dinner at El Tovar, one of the Grand Canyon lodges.image-48

It was a great meal and a great way to end our day at the Grand Canyon.

 

 

Live and In Person

31 Jan

Listening to music is one of my favorite pastimes. Cranking of the radio and letting the sound fill the air is a great pleasure. It is truly pleasurable when that music is of the Rock variety. However, listening to live music is more enjoyable. I have been lucky enough to attend many concerts, and there is nothing like being in a room filled with people and hearing a performer sing a great song.image-6

The other day, I was at the magazine rack when I spotted something called 101 Greatest American Rock Songs. With a title like that, how could I not buy it? The magazine offers an interesting list with stories about each one. As I read through it, a question entered my mind.

How many of these songs have I heard in a live setting? In Nashville, we hear a bunch of songs being covered by bar bands. My real question was trickier. How many of these songs have I heard performed by their actual performers in a live setting?

Here is the answer.

98. “When Doves Cry” by Prince

97. “Legs” by ZZ Top

95. “All Shook Up” by Elvis Presley

94. “Lay, Lady, Lay” by Bob Dylan

92. “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” by Meatloaf

84. “Jackie Brown” by John Mellencamp

82. “Black Magic Woman” by Santana

72. “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan

64. “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper

62. “Rock and Roll All Nite” by Kiss

60. “Tangled Up in Blue” by Bob Dylan

51. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses

48. “Bye Bye Love” by The Everly Brothers

46. “Dream On” by Aerosmith

36. “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar

32. “All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan

31. “One of These Nights” by The Eagles

29. “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

27. “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan

24. “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

23. “Enter Sandman” by Metallica

22. “Atlantic City” by Bruce Springsteen

18. “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith

10. “In the Ghetto” by Elvis Presley

9. “Hotel California” by The Eagles

5. “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

3. “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen

2. “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan

I have been lucky enough to hear 28 out of 101 in a live setting, and, by looking at the list, I am afraid that I will not be able to add many more.

An Open Letter To Madonna

20 Jan

Dear Madonna,

Last night, we attended your concert in Nashville. Actually, we attended part of your concert in Nashville. The announced starting time was 8:00, and you did not take the stage until 10:30. As someone who has attended numerous concerts, I understand that 8:00 does not mean 8:00. However, it does not usually mean a two-and-a-half hour wait.

Justin Timberlake started at a reasonable time, and he is one of the biggest stars on the planet.

Taylor Swift started at a reasonable time, and she is one of the biggest stars on the planet.

The Rolling Stones started at a reasonable time, and they are one of the greatest Rock bands of all time.

U2 started at a reasonable time, and they are one of the greatest Rock bands of all time.

Elvis, another one of those performers who everyone knows by one name, started at a reasonable time. You call yourself the queen, but everyone called him the King.Rebel Heart

You should understand that it is no longer the 1980s. Your fans are not teenagers. There were a few people wearing leashes, but most of the people in my section looked to be in their 40s and 50s. Most assuredly, they had to get to work the next day. They wanted to have a good time, but they would have liked to have gotten home at a decent time.

You might want to think about this on a more personal level. You are no longer a spring chicken. Plastic surgery and makeup are wonderful things, but I think you could use some beauty sleep.

The part of the concert that we saw was well done. Your band was solid. The stage and props were cool. Your dancers were awesome. You sang and danced well for someone at this point in your career. However, I am not sure you realize what point that is.

You are no longer a cutting edge performer. Except for a few collaborations, you are no longer a hit-making machine. Your success comes from people who buy tickets to your concerts to hear the songs of their youth. This means that they want to hear those songs in their original formats. Elton John calls it the jukebox, and I have heard him say that he is happy to play them. You should take note from Sir Elton and his ability to connect with his fans.

Before the concert, we read that you had some problems in Louisville. You started three hours late, and many people thought you were drunk on stage. After a situation like that, I assumed that you would want to make amends at our show. I was wrong in that assumption. You chose to be unprofessional and start late once again.

Here is a suggestion. If you are not going to play until 10:30, then announce that the concert will start at 9:30. That will prepare everyone for what will happen.

I will give you credit on one thing. You were not drunk on stage. No one could go through that type of choreography and be toasted at the same time. However, I understand why the people in Louisville came to that conclusion. The part of the concert where you banter with the crowd was odd.

You spoke with a fake southern accent, which was worse than your fake British accent. On top of that, it was condescending to your audience. I understand that we are not from a cultured place like Detroit, but we are not hillbillies. We wear shoes, and they sometimes match our leashes. We have teeth, and we do not marry our cousins that often.

You also talked about how you usually wear little clothing and mentioned something about how everyone wants to see you naked. People have not wanted to see you naked since the Reagan administration. Although, I understand that sexuality is part of your act.

Here is another suggestion. Leave the sensuality up to your dancers. They oozed it during the stripping nun routine. While I am on the subject of stripping nuns, I need to say something about your need to have a shock factor.

The bed routine was a nice touch. Having same-sex couples and a topless dancer was interesting. However, it was far from the most shocking thing I have ever seen at a concert. This is a family blog, and I will not go into details. Just know that you need to talk to Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee and the rest of Motley Crue. They know how to shock, and they know how to do it at a decent hour.

You also talked about how your job is to create art and change the world. Actually, that is not true. If you want to use your fortune for great causes, then that is commendable. However, your job is to entertain. In my mind, you, like a great many other performers, are well-paid organ grinder monkeys. Your job is to make the audience happy, and I assure you that many in your audience were not happy.

We left not long after your speech, but we were far from the first ones to leave. That does not count the man behind us who was asleep. Even the drunkest revelers and your biggest fans were fading away.

Odds are that you will never read this, but one of your staff members may stumble upon it while looking for concert reactions. In case that happens, I have a final suggestion.

Respect your audience. During your banter, you mentioned that you are famous. It took a lot of hard work to get where you are, but you are famous because the audience deems you to be. That means that we deserve your respect and should not have to wait for hours to bask in your presence.

In closing, you are a star, but you are not as big a star as you were. You were Madonna. Now, you are Prima Donna. There will come a time when you are just Donna.

I have attended dozens of memorable concerts. Several of those performers I have seen more than once. Rest assured, your concert will be memorable for all the wrong reasons, and I will not be seeing you a second time. For someone with your wealth that probably does not matter. However, that wealth relies heavily on ticket sales. If enough people go away angered, then it may begin to matter.

Sincerely,

Rick

An Ode to Frank Sinatra

12 Dec

The other night, I watched a television special honoring the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra. It had several people who should never sing a Sinatra song doing exactly what they should never do. There were also some people who did the music justice.

Anyway, the show made me think about Frank Sinatra and how I wished I had seen him in concert. My parents saw him perform in Las Vegas. They have not attended many concerts, but they saw Sinatra and Elvis Presley. When you have seen two of the biggest stars of all time, I guess there is no point is seeing anyone else.Frank Sinatra

Despite not seeing Frank Sinatra in person, he is one of my favorite performers. However, I like some of his stuff better than others.

“It Was a Very Good Year” is my favorite Sinatra song. For as long as I remember, the lyrics have struck me on a deep level.

When I was seventeen, it was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls
And soft summer nights
We’d hide from the lights
On the village green
When I was seventeen

When I was twenty-one, it was a very good year
It was a very good year for city girls
Who lived up the stairs
With all that perfumed hair
That came undone
When I was twenty-one

When I was thirty-five, it was a very good year
It was a very good year for blue-blooded girls
Of independent means
We’d ride in limousines
Their chauffeurs would drive
When I was thirty-five

But now the days are short, I’m in the autumn of my years
And I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs
It poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year

Tony Rome is my favorite Frank Sinatra movie. It is even included in my Sinatra version of Movie Wisdom. He plays a Miami private detective who lives on a boat and has issues with gambling. Basically, it is Sinatra having a good time. Nancy Sinatra sings the theme song, and Rocky Graziano makes a cameo appearance.

Dean Martin is my favorite Frank Sinatra pal.Dean Martin

As a famed member of the Rat Pack, he was, in my opinion, one of the few performers who could go toe-to-toe with Sinatra. He was a singer and an actor. He could handle Westerns, Drama and Comedy.

Ava Gardner is my favorite Frank Sinatra wife.Ava

I mean, how can you not like Ava Gardner? She was one of the great Hollywood starlets. I just never could figure out why she married Mickey Rooney.

Anyway, that is my ode to the Chairman of the Board Frank Sinatra. Otherwise known as Ol’ Blue Eyes.