For as long as I live, like it or not, I'll remember 10:28 am 9/11/06 like it was yesterday. I remember the roar and the sight of the giant radio antenna on the last of two towers standing disappearing into the massive clouds of gray smoke. I remember the emergency room personnel at St. Vincent's out in the street waiting for survivors that never came and the clouds of gritty smoke and 8 x 11 sheets of paper blowing up the streets of Brooklyn. And then I remember the jumpers, those who'd rather jump than burn.
As we all know, the focus of Stereophile's music section, and rightly so, is recorded music. But in my unsubtle opinion, music writers or just music fans who only listen to recorded music and never see anything performed live, are missing half the ballgame. If the only way you know a certain artist is through their records, then sorry to say, and yes, I know that not everyone lives in a city where they can see live music, you’re only getting half the story. I know critics who've been let go because they basically refused to go out to see live music. They were happy to stay homehey, no traffic, no lines, no fighting the elements, sounds good to meand listen to CDs or LPs. Unfortunately though, while they may have stayed comfy cozy at home, their opinions on music ended up having only a certain amount of value. The X factor about seeing music live versus hearing it on record is that often you have to see the music performed live to make any sense of the record. Though rare, it can also work in reverse as well: you have to listen to the record to make sense of a live show.
I love Bob Dylan: the man, the music, the whole enchilada. I even like the endless tour, (currently playing triple A ballparks), which he seems determined to continue on until, to use that famous line from Midnight Cowboy, he "dies on the stage."
One distinguishing mark of the "old" music business, i.e. the one before downloads, the one that made buckets of money, the one where half of my friends used to work, was that it was so big that folks on say, the classical side, had no idea who worked on the rock side. Even within the same company. They were different planets.
So there I am, sitting eating my lunch, watching the news on TV, waiting like the slavering dog that I am for more Mel goes Mad, when none other than Alice Cooper a.k.a. Vince Furnier, he of the large pearly whites and the exquisitely died hair, comes on CNN and begins batting his bright eyes and cheerfully expounding on his new youth center in Phoenix.
Just prior to the morning hour at which most liquor stores open, Don Byron and I are sitting outdoors at a sidewalk cafe on a steamy Park Avenue South (Technology Gulch)when a scene breaks out on the sidewalk.
Byron (head turns and he murmurs): "Oh my god."
A stringyhaired, smelly, obviously intoxicated woman staggers after a younger, taller man who's also worse for wear, and hollers in a drunken growl: "I got my own phone now. Yes it is. It works you used it."
Byron (laughing): "It's the metropolitan wino scene. You know what I mean? You know the scene in Firenze, now here it is in New York. It has all the elements: the dirty clothes, the ruddy skin, the formaldehyde lips."