Tag Archives: Bruce Springsteen

Galchenyuk Racks ‘Em Up

Our Habs might have the odd overpaid two-goal scorer and a semi-comatose forward, and maybe a defenceman who doesn’t get closer than three feet of the opposition, and of course the injury-prone team with no power play did end up slightly down in the standings last season. Slightly.

But there could be an excellent silver lining.

I’ll borrow a well-used quote from music critic Jon Landau after his witnessing a young Bruce Springsteen in action in 1974, move things around a little, and say, “I have seen the future of the Montreal Canadiens, and its name is Alex Galchenyuk.

I’m craving a true superstar on the team, and I’ll take a chance and speak for several million other fans by saying they want one too. Patrick Roy was the last one. Guy Lafleur was before Patrick. It’s been a long, harsh drought. Not to put much pressure on the young fellow, but that’s the deal. All he has to do is become a big-time superstar like Guy Lafleur. Is it too much to ask?

Fans of every other team might say they want one too. But who cares what fans of other teams want. They’re lucky we let them co-exist with us in everyday life.

Galchenyuk scored three times on Saturday night in leading his Sarnia Sting to a big 5-2 win over the Peterborough Petes, giving our new future star 19 goals and 29 assists for 48 points in 27 games, putting him third in scoring in the Ontario Hockey League behind Niagara IceDogs Ryan Strome (59 points) and Seth Griffith of the London Knights (49 points).

Strome has played three more games than Galchenyuk, and Griffith two more, so be careful guys, he’s breathing down your neck. Maybe by Christmas these two will be chasing him.

Maybe he’ll leave all concerned in the dust.

Maybe he’ll be a great one.

 

A Night At The Opera

I don’t have my all my ticket stubs for concerts I’ve seen over the years, but I managed to save some.

Below – At the Beach Boys concert in Toronto, they let out everyone from the first show just as the second bunch, including us, were coming in, and it was close to a trampling scene. My wife was really freaked. I think she thought she was going to die. I suppose I did too.

Elton John wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. He wore an admiral’s hat and coat and looked a tad bored.

I saw Kris Kristofferson with Johnny Cash, and I’m trying to remember if it was from this ticket stub. You would think Johnny Cash’s name would be on the ticket, even as headliner. I don’t know. Maybe my mind is……….

I can’t remember much about Split Enz, but I remember the murmur in the crowd that Southside Johnny would be joining Gary U.S.Bonds at the show. This was ridiculous and I knew it. The two had worked together on an album in the past, which certainly didn’t mean they were going to reunite at Camp Fortune, near Ottawa.

Below -  The Who were great. Pete Townshend was great.

The Band at this point were without Robbie Robertson, but I loved them anyway. I saw them once before, in the early Seventies at the Montreal Forum when they and Bob Dylan were on the Before The Flood tour .

That little blue and grey stub means a lot to me. It was at Gerde’s Folk City in New York’s Greenwich Village, a little room that holds about 50 people, and not only did Rick Danko and Richard Manuel from The Band play only about 15 feet away, but Paul Butterfield got up and joined them. We sat at a fairly big table and Danko and Manuel and their women sat at the same table during breaks.

About a year after that, Richard Manuel hung himself, and in 1999, Rick Danko died of a drug-related heart attack. Fellow Band member Levon Helm left us just last April so now only Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson remain. It’s very sad.

Below - Willie Nelson was fun, Robert Palmer was slick, and the Pretenders were excellent. But about Pete Best: You might know that Best was the Beatles’ original drummer before being given the boot for Ringo. I have my own story about the guy.

When I lived in Calgary, an event organizer contacted me to see if I would set up a display of Beatles memorabilia, which I had a lot of, at a collectables show at McMahon Stadium, with Pete Best as invited speaker.

I said yes, and I was introduced to Pete Best and his wife Kathy, and both loved my Beatles collection. I was invited to a dinner with Pete and Kathy and the organizers, and after that we all went to this little theatre with seating for about 30 people, and we watched a screening of Backbeat, which dealt with the Beatles in Germany when Pete Best was still the drummer.

Kathy Best sat in front of me and would often remark during the screening how the movie was getting the facts wrong. “Bullshit” she said several times. At one point, I asked Pete, who was sitting beside me, if something on the screen had really happened, and he said no.

They still live in Liverpool. Or at least they did. Maybe they’re in Cannes now. After being fired from the Beatles, he first worked in a meat shop, then got a post office job which lasted until he retired. I read a few years ago that Pete finally cashed in from his time as a Beatle, when royalties arrived from the Beatles Anthology, which was a box set, a film, and a book, and his share was worth many millions.

The ticket below is for a show he did about a year later. His band went through a lot of Beatles material, and he doesn’t sing. It’s basically just a cover band.

And oh yes, I asked him why he was fired. There are lots of theories – that Ringo was simply a better drummer, that gay manager Brian Epstein tried and failed to seduce Pete, and that he basically just didn’t fit in with the others. Pete told me two theories of his own - he thinks the other Beatles became resentful because he was more successful with the ladies than they were, and also – and this one’s very interesting – he had tight curls and wasn’t able to comb his hair down in a Beatle cut, so he didn’t fit what Epstein envisioned.

He also told me that he and Paul McCartney almost burned down Hamburg’s City Hall by accident.

Next, the Eagles were fine, except we were so far away that something was definitely missing. I hate monster venues. Dire Straits, with Stevie Ray Vaughan opening was, of course, fabulous, and I also saw Stevie Ray Vaughan at the National Arts Centre, which was way more intimate than the Civic Centre.

Below –  KD Lang was neat, but I liked the opening act, a female Seattle band, Ranch Romance, even better.

Beside Elvis Costello is Steve Goodman, who you may or may not have heard of. He was a genius, longtime buddy of John Prine, and wrote City of New Orleans and lots of other great stuff. He’s been dead for quite a few years now.

Of all the shows I’ve seen, none can equal Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. They were the best, the most exciting, they blew the doors off for three hours, and everyone left these shows exhausted.  There are four tickets here, and I can think of two other shows I was at also. I saw them in 1976 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and also sometime around 1979 at the Civic Centre.

I was such a Bob Dylan fan when I was a teenager, but when I see him on TV now, it makes me sad. He was never a great singer, which didn’t bother me in the least, but now he sounds like a cat being strangled. I loved his music from the Sixties and I still do, but somewhere along the line, something happened. Maybe he’s playing a gigantic joke on us. Regardless, I firmly believe his place in culture ranks up there with Elvis and the Beatles, and his early stuff still moves me.

I was never a Kenny Loggins fan, but we were in New York and wanted to go to Radio City Music Hall.

A year before that in New York, we went to see Oh Calcutta at the theatre next door to our hotel. I had no idea until it was playing that the male and female actors got naked.

Below -  My brother-in-law and I were given free tickets from a friend playing in the opening act, Honeymoon Suite, and the seats were great. I grew up listening to the Kinks, and I fully expected a nostalgia-type show like the Beach Boys, but it wasn’t that at all. They combined new stuff with old, and Ray Davies is a terrific showman. The Kinks were fabulous.

Melissa Etheridge was powerful and professional, ZZ Top played in front of a giant ’56 Chevy, and Robert Palmer was good, but the reason we really went was because it was Radio City Music Hall.

Finally, the Beatles. This is the big one for me, although I sat in the last row on the floor. I could see them just fine, but the screaming and fainting was amazing. The girls were just nuts, and although I could hear the music, it was difficult and often drowned out. Screaming and such was the big reason the boys stopped touring soon after this Toronto show, and would prefer the studio. I was 15, and all my life I’ve been proud to say I saw the Beatles.

There were other shows too, although the ticket stubs are long gone. The Hollies twice, John Prine, the McCoys, Led Zeppelin in Vancouver, the same city I saw the Grateful Dead and Ten Years After in. There was John Mayall in London, Van Morrison at Massey Hall, Blind Faith with Eric Clapton at Varsity Stadium, the Youngbloods at Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, plus, in various towns and cities – Gordon Lightfoot, Phil Ochs, the Young Rascals, the Association, Roger McGuinn, Murray McLaughlin, Sha Na Na, Billy Joel, John Cougar Mellencamp, Wynona Judd, and others I can’t remember at this point.

I also had tickets for Joe Cocker, who never showed up, and Roy Orbison, when I had to work.

So Long Big Man

We’ve lost a big man, and a great man.

Clarence Clemons, the huge 6 foot 5 inch saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen’s mighty E Street Band, has left this earth at 69, a victim of a stroke, and for me, a distinct memory comes swirling back.

I was lucky enough to see Springsteen and the E Street Band a number of times over the years, but it was the first that stands out more than any other. Because I think for most of us there that night, we had no idea what we were in for.

It was 1975, and although Born To Run was fresh on the charts, I really had no clue who Bruce Springsteen was. He was being billed as “The new Bob Dylan,” and it was for that reason my wife and I, along with another couple, bought tickets to see them at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, a 3000 seat venue with perfect acoustics. Our seats were dead centre, only a few rows from the front, and I expected a folk singer to perform.

Before long the lights darkened, and suddenly a lone voice began, serenading us with the opening of  Thunder Road. “The screen door slams, Mary’s dress sways….” and as the lights gradually came on and the song grew, the entire band swung into action. And aside from The Boss himself, it was Clarence Clemons, The Big Man, swaying to the music, blasting his sax, that our eyes were fixed on.

I knew this was going to be a night to remember.

Springsteen and the boys played for more than three hours, and the normally reserved Arts Centre, a place of ballet recitals and classical orchestras, had fans roaring and dancing in the aisles. The four of us looked at each other with shock and eyes bulging. I’ve seen much of rock’s royalty play over the years, but Bruce Springsteen, with Clarence and the gang, was by far the best. It really was a band you had to see live. Springsteen was everywhere on the stage, the band was tighter than tight, it was pure and unadulterated rock and drama, and I understood what music critic Jon Landau had meant in 1974 when he wrote “I have seen the future of rock and roll, and its name is Bruce Springsteen.”

It wasn’t just Bruce Springsteen who rocked our world that night. It was the entire E Street Band, with The Big Man, Clarence Clemons commanding the stage in his own right, and sending us into seventh heaven with his hauntingly beautiful saxophone solos.  He took up much of the stage, this giant man dressed to the nines with his sax glistening, and we were swept away.

Springsteen introduced the band one by one, and when he got to Clarence, whom he had left to the end, he smiled, proudly proclaimed…”and on sax, The Big Man, Clarence Clemons,” and the crowd exploded. Clarence was a force, and it had only taken a few minutes to love him, his sax, and his big, friendly smile.

So long, Big Man. We’ll miss you. And thanks for the memories.