Last Saturday I went to the Levitt Pavilion to see Peter Asher, Billy J. Kramer and Denny Laine…
However Billy J. had an infection, couldn’t travel and his place was taken by Terry Sylvester, of the Swinging Blue Jeans and Hollies. And Sylvester was…awful.
I know, maybe there was no rehearsal; maybe he couldn’t hear himself in the monitors.
It’s just that you and me could have done a better job. And it made me realize that not only is a whole generation of rockers fading away, so many of those still here are past their prime.
The truth is Paul McCartney – the tipper most of the topper most, with the best band in the universe – can’t hit the notes anymore. He’s the same guy but his pipes have corroded and contracted. You can say otherwise, but you know it’s true.
As for Bob Dylan, he hasn’t been able to sing in decades.
Never mind rearranging his tunes, did you listen to his covers record? Nobody else did either. You don’t have to, it’s execrable.
The greatest lyricist of the rock generation moved mountains with his songs, but if it’s a live performance you’re looking for, pass.
As for Roger Waters, at least he doesn’t sing much.
But Roger Paltry does, and despite not booking shows every day, his voice is rough around the edges. Which Neil Young‘s voice has always been, but it’s not like Neil hasn’t been touring incessantly. You can go, but I’m worried you’re going to be disappointed, especially when you find out how far away from the stage you are.
Baby Boomers are all about access.
Denny Laine was much better.
I went because I needed to hear “Go Now,” the Moody Blues classic which in reality is a cover. But the highlight of his show for me was his rendition of “Time To Hide.”
I’d given up on McCartney’s Wings LPs – remember “Wild Life“?
But then the reviews were exquisite for “Band On The Run” and I bought it. It lived up to its rep; it was glorious listening to the title track before it hit the radio. It was a revelation. And I just heard “Let Me Roll It” on the satellite yesterday!
I spent the summer of ’75 listening to “Venus And Mars.”
Do you know “Letting Go”? You should.
And then came Wings’ “At The Speed Of Sound,” and the subsequent American tour – the biggest of the year. I didn’t go. I had the world’s worst case of mononucleosis, but I drove my car cross-country anyway, and bought six cassettes to ease the ride.
One was “At The Speed Of Sound,” which was not as good as what had come before, but I know “Time To Hide” and to hear it live touched my heart and reminded me of those long highway stretches when music drove the culture and everybody knew it and now…will anybody remember “Time To Hide” who wasn’t there, never mind “Silly Love Songs”?
Peter & Gorden’s Peter Asher was the headliner.
An unassuming bloke if there ever was one. He’s got a superstar CV, but Peter’s totally approachable. Unfortunately Gordon’s gone, so a band member does Gordo’s parts, but what makes the show work is Peter’s stories. Of being an A&R guy at Apple and signing James Taylor, producing and managing Linda Ronstadt, of being Jane Asher‘s brother.
That’s right, even casual Beatle fans know that Jane Asher dated Paul.
And Paul used to hang at the house all the time, so he and Peter became buds. Peter implored Paul to finish “World Without Love” which John hated so he could record it with Gordon during their tryout session.
You see the Ashers had a music room in the basement. And John and Paul used to go down there and write. All very reasonable until…
Peter is affably telling us about this one day he wandered down to the basement room and the two Beatles were by the piano and they asked him…DO YOU WANT TO HEAR OUR NEW SONG?
It was “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”
You’ve got no idea of the mania.
We were just back from Christmas vacation. It was cold and icy. The depths of winter. And my mother fired up her Ford Falcon and out of the dash came,”I Want To Hold Your Hand.”
And within 24 hours it was all anybody could talk about. A month before “Ed Sullivan,” it was the talk of my school. Eventually we all picked up guitars, some got wigs and we all knew the songs by heart.
And it started with “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”
I bolted upright in my seat. I couldn’t believe this. I’d never heard this story. Of the genesis of the song that changed everything.
Peter told them to play it again.
I told Peter to write a book.
He didn’t want to, everybody else had, he said, and you’ve got to sling the dirt.
I told him that was unnecessary, he was a fly on the wall. He just had to tell the stories. How Oliver Sacks told him his doctor dad was the smartest physician he ever knew. How Peter’s father codified Munchausen Syndrome. As for Jane, she was only with Paul for a couple of years, but it’s all that anybody wants to talk about (despite being married to Gerald Scarfe for decades – you know, the Pink Floyd “The Wall” artist… I DIDN’T KNOW!)
I’m still tingling. This story has stuck with me.
“I Want To Hold Your Hand” changed my life.
Maybe it changed yours.