Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Story and a Song....or How Randy Newman Stopped a Riot on a Snowy Night....


The Story Behind the Song....

I was telling my son about Baltimore, I have many stories from that era of my life....and I was telling him about my First Randy Newman Concert. It was winter,many years ago and it was bitter cold and snowing....It was in an old Dance Hall, and people showed up mostly for the Main Act which was the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Now This was the same year that "Short People" came out and believe it or not Little People would come and protest at Randy's Concerts.

So outside waiting in the snowstorm was the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Fans ( alot of Bikers ) and then the Protesting Midgets and Dwarves. And I am not sure why, but they were not getting along.So then the Parrotheads arrived, somehow they were there to see both bands. So they were in their Full Margauritaville Gear with Hawaii Shirts and funny hats. So The Management let all of us in. I was with my sister who was in a DISCO phase and really pissed at me for dragging her to "this dumass circus of a concert". There I sat in my Hippy gear, patched jeans , Indian top, and 2nd hand coat and clogs smoking clove cigarettes. It was not a Sisterly loving event. ( I invited her because her date cancelled and I had an extra ticket.)

So the Dance Hall is packed every old battered wooden theater seat is full and Everyone has made their way in, the Pissed Off Little People, the Rowdy Bikers, and the Parrotheads.... So the waiting begins.

Well, it turns out that the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was not coming...and would not be coming. And that supposedly their Bus had broken down somewhere. Now the Audience had to be told this....So there are Pissed off Little People marching up and down the aisles, and then now the Bikers were about to be given a bad blow. So a little tiny wisp of a man came out to deliver the bad news....

" I have some troubling news, I am not sure when or if the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is coming. But if you want to wait for them, because they had some bus trouble, then I am sure they will be here when Randy Finishes playing, Maybe"

His voice cracked and rose off and on, sweat ran down his pinched little face. By the time he was done the Burly Bikers were on their feet yelling and fists waving " We want our Godamn Money Back NOW !!!!

Meanwhile the Parrotheads have all settled in to watch the show- and are getting stoned and blowing up HUGE Beachballs and bouncing them around the audience. Meanwhile the angry little people are still stomping around the aisles.And the Bikers are now stamping their feet and Yelling and getting ready to Break Something.

My sister sitting there in her leather pants and her Donna Summer tube top was looking disgusted, and " I wish I was anywhere else!!". Someone handed her a Flask and told her " Here Darlin' have some Courage", She mellowed considerably.

And while the Tension rose and the Noise got louder, the Little Man on the stage said, "Without Further ado- I give you Randy Newman".......

So out comes Randy, still putting on his jacket, looking a bit rumpled like he just fell off the bus....He quickly gauged the room... and came out on stage and sat at the Piano and started talking....as soothing as a Fine Southern Gentleman , telling the Bikers not to worry that he would keep them happy until The Band arrived, and apologizing to the Little People, and even making nice jokes about his gratitude to the Mysterious Parrotheads and their doobies and beach balls. ( No one was even sure why they were there...). He had a rambling style like a traveling Medicine Man offering some sweet bottled Sunshine and promises out the back of a wagon as he stroked the piano keys.

He sang it all Blues, Ray Charles, Some Jimmy Buffet, and some Willie Nelson.....all of it...He used his music to make peace that snowy night.....

And this Song was how he began his show....".Baltimore"....a much longer version....

And no the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band never showed....but 20 minutes into Randy telling stories and singing songs Something Wonderful happened.....

9 comments:

an average patriot said...

That's interesting! Best concert I ever went to was outside overlooking the Rhine. Grace Slick didn't show up they canceled the concert and I sat amongst the riot and watched the stage burn down amongst the polizei with machine guns. It was fantastic! Thanks for the memories. I am going to listen to that now!

enigma4ever said...

well, that really does beat my own little tale....wow...

Yeah, if you listen to it while you read the story it kind of ALL makes sense.....

Mariamariacuchita said...

I saw so many good bands in the old days I can't even count 'em all: Grace Slick with The Jefferson Airplane back in the late 60s in Seattle football stadium, and Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Lots of blues artists like Chuck Berry, BB King and Aretha, oh, Aretha!!! There are so many...ah, enigma, thanks for the trip down with the memories.

Joanne said...

I love reading concert stories like this, stories more about human nature than an actual music review. They're so telling. I think the best line is "He used his music to make peace that snowy night." The beauty of music.

enigma4ever said...

Joanne::
yeah,..I had a hunch if I posted a Memory that yes, others would remember other moments in their past..and when that memory is connected to music it is something special.....thanks for coming by...

MariaMaria:::
hey there...I know - those were wonderful , weren't they ? And too funny- we shared alot of the same ones !!! ( I wonder if our pathes crossed ;-) and yes...those were so different then...and not costly...and the Experiences that went with those days....( the 70's and 80's were wonderful,.....)

Alien Citizen said...

Yes and, as much as we get from the musicians, they are feeding off of our energy as well and it's that connection between all the audience members and between them and the musicians that makes live music so incredible. I really loved your story. I've had times in my life when I had so much to deal with that I couldn't even connect with music but fortunately those days are behind me. Listening to Tracy Chapman's Fast Car right now... :-)

enigma4ever said...

Hey Alien...
oh I love FAST CAR..one of my favorite artists..( I post her alot ;-)

She is so talented and so sensitive in what she writes and sings....

I hope things are better for you now...that you may always connect to it and may it bring you healing and soothing comfort....

namaste...

Blueberry said...

Great story! I love real concert stories.

D.K. Raed said...

well so I tried to leave this comment earlier, but blogger swatted me off like a pesky fly! Hrumpphhh!

This is a wonderful memory. Thank you so much for sharing it. I was smiling all the way through, but laughed outloud when your sister got some "comfort".

I am left wondering why bikers were NGDB fans. They always seemed so mellow to me. And I'm ashamed to admit that when I worked for an extremely short man, Danny DeVito short, I used to hum Short People while I slaved away in the cubicle next to his plush office. It did not endear me to him; in fact, I was gone by xmas, for which I was always grateful to Randy Newman.