There’s an older, British gentleman who comes into my bar every so often. He sits on the patio and smokes a cigar. Before settling into his comfort zone, he orders a Guinness, straight pour into a chilled glass, for himself and a pinot grigio for his wife. He rarely orders anything different.
Considering he comes into the bar quite frequently, one evening long ago, I engaged him in a conversation about music.
I asked him, somewhat closemindedly in retrospect, which he thought was the best band to come out of England, giving him only three options: the Beatles, the Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin.
To be perfectly honest, I was taken aback by his initial reaction, which was “Fuck the Beatles.” One would think most reasonable audiophiles consider them the best, if not most influential, band to come from across the pond. Clearly, this man had a beef with the Fab Four.
His second answer was even more surprising. He selected none of the bands I’d mentioned, opting instead for Black Sabbath. He had good reason.
After throwing the Who and Queen into the mix for good measure, he proceeded to tell me that, as a 16-year-old lad, he’d stumbled into a pub in his native Birmingham after hearing raucous music coming from inside. Who did he find? Black Fucking Sabbath, who also hails from Birmingham, playing in some tiny venue to a crowd of a few hundred if that. Can you imagine?
I think about 96.3% of us can agree that Black Sabbath is NOT the greatest (however, arguably as influential) band to come out of England but seeing them, in that bar, at that time (Ozzy Osbourne would have been about 21) would have to be pretty wild. You should have seen how his eyes lit up telling me this tale of fifty years ago, as if he was sixteen all over again. I neglected to ask him the obligatory questions required of many Sabbath fans like how long his hair was at the time, what sort of drugs he was on and whether he’d sacrificed any animals on the way to the show.
Our conversation reminded me of another I have with many of my customers that I figured I’d now share with the internet.
I’m giving you a ticket and a time machine. You have to tell me how you’re going to use them. If you had one opportunity to see any band at any venue at any point in time, who would it be and why?
These answers are strictly subjective which means there are no wrong ones. You might want to travel back in time and see Prince or Michael Jackson. How about the Beatles at Shea Stadium in ’65, James Brown at the Apollo Theater, Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock or perhaps Live Aid? Van Halen’s first tour where as an opening act they blew the headliners off the stage, Led Zeppelin anywhere, at any time, or perhaps some early punky Police would rank high on my list. How about the first time Billy Joel debuted Piano Man at whichever bar he wrote the song? Or Marvin Gaye in Washington, D.C. in 1972, the only time he ever performed the entire What’s Going On album from start to finish, or maybe a ticket to see Super Bowl XXV and the chance to hear Whitney belt out the national anthem.
Personally, I’ve always gone off the grid with this answer. While seeing a young Zeppelin play some tiny, smoky London bar in the late sixties would be a tough ticket to pass up, as would say a Mozart concerto in the 1700s, sneaking into see early Rage Against the Machine, before anyone knew their name while they were perhaps one of the angriest, funkiest and most energetic rock bands on the planet might just be the ticket I cash in. I’m not too sure I could handle the mosh pit but drop me in a safe zone on the outskirts of some L.A. dive bar and let me watch them shred.
Now it’s your turn. SportsChump is graciously giving you your tickets to paradise (not to see Eddie Money, although I did see him in the mid ‘90s for $5 a ticket). Who are you going to see, where are you seeing them, when during their careers and why?
I considered giving away a prize for this contest but there are no wrong answers… unless of course you chose Milli Vanilli, for which you may be banned from this site for an undisclosed period of time and recommended for intensive musical taste counseling.
(Stay tuned for Part Two: A Dream Come True)