Sacred Songs and Places: Inspired by George Harrison…

Martin Scorcerse’s new documentary, George Harrison: Living In A Material World, is filled to the brim with sacred places.

The Beatles rise is so well known, that most Rock fans over thirty probably can recite the stops by heart. The Cavern Club, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, St. Peter’s Church, Twickenham Film Studios, India, Blue Jay Way, and of course, Abbey Road.

For a Beatles fan, Scorcerse’s biopic adds one more sacred location to the roadmap – Friar Park.

The documentary suggests that George’s most sacred place was his Friar Park home, which he purchased in 1970. George devotedly tended to his home and its gardens,while also recording and filming there. It is depicted lovingly on the front cover of his first proper solo album, All Things Must Pass, and mythologized in his video “Crackerbox Palace”.

All these images got me to thinking about my own musical sacred places:

1970: Record department at E.J. Korvettes department store, Brooklyn New York.  I made my grandma take me here to buy Beatles records. First 45’s, then albums.

1971-1977: Lebiush Lehrer auditorium Camp Boiberik, Rhinebeck New York. Camp musicals, Friday night services and Gene Lewin & David Vogel “jamming” on Jumping Jack Flash. Yes, Gene and David played that song for six years straight.

1975-1978:  Greenwich Village, NYC. Under the arches of Washington Square Park to be more specific. Walked through the snow on Bleeker street, and made believe I was Dylan on the cover of Freewheeling Bob Dylan.

1975-1979:  Madison Square Garden: Floor Seats for Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, No Nukes, and many more. Don’t fight it; there is nothing as powerful as a arena or stadium-sized sing-a-long.

1975-1979:  Disc-O-Mat record store on 59th street and Lexington Avenue. $4.99 an album. Great stock, great vibe. It was Tower Records before Tower came east.

1979-1982: Club 57, Tier 3, and the Mudd Club.  Trust me, “Dead Rock Star Night” was the PG rated version. Downtown Club Culture and all that it entailed.

1980-1981: 99 Records at 99 MacDougal Street, Greenwich Village. I actually managed to spend $20 there for an import version of London Calling on New Years Day.  You really had to work to spend that kind of money on an album in 1980.

1979-1982: On-Air studio and record library, WCDB –Albany. Today (10/11/11) is College Radio Day. Remember, If Al Gore really had invented the internet, he would have run a fanzine and programmed a College Radio speciality show in the early 80’s.

1980-1982: JB Scott’s Rock Club, Central Avenue Albany New York: Everybody played JB Scott’s, as Albany routed well with New York and Boston. U2, The Specials, The Jam, Lene Lovich, David Johansen, plus many many more. (Honorable mention should go to The Chateau Lounge, site of R.E.M.’s legendary 11/23/1982 performance)

1983-1987: Maxwell’s, 1039 Washington Street, Hoboken New Jersey. The Bongos, DB’s, Raybeats, The Feelies, Sonic Youth, Husker Du, and a host of others on-stage. Steve Fallon, Glenn Morrow and Peter Buck at the bar.

1983-1987: The Ritz, 11th Street NYC. The Replacements walk on-stage and ask for Boos. Par for the course. On the great shows, it always felt like that balcony would collapse.

1990: The Melody Ballroom: Portland Oregon, & The Off-Ramp in Seattle Washington. Watching the crowd of teenagers stream out of the Melody after Nirvana’s opening set …with flannel shirts wrapped around their waists, they looked like Children Of The Corn. Watching the Best Kissers In the World bicker on-stage at the Off Ramp. Good times.

1991: First Lollapalooza date in Compton Terrace Arizona. Rollins Band, Butthole Surfers, Ice-T, Nine Inch Nails, Living Colour, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Jane’s Addiction. Who knew?

1997: El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles. As the poster said, Bob Dylan and his band! Tiny room, massive legend. Dylan’s last truly great run?

2000-2001: Howard Blumenthal’s office, Media department CDNOW, Ft. Washington Pennsylvania. Late nights and a too early business model — rich media created before broadband was ready.

2003-2007:  Sessions at AOL. Sigma Sound, Sony Studios, and a few more. AOL Music. Sessions with Kanye West, Paul McCartney, Al Green, Kelly Clarkson, 50 Cent, NAS, David Gilmour, Green Day and many more.

2005: Live 8 Concert, Outside of the Philadelphia Museum Of Art, Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia. Hello world, this is live music on the internet.

2007: Smoke Jazz & Supper Club, 2751 Broadway NYC. Jeremy Pelt, Bernard Purdie, Eric Alexander. Quintessential New York City jazz club within spitting distance of Columbia University. It is always happening at Smoke.

2007-2010: Artist Lounge, Warner Bros. Records, Burbank California. Randy Newman, Tom Petty, R.E.M, Jack White  all stop by and ask us to listen to their new albums. Uh, “yes”.

2010-2011: Largo At The Coronet, La Cienga Avenue Los Angeles. A few hundred seats and incredible performances from Loudon Wainwright, Fiona Apple, Rikki Lee Jones, Randy Newman, Aimee Mann and the like. Inside the venue, it’s all about the music — no cell phones, clanking drink glasses, and idle chatter.  Yet, the vibe is always warm, loose, and all about the music.

These places are sacred to me.

What are your musical sacred places?