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?

7 thoughts on “Sacred Songs and Places: Inspired by George Harrison…”

  1. I’ll take a shot at this…kind of a musical journey thru my life…and you brought up JB Scotts…have not heard that name since I left Albany after highschool.

    1978 SPAC – Charlie Daniels Band. It wasn’t so much about CDB, although the song was #1. it was my first time at a concert, with my girlfriend… And about 30,000 other people. The vibe was electric, music was more than the radio for the first time

    1980 Glens Falls Civic Center – as a regular concert goer (remember when you could afford to see every show in town?)…Van Halen, Rush, Foreigner were just some of the shows attended that year, but the best was Queen. Freddie was the consummate frontman and it was the best opening I ever saw to a show.

    1980 – Palace Theater, Albany – this was where you could see the more fringe acts when they came around. Frank Zappa and Devo share special places in my musical hard drive from this arena.

    1982-89 – Salisbury Civic Center, Salisbury, MD – the acoustics sucked and they never got many shows other than heavy metal and southern rock, but this was my intro to the backstage experience. I was still psyched to get free tix from the radio station I worked at to see acts like Blackfoot or Iron Maiden… But to hang out backstage too…I was going to like this gig!

    1987 – Hampton Roades Colesium – U2 was taking a break from filming for Rattle & Hum, they had become the biggest band in the world and were loose and on fire. They got up on stage and messed around with the BoDeans (Dalton Bros) and this show marked the only time Larry ever sang on stage. Energy level was an 11 from start to finish. I decided this was my favorite band that night.

    1986-91 The Ritz – NYC – yes, the balcony did feel like it was coming down. I still remember seeing Living Colour there just before they broke and couldn’t believe a band could garner such a response without being superstars already. Also spent some quality time with Paul Kantner upstairs after a show.

    1985-2005 Merriweather Post Pavilion – the only “shed” I’ve been to more than a few times. Amazing tailgating experiences outside for Buffett, sweaty shows in the summer with Petty, Henley, Plant, Doobies, Green Day, Killers, and a sloppy drunk Replacements.

    1985-2011 Bottle & Cork, Dewey Beach, DE – this a 75 year old beach bar that holds over a thousand people. It is half indoor and half outdoor with trees growing out of it and very little changes over the years. It’s a rock n roll bar and I have seen some of the best live music there over the last 25-30 years…Tommy Conwell, BoDeans, Grace Potter, Cowboy Mouth, Donavan Frankenreiter, English Beat, Robert Randolph, Matthew Sweet, Smithereens, Buckwheat Zydeco, and many more. This place holds more musical memories for me than any other venue in the country, I hope it’s always there.

  2. I’ll take a shot at this…kind of a musical journey thru my life…and you brought up JB Scotts…have not heard that name since I left Albany after highschool.

    1978 SPAC – Charlie Daniels Band. It wasn’t so much about CDB, although the song was #1. it was my first time at a concert, with my girlfriend… And about 30,000 other people. The vibe was electric, music was more than the radio for the first time

    1980 Glens Falls Civic Center – as a regular concert goer (remember when you could afford to see every show in town?)…Van Halen, Rush, Foreigner were just some of the shows attended that year, but the best was Queen. Freddie was the consummate frontman and it was the best opening I ever saw to a show.

    1980 – Palace Theater, Albany – this was where you could see the more fringe acts when they came around. Frank Zappa and Devo share special places in my musical hard drive from this arena.

    1982-89 – Salisbury Civic Center, Salisbury, MD – the acoustics sucked and they never got many shows other than heavy metal and southern rock, but this was my intro to the backstage experience. I was still psyched to get free tix from the radio station I worked at to see acts like Blackfoot or Iron Maiden… But to hang out backstage too…I was going to like this gig!

    1987 – Hampton Roades Colesium – U2 was taking a break from filming for Rattle & Hum, they had become the biggest band in the world and were loose and on fire. They got up on stage and messed around with the BoDeans (Dalton Bros) and this show marked the only time Larry ever sang on stage. Energy level was an 11 from start to finish. I decided this was my favorite band that night.

    1986-91 The Ritz – NYC – yes, the balcony did feel like it was coming down. I still remember seeing Living Colour there just before they broke and couldn’t believe a band could garner such a response without being superstars already. Also spent some quality time with Paul Kantner upstairs after a show.

    1985-2005 Merriweather Post Pavilion – the only “shed” I’ve been to more than a few times. Amazing tailgating experiences outside for Buffett, sweaty shows in the summer with Petty, Henley, Plant, Doobies, Green Day, Killers, and a sloppy drunk Replacements.

    1985-2011 Bottle & Cork, Dewey Beach, DE – this a 75 year old beach bar that holds over a thousand people. It is half indoor and half outdoor with trees growing out of it and very little changes over the years. It’s a rock n roll bar and I have seen some of the best live music there over the last 25-30 years…Tommy Conwell, BoDeans, Grace Potter, Cowboy Mouth, Donavan Frankenreiter, English Beat, Robert Randolph, Matthew Sweet, Smithereens, Buckwheat Zydeco, and many more. This place holds more musical memories for me than any other venue in the country, I hope it’s always there.

  3. OK, Jack, now you’ve opened up a can of worms. Actually, I have just a few truly sacred places.

    Michigan State University – 1973-5. I’m a fledgling TV/radio student and Roger McGuinn who’s now a solo artist drops by our student TV studio after a gig and allows us to tape him doing several accoustic songs (including “Chestnut Mare”). He has a feeling that videos of songs will be big one day, and shows us his briefcase phone. He comes back two other times over the next couple of years to continue to “practice” with a bunch of students.

    The Dakota – December 1980. I’m living in Manhattan, working for ABC’s Owned FM stations. I’m watching Monday Night Football, the Lennnon story breaks, and I’m calling in reports to several of ABC’s Rock stations from a phone booth across the street from the Dakota throughout the next day. I always walk by the Dakota every time I’m in NYC.

    My wedding in 1987. My bride and I choose Dire Straits’ “Theme from Local Hero” as the song that accompanies our wedding. My mother-in-law asks why we aren’t using traditional Jewish music for the ceremony. I explain that Mark Knopfler’s Jewish and it’s all good.

    Thanks for asking, Jack.

  4. My brother’s vacant bedroom (didn’t have my own stereo) listening to Joni and Laura, and Joni and Laura, Incredible String Band, Pentangle, Fairport Convention and Aretha.

  5. Great post. So many to name…

    First and foremost, The Roxy in LA. Just saw U2 there on Thursday and Courtney Barnett last night. Seen many exclusive, high-profile/small club shows there from Bob Marley to Springsteen (12 times) to Dire Straits, Nirvana, Prince, the Clash, the Ramones, Patti Smith (6 times) Foo Fighters, Sex Pistols and more (Suzi Quatro, Eric Carmen, Flo & Eddie, Todd Rundgren, Devo, Capt Beefheart, Tom Verlaine, the Church, Marianne Faithfull, Nicolette Larson, Rickie Lee Jones, Brand X, the B-52s, Walter Egan (w/ Buckingham-Nicks), Warren Zevon (live album), Garland Jefferies, Adam & the Ants, Peter Tosh, P. Furs, Lauria Anderson w Wm Burroughs, OMD, King Crimson, Nils Lofgren, Thompson Twins, Billy Idol, Ian Hunter (live album), Tin Machine (Bowie), Bauhaus, Dream Syndicate, Stan Ridgeway, Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul, Clarence Clemmons, Steve Earle, Brandi Carlile, Toni Childs, Charlie Sexton, Sonic Youth, Innocence Mission, 10,000 Maniacs, David Johannsen, The Quireboys, World Party, System of a Down, Joe Ely, the Sundays, Maggie’s Dream, the Soup Dragons, Emotional Fish, Lush, Ride, No Doubt, the Farm, Black Crowes, Trip Shakespeare, the Smithereens, Leon Russell, Juliana Hatfield, Michael Penn, Soul Asylum (2x), Stone Temple Pilots, Rachelle Farrell, Dave Koz, Lenny White, Lloyd Cole, Oasis, Jesus & Mary Chain, Big Audio Dynamite, Victoria Williams, Lords of Acid, Jen Trynin, Lisa Loeb, Ben Folds, Heather Nova, Garbage, Yoko Ono, Cheap Trick, Me’shell Ndegeocello, and many others… all in a 400 seat club!

    In NY, there were lots of places. The Ritz, of course, where I was one of 6 music biz folks to witness U2’s first gig in America (Chris Blackwell, Barsalona/Skydel, Paul McGuinness and Ellen Darst being the other 5.) I also saw many other bands there from Public Image, Ltd to Public Enemy to the Damned to Arcade Fire.

    Used to like JP’s where I saw Warren Zevon in the 80’s, Danceteria where my band the Dream Syndicate played the same night as the famed Madonna rooftop concert where she got signed. Area, where the Talking Heads “Burning Down the House” video was shot and of course, CBGB’s where I saw so many bands from Living Colour to the Ramones.

    In England, there was Dingwall’s where Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Brinsley Schwarz and others got their start. I also went to the Concert for Kampuchea and saw McCartney/Wings/Rockestra, Page & Plant, The Pretenders, The Specials, Ian Dury, Queen, Rockpile and the Clash (the week London Calling came out – we bought the album on day one at the Virgin store near Marble Arch and had the Mayfair Hotel bring us a phonograph to our room so we could learn the songs before the show!)

    Back in LA, the Whisky, Starwood, Troubadour and Viper Room were the tentpole clubs where I saw everyone from Tom Petty and the Police to a huge list that includes –

    Troub: Bruce Springsteen Jackson Browne, Cat Stevens, Carole King James Taylor, Leon Russell, Tom Waits, John Fogerty, Prince, Radiohead, White Stripes, Pete Yorn, Verbena, Leo Sayer, the Knack, Blind Melon, Train, Guy Clark, Johnny Clegg, Lisa Germano, David Baerwalt, Freedy Johnston, Sheryl Crowm I Mother Earth, Holly Vincent, Mary Lou Lord, Evercleafr, the Jayhawks, Cracker, Fiona Apple, Grant Lee Buffalo, Sleeter-Kenney, Teenage Fanclub, Whiskytown, Chantal Kreviasuk, Our Lady Peace, Adam Cohen, Phantom Planet, Ron Sexsmith, P.J. Olsson, Catherine Wheel, Sneaker Pimps, Five for Fighting, Joe Strummer, Mars Volta, Queens of the Stone Age, Switchfoot, John Mayer, Matt Nathanson, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, Jeff Lynne, Conor Oberst, the Raveonettes, Damien Rice, Johnny Marr, Metric, Alien Ant Farm, The Black Keys, Brand New, Big Elf, Joss Stone, All American Rejects, Rise Against, One Republic, Arcade Fire, Be Your Own Pet, The Fray, Brandi Carlile and Glen Campbell – plus 100’s of others.

    Whisky: Roxy Music, Silverhead, XTC, X, The Jam, The Buzzcocks, Lena Lovich, The Yachts, 999, 20/20, The Plimsouls, The Selecter, The Donnas, Humble Pie, Badfinger, Whiskytown, Train, System of a Down, Kula Shaker, PUSA, Goo Goo Dolls, Superchunk, Vic Chesnutt, Mazzy Star, Pop Will Eat Itself, Concrete Blonde, Paul Westerberg, Bettie Seevert, The Devlins, School of Fish, I Mother Earth, Jane’s Addiction, The Psychedelic Furs, American Music Club, Robin Hitchcock, EMF, Kitchens of Distinction, Dinosaur, Jr, Drivin’ and Cryin’, Echo & the Bunnymen, Squeeze, Tommy Tutone, Cactus World News, Wall of Voodoo, The Bangles, The Specials, Tom Petty, Joe Jackson, John(ny) Cougar, Rachel Sweet, Bram Tchaikovsky, Slow Children, Jules & the Polar Bears, Paul Collins Beat, Code Blue, The Roches, OMD, The Runaways, Gentle Giant, Gun, Lords of the New Church, Bruce Wooley & the Camera Club and the Fabulous Poodles – just to name a few(!)

    Viper Room: RHCPs, Elvis Costello, Counting Crows, the Cult, Iggy Pop, Muse, Pete Yorn, Supergrass, Ween, Katy Perry, Louise Goffen, Hawkwind, The Rapture, Martha Davis, Mellowdrone, Jessi Colter, Tony Joe White, Dave Stewart, Keane, the 22.20’s, The Like, Reeve Oliver, Pink Spiders, Lyfe Jennings, Boomkat (Taryn Manning), John Mayer, Afghan Whigs, Joe Strummer, P.J. Harvey, Chrissie Hynde, the Bangles, Screaming Trees, Buckcherry, Shawn Mullins, Sixpence None the Richer, Beachwood Sparks, Paulie P., Tal Bachman, Elastica, Live, Gwen Mars, Chris Stills, Dog’s Eye View, Lenny Kravitz, Big Audio Dynamite, “P” and 100’s more!

    Of course, there was Tower Records on Sunset where it would not be uncommon to run into Elton John or David Bowie (who I saw purchase his catalog for Iman – cute) where every Tuesday night we would go to binge on new releases.

    Other touchstones – Licorice Pizza (where I worked for two years), Winterland (Queen, Thin Lizzy, Petty, ELO, Tommy Bolin, BOC, The Who, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Be Bop Deluxe, Rush, Sammy Hagar, Peter Frampton, Boston, Kansas, the Kinks, Journey, Manfred Mann, Jefferson Starship, Fleetwood Mac, Genesis, Triumvirate, Peter Gabriel, Television, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, Nad Company, Dr.Feelgood, Bryan Ferry, the Ramones, J. Geils Band, Graham Parker, Patti Smith, UFO, Link Wray, Eddie Money, Weather Report, Lenny White, Little Feat, Elvis Costello/Mink DeVille/Nick Lowe, the final Sex Pistols show, the Last Waltz) the Old Waldorf, Mabuhay Gardens (Ramones, Devo, the Dils, The Nuns…), Berkeley Square, The Keystone Berkeley (Blondie, Thorogood, Tom Petty, etc.) and loads of Day on the Greens (Led Zeppelin, Stones, The Who, Frampton, Fleetwood Mac, Gary Wright, Heart, Nils Lofgren, Eddie Money, Peter Tosh, etc.) during my Berkeley college years.

    Plus various record stores (Rather Ripped!) radio stations I worked with (KSAN, KCSN and KALX) publications I wrote for (Rolling Stone, Phonograph Record Magazine, LA Free Press, etc.) record labels (A&M, Warners, Capitol, and Columbia), recording studios (Record Plant, Electric Lady, A&M, Capitol, etc.)

    There’s a whole lot more but those are some of my more ‘public’ touchstones.

    Great column!

    TD

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