Last week, whiteray at Echoes in the Wind wrote about seeing Glen Campbell perform in concert, and how Campbell’s performance of “Wichita Lineman” was one for his bucket list. It got me thinking about the bucket-list performances I’ve seen.
On a hot summer night in 1990, The Mrs. and I saw Paul McCartney in an Iowa football stadium. A McCartney show is a continuous parade of bucket-list moments, but a handful of them stick with me years later. If you had asked me early that night, I would have told you that pyrotechnics do not generally impress me. Neither would I have ranked “Live and Let Die” among my top 50 favorite McCartney songs. And then I completely lost my shit over the lasers and flashpots on “Live and Let Die.” McCartney closed the main part of the show with “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” from Abbey Road—and then, a few minutes later, came back out on stage alone carrying a guitar and sang “Yesterday.” It was a spectacular moment.
Over a decade later—2001 or 2002, I forget—we were at Summerfest, Milwaukee’s annual lakefront blowout, waiting for Ray Charles. Equipment van had gotten stuck in traffic in Chicago, we heard. Finally, over an hour late, Ray went on. Despite his age (72), the lateness of the hour, and what had doubtless been an exasperating day, he commenced to burnin’. He did “What’d I Say,” he did “Hit the Road Jack,” and they were great. But then he started up with “Georgia on My Mind,” and only then did I realize the magnitude of what I was seeing. Of all the shows I have ever attended, it’s right up there with Bob Marley as might be the one I am happiest to have seen.
Oftentimes you go to Summerfest to see a particular act, but sometimes you go on a particular day because you can. I suspect it was a combination of both that brought us to the stage on a rainy night in 2003 to see Steve Winwood. It was an odd show. He didn’t say 10 words to the audience the whole night, and he played but one of the big hits from the 1980s that most people in the crowd had likely come to hear. Much of his show was made up of stuff from the new album he was promoting (About Time, which you should buy right now because it’s superb). As the show drew to a close, he and the band kicked into “Gimme Some Lovin’.” Winwood had likely played the song 10,000 or 100,000 times since first wailing it as an underage keyboard player with the Spencer Davis Group in the 60s, and the groove wasn’t remotely as deep as on the original, but still—it’s Steve Winwood doing “Gimme Some Lovin’.”
All that said, I have never kept a detailed bucket list, although I have said for years that I’d like to go to England and sit on the hill where Wordsworth wrote about the daffodils. Musically, maybe the list includes Bruce Springsteen doing “Rosalita.” Booker T. Jones playing “Hang ‘Em High.” Van Morrison doing “Tupelo Honey” or “The Philosopher’s Stone.” Seeing Rosanne Cash again, singing anything.
For some plausibly related, semi-appropriate music, click here. Then add your favorite bucket-list moments, realized or unrealized, in the comments.
Recommended Reading: From the “Found While Looking for Something Else” department, a fascinating piece that appeared in TV Guide on January 25, 1964, detailing how the broadcast networks covered the Kennedy assassination two months before. In addition to including some details about the events and the coverage that are largely forgotten now, it’s beautifully written, although it apparently ran without a byline. Coincidentally, whiteray updated his archives yesterday with his own memories of that day—another essay well worth your time.