the mythology of new york always appealed to me, even though everything i knew about it only existed in films, photographs, and folklore. if you were to ask my thirteen-year-old self where i thought i would live as an adult, i probably would have told you new york city. i wanted andy warhol’s new york. i wanted the velvet underground and joe dallesandro and deborah harry and the factory. i guess i was born too late.
in august of 2001, i was chatting with some friends at a bar in chicago and it was decided that very night that we would fly to new york to see radiohead. we had no tickets for the concert (sold out) and no idea where we were staying. i think i had about $100 in the bank and i had never done a spontaneous trip quite like that. i was scared to death. no plan? no money? a city larger than chicago that i had no idea how to navigate? but i had to do it, something in my bones told me i had to.
at that time, flights would sometimes be incredibly cheap, so we were on our way to newark before you knew it. it was late summer, hot and humid. one of my travel companions had some friends that met us out at a bar. they were tall and leggy in stiletto heels, such tiny, delicate birds. i felt like a blubbery pile of sweaty flesh next to them.
the dynamic of friendships among young women always had a competitive edge to it. hell, sometimes, it still does. now that i am older and wiser, i see how i never learned to handle those feelings of insignificance brought on by its good buddy comparison. most of the social dynamics in school was so exhausting and ridiculous to me that i was just fine being different than the popular kids even though it meant feeling ostracized. whenever those awkward adolescent feelings start to creep back in, i get anxious like a motherfucker. fight or flight takes over everything and all rational thought disappears. my body aches to run away, to take flight, but no. fight always comes first.
all night long, from one bar to another bar, and then to a dance club, i felt hideously out of place. but all of that ended once we got to max fish. now that was a bar i could get into, the vibe was just right. even meg white was there, drinking whisky and playing pinball. the white stripes were still so new that summer of 2001 that i felt like the coolest girl in the world just to be in the same room as her.
the next day after wandering the city, i managed to get myself to where the ferry would take us to liberty state park. i still didn’t have a ticket, but somehow, it all came together in just a few minutes. i found someone selling a ticket, got on the ferry and was on my way to see radiohead for the first time.
the sun was starting to set and the light was changing as we coasted along past the statue of liberty, passing a joint around as i snapped photos. i marveled at the manhattan skyline as the sunset painted a wash of pastels onto the shining metropolis. my eyes drank in the scenery as every terrible thought i had about myself the night before melted away into the water beneath us.
kid koala was the first act, followed by the beta band, and then radiohead played. i was alone for most of the night, moving around the crowd, watching everything from different vantage points, taking in the music and feeling my skin tingle. thinking back on it now, that trip reminded me of how fun it is to travel and see live music. i vowed to do it again soon.
here is the setlist from that night:
the national anthem
packd like sardines in a crushd tin box
exit music (for a film)
my iron lung
dollars and cents
street spirit (fade out)
i might be wrong
everything in its right place
like spinning plates
lucky (false start)
you and whose army?
how to disappear completely
true love waits
when i got home to chicago, i had a couple rolls of film to process, but they slipped my mind. i ended up not getting the film developed for a few weeks. as i looked through the photos, i froze. the manhattan skyline was bathed in that perfect light, exactly how i remembered. it was just a few weeks after september 11 and i was looking at photos that had the twin towers in the background.
as i was compiling the setlist above, i did a quick search for photos from that show and found this beauty below. i was listening to “the tourist” when i found this. it just seemed perfect to end this ticket stub story with it.
december 26, 1990.
i was a fifteen-year-old vegetarian kid in a smiths “meat is murder” tee shirt (that i wish i still had). i was on my way to london for the very first time. this classic Wham! song was playing in the airport or possibly on the plane as we were boarding. i think of it every year at this time, it was playing in my head a whole lot while i was in the UK recently. the holiday lights were out, shoppers filled oxford street, and i felt like that same teenager, full of wonder, ideas. this song always ends up on my holiday playlists.
this music video is so of the time. look at that hair!
this year, to save me from tears, i am spending the holidays in northern california at a 10-day vipassana meditation course. it will be my first holiday season away from all distractions to go deep into mindfulness. exciting! scary! challenging!
there are a lot of stories still to share from the UK adventures and even more groovy happenings coming in 2016 so don’t be a stranger, ok?
happy holidays to all!
until just a couple of days ago i had been traveling for just shy of three whole weeks. for an american, that is an eternity. the longest i have traveled was that road trip back in july of 2014 that lasted for a full month. that felt different though, it was all so familiar. texas, chicago, friends’ houses, family. now that i am back i had a lot of stories to catch up on, as in the stories i watch on my laptop.
last night, while watching the leftovers, there was a scene in a “honky-tonk” and this song began to play. i recognized the lyrics immediately, but it took a few lines before it sunk in what song it was.
once i realized what song it was, a wave washed over me and i was taken back to the 80s. what a song, what a time. i won’t give away any of the story, so no spoilers here. just enjoy this great cover version by sturgill simpson and the original song below, by when in rome.
any memories rise to the surface for you upon hearing these?
through the process of writing about the next ticket stub from the collection, memories were sprouting out from everywhere. it took me back to dallas again, i’m guessing 1997. i was madly in love and in hindsight, i had no idea what to do with that emotion. the handsome fella said something back then that stuck with me over the years.
i forget where we were or what was going on at that time, but i thought it was sincere. he said, “If we ever broke up, I’d have to leave Dallas…it’s like that Naked Eyes song.” okay, maybe it was kinda cheesy. whatever, it’s a fond memory and i am keeping it that way.
i sang this song out loud in my apartment at 4:45 this morning and i loved every moment of it. i wish i could have found the original music video but all that is out there seems to be this one. it works!
this is the first of many music memories to come. we’ll be sharing stories about songs, albums, bands and all that jazz that takes us back to that feeling, that place, that time.