The Bucket

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.

9 responses

  1. Keep Saturday, September 24 open. Roseanne Cash is performing in Brookfield, WI at the Wilson Center for the Arts. I bet you’ll find a way to be there.

  2. I saw Springsteen do “Rosalita” in 2003 in the last days of the “The Rising” tour. It was fun and all, but it felt like he was presiding over a familiar ceremony, not singing a song.
    Seeing him do it in 1975 or so would have been a bucket-list moment for sure, though.

    This Springsteen show was only two days or so after the death of Johnny Cash. Seeing Bruce open the show with a sparse cover of “I Walk The Line” was kind of a bucket-list moment.

  3. You saw Bob Marley?!

    Words cannot convey my jealousy.

    1. J.A. Bartlett | Reply

      Saw Bob Marley and the Wailers here in Madison in 1979 with much ganjaweed—and joy—in the air. Opening act was Betty Wright, an R&B singer of the early 70s who had by ’79 gone in another direction. At one point about 30 minutes into her performance, a guy behind us stood and yelled, “Cut this disco shit and let’s hear some reggae!” He spoke for thousands.

      Some of the tracks from the Madison show are bootlegged here: http://bigozine2.com/roio/?p=769

  4. Thanks for the kind words and the links. And I second Mr. Pajamas’ jealousy.

  5. I was born too late to have enjoyed many possible bucket-list moments:

    Seeing Chicago live before Terry Kath’s untimely death (I was still in diapers and just over 15 months old when he died)
    Seeing the Who live before the death of Keith Moon, John Entwhistle, and Roger Daltrey’s singing voice.

    And some I could have seen but missed due to bad geography or timing:

    Peter Cetera’s final tour with Chicago (although I did see Peter live in 2003 and Chicago live countless times since 1993)
    Jeff Porcaro’s final tour with Toto before his untimely passing.

    The one bucket list moment I did catch– and this is a sports bucket list moment not a musical one:

    I saw Wayne Gretzky play hockey in his final game in Chicago against the Blackhawks at the UC in 1999.

  6. I know a guy who head a close seat to a Marley show who said the music was good but the smell coming off of the stage was almost unbearable.

  7. oops “had” a close seat

  8. While you may have very different tastes than I, my bucket list concerts are topped by seeing Simply Red in their final tour at Radio City in New York. Remaining on the list is Swing Out Sister — they rarely tour the US and their last tour, to which I had tickets, was canceled owing to a volcanic explosion tying up UK airspace.

    Idea for a future posting: Most disappointing concert experiences. Mine include a show by Anita Baker at Universal Amphitheater.

    On the other hand, a free show by David Cassidy at Mohegan Sun wasn’t worth the price paid. Egomania fits poorly on 60 year old has-been teen idols.

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