Guess who wrote this blog post??? JUSTIN!
For my 45th birthday, I thought I would write about one the biggest influences in my life … MUSIC! I estimate that I’ve seen around 400 live concerts, with a few bands multiple times. Music is a way for me to escape, to celebrate with friends, to bring people together. The most important thing to me about music is sharing it with others, hence this blog post.
My sister, Jamie, told me about a podcast called Desert Island Discs. It’s a British show that has aired on the radio since 1942, then they turned it into a podcast. The premise is, “imagine you are stranded on a desert island and you can only bring 8 records with only one song on each one. What would you take and why?” There are thousands of episodes and every type of guest from politicians, to actors, to musicians. It’s so cool to see what songs these influential people will pick. Jamie and I share a love of music, so she challenged me to come up with 8, and she would do the same. When she came up for her visit in June, we interviewed each other about our 8. It was a blast!
This was no easy task. Let’s just say after some initial thought, I had over 20 songs on my list, so narrowing it down to 8 was very difficult. It took me weeks to get to the final 8. Some of the bands I’ve seen may surprise you, some may not. I am open to all types of music.
And before I share my list, here are some stats:
The best concert I ever saw was October 29th and 30th 2009 at Madison Square Garden with my Uncle Pete. It was the 25thAnniversary Concert of the Rock and Roll Hall Hall of Fame. Tickets cost $75-$2000 from Ticketmaster; we paid about $250 per night. It was MCed by Tom Hanks, and each night lasted more than 5 hours.
The first night included: Jerry Lee Lewis > Crosby, Stills and Nash with special guests Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Brown and James Taylor > Paul Simon > Simon and Garfunkel (reunion) > Stevie Wonder with special guests Smokey Robinson, John Legend, B.B King, Sting, Jeff Beck > Bruce Springsteen and the E street Band with special guests Billy Joel, Tom Morello, Darlene Love, John Fogerty and Sam Moore.
The second night included Jerry Lee Lewis > Aretha Franklin with special guests Annie Lennox, Lenny Kravitz and Sting > Jeff Beck with special guests Sting, Buddy Guy and Billy Gibbons > Metallica with special guests Lou Reed, Ozzy Osbourne and Ray Davies > U2 with special guests Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Black Eyed Peas, Mick Jagger. If you want to check it out, there is a 3 disc DVD set that you can borrow from me.
I’ve seen a concert in 41 states! Many bands are repeat concerts for me, like: Grateful Dead and Dead related bands (30 times), Blue Traveler (25 times), Phish (40 times), Tom Petty (5 times), From Good Homes (~200 times), Railroad Earth (~40 times), Jimmy Buffett (10 times), String Cheese Incident (~20 times), Steve Miller Band, Green Day, REM, Nine Inch Nails (3 times), Marilyn Manson, Beastie Boys, Page/Plant, Allman Brothers (6 times), White Zombie, Dave Matthews Band (5 times), Billy Joel, Pearl Jam, 311, The Who (4 times), Eddie Money, Culture Club, Bruce Hornsby, U2 (3 times), Huey Lewis and the News, Van Halen, Chicago, Earth, Wind and Fire, John Hiatt, Roger Waters, Bruce Springsteen (4 times), Neil Young, Pretenders, John Mellencamp, Wille Nelson, Widespread Panic (7 times), Carbon Leaf (17 times), Wilco, Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac (2 times), Beach Boys, Neil Diamond, Janes Addiction, Madonna, Peter Gabriel, Mumford and Sons (4 times), Sting, Paul Simon, Guster (10 times), Nirvana, Mark Knopfler, Ben Harper, Phil Collins and so many more.
Artists that are still alive and touring that are on my bucket list to see are: Cat Stevens, Bon Jovi, Dolly Parton, Eric Clapton, Melissa Etheridge, Aerosmith, Pat Benetar, Def Leopard, Van Morrison and Paul McCartney. Artists I wish I saw in my lifetime, but no longer possible: Michael Jackson, Eagles (full band), David Bowie, Prince and George Michael.
So without further ado, here my Desert Island Discs 8 songs in no particular order, because that would be even harder.
Footloose by Kenny Loggins (1984) – I never have seen him. This song should be on everyone’s list; I challenge you to listen and not shake your legs or get up and move! This is by far my favorite movie of all time. I remember this was the first movie I bought on VHS and it took me some time to save up my allowance to buy it. I would say I’ve seen it over 20 times, at least once a year. All the music in it is amazing, but Footloose is the best. Whenever I hear the song on the radio, my playlist, in a store, I stop and soak it in and maybe a dance a bit.
Ripple by The Grateful Dead (1970) – I have seen the original Grateful Dead 10 times. I have seen offshoots of the Dead after 1995 about 20 times.
If I was a teenager in the 60-70s, I would have followed them all over. They played over 2350 shows and not one was alike. They are known for jamming and improvising their shows. Their fans are a huge part of the shows and culture. I feel grateful that I saw them play several shows during 1994-95. It is so hard to pick just one song for my Desert Island Disc, but Ripple is perfect. It almost feels like a religious song. The line “let there be songs to fill the air” and “reach out your hand if your cup be empty” make it feel like you want to help someone and they want to help you. It reminds me of my friendships I made over the bond of music that brought my friends and family even closer. I have asked Patrice to have this song played at my funeral!
Rain Dance by From Good Homes (1995) – I am guessing I have seen From Good Homes around 200 times from 1994 until present. They broke up in 1999, but reunited for occasional shows starting in 2009. They are much more than a band to me. I became a fan thanks to my high school buddy, Alfred, who popped in a cassette tape one day as we were cruising down the road. I have seen this band with so many of my friends and family, and have traveled all over the United States to see them. I bet I have seen a FGH with you! I have 300 tapes of live shows to jam to! Now, the band are friends and their music is an everyday part of my life. They have helped me through some tough times in my life. They have so many great songs like Broken Road, Maybe We Will, Day is Alive, Parachute… But Rain Dance is so moving and inspirational. In college, I was struggling with my health, grades and relationships, and Rain Dance would be a constant song to lift my spirits. This song will also be played at my funeral.
Seven Story Mountain by Railroad Earth (2001) – I am guessing I have seen RRE about 40 times. This band was started after From Good Homes broke up and Todd (the FGH lead singer) started this band with some other friends. The energy they bring is amazing. A blend of bluegrass, folk, rock and pure jamming. I like to go to these shows, as you never know what you are going to get. Every show is different and the band goes off on tangents into some killer jams. They even play a handful of From Good Homes songs. Seven Story Mountain seems to me like a ballad of gospel into a religious song into bluegrass with lyrics that penetrate your soul. The instrumental flow of the song is beautiful.
All Apologies by Nirvana (1993) – My one and only Nirvana show was on November 14, 1993 in NYC. I paid $19.50 for the ticket. I went with my friend, Mitchell, and his parents dropped us off at the venue with a quarter in case we needed to call them! I grew up idolizing and in love with Nirvana. I think they provided an out for teenagers of our time in the 1990s. The raw grunge and vibrant lyrics struck a cord with me and my friends. Nirvana was definitely the bond that Mitchell and I had together. I had all the albums and even bought live bootlegged recordings of shows. I felt blessed I saw the band merely 5 months before Kurt took his own life. I still think about the energy of the audience and band during those 2+ hours. It is hard to pick just one song but All Apologies has an honest tone and lyrics that are moving. “I wish I was like you, easy amused.”
Mysteries Ways by U2 (1991) – I have seen U2 three times. This band is an international inspiration, and give back more than they take. I don’t think you can find a person who’s never heard of them. My first show was in 2001 (with my sister, Jamie, and Uncle Pete) and that was way too late. I should have been seeing them since I started seeing shows. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame show where they played Mysteries Ways > Where is the love > One > Gimmie Shelter > Stuck in the Middle w/ Mick Jagger > Beautiful Day was a musical masterpiece. If you haven’t seen the 11 minutes of pure glory of “Bad” form the 1985 Live Show, you need to youtube it and watch it. The way Bono interacts with the crowd and pulls people out to dance with; it’s pure love. He then picks up the mic and blasts into sing along, quoting songs from the Stones and Lou Reed making up his own rap. He then drops the mic like he just won the biggest award ever and walks off in victory. Plus Sunday Bloody Sunday was pretty sweet. The last show I saw of U2 was in Seattle in 2017 for the Joshua Tree tour, and they brought up Eddie Vedder for Mothers of the Disappeared. Wow!! Anyway, Mysteries Ways just plain rocks! Go see U2, I’ll go with you.
Into the Mystic by Van Morrison (1970) – I have never seen Van Morrison.This song means a lot to me, as this was our wedding song when we got married in 2006. I had our DJ play a version that From Good Homes played at a live show in Redbanks NJ in 1995 that I had recorded. Anyway, the lyrics of this song speak to our life, and when it comes on in our playlist, it reminds us of our crazy nontraditional life.
In the Air tonight by Phil Collins (1981) – I have seen Phil Collins once. Do I even need to say anything about this song? It is a classic that will never get old! I know you have played the air drums when it kicks in at over 3 minutes into the song.
For my birthday, please tell me what song means the most to you!!! And if I have not seen a concert with you, let’s go!!!
Love, love , love this post!
My favorite song is Forever Young by Rod Stewart. You will play this at my funeral! And, you’ve never attended a Rod Stewart concert; so, add it to your bucket list and take me with you. This reminds me of perhaps the greatest birthday gift I have ever received. You took me to see Paul McCartney in NYC the December after one of my birthdays.
I’ve attended a concert that you have not! In the early 1970s, I saw Cat Stevens at a very small venue in NY state. I remember him playing “Tea for the Tillerman”. It was very intimate and still sticks in my memory 50 plus years later.
I think you should submit this post to a music magazine.
Happy, happy birthday, my beloved boy.
I never knew you saw cat stevens! So cool!
Oh mom…. you must be getting old. I took you to Billy Joel. I’ve never seen McCartney and I did see Rod Stewart.
A song that can change my mood in a second is Salsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel. I love that one 🙂 Happy Birthday, J!
Love that song!
Happy birthday! You’ve been a huge influence on my life and obviously music is a big one. I remember as a young teenager you introduced me to Dave Matthews band and rusted root. I’m very impressed you’ve seen a concert in 41 states! I’ve only seen a show in 13 states. I’m jealous you have seen Aretha Franklin and Bonnie Raitt. On my bucket list to see is Chris Stapleton and the musician I wish I saw was Bob Seger. The artist I’ve seen the most are string cheese incident and railroad earth likely around 30 times each. Second to that would be from good homes around 20 times. And third would be Brandi Carlile and Ben Harper around 15 times. Without further ado here are desert island discs:
Everything is everything by Lauryn Hill, where the songs begin by from good homes, burn one down by Ben Harper, bittersweet by big head Todd and the monsters, tunnel of love by dire straights, troubled times by leftover salmon, down in the valley by the head and the heart and gypsy by Fleetwood Mac. The disc I would save is gypsy. My favorite person to go to a show with is my brother, Justin. Happiest of birthdays!
This is one of the best posts of all time. On the right date. I think I may have seen a show or two with you but can’t remember. I cannot argue with your (or anybody’s) list because the only perfect list belongs to that individual. I know mine would be very similar! (plus maybe some Led Zeppelin 😉 but this path is for your steps alone…..
Happy 45th Justin. Have been a fan of Desert Island Discs for many years and like you have tried to compile my own list. It’s harder than one might think. What an awesome number of concerts you have been to…and still have your hearing! Best to you and Patrice!
Ah, this is a great post! Getting to know Justin a little bit more—that was fun to read! If you ever want to see Fleetwood Mac or Stevie Nicks or Florence + The Machine, I’ll go with you! U2 and the Rolling Stones are also two I want to see. I’ve gone to three concerts in my life so it isn’t something I’ve really done but I do have a few I want to see. And your last four songs are really good! I love Mysterious Ways but if I had to choose a different U2 song it would be hard to choose between Bad or Silver and Gold off of the Live Rattle & Hum album. (I had to go listen to S&G now, haha)
I may have to borrow this post idea for myself on my blog! I don’t know if I can choose a single song but any off of Bruce Hornsby’s Greatest Hits album means quite a bit to me as they all remind me of Florida, particularly The Way It Is.
Oh, I meant to add, have you listened to Jason Isbell’s cover of Into the Mystic? Here’s the link in Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/6N0C3sayydpFSAC5VUm1EQ?si=0768307b2e3949a4