I just found out I saw Neil Young once. Imagine that?
Beck (you may remember him from such hit songs as “Loser” and “Where It’s At”) was on a TV show tonight; I remarked to my boyfriend that I saw him live back in the day and that he was good. I paused, thinking of my fragmented memories of him. The images of distant , spotlit Beck shimmered and danced — elongated like a funhouse mirror. Nausea came in waves, waves elongated like a funhouse mirror. I don’t think I puked. I was pretty lit by the time he came on though.
It was the H.O.R.D.E. tour. (Never heard of it, whippersnappers? Stands for “Horizons of Rock Developing Everywhere” and was akin to Lollapalooza, another music fest’ you surely must have heard your parents bragging about attending).
I remembered seeing an outstanding band called Morphine who quickly commenced playing on endless loops on the CD player in my car. The lead singer ultimately died. I can’t see them again.
That balmy summer night piggybacked on a sunny summer day. I had a belly full of beer: the dusky images of stage lights, stars on stage, stars in the sky, sunset streaks in purpled hues, 20-somethings in shorts and tanks all whizzed by in magnificent jumpy blurs. I smiled at the night, the tingling euphoria gathering momentum in my legs, staggering from show to show to beer tent. My beer sloshing back and forth as I staggered from beer tent to show to show.
Tonight I strained my brain to recall who else played. Was it Primus? I’ve seen them a couple of times, but couldn’t remember where. Yes. They were there, according to Google. And ………. Neil Young. I scoured articles about the ’97 H.O.R.D.E. tour. Had he headlined the whole thing? Or just some dates in California? Maybe a guest appearance in Chicago? Nope. The whole shebang. I shook my head in disbelief.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a tremendous fan. I don’t even own any of his work — but I respect it. He’s a legend. And he was there. But I wasn’t.
I remember with striking clarity an obese lady with a t-shirt with an iron-on type of decal. I remember laughing, thinking how passe . How terribly early ’80’s. I looked closer. It was a naked woman , full frontal. She had a dick in front of her face – the man slightly off camera – and jism on her upper lip. The t-shirt read, “Got Milk? Where’s YOUR mustache?” an allusion to the health campaign of the time. Positively HORRIFYING. But it was there. I remember that with such clarity. Why that? Why not the Neilster?
Blues Traveler was there. I blinked blankly at the list of bands before me. Did not ring a bell. Toad the Wet Sprocket. I didn’t remember their being there either. I would not have been interested at the time — but I scratched my head, squinting stupidly at the list of bands. Soul Coughing. They actually WERE my thing. I don’t remember them. I cocked my head, staring at the computer monitor. How could that be? How could I not remember? This is not ringing a bell.
All I had was that day, that summer day in 1997. August 6th. I blew it. If I got pulled over, I’m sure I would have really blown it …. probably a BAC 0.350% anyway. (And to clarify, I wasn’t the driver that night — thank God. But I wasn’t above drinking and driving). Neil Young was 51 then. I will never have a chance to see him at that age again. He’s in his 70’s now. There is no do-over. Time moves forward, with or without me, and doesn’t wait for me to catch up.
While I don’t have that day, while I have no time machine, I have this day. And I choose sobriety. Next week I see Roger Waters. You can bet your ass I’ll be sober. I’ll remember it, too. By the grace of God.