Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Willie and Bob and John

No, it's not a variation of the old lament, Abraham, Martin and John. It's a concert I went to in Virginia Beach Saturday. Three signature performers, each doing a full one-hour set.

We started with 76-year-old Willie Nelson. Still sounds like he always has, but with a voice that is somewhat lower. Looks much the same as he always has. Of course, Willie's looked dried up for decades. Willie sang many of his old favorites and the crowd got into it, singing along and rocking in the stands.

Next was the kid, John Mellencamp, formerly known as John Cougar and John Cougar Mellencamp. At least we can pronounce his various names, unlike Prince. Melloncamp at 58 was the youngest and still hasn't decided if he's a balladeer or a rocker. He was best at hitting his rock groove, but disappointed the crowd by not singing his signature ballad, Jack and Diane.

Last was the 68-year-old voice of a generation, Bob Dylan, heavily amped, huge sound, garbled words. Oh wait, Dylan always garbled his words. Voice is much lower. He didn't do anything acoustic, which is what I liked best about his early work. Only two signature songs. He was pushing a new CD. Can't decide if it's good or not. He growled and chewed his words to the point where his voice became a percussive instrument. Oh yes, he still plays harmonica better than he sings.

I saw Dylan 40 years ago. Now I can cross Willie off my bucket list. John was never on it.

All in all, the tied-died and support hose group enjoyed a wild evening, even if it wasn't completely what it wanted.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Uncle Walter

I miss Walter Cronkite. When the first warning that he was seriously ill came across the Associated Press wire a couple of weeks ago, I thought his time on earth was short enough to touch. It was. And I wish I had been wrong.

I grew up with Walter Cronkite on the evening news. The day wasn't complete without him telling us what had happened. He reported THE NEWS. With two outstanding exceptions, he was never part of the story. An old wire service reporter, he knew how to "write tight," edit to get to the heart of the story, and present the story because it was important in and of itself.

We know of the two moments when he was part of the story: wiping tears away when he reported President Kennedy's assassination on November 22 and when he was so proud when John Glenn took his "one giant step for mankind."

I was ambused last night in Market Square in Roanoke by a young TV reporter from Channel 7 who couldn't possibly have seen him live. What she missed! She asked a couple of questions - needed a gray-haired woman's point of view. I told her.

I had the pleasure of meeting him several times when I worked in NYC. A funny man who told the bluest of jokes, but only if he asked if you would be uncomfortable first. I wasn't and I heard plenty of those jokes.

Uncle Walter, now you have joined your lovely Betsy. Sail away, dear man. We miss you more than you can imagine.