by Dan Bolles
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this blog before, but I'm rather enamored with I Am Fuel, You Are Friends, run by Denver resident Heather Browne. In addition to having pretty similar tastes, we also share a borderline unhealthy affinity for the late, great Jeff Buckley.
Unbeknownst to me — or maybe I just forgot — November 17 was Jeff's birthday. So in honor of what would have been his 43rd, Browne posted a bootleg of an acoustic performance Buckley gave in Berkeley's Sproul Plaza in 1995. And it is, predictably, really good. Except for one minor detail: the fucking showtalkers gabbing through the first 4 minutes of the recording.
Now, I received a number of emails following last week's column rant about showtalkers at a recent Blind Pilot show, many of which suggested I give up my crusade to curb the obnoxious phenomenon. Not because they disagree, mind you. Rather that it is simply a losing cause. And frankly, those folks are probably right. But will I stop? Not a chance. And this is why.
Listen to the show and a take a moment to think about the long-term implications. Here we have two dudes, probably good people, just having a friendly conversation while checking out a show. Seems fairly innocent, right? How could they possibly have known they would single-handedly ruin the beginning of an exceedingly rare live acoustic recording of one of the most tragically iconic singers of the last 25 years? (And yes, we could debate Buckley's place in the pantheon of dead rock stars. But that's a discussion for another time. For the sake of argument, just agree with me for now, OK?)
This recording was made in May of 1995, one year after Grace was released and two years prior to Buckley's death. In other words, he was still a relative unknown at this point in his career, or at least far from the legend he has become posthumously. So as far as these guys knew, they were just catching a good show by a talented up-and-coming songwriter on a lovely day in San Francisco. Kind of like how two weekends ago at the Showcase Lounge, about 150 of us were just catching a good show by a talented up-and-coming band.
See where I'm going with this?
The point is that you never know. Will Blind Pilot ascend to mythical rock and roll status? Honestly, I doubt it. But hey, it's possible (ish). What's even more possible is that someday 15 years from now, someone for whom the band profoundly resonated — as Jeff Buckley does for me — might stumble across a bottlegged recording of that show, or one just like it, and have the first three songs ruined by some asshole in a Phillies hat.
So listen to the first four minutes of that Jeff Buckley recording. Annoying as all hell isn't it? Think about that the next time you're out at show and about to engage in a conversation that absolutely, positively just can't wait, and ask yourself if you really want to be that guy. The guy who ruined a great show for all eternity.