I’d love to know how these things get started. I think it was Monday night, scrolling on Facebook, when I saw the first one, a friend’s post listing 10 musical acts he’d seen live, but there was a catch: One of them was a lie — fake news, if you will.
These kinds of things make the rounds of Facebook every now and then, at least among my circle of friends, who tend to be musically oriented. Sometimes it’s about listing your 10 favorite albums, your first concert, the three albums you’d want on a desert island, the albums you’ve owned on vinyl, 8-track, cassette tape, CD and digital formats … I could go on.
I normally enjoy reading these posts but hesitate to add my lists to the pile. For one thing, it’s hard work making these agonizing choices. First you have to give your brain a high-intensity workout just to remember, and then you have to leave out choices that hurt. Then you have decide whether you’re going to tell the truth about how you really feel or make choices based on how cool it might make you look to some other people.
By Thursday, the concert list postings were dominating my Facebook newsfeed. That might not have been a universal experience for all Facebook users, but I’m connected with so many people who make or care a lot about music.
The “lie” in the list gave this post an interesting twist. I think a lot of people threw in anomalies in their musical experiences, so you’ve got somebody who has seen Fugazi and Danzig also listing Anne Murray or Lawrence Welk. Looking at these concert posts could be a test of how well you know the people, make you question your assumptions about them, cause you to marvel at their eclectic tastes in music, or all of the above.
Some of my Facebook friends looked at this an exercise in tedium and posted lists reflecting their disdain. Dan Baird (of Georgia Satellites fame) listed NRBQ nine times and finished his list with “your band.” Kat Fox, a rapper from Duluth, Minn., listed Slayer nine times and added Tom Petty, expressing her erroneous view that Petty is unworthy of being seen. (I’ve seen Tom Petty six times, and he has never disappointed.)
Nick Maas, a young musician and music fanatic from La Crosse, posted that he has seen every band, and that was not so far from the truth. I think he’s seen every classic 1960s rock artist who still performs (most recently The Zombies), and he has pictures with them and had them autograph vintage copies of their albums.
Adam Levy from the Honeydogs posted a list of cool concerts (can you believe he got to see XTC but never got to see Bob Marley?), and then he posted a list of 10 things that make you throw up. Another friend posted a list of sandwiches, one of which he didn’t like.
I think my favorite post was from Joe Hart of the Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers. He went for some pretty rare musical performance experiences, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Bob Dylan’s electric set at the Newport Folk Festival, a Liberace house concert in Brooklyn Park, Minn., Robert Bly on bongos, a Priscilla Presley crumhorn recital and, for the one that goes back the farthest, shepherds singing manger-side at the Nativity.
After seeing enough of these posts, I decided to test my memory and see how many concerts I could dredge up from the backwaters of my mind. In the end, I came up with more than 60 concerts by musical acts that have a reasonable degree of name recognition. It was kind of strange that shows I went to in my teens and in college came to mind first, while more recent shows I’ve seen by big-name bands I’ve long adored only came to mind after seeing them on other people’s lists.
I can think of all kinds of ways to group these artists so one would seem out of place and the obvious choice for the false entry.
How about this: Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, George Thorogood, Richard Thompson, Chet Atkins, Freddie King, Joe Bonamassa, B.B. King, Adrian Legg and John Denver?
Or this: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Paul McCartney, Ringo Star, Beach Boys, Neil Young, The Who, The Rolling Stones, James Brown, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Southern Culture on the Skids?
Or this: Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, John Prine, Jimmy Buffett, Todd Snider, Dale Watson, Marc Cohn, Martin Sexton, Suzanne Vega or Stray Cats?
Or this: Elvis Costello, U2, Boomtown Rats, Pretenders, Del Fuegos, Butthole Surfers, The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, R.E.M. and Five Finger Death Punch?
Or this: Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Bob Seger, John Cougar, AC/DC, Rush, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Outlaws, Molly Hatchet and Har Mar Superstar?
Or this: The Decemberists, The Jayhawks, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Proclaimers, The BoDeans, Son Volt, Squeeze, Cheap Trick, Counting Crows and Aaron Carter?
I actually have seen all of these musical artists live except for one, and there’s an interesting story about that one, too. I will tell you that it’s one of the acts listed last in these groupings, and since three of them have recently performed in La Crosse that should narrow it down further.
If you feel like guessing, post a comment with the online version of this column. I’ll post the answer with the story behind it after lunch today?
Rock on …