About Me

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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Maybe I'm Amazed

My daughter has occasionally expressed surprise when I've said that my all-time favorite musical act is The Beatles. She's not surprised that I love The Beatles, but she always considered The Ramones to be my absolute favorite among favorites; after all, she heard me talk more about The Ramones when she was growing up, and she witnessed my enthusiasm and passion as I advocated on behalf of Forest Hills' Phenomenal Pop Combo her whole life. The Ramones were underrated, so I thought they needed my pop proselytizin' more than John, Paul, George, and Ringo ever did.

But The Beatles have always been toppermost of my poppermost. The Ramones and The Flashcubes are right up there with them, along with The Monkees and The Kinks, but The Beatles remain, as ever, fabbest and firstest among my Fave Raves. It's as easy as 1-2-3-4, a sequence we associate with The Ramones, but which belongs equally to Paul McCartney, kickstarting The Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There" with the greatest count-in in rock 'n' roll history. One-two-three-FAH!

I've been fortunate to experience live performances by an awful lot of my musical heroes. I saw The Ramones nine times. I've lost count of how many times I've seen The Flashcubes, and that's still a treat each and every show. I saw The Kinks three times. I've seen The Monkees (as a trio) three times: twice with Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Davy Jones, and once with Michael Nesmith, after Davy passed. I've seen The Beach Boys without Brian Wilson, but with Carl Wilson; I've seen Brian Wilson, too. I've seen Ray Charles, The Everly Brothers, David JohansenJohnny Thunders, The SearchersThe Animals, Prince, Bowie, The Rolling Stones, The Ventures, Gene Pitney, Carole King, Bo Diddley, The Clash (without Mick Jones), Talking Heads, The Rascals, The Pretenders, Elvis Costello & the Attractions, The Four TopsChicago, KISS, Iggy Pop, Ian Hunter, Dylan, Alex Chilton, and many, many more.

While I'm appreciative of the good fortune that allowed me to see so many great concerts, I'm aware of the acts I've never seen and never will see. My biggest remaining regret is that I never had a chance to see Chuck Berry. I'm resigned to the likelihood that I'll never see The Flamin' Groovies or The Raspberries, and I'm at peace with not seeing The Who. I'm still bummed by the memory of missed opportunities to see Rick Nelson, James Brown, Del Shannon, and three of The Byrds.

And, of course, I've never seen The Beatles.

I know two people who did see The Beatles: my brother-in-law Tony Dees, and my friend Pete Kennedy. After The Beatles split in 1970, John Lennon visited Syracuse for Yoko Ono's This Is Not Here exhibition at The Everson Museum, and there's a (perhaps apocryphal) story that John & Yoko visited my friend Mike DeAngelo's house at 118 Dormar Drive in North Syracuse while they were in the ol' 315; the story seems far-fetched, sure, but it's lent some plausibility by the fact that Mike's dad, Richard DeAngelo, was an art teacher, quite active in the local art scene, so...Goo Goo Ga Joob? When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. (Mike said he felt too intimidated by the prospect of meeting John & Yoko, and stayed quietly upstairs in his room until they were gone. When the rain comes, we run and hide our heads....)

Seeing a Beatle would be cool, though. I have a few not-quites on my resume. I never had any remote chance of seeing John Lennon or George Harrison, ever. Lovely wife Brenda and I bought tickets for a scheduled Paul McCartney show at Syracuse's Carrier Dome in the early '90s, but that show was cancelled. I attended a press conference for Ringo Starr & His All-Star Band in Ontario in 2003, and I even got to ask Ringo a question, but the brief, teasing snippets-of-songs performance at the presser doesn't count as a concert, and I've never been sufficiently motivated to catch an All-Starr Band show. I did see Ringo's Beatle predecessor, Pete Best, when The Pete Best Band tore the roof off a Liverpool (NY!) bar a few years ago, but that might not be considered the equivalent of seeing an Ed Sullivan-sanctioned former Fab Four member. No. No offense to Pete and even Ringo, but only Paul McCartney could fill that specific need. And it wasn't gonna happen for me. I'd accepted that.

When it was announced recently that Paul McCartney would finally--finally!--make his first-ever Central New York appearance this coming September, I...well, I didn't quite shrug, but I didn't think I'd be going. Tickets would almost certainly be priced prohibitively. What tickets there were would go fast. And The Dome is a terrible place to see a concert, its massive, bludgeoning Cone Of Muffle guaranteed to stifle even the rockingest of rollers. No. I wanted to go, but...no.

Fine. I looked into presale tickets. No harm in looking, right? Nothing there, though. Er...well. Yeah. Dammit. I knew enough not to get my hopes up. Tickets were scheduled to go on sale to the public at 10 am on Monday, May 1st. I could arrange to go into work late that day. Just to check. Just in case....

I got into the Ticketmuscle site as soon as sales opened. I selected. I clicked. I paid. Floor seats. Not great seats, not cheap seats. Also not nosebleed seats, and not I-own-a-mansion-and-a-yacht seats, either. The transaction concluded, printed tickets in hand, I allowed the passive facade of feigned, timid acceptance to melt into the night.

I was going to see Paul McCartney.

I'm gonna see Paul McCartney.


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