|Concert Performances: Los Angeles, California (May 31, 1991)|
[Leo plays "William Powell"]
[Leo plays "Shortwave"]
Thank you. It's time that I spoke. I say this just about every night that I'm playing after just about the second tune because I've learned if I wait any longer than that, tension grows in the crowd. And we could demonstrate that right now if I just stopped in the middle of one of these sentences. And it's there. It waits. It goes away after a while, but only if the act says a few words I think. And it really doesn't matter obviously -- at least it doesn't appear to matter to me -- what the act is saying as long as he or she sways something. So that's what I'm doing this for. I'm obviating any need for recovery from the kind of tesnion that grows into outright hostility within about three or four tunes. And it usually works, but sometimes you can't tell outdoors.
There's usually a bigger crowd over in the boats. It's cold over there though. [To audience member:] Oh. Hi. Thanks for coming. I'd like to play...this is something traditional. It's entirely, well, except for a fragment, this is all stolen from people like Sam Magee.
[Leo plays "Last Steam Engine Train/Stealing" medley]
This is a song that I've been doing here for about -- how many times? I can't even -- six, I must have played it six times. And I keep telling myself that I'm far too hip for this song, but it's obviously not the case. It's a wonderful tune, it's been a hit three times, I really can't get enough of it. The problem is with the lyrics which are so filled with glee that it's really kind of unethical. [Leo plays the introduction to "Mona Ray" then stops] Wrong song. Let me play that though.
[Leo plays "Mona Ray"].
[After a pause where he's reading something on stage:] Sorry to read a long note like that. I think it's for the bass player anyhow.
I have to admit that my fantasies when I was a kid all had to do with sonar. I wanted to be -- I wanted to live in a submarine and operate the sonar gear. So I joined the Navy when I was 17. Now that I'm out of the Navy, which I achieved in four months, which may be a record, I wonder how that could have been the pinnacle of my fantasies. I don't understand. Which leads me back to this song that I'm too hip for. I was too square for the Navy.
[Leo plays "Rings"]
[As audience members yells out requests:] Which? You know, I'm the only guy I know who [scuba] dove in Boston harbour. I've met other people who dive but...
Why aren't you dead?
I could be, it's hard for me to tell.
[Leo plays"Airproofing II"]
Thank you. [Audience members yells out request] Yeah, I will, I'll do that.
I've been, how can I put this... I shouldn't be asking you that, I'm a professional entertainer after all, but I know that Michael Jackson has been looking for a new look. I should thrill the fashion world also by doing the same but somehow I haven't got that together.
But what I have been doing is, like [guitarist/singer duo] Tuck and Patti's recording again up here in Los Angeles, the producer and I -- well, actually the producer, I didn't have anything to do with this -- found a studio that is remarkable in only one respect: that's the sound you can get in there and the expertise of the engineer. Well, in every other respect this place is also remarkable, but not in the sense that you'd be proud to even mention it or walk into the place.
It's an extraordinary spot and I suppose the thing that I'm driving at is that there's a smell in this place that has destroyed all the linoleum that used to exist down there in the basement where this is located. We'd been in there for a couple of days and the engineer Paul was saying "Well, no, it's, I don't really notice this smell." This was a smell that was electrifying the whole building but Paul claimed that he didn't notice it. He allowed that, perhaps, if he'd been in there for as long as he had he'd become immune to this stench and maybe we would too. It reminded us what we were paying to work there and -- it was kind of a trade actually -- it continued through and we realized after a while that a large part of this smell was due to the caretaker of this building. Not to his methods as a caretaker, but to his smell as a human being. I'm serious. This is a big building that used to house a newspaper, some kind of news outfit.
So we managed to move Ernest, to make the deal that Ernest would remain on the other side of the basement when we were working down there. And I suppose the improvement was marginal but we thought it was a dramatic increase in breathability, probably because we too had now become immune to the stink in this place. And one day we had gone out to [Leo chokes and coughs ] Excuse me. God. There are ways to reveal yourself that you can just never imagine until you get up here. What the inside, the back of the inside of your head sounds like; something you also never realized until this moment you wanted to keep to yourself.
So anyhow, Paul continued to say that he really didnt' notice Ernest and he could live with that and we were a little precious about our noses and so forth. And we went out one day -- Paul the engineer, the prodcuer and I -- went out to leave the building which is always a joyous occasion and got something to eat and came back in, which is always a challenge. And when we came back into the building, we're wandering through the basement and there was the caretaker Ernest and he had a peice of cheese as big as a human foot. He'd been chewing at the cheese as as we walked by he held out the cheese and he says "You want some cheese?" Well, some moments are made in heaven. The producer and I stopped, we looked at the cheese, and we looked at Pual, and Paul being a politic individual realized right away the dynamics of this situation And ate some cheese.
If you've ever exacted vengeance, you know that your triumph at the moment of success is very short-lived; it's followed immediately by a sense of regret, of loss for having it. So it wasn't all that it could have been, but it was a great moment and it's possibly one of the moments that I'm trying to hang on to by inviting John Leftowich up to play a couple of tunes with me. He's been working over there and has endured some of the atmosphere of this studio [to John:] I would probably give you a hint which one we're going to start with, but why don't we do the upright? You have a note over there, John. I thought it was about sonar myself but it wasn't. I'm not in tune, that won't interfere with you, will it?
[Leo plays "Regards from Chuck Pink"]
[A section of the tape is missing here...]
...I've forgotten that one. Actually, what I have to admit is I don't like that one anymore. I'm in conflict with you there, but I've learned this honesty from this friend of mine. A thoroughly unethical form of candor.
There's a tune for example called -- I'll probably do that, wherever you are -- called "Blue Dot" which is one of the best things I've managed to write but I've forgotten it. And I've also put it on a tape and tried to learn it again and if Tuck thought he had trouble with Stevie Wonder I don't have a clue what I did on this thing and I can't tell you what I did. You ever had that problem? God, there's somebody up on stage with me, I can't tell you what that feels like. It really is...I vmean, this is it. This reminds me of the first record I ade for Capitol. The producer...well, never mind. This is a lot more fun that the first record I made for Capitol, let me say that.
[To John, the bass player:] Also, didn't mean to compare you to a piece of cheese. I realize that -- . were you around when I was trying to --
Do you remember the smell of the...do you smell? No, you're all right. [While Leo is talking, somebody brings the guitar tablature book "Eight Songs" by John Stropes up to the stage and opens it to the tab for "Blue Dot"] Oh, "Blue Dot!" Gee, thanks, thanks a lot.
Play it Leo!
Well, see, somebody else wrote this down for me. I could, well, maybe...well, I can't be that honest...I think this is probably accurate. How much did this book cost? I've forgetten...but, oh god...
How about "Ice Fields?"
No, now that I've dragged John up here out of the cool air I've got to think of something we can do. Are we even remotely in tune? It's probably close enough for this...this tune I mean.
This is a song inspired by an actual human being who really did have some of these things to say...and I agree with a lot of them but he also had things tragically wrong in the end I think. No, not tragically, just...no, never mind. I'll just play the tune and then you'll have to deal with it and I can ... [Leo starts to plays "The Other Day (Near Santa Cruz)" then stops] Wait a minute...there's something horrible here [tuning] It's me. Gee, I never noticed here...oh, there it is...no...see, what I'm doing...this is really a pointless exercise. I'll get it in for the introduction but it'll be out for the rest of the song. So I think it's going to be in for the introduction, let's try it.
[Leo plays "The Other Day (Near Santa Cruz)"].
[Leo plays "Louise"]
[Leo plays "Oddball"]
This is one I remember...I'm wondering if the people in the front rows there will be able to see when they leave. Aren't these lights just absolutely blinding? I think the reason there up a lot of the time is to keep me warm. But...I don't know. Could that possibly be true? They can dim them down...I'm warm.
These are three very old tunes. I wrote thesewhile living in a house with a guy named Jack Fashbar who would come out at night and ask those of us who were still awake, which was everybody else in the house because Jack tried to go to bed around eight at night, if we heard loons [Leo whispers:] "Do you hear any loons?" Well, this was in a city in Minnesota. Even thought it is the state bird of Minnesota you don't hear them everywhere and you don't hear them downtown.
Jack eventually...one of the nights when Jack came out and asked us, as we were -- I remember this clearly and why I don't know, there are other things I'd rather remember but them I've forgotten -- we were holding a derby with a bar of soap in it. This was a long time ago, I hasten to add that. And we thought that was the funniest thing we'd ever seen in our lives. So we were cacklig away. He asked us if we could hear any loons anywhere. So we could be the judge of reality.
I did, years later, have occasion to happen upon a derby in a dressing area in a regular theatre. I found a bar of soap, put the soap in the derby and stared at it for a long time and didn't laugh once.
Jack eventually decided that the loons he was hearing were due to something going on with his wisdom tezeth. We last saw him when he was being taken away to a fitting container for people who listen to their teeth. I should add that Jack fully recovered and now teaches medieval literature at a college in Cleveland -- if you call that recovery, I'm not sure.
[Leo plays "June Bug/Train and Gate/Machine" medley]
It's been a real honor to share a stage with Tuck and Patti. It's a pleasure to be back here in [garbled]. Hope I see you next year.
[Leo plays "Jack Fig"]
Thank you. I had a nice time. Thanks a lot. Thanks for sitting in this cold. My thanks to John Leftowich. Good night.
[Applause and Leo returns for an encore] LEO:
[To John:] Let's do that one.
John and I know about 4 1/2 tunes. I wanted to do...well, I was about to do the half a one that we know. Maybe...well... [starts playing "Why Can't You Fix My Car?"]. This is a song that I wrote during a sound check in Germany, home of the Mercedes Benz. Mine wasn't working.
[Leo plays "Why Can't you Fix my Car?"]
Thank you very much. There's a curfew here and so we must get off. Thank you for coming.
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