|Concert Performances: Fifth Avenue Theater, Seattle, Washington (February 21, 1987)|
[Leo plays "Airproofing II"]
Thank you. I'm now gonna plug my guitar into the proper pickup. And I tried something out here, I had a...well, I won't mention the brand name cause it was free. But I think I'll go back to this, it should sound a little more... [Leo plays a few riffs] Always a professional. I am.
It seems a little strange to be sitting down now I think. I tried standing up last night after, what, 22 years of sitting down, and it became apparent to me that there are some dictums to show business that I've been ignoring for some time and that I either had to choose to stand up or lie down and my predilection was to lie down. But I knew I couldn't get away with that so I'm recovering from having stood up. What I discovered standing up, and maybe you do too but I don't know, it hit me like a ton of bricks, that I had legs. And I didn't want them, I really didn't - - I shouldn't say that, but I didn't, I really didn't. I couldn't think what to do with them. And I wasn't sure if I managed to ignore them, I wouldn't just fall down. It seemed very likely. I haven't always been that coordinated and from the wrist down I've been lucky I think and any more than that is asking for trouble so I'm back on my can, show business or not. [Applause] Thank you very much.
[Leo starts to play "Last Steam Engine Train/Stealing" medley]
[While playing:] This is a bunch of fragments, mainly from traditional tunes. It begins with one that was written by John Fahey and goes through lots of people. I'll find the tempo here.
[Leo plays "Last Steam Engine Train/Stealing" medley].
[While playing:] Right now I'm very aware that I have lips. They have a mind of their own.
[To sound engineer:] Maybe we should turn it down just a little. You can disregard everything I said in the beginning, Charlie. I was on the wrong pickup you know.
This is a song that I wrote -- let's see, how can I put it? I started this thing 20-some years ago and quit in disgust, I thought that what I had written was god-awful and I forgot about it promptly. Something is obviously changed in the intervening time because now I'm willing to play it in front of a couple of thousand people and admit that I like it. I don't know what, I was crazy, it's fine, I like it a lot but -- I mean, I'd better say that -- it came upon me in Jamaica where I was vacationing under duress because I hate the sun, I don't like to be out in it, I don't like feeling it on my bare white deathly pale flesh. It's pain, I don't care what anybody thinks it is when they're lying in it, it's pain, and I'm not opposed to pain for myself but I go in for a more emotional kind of pain. I don't prefer being hit at light speed by protons of whatever those -- photons. And then, you know, turning red and bubbling and groaning.
I like the dark. I always have. Since I was a small child, I've liked the dark. And could be -- if I had a choice between being outdoors in the dark and indoors in the dark, I'd rather be indoors in the dark. And if I'm indoors in the dark I'd rather be in the basement with my cheek on the cement, with that nice cool sort of blend between me and the floor. You think of things in a position like that. There's nothing else to do and stuff comes to you. There is heaven on this earth and it's not that far away.
So when I went on the beach in Jamaica it was at night and I had already been in my room all day long. Even though I prefer the dark in a room to the dark outside, I thought I'd get outside because, to tell you the truth, I was getting sick of the room. And like I think most people would, I expected on that beach to encounter one after another, ad infinitum, from here to eternity, the same, more or less, grain of sand as I walked along. And I stubbed my toe on a rock the size of a -- it was sort of a lava-like thing that was sitting there in the middle of the beach. It couldn't have, you know, blown in or been carried, dropped by a bird, it was, I think, some form of sabotage, something aimed at tourism, that the people living there wanted me to understand that they'd had enough guitar players, it was time to go home.
I hit it with my longest toe which is not my big toe. I can also [Leo's voice is distorted as he curls his tongue] do this with my tongue by the way. So I went back to my room in the dark and came up with the rest of this tune after 20 years. Naturally, it's a ballad.
[Leo plays "First to Go"]
This song was written by a man who'd gotten a divorce. This happened to him and it was -- I mean, he knew it was coming -- he asked for it as a matter of fact -- but he was not prepared for the remorse and the regret that overwhelmed him. The moment it happened, unexpected pain hit him right between the eyes and he was sort of wishing he hadn't done that. And I know the story of this because the guy who promoted the record for us was a friend of his and knew him at the time. And he chose to console himself by going to a restaurant called Tony and Mario's where he knew the owners and where he would sort of cry into the checkered tablecloth everyday and fondle the serrated edges of the knives. Generally, ponder a bleak future and a past filled with error. Just the sort of thing to give all the customers at Tony and Mario's a big appetite and a real desire to come back as soon as they could.
This is one of those songs that, for me, is... I have...there's several of these and they're tunes that I have kept hidden, almost from myself. I like them so much but for certain reasons they are slightly repellant. It's not very comfortable to admit that you like this stuff. I thought that I had a solution for a long time to this kind of thing by just realizing it was the lyrics that kind of rubbed me the wrong way.
As a matter of fact, one of my favorite songs began as a vocal and it was repellent even in 1955 with those lyrics, so it became an orchestral masterpiece by Leroy Andersen called "The Blue Tango" that we now hear in elevators and the dentist's office and places like that, which has led me actually on more than one occasion to linger longer than I had planned in an elevator. And it's easier than to say you like that tune than it is to say you're listening to the muzak and you can't move right now. Some things that you like I'm finding out eventually you have to just fess up to because you're gonna live with it for the rest of your life and it becomes a secret so unbearable after a while that you just spill it out all at once. Kinda like these socks I think. Or these shoes.
I thought that if I turned all this stuff into instrumental material I could escape the stigma but it doesn't work. For one thing, you're still stuck with the title so I do have a recording of "Memories Are Made of This," a Dean Martin hit I think from the early sixties. The music itself is appropriately...I mean I think it's safe to like it. This thing...I guess what I should tell you is that some of the lyrics are fine, this isn't gonna turn you to cement when I do this. You'll see what I mean. It's just people like to think they're a little bit cooler than this. What happen to this man was that during the time he was in this restaurant, she called him back or up rather and said that she wanted to come back and try this again. And he issued forth -- he emitted this song and I think you can see from the lyrics why she may have left him in the first place and why her return didn't work out.
[Leo plays "Rings"]
[Leo plays "Ojo"]
[While tuning:] This is one of my favorite guitar tunes. It was written by Duane Allman and it's called "Little Martha," which has always led me to believe it was written for a small child or perhaps a tiny pig of some kind, something incredibly, unbearably cute. I've learned since that's not the case, but my affection goes unchanged for this tune. I do miss that little pig...
[Leo plays "Little Martha"]
[Some of the taped concert is missing here...]
...a walk later. [Leo begins to play "Echoing Gilewitz"] I'll spare you but you should. I shouldn't try to play a ballad after that, so I won't.
[Leo plays "Cripple Creek"]
[Leo starts to play "Echoing Gilewitz" and, while he's playing the opening riff over and over again, says the following words:]
LEO:[Leo plays "Echoing Gilewitz"]
There's a tape out that's one of these sort of legendary tapes. It was a demo by a guy named Jerry Riopel [spelling uncertain, Leo pronounces it "REE-OH-PELL"] for a record company in Los Angeles and he had a song that he was singing out on his porch and it was raining. And he thought it would be nice if after every verse he would stop and you could listen to the rain. And slowly, verse after verse, he's sort of overcome by the rain, until all you hear is the rain. Sort of done in by his own metaphor.
This song has some of the same sort of approach, you know. It was written by a guy from Tampa named Richard Gilewitz. There's three gaping holes in it that just are there because they're supposed to be there, and then it stops. This was called "Echoing Wilderness" by Richard Gilewitz, which is a title that I abhor and so I prefer to call it -- and he allows me to call it -- "Echoing Gilewitz."
[Leo stops playing the opening riff.] This is a tricky tune. It sounds as though I'm playing [demonstrates riff] but you're not, you're playing [demonstrates riff] [audience laughs as the difference is subtle] That right there'll take you two weeks of pure internal mayhem to get straight.
Let me put a tiny bit of chorus on this.
[Leo plays "Part Two"]
[Leo plays "June Bug" and "The Bungle Party" medley]
This is an old song for me and it's one that I recorded in Australia with metal fingerpicks, back when I was using fingerpicks, and the result was exactly what you'd expect. It sounded more than slightly metallic so we decided to smear it with an orchestra. And we got an arrangement from a friend of mine, that I fell in love with sort of. And it was bad news for me because when I went to mix the record I kept turning the orchestra up until I didn't hear that metallic racket on the guitar anymore but I didn't hear the guitar anymore either when I was done with it. So I tend to play this a lot to get my point across now.
[Leo plays "Shadowland"]
This has been more than a pleasure for me tonight. I'd like to than Michael and I'd like to thank KEZM for mentioning this so much. It is KEZM isn't it? All right. I hope to see you next year, thanks for coming.
[Leo plays "Shortwave"]
[Applause and audience demands encore]AUDIENCE MEMBER:
Play it standing up for a while!
No, I took the strap off or I would. No, I wouldn't, I wouldn't do it.
No, I tried that, I tried that. I tried it in two places: Portland and St. Bart's. I thought if I was in the West Indies and it didn't work nobody would know. I know. [Audience member yells something] Let's see. By the way, it's X, X. [i.e., KEXM]. That's terrible. Let's see. I have several times walked on-stage without my guitar so I should be grateful for the fact that my faux pas are diminishing in size. Let me play this, this is [tunes] -- well, not exactly this -- I hate this [i.e., tuning].
[Leo starts to play "Ice Fields"]
[While playing bass opening riff:] This goes on for a while, then after a while something happens. [Plays treble part of riff] Not too much.
[Leo plays "Ice Fields"]
Thanks a lot.
[Audience demands another encore]
I have all that time than to figure out, if I'm gonna come back, what the hell I'm gonna play when I come back. Instead of coming out here like I always do and sitting around and fumbling and wondering.
[Leo plays "Morning is the Long Way Home"]
Thank you very much.
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