Sunday, August 24, 2008

Baltimore....(or how Randy Newman stopped a Riot during a Snowstorm)


The Story Behind the Song....

I was telling my son about Baltimore, I have many stories from that era of my life....and I was telling him about my First Randy Newman Concert. It was winter,many years ago and it was bitter cold and snowing....It was in an old Dance Hall, and people showed up mostly for the Main Act which was the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Now This was the same year that "Short People" came out and believe it or not Little People would come and protest at Randy's Concerts.

So outside waiting in the snowstorm was the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Fans ( alot of Bikers ) and then the Protesting Midgets and Dwarves. And I am not sure why, but they were not getting along.So then the Parrotheads arrived, somehow they were there to see both bands. So they were in their Full Margauritaville Gear with Hawaii Shirts and funny hats. So The Management let all of us in. I was with my sister who was in a DISCO phase and really pissed at me for dragging her to "this dumass circus of a concert". There I sat in my Hippy gear, patched jeans , Indian top, and 2nd hand coat and clogs smoking clove cigarettes. It was not a Sisterly loving event. ( I invited her because her date cancelled and I had an extra ticket.)

So the Dance Hall is packed every old battered wooden theater seat is full and Everyone has made their way in, the Pissed Off Little People, the Rowdy Bikers, and the Parrotheads.... So the waiting begins.

Well, it turns out that the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was not coming...and would not be coming. And that supposedly their Bus had broken down somewhere. Now the Audience had to be told this....So there are Pissed off Little People marching up and down the aisles, and then now the Bikers were about to be given a bad blow. So a little tiny wisp of a man came out to deliver the bad news....

" I have some troubling news, I am not sure when or if the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is coming. But if you want to wait for them, because they had some bus trouble, then I am sure they will be here when Randy Finishes playing, Maybe"

His voice cracked and rose off and on, sweat ran down his little face. By the time he was done the Bikers were on their feet yelling " We want our Godamn Money Back NOW !!!!

Meanwhile the Parrotheads have all settled in to watch the show- and are getting stoned and blowing up HUGE Beachballs and bouncing them around the audience. Meanwhile the angry little people are still stomping around the aisles.And the Bikers are now stamping their feet and Yelling and getting ready to Break Something.

My sister sitting there in her leather pants and her Donna Summer tube top was looking disgusted, and " I wish I was anywhere else!!". Someone handed her a Flask and told her " Here Darlin' have some Courage", She mellowed considerably.

And while the Tension rose and the Noise got louder, the Little Man on the stage said, "Without Further ado- I give you Randy Newman".......

So out comes Randy, still putting on his jacket, looking a bit rumpled like he just fell off the bus....He quickly gauged the room... and came out on stage and sat at the Piano and started talking....as soothing as a Fine Southern Gentleman , telling the Bikers not to worry that he would keep them happy until The Band arrived, and apologizing to the Little People, and even making nice jokes about his gratitude to the Mysterious Parrotheads and their doobies and beach balls. ( No one was even sure why they were there...). He had a rambling style like a traveling Medicine Man offering some sweet bottled Sunshine and promises out the back of a wagon as he stroked the piano keys.

He sang it all Blues, Ray Charles, Some Jimmy Buffet, and some Willie Nelson.....all of it...He used his music to make peace that snowy night.....

And this Song was how he began his show....".Baltimore"....a much longer version....

And no the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band never showed....but 20 minutes into Randy telling stories and singing songs Something Wonderful happened.....

3 comments:

HelenWheels said...

What a fantastic story! I am cracking up at the description of your sister. That would probably have been me (before I learned to appreciate weirdness).

I absolutely love the mental image I have of that concert!

Great song. What a songwriter and performer Randy is.

enigma4ever said...

thanks...yeah,,...he is amazing..I would love to see him again one day...

( I saw him three times- but this first time ever..was the most memorable- for sure ;-)

( My sister and I had alot of differences...too funny.ahh yeah...I never had a disco phase)...

Ingrid said...

how fun! such great memories and wow, what a nice comment to Randy Newman.. it can only take one person doesn't it? He has written some great songs for Pixar films as well (for instance, Bug's Life and Toy Story, he's such a great lyricist!)

and oh..James saw your pic and said, hey! she looks like you!

ok..just got the call,my car is ready..so much for relaxing and checking out 'the cafe'..

later!

Ingrid