Lady Gaga at Fenway Park

Yup, I was there. Here’s what things looked like as we awaited the start of the show:

Note the Prudential Center lit up in orange.

Here Lady Gaga is singing a song that involved setting the stage on fire:

Here are all the cell phones lit up in a communal ritual of adoration as she sings “Million Reasons”:

And here she is at the end wearing her oversize cowboy getup:

It turns out that we are the best fans in the world, and she couldn’t do it without us.

Some more observations:

  • I’m getting a bit old to stand up for two solid hours, even for Lady Gaga. On the other hand, 48 years ago I was pretty annoyed at having to sleep in the mud at Woodstock. So maybe it’s just me and not my age.
  • The crowd was, by my estimation, 104% white.
  • I have never seen fishnet stockings on men before. Maybe I need to get out more.
  • Having said that, I also saw lots of folks who looked like me, including the gray hair. The crowd was basically PG and the show was PG-13.
  • Lady Gaga is a good musician — she’s got a big voice, she dances well, she plays the piano and guitar. Her songs are high-grade pop. She also seems like a warm, pleasant person, in a show-biz sort of way. She had nice things to say about everyone in her family, including an aunt who died before she was born. She dedicated a song to a friend who died of cancer. I’d be disappointed if I found out she was a jerk backstage.
  • I had no emotional connection to anything that happened onstage. Everyone around me knew all the lyrics to all the songs — and, what was more important, the songs seemed to matter to them. They hugged each other; they sang along as they swayed in time to the music… Me, I found myself checking the score of the Red Sox game in the Bronx (Final: Boston 4, New York 1).
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“Until every step you take becomes a twist of fate”

Y’all like the Indigo Girls, right?  Me too.

My music shuffle brought up “Watershed” the other day, and it occurred to me that it has some similarity to themes I find myself exploring in my Portal series.

Here they are performing the song on the Tonight Show a quarter of a century ago.  We saw them perform a few years ago, and they could still bring it.

Let’s dance beneath the diamond sky for Bob Dylan

I once took a course from a Nobel Prize winner.  But this is the only Nobel Prize winner I’ve seen playing electric guitar while people shouted angrily at him for betraying folk music.

Here’s just one example of why Dylan deserves the Nobel Prize:

Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow

There are, of course, hundreds more.

Amy

I saw the Oscar-winning documentary Amy the other day.  It’s the harrowing story of the decline and fall of Amy Winehouse, who managed to put out one great album on her way to an early grave.  I liked the film, but there was about a half hour too much harrow for my taste. And, as a friend of mine said, “We’ve seen this story already, haven’t we?”

Of course we have.  And the story has been even more poignant.  Here is Amy Winehouse singing “Back to Black” live.

The song is pretty good, and her voice is great, but she isn’t much of a performer.  It’s kind of hard to tell that this is supposed to be a sad song.

Now let’s take a look at Janis Joplin singing “Summertime” in Sweden in July 1969.

This performance is not just great; it takes you to a whole other plane of existence.  Could anyone pour more of herself into a song than Janis Joplin?  She was dead 15 months later.

George Martin

George Martin has died at the age of 90..

I can’t begin to tell you how much pleasure George Martin has added to my life. Here is “In My Life,” which includes the famous piano bridge written and performed by Martin:

And this is how Wikipedia describes the bridge:

The song was recorded on 18 October 1965, and was complete except for the instrumental bridge. At that time, Lennon had not decided what instrument to use, but he subsequently asked George Martin to play a piano solo, suggesting “something Baroque-sounding”. Martin wrote a Bach-influenced piece that he found he could not play at the song’s tempo. On 22 October, the solo was recorded with the tape running at half speed, so when played back at normal pace the piano was twice as fast and an octave higher, solving the performance challenge and also giving the solo a unique timbre, reminiscent of a harpsichord.

It’s hard to believe that this song has been around for over 50 years.