Neil Young Crazy Horse

If I Could Time Travel

I imagine that one thing music lovers think about the most is going back in time. Going back to when their favorite bands first released their favorite records. Going back to when those bands played those records live for the first time(s). Going back to when those bands had an unquenched thirst and undying energy.

I’m a person who listens to a lot of old or semi-old music. As you’ll see, a lot of the bands I love are not around anymore. Many have passed away and some just don’t tour anymore.

Whatever the reason, it’s unfortunate that my interests don’t always align with the generation I am a part of. But what can I do? Well, imagine.

I did a hefty bit of research to come up with my list of the 6(ish) shows, that, with the ability to time travel, and a large sum of cash, I would be able to go back and attend. It was difficult to narrow it down to these, but I thought any more would complicate things.

I would do some horrible things to be at these shows…

1. The Velvet Underground, San Fransisco, CA, 1969

Without The Velvet Underground, I don’t know that any of my favorite bands would even exist. 1969, in my opinion, showcased the best setlists for the Velvet Underground. I have always loved Loaded (1970) as much as their earlier, slightly more influential albums. Their setlist for this show contains a variety of their earlier, softer tunes, and the more rock and roll feel of songs like “Rock and Roll” (had to do it).

This show does a true justice to what the band is and was. They were still in their prime, and still writing some of the best music known to modern man. I would have passed up a shot at the Beatles to see a show like this.

2. The Rolling Stones, Anywhere, 1972

After a lot of Rolling Stones circa-1972 research, I realized something. With such a prolific band comes a prolific prime. In 1972, the Rolling Stones were in it. Rock and roll at its undeniable, absolute finest. Pure energy. Sex, drugs, all of the above.

1972 was the perfect storm for the Rolling Stones. They were at their writing peak, having just released their best string of albums (1968-1972). They were not at all burnt out by lengthy touring. They sounded amazing. And sweet Mick. Not Jagger, but Taylor. When we talk “feel,” or rock and roll, no one grooved better than Mick Taylor.

I simply cannot imagine the adrenaline rush of seeing such a bombshell performance in person.

3. Neil Young, Nagoya, Japan, 1976

I know, Japan seems inconvenient. But, I’m time traveling, so who really cares, right?

Anyway, this one is more about the time period and less about the venue. Neil Young was in his prime in the early to mid-70’s. In 1976, he was touring with Crazy Horse, and was playing a mix of older and new releases.

What’s cool about Neil Young’s 1976 shows is that the first half would be acoustic. Him and his guitar running through some of his older, softer songs. Then, Crazy Horse would join him to rock the stage for part 2.

This was the beginning of Neil Young using “Cortex the Killer” as a long, raucous, fierce, amazing closer. This was the beginning of the leather jacket-wearing, messy hair, foot-stomping Neil Young that I personally love to love.

4. The Ramones, London, UK, 1977

This was an easy one. The Ramones, London, 1977. Need I explain? The sound is incredible, and you can feel the energy just by watching clips online.

The first time I ever saw this video was the first time I truly appreciated The Ramones. Pure awesomeness and pure originality. They ripped in London that night, and I can only wish that I was there to see it.

5. The Replacements/Husker Du, Minneapolis, MN, 1981

This is one of my favorite live videos of all time. If you haven’t seen it, it’s 6 parts. Watch all 6. Don’t ask questions.

Maybe The Replacements weren’t in their songwriting prime yet, but who cares – they were a bunch of teenagers, shredding the faces off of a crowd of Minnesotans that had no idea what the musical future of their city held.

The Replacements were one of three bands to play this show, with Husker Du as the closer. Imagine these young chaps tearing it up as the set-up act? Are you kidding me?

6. The Replacements, Hoboken, NJ, 1986

Well, as you might be able to tell, I like The Replacements. Overall, this is it. This is the show. The one show. If I had to pick one show of these five, and only go to that one, it would be this.

The only thing that makes The Replacements 1981 performance less great than this one is the lack of a catalog. In 1986, they were in their heyday. Their heyday of songwriting, their heyday of drugs, their heyday of “Hayday.”

Any remote Replacements fan could look at the setlist from the show and know that it’s unbelievable. Not to mention how tight it sounded.

The Replacements were very skilled musicians. They knew how to groove, but they also knew how to party. On this night in Jersey, the partying subsided enough for them to crank out a masterful set.

I love music, but sometimes it’s sad to know I can never go back to these moments. I got to see The Replacements live in 2014, so I can be happy to have done that. It was a fantastic show in its own right.

In the end, the least I can do is consider myself lucky to be alive when these bands have relevance. The internet is a wonderful place to revisit, think about them, and write about them.


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