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Tuesday
Jul132010

It Was 25 Years Ago Today

My friend wrote to remind that Live Aid was 25 years ago today.

Still got the tattered parking lot bootleg T. At my job at Staah Mahhket on July 12th, got high with my buddy Ben, he pretty much talked me into walking out on the spot. "Can't miss Zeppelin!", he said. Got picked up at 10 or so that night. I was gonna just leave a note for my mom (mom, I am so sorry for those years of insanity), but she came home before the getaway. Eric, who was a couple years older than me, had a smooth way with the ladies and some seriously smoky blue eyes, somehow charmed her into letting me go.

A handful of us took off to Philly overnight in his station wagon, doing various drugs the whole way, very Fear And Loathing At Ridgemont High. We arrived around dawn, found more drugs, followed the sea of people inside. Later in the day, it got to be sweltering. They were hosing down the crowd, but I was too deep in the thick of it for the water to reach me, or to make it out of the people-sea and back in. Dazed, I sat down and used my coke razor to turn my jeans into shorts, while I was wearing them. In my gleeful stupor, I felt so proud of my ingenuity, liberated from the tyranny of the denim. 

I'll never forget the opening bars of 'Rock&Roll'. They sound terrible seeing the footage now, but back then, it was pretty much a meteor crashing into the atmosphere. Then later, 100k people saying 'does anybody remember laughter?'. I'll also never forget Billy Ocean's white suit and thinking, "Well, that's how I'm gonna say Caribbean then" (and I still do). Madonna dealing with hecklers with equal parts flirtation and disdain, retorting 'I ain't takin shit off today!'. I remember the guy that apparently showed up three days early and begged Bill Graham and the staff to let him open the show, solo, with his battered acoustic. They did, astonishingly. I remember thinking that was pretty ingenuous of him, and it probably inspired to some degree my enthusiasm for tireless enthusiasm towards a dream. He broke a string in his one tune, after his perfect story. Which made it all kind of even more perfect.

20 years later, I found myself in the UK on tour right when Live8 was happening. Sober that time. I'd quit drugs&drink at the end of high school, but never lost the thirst for rockin'. We got tickets, had a great time. Bill Gates introduing Dido. Brad Pitt's mere presence onstage creating such an odd, reverent stir in the massive crowd. Robbie Williams embodying and being embodied by the crowd and surrounding culture, tots to grandmas singing every note as if at some giant, outdoor pub. Pink Floyd being impossibly perfect.

I remember thinking I was probably one of very few people in the world that had been at both Philly in 85 and London in 2005. I remember feeling so grateful for this music-geek, hopeless rocker, lucky life. Still am, more and more.

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