Like most American children, I was indoctrinated into the Christian tribe. In case you somehow aren't familiar with the mythology, one of the main ideas is that if you do what the book says, you'll go to a place calledheaven
Now, the book doesn't lay it out very clearly, so my God-fearing mother couldn't explain exactly what this heaven joint was like, except to say that I'd be able to do whatever I want there. Seemed like a cool idea.
So sometimes I'd imagine what I'd do if I got to this wonderful place. See the Dinosaurs. Meet the Vikings (Fran Tarkenton, not Hagar the Horrible). Live in the tree house from Swiss Family Robinson. That sort of stuff.
I'm tribe-free these days, but I still like to imagine what I might do if there really is a place called heaven. I'd still see the dinosaurs in the treehouse with Fran, but as you can imagine, I've added some wishes to the list. Rock and roll wishes.
You're Just Like the Geek in High Fidelity
Yes, I realize a list of rock and roll pipe dreams seems similar to the list John Cusack's character made in High Fidelity.
Where do you think I got the idea? (OK, the initial idea. The more recent impetus was the Backstreet Boys' surprise appearance in the motion picture hilarity This Is the End.)
Anyway, I always loved the High Fidelity scene--partially because it reminded me how lucky I was to have my own record store, but mainly because it made me think back to my imaginative childhood thoughts on heaven....
... and how I'd build my own list of rock and roll fantasies.
I'm Not the Same Geek, So It's Not The Same Type of List
The difference between Cusack's list and mine is that Cusack's list is about dream jobs. My dreams are a little more kicked back.
Don't get me wrong, I'm willing to do a little work in my heavenly scenarios, but only if it's necessary to be in the thick of the moment.
You see, I don't want to be any of the famous musicians on this list - because in this set of pipe dreams I'm in observe-the-hero mode (plus that seems a little too Being John Malkovich for me.) However, I do want to be involved in the scene. If my plausible involvement means I have to do some work, so be it.
Hmmm, where would I inject myself into the history of rock and roll?
9 Things I'd Do in Rock and Roll Heaven
In my world of rock and roll, everything starts with the Beatles, and so shall my dreams.
I'm willing to give the Beatles a full third of my nine wishes, because to me they are that important, and that interesting.
1. Interview The Beatles and write a story about their aspirations during their final run at the Cavern Club.
I'd do the interview thing early in their career, because it would be great to see the Fab Four as-yet-unaffected by massive fame. It would also be great to see how hard they worked, and hear them play in such an intimate, drunken environment.
2. Take pictures throughout the Beatles Rubber Soul sessions
The photographer in me would have to take pictures at some point, and Rubber Soul seems like a great mid-point to do it. It's one of my favorite albums, and it's a crossroads for the Beatles in terms of drug exploration, fashion, etc. Being an all-access photographer would be about as close as you could get to the action without being one of the famous people.
Note: Neither writing nor photography seem like work to me. In fact, I can't believe I am getting paid to write stuff like this.
3. Catch a buzz and talk philosophy with the Beatles throughout the Abbey Road sessions
Notice I use the preposition 'throughout'? I'm no dummy. I don't want to just see a day or two of the sessions that produced the greatest album ever made, I want to see it all. During that time, the newfound philosopher in me (see the earlier "no tribe" reference) would like to sit down and see what the Beatles, especially John and George, thought about the spiritual side of life. (I'd make more of it than Dewey Cox did.)
4. Sit in the front row at the Allman Brothers' At the Fillmore East shows.
I'm a huge jam band fan, so of course I'd attend one of the greatest runs of shows in history, which produced what many feel is the greatest live album of all time. I realize I should be wishing bigger, like being one of the road crew guys on the back of the album cover. But that's too much work for heaven; I'd be content just to sit back with a beer or eight (per show) and enjoy the jam.
5. Serve as Mick Taylor's bodyguard on the Rolling Stones 1972 Tour
Mick Taylor has worked his way up my guitar god (deities that were not included during the original indoctrination) ladder over the years. Watching him in the mighty concert DVD Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones has moved him at least into the Top Five (see the video.)
Although the band had recently lost Brian Jones, they were in peak rock and roll form with the addition of a new guitarist that Keith still refers to as a "virtuoso". Anyway, in heaven I'd have to find a way onto that tour. Guarding the kid doesn't seem too tough, and I'd be in the heart of the party and in the front row every night.
6. Work backstage "security" at Woodstock.
That's right, I'd work to get myself into the right place at the most obvious, famous rock and roll event on the list. Please note, however, that my dream has the world 'security' in quotes, because I want to be the security guy that brings the "refreshments" and then just parties with the musicians while standing on stage enjoying the music. I don't want to beat up any hippies or anything.
Note: I'd love to see the whole weekend, but if heaven had a rule (oxymoron alert) that I could only take in one performance, it would be Ten Years After's wicked "I'm Going Home."
7. Be a supportive party friend at the initial Derek and the Dominoes jam session.
I figure you'd really have to be inner circle to end up in Criteria Studios when Clapton, Dave Mason, and the other former Delaney and Bonnie boys sat down with the Allman Brothers Band (after a Miami Allmans' show) for a little 15-18 hour jam, so I'll insert myself as a "supportive party friend".
Note: If I were to inject myself into one of the players here, it would be Slowhand rather than Skydog. (I don't even like motorcycles in Heaven.)
Heaven on Earth Note: Luckily, they were in a studio that night, so they let the tape roll. The jams are included in the 20th Anniversary Layla box set, and I'm gleefully listening to them right now.
8. Take Bon Scott home a few drinks earlier.
Up to this point, I haven't asked to change anyone's destiny or anything. What the hell, it's heaven, so why not?
While the former AC/DC lead man may not be the most famous name on the rock and roll OD list, he's one of the biggest losses in my book. I'd like to go out drinking with Bon, and get just drunk enough to get us both home alive that night. It might only delay the inevitable, but even if we could get another album or two out of him, it would be worth it. They were absolutely hitting full stride with Highway to Hell, and it would give us all a chance to hear Back in Black with the growling Scott at the helm.
9. Sit at the cool table the night Jimi Hendrix blew away London.
It was mid-November in 1966. The club was the Bag O'Nails. In attendance: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, and more. The Jimi Hendrix Experience takes the stage and blows back the hair of a roomful of future rock and roll legends. I'd like to hear that band, and that table conversation. I promise I won't say much--no, really--I'll just listen quietly.
Now That's Heavenly
Quite a list, eh? Fun, fun, fun 'til our Daddy takes the T-bird away.
You may have noticed that owning a record store didn't make the list. Sorry--I really enjoyed that job, but we're talking heaven here. I could list 50 more wishes, and it still wouldn't be there. (I always shook my head when Cusack couldn't come up with a decent fifth item.)
I won't know for certain until I'm dead, but I'll tell you this much: If there really is a heaven - the way Mom said there was--I really will do this stuff.
Because after all, it's heaven, so the wishes have gotta be endless, eh?
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.