Friday, October 30, 2009

An Evening With Roger McGuinn

Good Morning Friends,

A couple of days ago I landed a couple of tickets to go see Roger McGuinn from a generous couple on Craigslist who could not make the show. Last night Weng and I drove to Hillsboro Oregon to check out his show. Many of you may remember the band from the 60's/70's named the Byrds. At their peak they were number one on the charts and had an enormous following. I was one of their fans and to this day a lot of their music remains new and timeless. (see today's ThinkMusic). McGuinn's musical pals included the Beatles, Dylan, Rolling Stones, Pete Seeger and countless more.

But American musical tastes changed and the Byrds disbanded as the storm of Disco swept the radiowaves. Fame is an elusive master who must be fed constantly with artistic souls or the 'Long Night' of forgetfulness will surely freeze your moment in time. I confess that, having worked in the music business, my expectations for the performance were low. My feelings are mixed as I write this morning. The show was short, an hour with a small encore. Roger McGuinn took us on a little tour of the world as it was once. Easy conversation about those days took up almost half of the evening, and, I must say it was enjoyable. Looking at the house of 100 or so people though I could not help but feel melancholy - my peers nearly filled the room with grey hair and low spark, all hoping to catch a moment of their youth. Noticeably lacking was chronologically young people. Weng was probably the youngest woman there and she knew little of the music. So, how was it? McGuinn displayed bursts of technical brilliance but it was somehow mechanical and shopworn to me. The high moment of the evening came with a fine rendition of Cab Calloways 1929 'St. James Infirmary Blues'.

People left the hall without a ruckus and any trace of their youthful Hippieness was nowhere to be seen. On the drive home Weng and I talked little and decided that we would spend our next precious night out going to a rock and roll dance club. Before bed I confess to googling Roger McGuinn. Turns out that he played a high school gym last week in Washington State and his show, down to the entertaining banter, was exactly the same. Any magic of the evening simply faded away.



  1. But the magic goes on. Your post promted me to dust off my Fender Jazzmaster, do a google search and make a feeble attempt at learning "Turn - Turn - Turn" can never play it like he did though. Dave in CDA

  2. yikes! tell me about it! have not had time to pick up the guitar for months!! and, you are right, in his dynamic years he had a sound that was sweet.....

  3. We must remember all the others they influenced, too. And some members went on to great things - like David Crosby and Gram Parsons. But, it is hard to re-capture the original feeling or excitement or wonder of being there or doing something for the first time.