It seems that I saw The Blues Project, The Fugs, Phil Ochs, Jim & Jean and a whole mess of other performers (Children of Paradise?) at NYU’s Loeb Student Center on February 3, 1967 (a Friday), and that it cost me $1 (plus subway fare from The Bronx), I wish I could tell you that I remembered this, but I really didn’t. I had a vague memory of a show in the Village and The Blues Project and The Fugs, but I couldn’t have summoned up the details. The internet, specifically a site called It’s All The Streets You Crossed Not So Long Ago , provided the other information for me, and although that’s kind of amazing, the ability to pinpoint and expand memory, I’m not sure that it doesn’t result in a sort of demystification if you can simply go and find out what really happened and when, what songs bands played in what order in say 1971 (The Beach Boys, I’m now certain, opened a set I caught in The Bronx with “Heroes and Villains”). I’ve told friends for years about a Fillmore East late show where members of The Dead, The Allmans and Fleetwood Mac jammed into the early morning hours, and I was pretty stoned so I couldn’t say for certain what they were jamming on except that seeing Garcia, Allman and Green all intertwining guitars was plenty awesome. Now I can go to the internet and hear most of that show, but it’s never going to be the same as when it incrementally unfolded that night at the Fillmore, and in fact it’s going to diminish the myth somewhat, because it’s like a memory replacement device: here’s what you heard that night in a document. Oh, ok. Thanks, I guess. I’m happy everything is out there and can be retrieved, and if I’m writing this blog and need confirmation about something, there it is. But what about when the internet corrects my perception about my experience?
Like, I was talking to someone earlier today about seeing The Lovin’ Spoonful and Cream (not on the same bill, alas) at Hunter College. He asked when this was, and in my brain it was: well, the shows were around the same time, and the Cream one was before Disraeli Gears but after the Murray the K Paramount Shows, so…fall of 1967, maybe? Except it wasn’t in 1967 at all, and it was way after The Lovin’ Spoonful show, so it had to be after Disraeli Gears, but somehow I’d conflated those two shows into the same period, maybe mixing Cream up with The Doors? Damn you, internet! Not that any of this matters: it isn’t like I’m assembling a definitive diary of Every Rock Show I Saw, 1966-1971, which would be impossible to construct even with the help of all those websites that list every date of every tour by bands I know I saw, and even if I could spend hours and hours of my time doing this detective work on, as the site would have it, All The Streets I Crossed, who would care and what purpose would it serve?
How’d I get into this? Oh, I was watching a Cream documentary the other night, about the recording of Disraeli Gears, and Eric Clapton was talking about where a specific guitar lick came from on “Tales of Brave Ulysses,” and he said how influenced his band (Cream) was by The Lovin’ Spoonful, and he by Zal Yanovsky’s (although he calls him Zanovsky) guitar playing specifically, and although I have spent how many hours of my life listening to both bands — and, as I mentioned, I thought I saw them both within a short period of time — it never would have occurred to me to draw a direct line (maybe a squiggly one) between Cream and The Lovin’ Spoonful even though Cream did a song called “Spoonful.” But of course there is: Cream could have done Sebastian’s “It’s Not Time Now,” the Spoonful could have done Cream’s “Sleepy Time Time,” and Cream’s “Wrapping Paper” has some of the Spoons’ relaxed old-timey thing, and I can hear Clapton or Jack Bruce singing “Wild About My Lovin’” or Sebastian singing “Outside Woman Blues.” The underlying nods to country blues are the same, but the bands come at the music from different angles. Of course Clapton took some of Zal’s “Summer In The City” licks for “Tales of Brave Ulysses”; I was thrown off by Eric’s wah-wah, and by Ginger Baker’s rolling drums, but there you go. I’m betting that if I dig enough, I’ll find somewhere in 1967 where Cream and The Lovin’ Spoonful ran into each other. When Cream came to NYC to play those first Paramount Shows? When they were downtown gigging at the Cafe A Go-Go? At Steve Paul’s Scene? Rock in the sixties wasn’t only about the streets we crossed, it was about where those roads intersected.