Saturday, October 09, 2010
Eleanor McEvoy & John Lennon's 70th Birthday
It was the night of October 9th, six years ago. Mid-way into her set, Eleanor McEvoy did what I was hoping she'd do...sing "Last Seen October 9th."
By way of preface, expecting her song title for an answer, she asked the audience, "Anyone know what day this is?"
From my ringside seat, I answered, "Yes...John Lennon's birthday."
"Really. I didn't know that..."
Today, everybody knows it, because today, October 9, 2010, John Lennon would have celebrated his 70th birthday.
On October 9th, years ago, Eleanor explained that she rarely performed the grim "Last Seen October 9th" song on stage, but being October 9th, it was a fitting night for it. And while it's about a person gone missing, not someone assassinated, for me and for perhaps others in the crowd, the song evoked John's image, in its quiet lines about life's fragility and the emptiness that goes with loss.
This simple, stark song is about a girl gone missing, and the sad, "last seen..." signs her family nailed to trees and taped to lamp posts...an act of futility dressed as hope.
After the show, I mentioned to Eleanor that home-made "last seen" signs, xeroxed with a snapshot of the missing loved one, were vivid on bus shelters and lamp posts and in store windows after 9/11, and stayed up until the rains and wind mottled and bent them, and the faces and names on them were faded and streaked.
It was impossible to hear her song without thinking about 9/11, but also, on Lennon's birthday, to not think about John. A missing person and missing a person. It all comes down to the same bittersweet memories. For me, Lennon's death is a trauma still raw even after 30 years, and I'm fortunate that the way I was able to cope with it was getting a call asking me to work on a tribute magazine, some 250,000 copies to go out as fast as I could write and the printer could print. And so those shocking days were spent in work, and in tribute.
And this month, there's a new John Lennon boxed set and new mixes of his albums, and the usual rationalizations for this material being given away by the usual people in the usual places. Hell, John's not alive. Hell, Yoko is nasty. Hell, we already have this stuff so why pay for the time it took to re-master the material. Hell, hell, hell. This, from people who spend more on a night out they won't remember, then on music they will spend a lifetime playing over and over. This, from people who don't seem to get the message of John's songs. It makes me think that if John was around, he'd explain the irony of being doped on religion, sex and free Internet downloads of anything that can be digitized...and thinking you're clever, classless and free, when you're all...
One of the nice things about having a real CD instead of a blip in your iPod, is you have the artist's complete vision, including the booklet and lyrics. You also have something that can be autographed. Eleanor did not sell her latest CD at her gig. I asked her why, and she said it was just too much to carry them around, gig to gig. I think she may have also found it a bit demeaning, after giving a performance, to have to become a merchant. I brought my copy, she autographed it, and it's reproduced here, amended a bit in tribute to John.
"Last Seen October 9th" appears on "Yola," Eleanor's first album after going indie. She's issued several since, and though it was well over $20 as an import, I got her latest, which has arrived the same October month as the Lennon box set. As an indie release, on her own label, Eleanor gets most of the money, and maintains control. Of course thanks to the publicity machines at two major labels, her mammoth and well-covered hit "Only a Woman," and over a decade of building a following, she can actual sell some copies, which is a rare feat for an indie artist. The new one's called "I'd Rather Go Blonde," and is, as the title might suggest, not as dark as her previous albums of original songs. I'd rather have it in CD form than mp3 download, and I'd rather buy it than get it via a "share," because I care about the woman. $20 to have the album is a better deal than spending it on a dinner that'll just be a memory and a shit the following day.
October, 2010. A new album is out from Ireland's Eleanor McEvoy, and the best we could hope for in new releases from New York City's John Lennon...is re-mixes, re-masters, and a stripped down 'Double Fantasy.' The box set also includes a CD of outtakes and demos to give us just a little more from a man we miss so very much.
OCTOBER 9th Listen on line, no pop-ups, porn ads or wait time.