Don’t trust the media.
In reporting on what turned out to be David Cassidy's chosen farewell show, last Saturday night, the media has run a sob story about how he was so dissipated by dementia that he was falling on stage, forgetting the words and unable to do more than pathetically croak. While it’s true that he struggled during moments of this past tour, he didn't sound much different from last year's tour. His predominantly older and female crowd seemed to enjoy the shows. So did he, flexing his chops on all kinds of songs from his hits to old standards to R&B. Unlike Peter Noone, for example, he sang and played guitar at the same time, a little reminder that he considers himself a musician more than a pop idol.
No, I was never a fan of the guy, but you can’t dismiss him as just a bubble-gum boy who got lucky with a stupid TV series. It was fitting that his last show took place at BB King’s, because…David was an early fan of the blues master. Before David was a teen idol, he was just another wide-eyed white kid, so impressed that he waited at the stage door and begged King to let him carry his guitar to the car.
David told the crowd about it: “There were no security people, there were no minders…he was alone as he walked off…he came out and I said, “Excuse me, Mr. King, I thought your show was fantastic…could I carry your guitar up to your car?” And he said, “Yes, thank you very much…” David was thrilled to be able to talk to B.B. King, and when King asked the kid whether he planned to go into music, David modestly said, “I’m not a professional…someday I’m gonna be an actor.” (David didn’t mention in his famous father, actor Jack Cassidy). “I wish you the best of luck,” said King, “you seem like a very fine young man.”
By many accounts, despite the three marriages, the inevitable alcohol problem, the legend of his giant cock, and the equally swelled head a teen idol can get, Cassidy was, and is, a good guy. Too bad he didn’t get enough respect from the nostalgia bbunch in the audience. They seemed indifferent to some of the blues songs he covered, only tolerant of his attempts at rock star emoting (on the cover version of “Hush” for example). They wanted the Partridge Family hits, and the cheap spotlights in the often crappy venues he was playing disappopinted them in showing some wear on his face, and a receding hairline.
Wherever Cassidy went, he was grateful people still cared but hoped they'd behave: “No flashes…no videos…it’s hard enough for me right now…just stop yelling and screaming for a while…” What, a “teen idol” trying to be taken seriously, when idiots want to snap souvenir photos and point their cell phones? Even worse, whether to rest of his voice, or out of a sincere desire to simply SAY things besides sing them, Cassidy had to practically beg for some quiet:
“Please…I can’t talk when you’re yelling…no light, no screaming at me when I’m talking…I want this to be such an enjoyable night…I got 49 years in this business, you’re the reason….I want you to know how much I love and appreciate the way you’ve given me this gift. It’s never been a job. It’s always been, for me, love and fun…just don’t yell at me…you may be bored with me…because I’m gonna talk a lot, but please, don’t do anything else, just listen to me…I’m yelling already…”
And perhaps alluding to the onset of dementia that was forcing him into retirement, he said, “I love the fact that you are here and supporting me on this special night….I hope you will remember…love each other for the rest of your God-given life and try with everything you’ve got to do what I’m about to tell you: GET HAPPY…”
Yes, he did try to give the crowd the hit songs they remembered. He brought a band with him to the small towns, and he cared enough to constantly ask for adjustments from the sound booth and to switch guitars when he heard one going out of tune. He seemed to actually find joy on stage, and not think of himself in the purgatory of several years playing rather obscure clubs just to put money in the bank after all the bad business decisions and other financial problems.
But to say he was out of it, or that his performance was any worse than an off-night for Paul Simon or Bob Dylan? No, not exactly. But that’s the media.
While Cassidy was playing BB King’s I was watching the Thurman vs Garcia boxing match. It ended in a split decision. What that tells you is that people can see things differently.
When there’s money involved, they can see things very differently. When you’re running a news website and you want clicks and traffic, you’ll claim David Cassidy was suffering and struggling and make a tearjerker story out of an evening that most people felt went pretty well. The media made much of one drunken fan taking too many flash pictures. David said to her, “I don’t care that you’re drunk. I’ve been drunk enough, as you all know.”
He ultimately said, “Get her out, you’re ruining it for everybody else.” He also said, to security, “Please tell them (all) to stop (taking flash pictures). God!” And that was just one minute of an evening most fans there will remember because a professional entertainer did his best, and most of it wasn’t bad at all.
Below, David’s take on a wistful classic by John Lennon. Yes, he reached the hoarse level McCartney now sometimes has, a little earlier than Paul. And yes, he re-interpreted the melody line to skip some of the higher notes, but he was still communicating, still making music.
IN MY LIFE David Cassidy IN MY LIFE Instant download or listen on line, no ads, no pop-ups, no Zinfart password.