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July 31, 2009

Missing Willie Nelson and McDonald's

concert4.jpgI was thrilled when Robert of Cross Keys said he wanted to write a guest post for us. I was even more thrilled when he asked what the rules are. No one ever asked me that before. I love rules (which is why my guest posters tend to migrate to Midnight Sun).

I told him there were only two rules: Only Owl Meat can be weird, and he has to have more food in his posts than Bucky did.

Well, one out of two ain't bad. You always get one free pass when you're new. Here's RoCK. EL

This week took me back to Aberdeen, my boyhood home, to see the Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Bob Dylan concert.  A one word review: disappointing. I only got to listen to two songs from Willie, and I had to listen to Dylan’s entire set plus his encore.

When it comes to the short Willie set, I have myself, my wife and falling barometric pressure to blame. ...

I know the concert starts at 5:30 p.m., but who could believe that?  It’s a rock concert, not the early bird special at the Peppermill.  Then again, considering the average age of the three performers, the Peppermill may actually cater to a younger crowd.

Also, who would think that Willie Nelson would open for Bob Dylan?  Red-headed strangers are not beaten by beatnik poets. "The City of New Orleans" cannot be topped by "Hurricane."

My wife also needs to share some of the blame.  As soon as we get in the car she tells me that she has not eaten all day, and she is not interested in whatever is being sold at the stadium.  So, the stadium food is no good, but what would be?  Well, she is thinking Arby’s, or to be more precise, the potato cakes from Arby’s and a burger from Burger King. 

After picking up the potato cakes and smuggling them into the Burger King, she hands me a flier that eats up 30 minutes of time I don’t have to spare.  It's for a nostalgia show at some Aberdeen hotel next month featuring Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane and one of the kids from a Family Affair. For the next half hour we have a discussion on who would have to be at this show to make us pay the $15 admission. She goes with the Queen of England, and I vote for Ponch from CHiPs. 

I finally make it to the stadium, and as I approach I hear the foreshadowing lyrics of "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" joined with thunderclaps.  I take a seat, listen to "On the Road Again," and the next thing I hear is Willie telling everyone to head for cover.  The stadium’s limited covered section is inaccessibly packed with people, so the only option is underneath the bleachers…the metal bleachers in the middle of a thunderstorm. 

After about 15 minutes of telling myself the rain wasn’t that bad, I opt for the drier, albeit riskier, comfort of cover.  I am not alone under those bleachers.  In addition to the wife, I am joined by a bunch of hippies, which I expected.  What's surprising is all the families with young children.

What are young children doing at this concert?  There is no offspring of Billy Ray Cyrus performing.  There are no free giveaways of purity rings.  There’s no Guitar Hero featuring Willie, Dylan or Mellencamp. 

There were no rock concerts in the Aberdeen of my youth. There wasn’t much of anything, but there was a McDonald's. It was a great McDonald's.  It had a playground the types of which lawyers have long since dismantled. As the concert resumed and Dylan came out to play one insufferable and indiscernible song after another, my mind drifted to that McDonald's.  In many ways, however, that McDonald's has always been…wait for the cheesy ending with the tie in…"Always on My Mind."

(Photo by RoCK)  

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 3:02 PM | | Comments (60)


The man lives in Cross Keys, of course he's going to ask what the rules are.

Splendid, RoCK. Plenty of food, not too weird, I don't know what EL is talking about.

Brilliant LL. Of course, all good Republicans want to know the rules. I'm surprised he didn't suggest some new ones.

Welcome bro. I was very happy when I heard you were going to guest post. You have a wry clever wit that I enjoy. Now repeat after me: more food, more food. I wrote a post last year and totally forgot to put food in it. Once you get swatted by the Tennis Racket of Staying on Topic you learn fast. She's got a killer backhand.

Here's another rule: Don't pimp your blog. Even if it has a cool mechanical crab performance art piece. That's just tacky.

"City of New Orleans"? was Arlo Guthrie playing? I'm confused.

Weird? I'm not weird. I'm just misunderstood. No one knows what it's like behind blue eyes...

A friend of mine told me she was going to a concert in aberdeen and I had to ask whether it was Aberdeen, MD or Aberdeen Scotland. Each seemed equally unlikely.

If you hadn't said it was a crab, I would have thought tarantula.

Could there be more food in the post? Sure, but I do have the unholy trinity of fast food in McDonalds, Burger King and Arbys. I also get in a Peppermill joke, and unlike the Peppermill's clientele those jokes never get old.

As to City of New Orleans, yes it is a Arlo Guthrie song;however, that song is also on Willie's greatest hits albulm. It's not some obscure cover that Willie sang at a County fair in Arkansas. When I was having this debate with EL and Owlie I noticed that when you google City of New Orleans the first video that comes up is John Denver's version, so maybe the song isn't assigned to either Willie or Arlo.

I went to an Ironbirds game a couple of weeks ago and had very good food from a buffet set up for our group. I was really happy with the Redhook beer on tap. Arlo tells the story of how when Willie recorded The City of New Orleans Steve Goodman (the writer) called him and said how Willie would make them both famous. Turns out Willie's version went to No. 1 on the country charts and won Steve Goodman a Grammy in 1984.

I told him there were only two rules: Only Owl Meat can be weird, and he has to have more food in his posts than Bucky did.

As a practical matter, that's only one rule.

Well done RoCK. It is nice to know that out there, somewhere, one Republican is having a good time.

I'm sure you are aware that Frank Zappa was raised in Aberdeen and peed regularly into the water treatment cisterns.
Damn Hippie.
Just trying to make everyone smart with his generous cast-offs.
Bombs Away.
Willie Very Good. Dylan is the lyrical (albeit cynical and unintelligible) Shakespeare of the 20th century.
There is no real reason for Shakespeare to annunciate.
It's telepathic baby. Either you get it or you don't.
If it weren't for Dylan we'd all still be listening to lyrics by the 1910 Fruit Gum Company...and singing Along With a tasteful little cardigan.With Karl Rove. And Barbie. And Pat Boone.And J. Edgar Hoover(he'd be dressed in a dress...with a Thompson Machine Gun) And that Eisenhower Boy.
Mellancamp is the surprizing sleeper favorite...his Last acoustic album, LOVE,DEATH etc.. is phenomenal.
I prefer The Tastee Diner or the extreme rear of my refrigerator over any Arby's existant in the Free World.I'd sooner gorge on limp celery.
I won't apologize for this.
Your new Best Friend Soon Possibly sitting across the table;

Purity rings? Why do I have the feeling this is something I would have been far happier never hearing about?

(Rock on, RoCK.)

Oh, Lissa, don't tell me you haven't heard of purity rings. That's what I won in the divorce.

Whoa, LL. Got a little edge to you today.

Guess I was out in the woods too long.

I'm sure that can be fixed, Laura Lee.

No, I really haven't heard of them. And I'm afraid to go check wikipedia.

I frequently fail my pop culture roll.

Ok, I did go look up purity rings. Ick. Unnatural. Against the natural order of things. Gack.

Willie Nelson?
Norah Jones has a side project called the Little Willies (named in his honor) and they do a great act. They do a tune called "The Streets of Baltimore" that, while its been covered by many artists, I think theirs is best. I'd post a link but it seems that the only place you can hear it is on Comcast Rhapsody. I bought the tune but don' t know how to post it online.
Another great tune of theirs is "Roll On"

I know this will provoke accusations of sexism, but if I had a daughter, I'd be all about the purity rings. I'd have rings on her fingers and rings on her toes.

I wondered how the concert went RoCK. Too bad about Willie. I take Dylan wasn't too great? What of Mellancamp?

Your wife writes a food blog and wanted to eat at Arbys/BK? Oh well, I can understand getting a junk craving I suppose.

Fl Rob, I've ehard some of NJ's side project on Radio Paradise. She could do anything and I'd be hooked because her voice is like velvet. But, her Streets of Baltimore is so probably the best I've ever heard although Gram Parsons version is way up there.

FL Rob, I haven't gotten around to getting the Little Willies CD yet (although I've been meaning to for a long time).

"Streets of Baltimore" was originally written by Charlie Moore if my memory is correct, but he might be way too country for your taste. The Gram Parsons version that Joyce mentioned (from the GP album) is really good. Gram's best album, though, is "Return of the Grievous Angel". A very young Emmylou Harris sings the harmony vocals with him, and I think that each of them brought out the best in each other.

Emmylou also sang on the GP album, but I don't think they had their act together quite as well yet.

I guess they let Republicans in these concerts, also. Go back to stereotype school Robert. You are an ass, with childhood obesity on your mind.

Where the hell did Rick Cabeza's comment from? Looks like another case of unwarranted snark.

RoCK, I loved this review, and always admire your droll wit. RoCK ON (quote Lionel's father on PBS' "As Time Goes By")!

LOL. Welcome to guest posting RoCK. You haven't arrived until you gte random hate mail. Congrats

Oh Richard Cabeza, these days Republicans are allowed into all kinds of public accommodations. We're going to concerts. We're drinking out of water fountains. We're sitting at lunch counters. And there's more. Why with the exception of our Log Cabin brethren, we're even allowed to marry.

Richard Cabeza? Not so clever:
Richard, RIch, Rick, Dick
'Cabeza= Spanish for head

the unholy trinity of fast food in McDonalds, Burger King and Arbys
RoCK, where does Hardee's (yes, I know, I should be afraid to ask) fall in spectrum of villainy?

Some of my best friends have been Republicans.

Not that I'm going to name them publicly or anything.

where does Hardee's (yes, I know, I should be afraid to ask) fall in spectrum of villainy?

The introduction of Hardee's Holes may result in a restructuring of the hierarchy.

I'm from Aberdeen too! I remember that McDonald's, not for the playground but for the fries, which were excellent even for McDonald's fries.

Was the concert on post (APG), and if not, where was it?

Great to see your blog discussion that invokes Arlo Guthrie's and Willie Nelson's versions of Steve Goodman's "City of New Orleans." Goodman often doesn't get his due. You might be interested in my 800-page biography, "Steve Goodman: Facing the Music." The book delves deeply into the genesis and effects of "City of New Orleans," and Arlo and Willie are key sources among my 1,050 interviewees, and Arlo even contributed the foreword.

You can find out more at my Internet site (below). Amazingly, the book's first printing sold out in just eight months, all 5,000 copies, and a second printing of 5,000 is available now. The second printing includes hundreds of little updates and additions, including 30 more photos for a total of 575. It won a 2008 IPPY (Independent Publishers Association) silver medal for biography.

To order a second-printing copy, see the "online store" page of my site. Just trying to spread word about the book. Feel free to do the same!

Clay Eals
1728 California Ave. S.W. #301
Seattle, WA 98116-1958

(206) 935-7515 home
(206) 484-8008 cell

Easy, Clay, easy. One is enough to plug your book.

800 pages? That's a bit much.

Hal, I understand many people have covered "The Streets of Baltimore". You should go get that Little Willies CD, its very good.

Think I'll go hunt down the Gram Parsons version now.

I think the standard bible is less than 800 pages, which means God has less to say about everything than Clay has to say about the guy who wrote "City of New Orleans".

Oh, don't ruin it for me. I just started reading it. I hope it has a happy ending

Purity ring? What happened to the other two Ballantine Beer rings - Body and Flavor?


I think those other two rings were lost as Bonham was gurgling on a mixture of vodka and vomit

RoCK, I liked your guest post very much, even if you don't like Bobby Z.

Yes, good post, but it could use more crab.

RiE: wow, good ref.

Gram Parsons version of Streets of Baltimore is the best.

RoCK, come on, Dylan is magic. Tangled Up in Blue ... wondering if her hair was still red (auburn really)...

. "The City of New Orleans" cannot be topped by "Hurricane."


Hurricane can't top The City of New Orleans but Rosemary, Lilly and the Jack of Hearts crushes it.

Dylan's album Blood on the Tracks is way too dark for me now. Better suited to my winter of discontent, but a drag during my summer of joy. I've put it away and much prefer Desire.

So in the warm sunlight I am finally re-stringing my guitar so that I can play some Dylan songs like "Sara" or better yet reach back to Blonde on Blonde when the world was still a shiny new toy. Visions of Johanna have conquered my mind ...

And I say, "Aw come on now
You know you know about my debutante"
And she says, "Your debutante just knows what you need
But I know what you want"

Thanks Bobby Z. Tastes change. What I need and what I want are now the same.


That's the rare happy owk with worm or better yet mouse

Hurricane beats City of New Orleans by far, but Rosemary, Lilly and the Jack of Hearts is one of the worst Dylan songs ever, and ruins Blood on the Tracks, which is otherwise one of the best albums ever (musically, lyrically, and in poignancy).

Bobby Z should be made an honorary member of the League of Roberts.

Agreed dearest BG, Rosemary etc is a weak song and doesn't fit the album. Besides being bored, it's the only song on the album that doesn't make you want to open a vein

Except for that BotT is probably Zimmy's best overall album

Sorry, BG and Owl, have to disagree. Lily, Rosemary and The Jack of Hearts is a great fun romp, melodic and playful and well executed.

Ah well, to each his Dylan!

(Hey Joyce, we could swerve this topic over to Springsteen now...whaddya think?)

Dylan, Springsteen...yawn.

If anyone wants to discuss Janis Joplin, Kraftwerk, Joy Division, Mozart or Hedningarna, I'll be over there, cuddling my mp3 collection.

Leonard Cohen.

I've seen Springsteen 7 times in concert. I say, bring it on, YP!!!

RayRay, I like Leonard Cohen. I don't know as much about him as I probably should but he's a hell of a song writer.

I watched a 2008 London concert on PBS Sunday night, and I really liked it. I considered going to see him at Merriweather, but the tix were $150.

Lily, Rosemary and The Jack of Hearts is a great fun romp, melodic and playful and well executed.

Yeah, but context matters. It's like writing a suicide and dotting your i's with smiley faces.

RayRay, yeah, $150 is stiff for tix prices. I recently looked up his work in i-tunes and his catalogue is huge!


After cleaning and re-stringing my Strat finally (it was on my Oct08 todo list) I played LC's Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley arrangement). Not as powerful as in the winter when all was torment. I think I'm going to retire LC from my repetoire. It's more of a Blower's Daughter kind of summer (Damien Rice food ref])

You know that Guitar Hero doesn't count, little brother. tee hee hee

er, Owl, i don't think The Blower's Daughter is really the song you're looking for:
"And so it is
Just like you said it would be
Life goes easy on me
Most of the time
And so it is
The shorter story
No love, no glory
No hero in her sky"

I can't speak to how you feel, but I think The Beach Boys classic, I Can Hear Music probably is a better match.

"This is the way
I always dreamed it would be
The way that it is, oh oh
When you are holding me
I never had a love of my own
Maybe that's why when we're all alone

I can hear music
I can hear music
The sound of the city baby seems to disappear
I can hear music
Sweet sweet music
Whenever you touch me baby
Whenever you're near"

Wow JOyce, thanks. I'm not familiar with that off the top of my head. I was playing, Caroline, No last night/ Exquisite, but so so sad. In the winter everything sad sounded super sad and everything happy bittersweet. I hate some of the Beach Boys mindless stuff but Brian Wilson was a genius. Pet Sounds was revolutionary.

Here it is:

Yes, I know it. Nah, the Blower's Daughter is better. More Irish. We are never really happy, there alwasy a bit of tragedy around the corner and yes I know what I'm saying.

Yes, Owl, Caroline, No is one of my go to songs for emotional despair. I also like Beck's Lost Cause but I have a whole discography of misery songs.

Yes, Brian Wilson is a genius.

Joyce, emotional despair? Here's emotional despair set to a Bo Diddley beat (you KNOW this one)

...With her long hair falling and her eyes that shine like a midnight sun
Whoa-oh, she's the one...
...And just one kiss, she fills them long summer nights with her tenderness
That secret pact you made, back when her love could save you from the bitterness...

I should resist...

Asylums with doors open wide,
Where people had paid to see inside,
For entertainment they watch his body twist,
Behind his eyes he says, 'I still exist.'

This is the way, step inside.
This is the way, step inside...

or... "Beneath the city two hearts beat
Soul engines running through a night so tender
In a bedroom locked
In whispers of soft refusal
And then surrender"

You are right, wise little piggy, that is a Bo Diddley beat.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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