By 1972, Bobby had learned how to play. Not just play, but lead the band in his big-boy pants. Bobby was carving out a little space for himself and turning into Sergeant Major Clap-Yo-Hands and it was a good thing. Listen to 3:20 in Greatest Story: 8/27/72 is a Bobby show. Arguably the perfect versions of all of his Cowboy tunes, especially the soft landing he gives Dark Star with a counter-intuitive saunter into El Paso, and a great Promised Land, when he’s allowed to get to it.
The announcer is so stupid that he grew up to be Bill O’Reilly. Don’t tell people they were about to be sprayed with shit, man. His stupidity does lead to one of Bobby’s brighter moments. For some reason known only to his gods, Doofus decides to announce the location of the lost children tent over a loudspeaker. Because that’s information that everyone needs to know. Nothing bad could possibly come from broadcasting the location of our most vulnerable. Cleverly, Bobby cuts him off. Bobby was always sensitive to the welfare of children: his adolesence was rife with incidents resembling the Tragedy of Koko from the 1980 musical film Fame. Bobby now paid good money to ugly strangers to recreate the squalid de-pantsenings because, if pressed, Bobby would admit to enjoying every second of it. With Bobby, it was better to focus on actions; intentions were–at best–murky to all involved.
By the end of the show, you want to hurt the announcer. Physically. Methodically. Strategically. You can keep a man alive for such a long time while you introduce him to new worlds of PAIN (Scary music: oooh-AH-ahh!) His groovy dude patter sounds like a passage from the upcoming Ken Burns 32-hour documentary Summer of Love/Edgar Winter of Discontent: The 60’s; it will be read by Russell Brand doing a bumptiously fucked North California…accent.
(An aside, a flash-forward to the real, or at least realistic: America picks the worst Brits. We’re offered Eddie Izzard, we pick Piers Morgan. Piers Morgan is the Devil. No joke, no exaggeration. Foe the sake of the country, someone should plant heroin on him. And in his house. And car. Spider-Man had a bad guy named the Sandman who could turn himself into sand (Don’t think about it.) Like that, that much heroin. Just make him go home.)
1972 was a rock-solid year: it wasn’t flashy. If you said the word “swag” in front of ’72, it would hold you down and–using only his rough and manly stubble–flay the skin from your haunches AND your flanks. Forget about the loins, the loins are long gone, for these men were so very hairy in 1972. There was no grooming, no manscaping (well, sure, there was…just not in that part of San Francisco; couple miles away, freshly shorn was cute-and-kissable) back then, and their northern European bristles permeated everything and the music grew Teddy Roosevelt mustaches all over itself and the mustaches were made of balls and the BALLS WERE THEMSELVES HAIRIER THAN YOU’VE EVER THOUGHT BALLS COULD BE.
PS In keeping with my new pet theory about listening to the shows around the great shows, I present you with 8/24/72. Berkeley Community Theater. Setlist-wise, it’s comparable to the Veneta show, but with a great Morning Dew and far longer stretches of everybody being in tune.
PPS 8/24 blows the Veneta show away.