For me, music is deeply meaningful. It inspires me. I listen to the words, just as much as the tune.
My parents listened to Lawrence Welk, my brother and sister listened to The Doors, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and The Rolling Stones. My brother and sister’s rooms were in the basement, I’d go downstairs and listen while they were playing their records. When they were gone I’d sneak into their rooms and look at their albums. I started dreaming then, of being a rock star.
When Desert Trip was announced I was going.
I’d seen the Stones every tour they’ve come to CO since the late 70’s. I saw them for their 50th tour and in Kansas City for their Zip Code tour. I knew the Stones could still bring it. I’d never seen Paul McCartney (“Macca“) or Roger Waters. When I got in tune with what Neil Young is doing for the environment I started listening to him again. I’d been itching to see Neil with Promise Of The Real. Seen The Who a few times, but not for 20 years. Saw Bob Dylan once, in 1978 when he opened for the Stones.
When tickets went on sale back in May, I was online. It took me an hour to get in, but I got my ticket. It was pricey, I paid $1000 bucks — more than I’d ever paid by far, to see a concert. But I figured the price would be worth it just to see the Stones, Neil, Roger, and sir Paul.
Man, was I right.
Off to Desert Trip I went in the hippie van. Renee does what she always does, sends me off with our food. I had enough food and water for a week. Thank you, Sweetie. I love you more every day.
The last Phish show I went to I ran out of power on the last day. So Cole added another battery, doubling the amount of power I could store to 800 watts. I was gone 8 days, I never even came close to running out of power. The last day of the show the I still had over 40% charge left. Thank you Cole.
I left CO, drove all the way to Searchlight Nevada, 250 miles or so out from Indio CA, home of Desert Trip. Crashed in a truck stop. Got up at 5, made some coffee and started driving across the desert.
I’d been through the desert, but not this desert. It’s beautiful. If you get a chance, take Hwy 95 via Route 66 (“get your kicks on Route 66”) through the desert. I never thought the desert was this beautiful. It is.
I pulled into Desert Trip about Noon. I have this thing. I can’t sit next to anyone in movie theaters — and I have to sit on the isle. I know, it’s weird. But it’s me. As my luck would have it, I talked the guys parking cars to let me have a place on the end. Everyone who worked at Desert Trip was the best. If I could thank every one of them I would. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the people who worked the show. Without you, I don’t get to go.
Got on my bike, started cruising around. Don’t know how many campers there were, it seemed like thousands. The vibe was really cool, super friendly. While the political wars were raging outside, inside everyone at Desert Trip was groovin. I could feel this was going to be our Woodstock.
Bob Dylan was first, then the Stones. Bob Dylan was great. His band was fantastic. The Stones delivered, as always. They even did three things neither I or my friend (blue Stones shirt) who’s been to over 70 Stones shows had ever send them do; 1, cover a Beatles song (Come Together) 2, a bass solo (Darryl Jones) and 3, sincerely thank the fans like Mick did. Mick saying thank you to us the way he did was so feel good.
Day 2 was Neil Young and Paul McCartney. Got up, did my exercises, cruised around a lot. People were saying this was going to be “Oldchella”. Not so. There were more people without gray hair than not. Plenty of 20 somethings, lots of young people. I talked to so many of them.
There was also plenty of organic food and farm to table food. The organizers did a great job of setting this up. There was shade, organic food and coffee, stores, stuff for everyone. First class all the way.
Neil Young came out and stole the show. He rocked my world. The Paul McCartney came on. Paul McCartney, The Beatles. Sir Paul. Macca.
Only bummer was that I got a little sick, got bogged down in the air conditioned bathroom. I had to split about 2/3’s of the way into Paul’s show, go back and lay down. Luckily I rebounded and was fresh for day 3. But man, I wish I could have seen Paul and Neil do “Give Peace A Chance”. Paul is going to tour in 017, I’ll be sure to see him. His band is really tight.
By day 3 the magic was so there for me. Lots of young people were stopping by the van and having conversations with me. Not just chit chat, heavy stuff. I talked to people about the environment, war, corporate control, legalizing drugs and so much more. Wow, I thought. Young people were getting how critical things are. I was stoked. I’ve said for a long time that the 60’s needed to happen again. That nothing will change until people start moving their feet. Talking to people, I felt hopeful.
The Who were first. As Roger says, “We’re the best fucking rock band in the world”. They rocked. Pete did lots of windmills, Roger sounded much better than I had thought he would. I love The Who more than ever now. Not because of their music, because of the charity work they do. And because Roger Daltrey still has a lot to say.
Rogers Waters took the stage about 9:30 Pacific time. During every other intermission music played. But not in the intermission after The Who. Instead, it was silence. But then about 15 minutes before he took the stage, the sound system changed. Sounds were playing all through the field, in surround sound. Roger had hacked the sound system to his liking.
Everyone was talking about how great the sound was for the shows. It was, easily the best sound I’d ever heard at a concert. But when Roger came on, he took over the sound system. Never heard anything like it — surround sound, clear. Oh man. I was tripping again, but without the LSD.
Roger played his library of Pink Floyd tunes. He played songs from Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall. All done in a theatre type setting that I’d never heard or seen before. Brilliant. Bravo, Roger. Read about it here
Roger wasn’t being shy. He’s always been political, I’ve always admired him for speaking up. He brought his A game to Desert Trip. All throughout his set were images and words connected to what’s going on in the world. Read this piece
Then watch this video of Pigs (Three Different Ones)
A lot of Trump people walked out. Most of them while yelling vulgarities and flipping him the middle finger. Good for you, Roger. I’m with you. Fuck Trump and his wall. Roger wrapped up his set with a poem he’d written in 2004 after Bush got re-elected — “Why Cannot The Good Prevail”. Then Vera, Bring The Boys Back Home, and Comfortably Numb.
Why cannot the good prevail?
Here in America there is at heart
A people, just and true,
Open, sometimes to the point of ridicule.
Good neighbors to rebuild the barn,
The doctor’s note of western legend
Carried forth beyond the grave
I knew your Pa, enough.
In caucuses across the land
Deliberate they’ll always stand,
Defenders of the Rosenburgs.
Symbolic of that yearning
To be better than before.
They never will give up their brother
To the grocers cold machine
Belt welts livid from the strong arm of the law.
Over giving thanks
And pumpkin pie,
On hustings, in committee rooms,
Whenever tyrants loomed,
We always held in our esteem
The ones who hold on to the dream,
While the bullies
Pose and fiddle on the hill.
Has commerce so reduced the free,
Blinded like a tot,
Contaminated by the dog shit in the grass,
We blunder, slaves to humbug, and this Texan dynasty.
Beyond the grip of trade
The young strain beautiful and proud,
The hoar frost breath of new blood
Needs but nudges from
The old forgotten guard
To scale the moral high grounds
In the clouds.
After Roger finished I sat there for about 30 minutes, just taking it all in. I had a trip, a beautiful trip. Maybe the best trip so far.
I go to concerts to see Artists. Because Artists see the world differently and I want to see things differently. Desert Trip showed me that songs from years ago have more meaning now. That the struggle continues, perhaps it’s even amplified. I left inspired, knowing there are many who feel the way I do.
I’m proud to say I’m still a fan. I think the bands would be happy to know I haven’t given up, that I doing pushups every day. I’m eternally grateful to them for being who they are.
I also go to meet new people. I met new friends at Desert Trip, righteous people who I’m connected to forever more.
And I go to learn about new music. The two women singing backup for Roger are Lucius. They sing like Angels. I bought two of their CD’s, I’ll be going to see them in Boulder in November.
Desert Trip truly was a once in a lifetime experience — so far. It’s not over. The journey, and the fight, continues. Not Us versus them, Us + Them.
from My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue) by Neil Young
My my, hey hey
Rock and roll is here to stay
Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die