That’s the date and place that I finally got to see Tom Cochrane in person. I’ve been a fan of his since discovering him in a band named Red Rider and their album named As Far As Siam. I was a passenger in a black Cutlass driven by the guy who ended up being my roommate when I moved to San Angelo in 1985, but that was at least 4 years down the road from my introduction to Red Rider. In 1982, when I heard Lunatic Fringe for the first time, I knew that I was going to be listening to a lot of music by this band over the following years. The haunting guitar work and the lyrics just spoke to me on some level that is really hard to explain.
…and this one set at the Saxon Pub in Austin has made all the years melt away. I’m ready to go dig out the albums again and give them all a listen.
The bar was full, probably 30 people. It was a tiny little place, a nice music venue as small clubs go. When I asked if Tom was in the house, the doorman waved me over toward the stage, where Tom was in a conversation with another fan. Tom was warm and friendly and wanted to know what I would like to hear.
I know that Life is a Highway is the song you get if you ask for Tom Cochrane at a radio station, it’s his equivalent to Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, but Life is a Highway has a special place in my heart because my children demanded I play it over and over again in the car when it was a new song. I asked for something off of Neruda too, because Neruda remains my favorite album of his. He left the table after that, and we sat down to enjoy some front row seats for the set. I started reflecting on “what I wanted to hear” at that point. Then it hit me, and I had to wander over to his manager’s table where he was waiting to take the stage and ask if he could play Beautiful Day, which is the last new song of his that really spoke to me. He laughed and said something to the effect of “that was four years ago, my memory doesn’t go back that far” although he said he liked Stonecutter’s Arms from the same album X-ray Sierra (another one of my favorites) and I discovered he has some new material out, an album called No Stranger
No Stranger is a name similar to a local band that I used to follow. No Strangers, a husband and wife duo. I worked with her at Graeber, Simmons and Cowan, and that was how I discovered them. We’ve seen them several times over the years. She has a beautiful voice and their duets are also beautiful, the lyrics thoughtful. I remarked on this to Tom, who of course had no reaction.
I look forward to giving his new album a listen soon. When they took the stage it was with Tom as lead singer/guitar, Ken Greer on steel guitar and Shawn Pander played rhythm guitar and sang backup vocals on the last three songs. I didn’t catch the drummer’s name. The Wife played percussion for years, so she probably knows. They talked for a good 10 minutes about the wooden drum that he was playing. (This looks like him, but surely not..?) Two horn players too. All part of Shawn’s band, from what I understood. They played Lunatic Fringe, White Hot, Northern Star, White Horse and finished up with Life is a Highway.
Shawn Pander played the next set and started his set with a unique take on the Beatles song Lonely People, and a quip about Tom being harder to follow than a Beatlemania band. I was there to see Tom, but Shawn’s music warrants a listen to. Hard to say what I thought of his act, since I was so psyched about getting to see Tom for the first time.
We talked for awhile between Shawn’s set and the next band’s start time. I complimented Ken Greer on his guitar work. I never realized just what an impact his presence in the band was until he sat in for one of Shawn’s songs. His addition to the music completely changed the feel of it. Ken Greer can make a guitar speak, and he can do it in ways that very few people can come close to mastering. He is a true artist.
All too soon it was over. I got a hug from Tom and The Wife did too. I hope to see them all again sometime, including Shawn. It was an interesting evening. One for the long term memory files, if only I can find the key to those.
I believe that was the second time we saw him. That event never made it onto the blog. The fatalism of being disabled and having no future plans had started to dig its claws in by that point, and I imagine I saw no need to record the little things that I did, like going to see an artist that I’ve followed all my life and seeing him for the second time. I still scoff at people who post pictures of their food as if anyone wants to know what they ate today and what it looked like. I don’t want to see that kind of stuff. Food pictures never look good, and a good rule of thumb is to avoid restaurants that have pictures of the food they serve on their menus. There is you free dining tip for today.
We’ve since seen Tom Cochrane a third time since then. That was the time that he played Life is a Highway and credited Rascal Flats for creating the song. I don’t hear any bitterness there for Disney not being willing to pay him for the rights for the song or anything, do you? There is no bitterness on my part for Meniere’s stealing my hearing and destroying music for me either. Nope, no bitterness at all.
I can almost hear her sayBreakaway
The world is such a stupid place
We’ll crack the sky and get lost in space again
My history with Tom Cochrane as a fan is interlaced with my history as a libertarian, and the fan that kept me going to Tom Cochrane events here in Austin is someone I met online on the old Tom Cochrane BBS system, where she was almost my sole supporter of libertarianism in the membership. She remains a libertarian while I do not, but we still speak on occasion.