Chicago Sun-Times (03/27/2003), Promise of a new day always worth a listen
Chicago Sun-Times, March 27, 2003
Promise of a new day always worth a listen
by Richard Roeper, Sun-Times columnist
Public television was recently in the throes of one of those infernal pledge drives--which means viewers were treated to lots of aggressive begging and endless replays of pop concerts by Lite Rock faves.
First you'd get Carole King, then you'd get an in-studio pitch: "That was the magnificent Carole King in prime form. And if you'd like to see more entertainment like that on this station and get yourself this nifty tote bag to boot, all you have to do is pick up the phone and pledge $150. And by the way, Carole King has informed us that she's NEVER PLAYING IN PUBLIC AGAIN if we don't meet our pledge goal. So the choice is yours: Carole King retires, or send us $150. . . . "
My favorite concert on the PBS jukebox is the Fleetwood Mac show, recorded in 1997, with the veteran supergroup reunited and at the top of its game. Dried out, cleaned up, sounding strong and looking good. (I mean, come on. Christina Aguilera couldn't carry Stevie Nicks' shawl.) I clicked across the Mac concert a few days before the commencement of the war against Iraq, and even though I've seen it many times before and I have it on CD, I stopped right there. I love Fleetwood Mac, dating back to the time I saw them at the old Chicago Stadium and you could hear each of Mick Fleetwood's drum beats twice: first when he played it and then when it bounced off the back wall.
The highlight of the concert is the encore featuring the entire marching band from the University of Southern California, each member in full uniform and sunglasses, as they back up the band on "Tusk," just as an earlier incarnation of the USC band did for the video in the 1980s. Who knows what the hell "Tusk" is about, but as performed live with the USC marching band clogging up the aisles and filling up the stage, it's wiggy magic.
And then, after "Tusk," there's time for one more song.
"We've never done this song with a brass section," says keyboardist and singer Christine McVie (now retired from the band). She strikes the opening notes to a song that was originally released in 1977 but will live forever as the unofficial national anthem for 1993.
Lindsey Buckingham sings the first verse:
If you wake up and don't want to smile, if it takes just a little while
Open your eyes and look at the day
You'll see things in a different way
Buckingham then trades off with McVie:
Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow
Don't stop, it'll soon be here
It'll be here, better than before
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone. . . .
I got goose bumps as I watched the Mac's joyful rendition of "Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)," and I realized it's been a full decade since the band played that same song onstage on the night of Bill Clinton's inauguration--and that for one brief shining moment, millions of Americans believed we were on the precipice of Camelot II.
For the first time since Jack Kennedy took office, a president seemed young--or at least in touch with America's youth and willing to listen to their problems. Of course, we had no way of knowing at the time that Clinton's idea of getting in touch with America's youth was far too literal and intimate--but on that January night in 1993, it really felt as if Fleetwood Mac was helping Clinton and Co. usher in a new era in American government.
Oooh, dontcha look back. . . .
Oooh, dontcha look back. . . .
1993. It was the year of the disastrous siege on the Branch Davidian compound and horrendous flooding in the Midwest. There was turmoil in Bosnia and Somalia, and NAFTA was a hot topic of debate.
The World Trade Center was bombed. Michael Jackson was involved in a scandal. So was Woody Allen. Television viewers were shocked by the bold content of "NYPD Blue," and moviegoers flocked to "Jurassic Park," "Schindler's List" and "Sleepless in Seattle." Pearl Jam and Nirvana were huge. David Letterman hopped from NBC to CBS.
And Bill Clinton took office for what would turn out to be an eight-year reign marked by giddy highs and sordid lows. None of us could have imagined how wild, uneven and divisive his presidency would be.
But even if you hated Clinton long before he took office, would you trade the early months of 2003 for the early months of 1993?
As has been the case since the beginning of time, the world 10 years ago was a place filled with sorrow and anguish and suffering and bloodshed--but I don't believe it's nostalgic revisionism to say that on the night when Fleetwood Mac played "Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)" and the Clintons danced their way from one inaugural party to the next, and the MTV generation partied all night, an awful lot of Americans of all ages who were Republican'd out by the Reagan/Bush years really believed in the promise of a new day.
We've all traveled a long way since "Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)" was the music of the moment. Now it's March 2003. And now the theme song is more like, "Can't Stop (Worrying About Tomorrow)."
Thanks to joe68 for posting this to the Ledge.
2003-03-27 Number of views: