You Were There

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Walter Cronkite's death reminded me of an old show he used to do called You Are There. The premise of the show was CBS news folks were able to "report" on events in history as if they were happening now. For instance reporters were "on the scene" interviewing combatants when the Greeks laid siege on Troy and delivered their Trojan Horse. It was a show definitely for history geeks. But it got me thinking, what are some events that you wish you had witnessed first hand? Sports and music events come easily to mind and I was lucky enough to be at games 6 and 7 of the 1991 World Series and when the Gophers beat then Michigan 16-0 in 1977. Both events which I have a feeling would be on some folks list.

Here are some events I wish I was at so that I was able to say that I Was There:

Guided By Voices last concert at Club Metro in Chicago.
It was announced previously that GBV was breaking up and this would be their last show (December 31, 2004). Of course it sold out immediately and fans from all across the country showed up. It was quite an emotional show and by all accounts one of their best as it was a 4 hour, 63 song Holy Grail for GBV freaks.

Dylan Goes Electric. There's so much conflicting reports on this event. Was the crowd booing because Dylan was playing an electric guitar or was it too loud? Did Pete Seeger try to cut the electric power with an Axe? Was Dylan tearing up when he came out to do an acoustic set? Regardless it would be cool to say you were there and saw the whole thing in person.

Elvis playing That's All Right Mama at Sun Studios.
Elvis was at Sun Studios basically having an unproductive session when he and Scotty Moore were goofing around with an old Arthur Crudup guitar lick between songs. Sam Phillips was intrigued and had them record that song. The rest is history. To be in the sound booth when that happened! A new form of music being created right in front of your eyes.

Ginsburg reciting Howl at the Six Gallery. Allen Ginsburg had written Howl and had shared it with a bunch of his beat friends who loved it. A poetry reading was set up at the Gallery Six in North Beach San Francisco. By the time the event started the Gallery was bursting at the seams, Jack Kerouac had purchased a couple of jugs of wine which were being passed around. As Ginsburg was reciting, Kerouac was beating a drum yelling yea! The crowd was blown away by the poem.

U.S. Hockey team beating the Soviet Union 1980.
No need for explanation here. Oh to be in the arena when that happened. We saw it on T.V. of course but to shouting USA!! as the clock wound down would have been amazing.

Ali-Foreman fight in Zaire. This fight was immortalized in When We Were Kings but to see it in person would have been a blast. Ali was given no chance against Foreman who was considered unbeatable at the time. Not only did Ali best Foreman but he won over an entire continent.

Grassy Knoll during Kennedy Assassination. To be there and to see for yourself how many shots were fired and from where would have been a searing experience. The confusion of the event probably wouldn't answer any questions but an important piece of history nonetheless.

Obama Victory Speech -- Grant Park. While I was seeing Bob Dylan's triumphant return to the University Of Minnesota campus, others were at Grant Park to watch Barack Obama become the first black man elected president. I know some people who were there and the emotion was quite palpable. Definitely a once in a lifetime event.

I could come up with others, but those are the biggies. How about you? What event do you wish you could have said I Was There?

7 Comments

I couldn't improve upon your list as I'd be delighted to have witnessed any of those events (especially the US/Soviet Hockey showdown and the Newport Folk festival in 1965). I would love to have seen Charlie Parker in his prime with Diz and Miles in his band. Ditto Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane. The Grateful Dead at Springfield Creamery in Oregon in the summer of 1972 or anytime/anywhere in 1977. And I know it was a giant cluster but I still would have liked to have experienced Woodstock. Or any of the classic Ellington road bands tearing it up in a dance hall in the middle of nowhere. Hey, how about Hank Williams when he was healthy and doing ok. P'funk when Eddie Hazel was playing guitar at Joe Lewis Arena in Detriot. Lou Reed with the Rock and Roll Animal band. With the Velvet Underground. Patti Smith at CBGB. Help me, I can't stop ...

Beatles as Cavern Club, the hotel room with Led Zeppelin and the land shark (o.k. maybe not), Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, the famous Manchester show where half of England's future punk bands were first introduced to the Sex Pistols, hanging with the Rat Pack in Vegas during the filming of Ocean's 11... yes one could go on.

I also wish I was in Poland at Pope John Paul II's first visit after his papacy. I was there a few weeks after his 2nd visit and the excitement was still palpable.

One other. How about Babe Ruth's "called shot" at Wrigley Field?

This is something I can sink my teeth into. I've done this thought experiment many times. Here's a few I've thought of...

Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address - It would be wonderful to hear him deliver the speech that he thought was a failure. And to know whether or not he said "under God".

The completion of the pyramids of Giza

Pete Townshend smashing his first guitar during a Who concert - also to see the maniac genius of Keith Moon

To see XTC in concert

Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's home run record

George Washington's Farewell Address

Adolf Hitler's last days in the bunker

Prince playing at First Avenue in the'80s

The Screaming Blue Messiahs totally upstaging The Cramps at First Avenue - Oh, wait a minute. I was there.

That's just a few.

Lots of great suggestions. I'll add this:

Don Larsen's World Series perfecto in 1956.

Television circa '75--saw them in '91--it was fantastic, but it would been amazing to see them as snot-nosed kids cranking up "Little Johnny Jewel" in front of a hundred fans at CBGBs.

The Velvets at Max's Kansas City.

Doc Dim, I saw Prince doing the wrap party for Purple Rain--the record from start to finish for a group of 600 invitees only. (Thanks, Ponyboy.) In a word, awesome.

Awesome idea! I haven't ever heard of that show. I'm totally with you on the US beating the Soviet Union in 1980. I think for myself, I'd like to have seen the first flight by the Wright brothers. That would have been awesome.

Absolutey Gorgeous. I remember as a child going "downtown" small town USA for Christmas. It was always such a treat. I can't imagine SF in an earthquake.

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This page contains a single entry by Freealonzo published on July 27, 2009 8:42 AM.

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