When I was 16, I traveled with my friend Dan to see Firehose at Crazy Horse in Boise, ID. Imagine our disappointment when we showed up and we were told, "Sorry guys. Show's sold out." I explained that we bought tickets months before and were told they would be waiting for us at the door. Again, "Sorry guys. Show's sold out." I walked away feeling miserable. I sat down on the sidewalk and sulked.
In my peripheral vision, somebody resembling Fidel Castro sat down next to me. He said, "I just got done playing Fidel in a movie." Who else could play this part but Mike Watt, the already legendary bassist from iconic punk band, Minutemen. Did he recognize me as a bummed out kid? Who knows. I think it's just what he did before shows. He is a man of the people after all. We talked and he listened as I shared my story and feelings of disappointment. He made sure Dan and I got in to the show and asked us for requests.
The show was amazing and everything I hoped it would be. The guitarist, Ed Crawford, reminded me of Marty McFly playing guitar in Back to the Future. He was full of energy and moving all over the stage, strutting and screaming with a gold top Les Paul. The drummer, George Hurley, was a blur of arms and hair behind his drum kit. And, I've never seen someone pulverize a bass guitar like Watt did, literally slamming his fist on the strings while still balancing the beautiful melodies of the music.
I hung around after the show just to soak in the total atmosphere of the night. Mike Watt made a beeline for me and gave me the sweatiest bear hug I have ever received. Maybe he wanted closure from the moment we shared before the show? Either way, my love of this band was complete.
I did not set out to record "In Memory of Elizabeth Cotton," a song from their third LP called If'n. It just sort of happened and I'm sure glad it did because I really like this arrangement.