Desert Trip 2016

Desert Trip 2016

Desert Trip? You know, the one with Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones on night one, Neil Young and Paul McCartney (playing 35 songs) on night two, and The Who and then Roger Waters finishing things up the final night.

We almost didn’t make it to the concert. Four of us tried to get tickets in the spring when tickets first went on sale. Even with all of us dialing constantly, we didn’t get through. Some after-market tickets were in the thousands. So we thought that was that.

Flash forward to a week before the October concert (2nd Weekend). Got a call from my buddy Randy and he said he could get tickets for all three nights for about $200. I said I’d call him the next day and asked him what he was smoking. I didn’t think that was possible. I checked on the internet and, sure enough, due to various reasons there was a glut of last-minute, low-priced tickets available. I called him back first thing in the morning and got two tickets. Our friends, who we had just dined with the night before, jumped on board and bought tickets too.

So there we were with our friends a week later at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Ca., the scene of Coachella Stagecoach Music Festivals, and in 2016, Desert Trip (see photo). There were about 75,000 paying customers each weekend. The estimated gross was at least $130 million, according to Billboard, which made it the highest-grossing festival ever. Even with all the people the experience was terrific. Clearly the promoters were way up the learning curve in terms of providing a great concert, festival-seating experience. The monitors were huge. You could see the wrinkles on the faces of most of the performers from wherever you were sitting. And the sounds was fantastic.

Dylan started things off on Friday night. He had just been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He played a lot of the old songs, although often with different arrangements. When The Rollings Stones came on stage and hit the opening riff of “Start Me Up,” the place exploded! I’d seen the Stones twice before: in the late 60s and in the 70s. This performance was by far the best Stones concert of the three. Mick was moving and dancing for two hours almost nonstop. And he was charming and even a little self-deprecating: “I hear this is being called the ‘Catch ’em Before They Croak’ tour.” My wife had never seen them live and she was extremely impressed. When Keith broke into what is probably the most famous opening guitar riff in rock history (for “Satisfaction”) if there had been a roof on the place, it would have blown clean away.

The second night was more of the same with hits and long jams from Neil Young and an incredible 36-song set from Paul McCartney covering Beatles songs, Wings songs and several more recent songs. He was animated, in great voice and his band was energetic and phenomenal.

The third night featured The Who. During the song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” there one of Daltrey’s–and rock music’s–most famous screams. At one point near the end of the song, the music drops to almost nothing, just an organ playing a repetitive riff. Then the drums come in. And then… The scream! When the band got to that point, the music came down and we all waited. Could he still do it? Could he still hit that vocal and emotional peak? We continued to wait. And then… Wow! He could still deliver. Roger Waters finished off the set that included several “Pink Floyd” favorites.

Whether or not Desert Trip was the greatest concert event of all time is debatable. What is not debatable, however, is that it was, and will probably remain a unique music experience. Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time List ranks The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley and The Rolling Stones as the top four. That means that during Desert Trip three of the top four were represented: The Beatles (in the form of Paul McCartney,Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones,

It is unlikely that such an event will ever happen again. I was there. And I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Story Behind the Song: If/Everything’s Going to be Fine

Story Behind the Song: If/Everything’s Going to be Fine

If/Everything’s Going to be Fine

By Barry Keenan

“Everything’s Going To Be Fine” was written as the opening track on my album, “Contrary To Popular Belief.” The song’s point of view is that many of the world’s problems boil down to selfishness. In all of us. I also believe that while that selfishness lies within us, so too does love. And that if we manifest the love rather than the selfishness, then many of society’s problems will be reduced and “everything’s going to be fine.”

When renowned studio tech, Charlie Bolis (Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty) called me after listening to the song in his car, he suggested that I re-release it. Out of the blue, in the same week, I was contacted by Kevin Lewin (World Entertainment News Network) suggesting the same thing: that I re-release the song. This prompted a discussion with Matt Forger (Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones) to do a re-mix of the song.

Forger then adapted the Rudyard Kipling poem “If” as an opening to the song. I then had arranger Barry Fazman (Billy Joel, Fame) orchestrate the poem. Next I contacted poet Loring Evans who came in from Idaho to recite the poem.

The finished version can be heard at

To finish off the project, I brought in Photographer/Author Paul Zollo (Songwriters On Songwriting, Volumes 1 & 2 and Conversations With Tom Petty, Expanded Version) who contributed many of his photographs for the “If/Everything’s Going To Be Fine” video, which was edited by Forger. The video can be view at the link provided above.

Comment Note: If you don’t see the “Submit Button” below, it’s there. Just hover your cursor one row below the bottom input field, and to the right. Love to hear from you.

Listen to the Song

Blue Finger Days

Blue Finger Days

Like millions of people these days in the U.S. and around the world, my wife and I are taking a lot of walks. With our gym shuttered during the lockdown, it’s a great way to exercise and get out of the house.

We are fortunate to live in an area where the weather is predictably sunny and warm. During our walk we are surrounded on all sides by manicured landscaping and, in the distance, snowcapped mountains.

Since we’re not in a bustling city, we actually need to press the crosswalk button at intersections if we want to get a “Walk” sign. It occurred to me early on that there must be a lot of fingers pressing that button. That sounded like an activity to avoid.

My wife is practical, ingenious and focused on keeping us both healthy. Recognizing this COVID-19 Hazard, she immediately remedied the situation in a stylish manner. She cut off the finger tops of a kitchen glove.

So every morning before we go for our walk, I put on the blue finger, ready to boldly press any Crosswalk button with confidence.

Comment Note: If you don’t see the “Submit Button” below, it’s there. Just hover your cursor one row below the bottom input field, and to the right. Love to hear from you.

I Felt Like a Criminal For Shaking Hands

I Felt Like a Criminal For Shaking Hands

Not long after the California lockdown I was talking with my gardener. He had just transferred some rocks from my neighbor’s yard into our yard at no cost to me. (It helped him out too because the neighbor was also his customer and he didn’t have to haul the rocks away.)

Still, I have a good relationship with the man and I wanted to let him know that I really appreciated him thinking of us.

I don’t know what I was thinking, but as I was thanking him I was overcome by the hardwired action of reaching out to shake his hand. Even as I saw my hand moving toward his, in the back of my mind I was thinking: NOOOOO!

But I couldn’t stop myself. Before I could control myself we were shaking hands.

I looked around furtively to see if any of my neighbors had observed my social transgression. I felt as though I had done something awful. I had actually shaken someone’s hand! What in God’s name was I thinking?

I’m happy to report that as of this writing—several weeks after the event—the gardener and I are still healthy.

But the mistake taught me a lesson: It may be hard to break habits of a lifetime, like hugging people you like and shaking someone’s hand to express your gratitude. Greeting people you hardly know with a kiss on the cheek is now a relic of the past.

But then, to be honest, I never much liked kissing people I barely knew anyhow.

Comment Note: If you don’t see the “Submit Button” below, it’s there. Just hover your cursor one row below the bottom input field, and to the right. Love to hear from you.

The Plus Side of Social Distancing

The Plus Side of Social Distancing

Like hundreds of millions of people around the world, I’ve been practicing social distancing. In some cases it’s kind of a drag not being physically close to people you love or like. On the other hand, for me this policy has provided an unexpected upside.

There are certain people I actually want to avoid. Now, if we’re walking on the street, I can maintain my distance with a polite wave or even cross the street and no one thinks I’m being rude or standoffish.

The truth is there has never been a better time in my life to avoid people I don’t want to see.

I actually enjoy going out more now.

With my mask, of course.

Comment Note: If you don’t see the “Submit Button” below, it’s there. Just hover your cursor one row below the bottom input field, and to the right. Love to hear from you.