On Saturday evening, April 18th, 2015, I was sitting at the bar in the Smoke Shoppe in Ballard, Seattle, and the jukebox went quiet, so I thought I might put a couple of dollars in and play some Delbert McClinton, Texas Tornados and likely some Hank, because the Smoke Shoppe has a good jukebox like that. But before I could push off my stool, the bartender, Marsha, pulled some money out of the register and gave it to a gentleman who was sitting alone at the end of the bar, and she asked him to play some songs, and that is what he did - "Eight Days a Week", Cocker's version of "With A Little Help From My Friends", "Dock of the Bay" among others. In truth, I generally enjoyed his choices.
But what happened next was that the guy felt it was appropriate to talk about each song as it came on - mind you, not addressing anyone in particular - providing all sorts of useful trivia, such as - "When Cocker would hold that microphone sometimes it looked like he was giving it fellatio." (Not sure we'd heard him the first time, he repeated this.) It should also be noted that (of course) he sang along with each song when he wasn't busy talking over them with important and informative liner notes. (His lyric recall was maybe 60-40 to the good.) But so anyway "Dock of the Bay" comes on and he sings along and when it's over, in the dead quiet of the bar as the jukebox was queuing up the next track, he says this -
" 'Dock of the Bay'. You know that was the last song he ever sang? Yep. Right after he sang that he committed suicide. Right after that. What a singer. That's right. He sang that song and then he killed himself. He was at the San Francisco Bay Club and sang it and left the stage and committed suicide."
(Please believe me when I say I would never lie to you.)
Oddly, it wasn't the fact that this gentleman had horribly botched a fairly famous piece of American musical history (Otis Redding died in a plane crash, of course) that bothered me most, it was this "San Francisco Bay Club" reference. Having lived in San Francisco for 18 years I was pretty sure there was no such place now or then (I subsequently did an on-line search and couldn't find a trace of it anywhere (though maybe if I'd added "Otis Redding -final show - suicide"...)).
Next, after a pause, Marsha, who is a good woman, said, "Oh yeah, that's right. I forgot about that."
Later, he got into a verbal spat with two women sitting near him when he identified a Tommy Raye song as by Roy Orbison. Fed up with him by then (and I'd seen this coming for awhile), they actually challenged him on this more minor mistake, to which he responded, "Well it sure sounds like Roy Orbison." (To me it sounded like Buddy Holly.) But the women ganged up on him and said, "What's wrong with you that sounds nothing like Roy Orbison."
And that was the end of the evening's bonhomie from the gentleman's point of view. Miffed by the women's treatment, he spent the rest of his time in the bar (about 45 minutes) talking loudly on his cell phone so that no one could enjoy the music at all.
An original IBL photograph taken Thursday afternoon, December 24th, 2015, in Pioneer Square, Seattle. It is a close-up of a detail from a public piece of art titled "Night", by the artist Edgar Heap of Birds. I do not believe the smear of grime was part of the original sculpture. IBL:mm