Friday, July 29, 2011

And in the End…Maybe Baby Says Goodbye

In 52 stories, over two years, Maybe Baby has brought you its own version of rock and roll history, hitting the near-misses, breathing life into the accidental deaths and repaving the roads not taken. Partly truth, partly fiction, we hope you’ve found them as fun to read as they were to write.

With over 1,500 fans on Facebook, and countless more via constant reposting from readers and links from band sites, Maybe Baby has been read by many. Though the new stories are over (for now), we will stay alive through daily Twitter and Facebook updates and links to past stories. And someday, maybe, who knows, baby, we’ll come back in book form!

So my great thanks to you all, and lots of love.

Goodnight everybody, everybody everywhere.

Jeff Katz

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Meanwhile at the Stupid Club

“We were in, I think we were in Ames, Iowa and I asked this kid, his name was Freddy and he played bass in the band that opened for us. They were like, they were, I think the best band in Ames, Iowa, right? So I said to Freddy, ‘Hey Man, you’re hip to the scene, where’s the action around here and…”

“Oh baby, you are crazy, I just love you man!” yelled Janis. She sat down on Jim’s lap, leaned in and plunged her tongue into his mouth. Jim crossed his eyes and made a face that screamed “not interested.”

“Aw, listen honey, this is my heaven too and if I wanna ball then you’re gonna ball!” Janis tugged on Jim’s left shoulder, hard, until she pulled from him another Jim Morrison. She grabbed the new Jim’s hand and led him away. The real Jim continued babbling.

“…and I met this blonde, she was like a farmer’s daughter or something, you know, a stone fox.”

“Oh, I know that kinda chick, man. Hey I wrote ‘Foxey Lady’ so I know what I’m talking about.” Jimi played the riff – wooo woo, wooo woo – on Charlie Christian’s Gibson ES-150 electric guitar – and let out a guffaw so loud that Sid was stunned awake.

“What? Where?” he spluttered in confusion. He turned his head from left to right in quick motion, soaking in his surroundings. “Oh yeah, I remember” and he free fell backwards into his beanbag cloud. Suddenly, a spike appeared in his arm and the plunger went down. As he drew it in, a figure appeared in the distance and Sid squinted to get a better look. Jim followed his gaze.

“Oh, I know that guy. Good band; they had like two or three albums. You know, they don’t make records anymore, it’s like a little silver disc from space and…”

“Oi! What ya doin’ mate,” Sid called cheerily. “I like your ripped jeans, but, what’s that then, your grandma’s cardigan?” His top lip curled up as he bent over and slapped his knees.

Kurt was a frightened sheep, his scared eyes darting back and forth. They were all here, all his rock heroes – Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Sid Vicious. Was that Janis Joplin straddling Jim Morrison? But Jim is here and he’s talking, but…

“I’m comin’ baby, hold on,” Janis whooped.

“Hey, I ‘eard you used to use my name down there you wanker, signing into hotels as Mr. and Mrs. Simon Ritchie with that slag of yours. I got a right bollocking from St. Peter, he of the pearly gates: ‘Were you down there again Sidney,’ and I was like, ‘Fuck you, you twat!’ Gave him the finger too!” Sid cackled louder than before.

Kurt was nervous as Sid approached.

“Ah, just taken the piss mate,” he grinned as he cuffed Kurt on the head, sending his dirty blonde hair over his eyes.

"Am I where I think I am?” asked Kurt quietly. A minute ago he was sitting in the room above his garage, a needle in one hand and a shotgun in the other.

Jimi spoke. “Yeah baby, this is heaven alright. Nice to have a brother from Seattle up here. How are things down in my old hometown? You know, I skipped out soon after ‘Louie, Louie,’ you know. But up here, everything you want. You just gotta think it.”

“Think it?”

“Yeah, you wanna play the hottest guitar, like this one, you just think it and it appears. You want the sweetest smack you ever shot up? Look at Sid. It just happens. It’s sooo warm. And you never run out of bread so you always get to use the best stuff. You wanna fuck Cleopatra, you just…”

In a long golden gown and tiara, Cleopatra appeared behind Jimi’s celestial throne. He looked over his shoulder. “Baby, it was just an example.” As she began to fade Jimi thought again.

“Wait, sugar. Jimi’s gonna need you in about 15 minutes. Don’t go away now.”

Kurt looked as Sid stirred. He was off on an even higher plane. Suddenly, Sid twitched and tossed a full beer bottle Kurt’s way. It flew over his head and descended through the clouds, landing in Pittsburgh.

“Stevie Winwood was wrong baby," Jimi said. "Heaven ain’t just in your mind. It’s the real deal.”

Kurt rubbed his eyes, holding the stretched out sweater sleeves in his palm. “Heaven,” he thought as he jumped backwards onto a cotton ball cloud. Kurt put his hands behind his head and stared up at the brilliant blue sky; the sky stared back at his brilliant blues eyes. He closed them and smiled.

His nose involuntarily wrinkled as it got a strong whiff of cheap scotch. He opened them and saw Janis up close, her face nearly touching his.

“Hey baby, you’re new here, right?”

Kurt nodded his head.

“Wanna ball?” she asked plaintively.

Kurt shook his head.

“Aw, listen honey, this is my heaven too and if I wanna ball then you’re gonna ball!” Janis tugged on Kurt’s right shoulder, hard, until she pulled another Kurt Cobain from the original model. It didn’t hurt. She led the new Kurt off.

Kurt looked over and watched Janis Joplin fucking his other self. He laughed and looked back at the sky. This was good, very good.

Ah, Nirvana.

Jimi Hendrix died on September 18, 1970. Janis Joplin died on October 4, 1970. Jim Morrison died July 3, 1971. Sid Vicious (born John Simon Ritchie) died February 2, 1979. Kurt Cobain died April 5, 1994.

When Kurt’s mother Wendy Cobain spoke to a reporter after her son’s suicide by shotgun blast, she sadly said of her son “Now he’s gone and joined that stupid club.”

“And so dear friends, you’ll just have to carry on. The dream is over.” – John Lennon

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Friends Came to Me

With the comfort of Pete Ham at his right, George picked the opening notes to “Here Comes the Sun.” The crowd roared approval and George let loose a sly smile before returning to his terrified gaze. An hour into the concert, he still had a bit of nerves and though he had Badfinger with him now, and a horde of friends throughout, he was consumed with worry and deep blue thoughts.

So far, so good. It was happening, this Concert for Bangladesh, by all standards a huge success. He was front and center for the first time, his shoulder length hair spilling onto his burnt orange shirt, the white coat of his gleaming suit discarded. George’s serious demeanor, coupled with his long Egyptian pharaoh beard, made him look well beyond his 28 years. He stared out, thinking.

Would Bob show?

It was difficult for George to behave normally around Dylan; he worshipped the man and the man didn’t make it easy on George. Dylan wouldn’t commit. Oh, he had lots of reasons, most circling around his almost absolute disappearance from the stage these last five years.

“Hey man, you know this isn’t my scene,” Bob drawled laconically.

George was near breaking point from the gaggle of lawyers, record executives and accountants who circled like vultures, looking to pick the charity carcass clean. Bob was an idol and friend, but at this moment of great human suffering, he was acting selfishly. There was a higher purpose here.

“Look, it’s not my scene either. At least you’ve played on your own in front of a crowd before. I’ve never done that.” Never. He’d always been comfortable in the back. “The Quiet Beatle?” There was something to it. He didn’t want to be the focus, but that was the way God planned it.

Would John come?

John owed him. George had been willing to play with John and Yoko when others in the band wouldn’t. Avant-garde? That’s French for bullshit, but George was a dutiful friend. He’d played vicious slide guitar on John’s anti-Paul vendetta “How Do You Sleep?” George had played the dutiful follower but now he’d grown up and John was confused, lost in maya, apart from true love and unity.

He’d agreed though, at first. Even when George put his foot down and told him “No Yoko,” John was still ready to play. The last few days brought silence. George knew that for all John’s “peace and love” crap, he was a competitive bugger and was consumed by jealousy as George went to the top of the charts and sold millions of records. Little George as charitable hero? Well, that was too much for John to take.

George needed John’s help and knew he deserved it.

Would Paul come?

Ah, Paul. The yin and yang of Mr. McCartney. There’s love there and hate, friendship and spite. Hare Krishna. There was no surprise when Paul answered the request with a demand to end the Beatles’ legal partnership. He’s deep into the material world, and should see this concert serves the Lord; it’s not simply a matter of money and paper. But Paul is Paul and he behaves in a way that causes him to stand alone sometimes. It’s why George was surrounded by friends and Paul worked with his wife.

What does Bob say? “I waited for you when I was half sick; I waited for you when you hated me.” “I’ll wait still. These are my brothers,” George thought as he picked the notes at the end of “Here Comes the Sun,” and felt panic creep. With the song over, he grabbed a drink from atop an amp and began pacing, unsure, as he looked to his left. He’d written “Bob” on the set list, and if Dylan didn’t show what came next?

When he saw a dim figure in blue denim and tight curls, George relaxed. But when he saw another figure in denim and granny glasses, he was elated. It was John!

George stood behind the microphone.

“Like to bring out a friend of us all, Mr. Bob Dylan.”

Madison Square Garden exploded. The crowd saw John before George had the chance to announce him. John strutted on and did his spastic walk and retarded clapping. For all his reputation, John was a cruel bastard and not above making fun of the afflicted. But it was funny. George laughed; John always did that when he was nervous. When John stopped and beckoned offstage, George panicked. He brought Yoko!

But it was Paul.

Paul sauntered on stage, cooler than John, exuding Vegas-y confidence, a real rock star.

Dylan gave George a nod of the head. John came close, grinning broadly as he patted George lovingly on his hairy cheek. George bowed imperceptibly. Paul gave him a brotherly hug, tight and warm. Both John and Paul turned to Ringo, already onstage, and gave a bow. The band – Klaus Voorman, Jesse Ed Davis, Leon Russell, Eric Clapton - stood at the margin of history and cheered.

That was it. George thought back to the happy moments recording Abbey Road, even when it was clear they were coming to the end of the road. It was great fun to work on his own, but he never wanted to see the end of The Beatles, at least not the Beatles as he saw them.

People had imagined The Beatles as something else entirely, but the four of them were the only ones who knew what it was like. Now, nearly two years since the breakup and speculation over what was happening, separating what was real from what wasn't, what could have happened from what wouldn't, it was all over.

Just like that.

After Ravi Shankar asked George Harrison to do something for the ravaged people of Bangladesh, George put together The Concert for Bangladesh, a charitable event. Bob Dylan refused to commit and George was unsure whether the elusive Dylan would show until the very moment he walked on.

John Lennon had initially agreed, though he was skeptical of benefit concerts. Though George had refused to allow Yoko Ono to appear, John didn’t seem to mind but as the date grew near he grew uncomfortable without Yoko. On the eve of the August 1, 1971 show, John bowed out and flew to Paris. Paul McCartney agreed to appear, but only if George would help dissolve the Beatles legal partnership. George refused. Ringo Starr, of course, immediately agreed to play.