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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bridge School Benefit Concert Memories: R.E.M. & Neil Young on "Country Feedback" - 1998

Recently, we posted the sad news that there will be No Bridge School Benefit Concert in 2017 .

In memory of all of the Bridge School Benefit Concerts we've attended over the years, here's a posting of our thoughts on Remembering The Warmth & Love of Bridge School Concerts .

So in memory of the 30 years of Bridge School Benefit Concerts, readers have been submitting favorite memories. Let us know a favorite Bridge School Benefit Concerts and we'll try and post.

Here's a favorite memory we've highlighted before -- R.E.M. & Neil Young on "Country Feedback" from Bridge School Benefit in 1998.

This performance is -- without a doubt -- one of R.E.M's finest of one their most loved songs.

Which -- naturally -- would also make this one of our favorite tracks on the Bridge School Concert 25th Anniversary package set.

Also, one of our all time favorite Bridge moments occurs at about ~1:10. Watch it and feel the sheer awe of Michael Stipe as he takes in the moment.



Michael said it best, "I need this, I need this!"

Neil Young's acoustic lead on the song is just so simply stunning in his most achingly acoustic, hauntingly-beautiful-spook-in-the-muse transcendence.

The DVD playing through the ol' hi-fi stereo at "11" is well... in the parlance of our times... just freakin' awesome.

Also, don't you just love the smile from Peter Buck. Then the way Neil gives Pete a nice quick hug right at the end. And how about Neil's beard from back then? Grizzly. :)

Here's the backstory on the video above from by Gavin Edwards:
The personnel at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California, on October 18th, 1998 were somewhat different: With Berry having left R.E.M., Joey Waronker was playing percussion and Ken Stringfellow handled bass, while Scott McCaughey (on piano) hid in the shadows, like Mills. Lurching around the stage in sneakers and a fedora, with a thick mountain-man beard, was Neil Young, soloing on acoustic guitar. Young lost himself in the song, spending long minutes exploring its bittersweet tang, and playing a chiming, melancholy solo. Slightly over four minutes on record, here the song stretched on for nine glorious minutes.

As "Country Feedback" began, Stipe sat down on the stage, gazing up at Young, absorbed in the mood he was creating, chewing on his knuckle. When he stood up, he poured his heart out until his voice cracked, holding notes until he appeared to be in physical pain. "It's a love song, but it's certainly from the uglier side," Stipe has said. "It's pretty much about having given up on a relationship."

R.E.M. greatly revered Neil Young: Their final album, 2011's Collapse into Now, included the song "Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I," which was more about Neil Young's "Pocahontas" than it was about Brando. "It's about me going to Neil Young for advice," Stipe said – not that he ever actually had, but he was confident that if he ever had to, Young would have stepped up to the occasion.

During this performance of "Country Feedback," Young gave the best advice possible. He didn't say a word or sing a note, but he played guitar with such authority that it seemed to provide moral clarity. By the end, lost in the music, Stipe could only shake his head.

Bridge School Concert 25th Anniversary package set.

More on 25th Anniversary 2011 Bridge School Benefit Concert.

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At 6/22/2017 11:50:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

Bumped from 2015 by Greg M.:.

The first time I heard this a few years back, I knew instantly before the performance was even over, that it was one of the great recordings anyone will ever hear.

This is a moment in time when all the musicians knew how special the moment was while it was happening. If there is a better proof of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts, I'd like to see it. Not that there isn't, I'm sure there are many, I just want to see it/them. There are precious few times I've experienced this kind of thing- the cut off the Journey Through The Past soundtrack of "Soldier" (not the one off Decade), "Expecting To Fly", Jimmy Buffet's cover of "Pacing The Cage", Tony Bennett's "Who Can I Turn To?" (and his cover of "For Once In My Life"), about 35 seconds of unified sound that came out of the center of the instruments with me about 20 feet away from Dylan and the G.E. Smith band, the old black and white television recording of Joni Mitchell performing "Urge For Going"- given a little more time I could come up with some more, and so could everyone else, but yeah, magic.

Can't get enough of watching the impact these nine minutes were having on the guys, and never tire of replaying it a few times whenever I come across it, like tonight.

Thanks, Thrash.

A Friend Of Yours

At 6/22/2017 03:12:00 PM, Blogger Tom said...

Certainly one of the highlights off the Bridge School DVD. My kids always want to watch "Surfin' USA" though.

At 6/22/2017 09:21:00 PM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

Replaying it again, Thrasher- and thanks again for posting.

I know I'm picking the low hanging fruit here- and I don't have the first clue about Neil and Peggy's relationship- but in light of Stipe's comment about the song's subject being the end of a relationship, and in the context of The Bridge concert series coming to an end, it can't help but give one pause, and hint at not a little poignancy right across the board. For me it brings to mind the spirit of one of my favorite Neil songs, The Bridge. On the one hand, different thematically as relates to the school, but on the other still related in terms of love being the bridge over which we all have to cross in order to repair the damage in our relationships, not only in this immediate circumstance, but on all levels of human interaction. Let the love underpinning the Bridge School spread far and wide, and in unanticipated ways, leading to all sorts of wear and tear on this bridge. Our only hope, even though "it may take a lot of time."

Anyhow, it seems the Bridge School is on solid ground, the result of countless individuals giving of themselves to bridge the gap for these extraordinary kids, notably the school's staff, and an endless stream of artist's who checked their ego's and checking accounts at the door over the years to be a part of a pure cause.

I was never up on all the details, and never made any of the concerts, but from different coverage of the events surrounding the concerts, it seemed clear that the artist were deeply touched and humbled by their experience of the students, and the united efforts of so many people on their behalf. These are individuals who oft as not have the world at their feet, who chose to step off the merry-go-round for a few days to make heartfelt contact. Very cool.

Long may they run, the students, the school & staff, all the loved one's, continued funding, and hopefully the school's influence on other outside the box approaches to teaching and learning. What a great legacy.

A Friend Of Yours

At 6/23/2017 01:04:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Tom - that's a good one. Drop a link and we'll post

@ A Friend Of Yours - thanks for both original comment and followup. It is b/c of comments like this that we do what we do.

"a little poignancy" is the understatement of the day.

Agree on the naming of the benefit as "The Bridge". So perfect on so many levels.

"Love being the bridge over which we all have to cross in order to repair the damage in our relationships, not only in this immediate circumstance, but on all levels of human interaction. Let the love underpinning the Bridge School spread far and wide, and in unanticipated ways, leading to all sorts of wear and tear on this bridge."

Just need to re-read that, again.

Sorry you never made a Bridge b/c you would have been in the right place, at the right time w/ the right people.

For many Bridge was just a concert. But for so many others who really understood this bridge concept that you speak of, was -- as we like to say -- a life changing and life affirming experience which changes one's very soul to its core. (See The Bridge is a "life altering and transcendental experience.")

This is the legacy of love.


At 6/23/2017 08:21:00 PM, Blogger Joel_Grant said...

First time I ever saw that video and I am not a huge R.E.M. fan but wow!


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