Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham – Moments from This Theater (1999)
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Spring, 1999: I’m at Slim’s, in San Francisco, making a rare visit to the city in order to see, at long last, Nick Lowe live and in person. The album he’s touring behind, Dig My Mood, isn’t one of my favorites, but I don’t care; just having the chance to see Lowe working his magic onstage — even if it is a small stage, and even if Slim’s is full of the chattiest, most disrespectful dickwads you could ever watch a concert with — is nothing short of a thrill.
So my friend Pete and I, we’re hanging around, eating bar food and just sort of absorbing the opening act — a couple of retirement-aged gentlemen, one with a keyboard, one with a guitar — and gradually it dawns on me that I not only recognize every song they’re playing, but every song they’re playing is a certified classic, and the guy with the guitar is none other than Dan Friggin’ Penn. And yes — it can’t be, but it is — the guy behind the keyboard is Spooner Oldham!
Yes, friends, I got to hear “I’m Your Puppet” (download) and “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” (download) — and a whole stack of other Memphis soul classics — performed, not fifty feet from my stupid, awestruck face, by the guys who wrote them.
It was a transcendent experience (even more so, if you want to know the truth, than seeing Lowe) — the kind of concert that you just hope to God someone bootlegged.
And they did. Well, not this concert, but some of the other dates on the tour, and actually, it isn’t a bootleg, meaning you can just toddle on over to Amazon or iTunes and get it for low, low prices. So, uh, what are you waiting for?