BOB DYLAN & JONI MITCHELL - DALLAS 1976
On January 26, 1976, I had one of the best (and luckiest) days of my entire life, taking even the future into account. I was in highschool, and had a great part time job selling 'Pink Things' at rock concerts held at Memorial Auditorium in Dallas. They were pink frozen ice cream popsicles. My job was to walk up and down the aisles yelling "Pink Things" while waving said item. Quite often people would trade me various illegal tokens for a Pink Thing, becaue they had the munchies real bad. To sell Pink Things, you had to arrive at the venue by 4pm and sign in with Mr. Pink. This is how I discovered the magic zone that is a sound check.
So I spent the mid-70's hanging out at sound checks after signing in with Mr. Pink. I quickly discovered that this ws the place to be. There was little if any security at that time of day, and the musicians would arrive, and slowly clown their way through a few numbers and then leave to go do something elsewhere. I knew every square foot of the auditorium and would often hang out at the backstage entry outside while trying to meet the musicians. On this particular day, I was trying to meet Joni Mitchell, who was on her Hissing Of Summer Lawns tour.
About 4 o'clock, I arrived at the backstage entry, located inside an indoor parking lot. I waited for about 15 minutes and a black limosuine pulled up. Out of the limo hopped first Mr. Kinky Freidman, a new star at the time, and Bob f'n' Dylan, looking like he had walked straight off the Desire album cover. He was wearing the exact same hat and was draped in scarves and faded jeans. Him and Kinky walked straight past me and I just stared at them like I was slow-mo-ing the Zapruder footage. The experience was about 30 seconds long but in my head it was about year. It took a year to hear my brain process the information; "Thaaaat'ssss....Boobbbbb........Dyyy...yyyy...yy ll...aaaaaa...nn......" I was stunned. He looked absolutely nothing like Joni Mitchell, so I knew it wasn't her.
I made a decision right then and there. I reasoned that if they walked in through that door, they would likely, at some point in eternity, walk out through the same door, probably after sound check or after the show and it didn't matter, because I was not going anywhere else for any reason. I would stand on that spot the rest of my life if that's what it took to meet Bob Dylan.
Fortunately, whatever they did inside the building didn't take very long. After about 20 minutes, the door opened and out they trotted, Kinky and Bob. They walked past me again, about 2 feet away. As they passed in front of me, my brain took another year to instruct me, "SStttopppp ssstaaaarring...annnd..sayyyy....sommmmmethhhiiiinnnngg...!"
The Universe screeched to a halt. Kinky stopped walking and Bob literally spun around on the heels of his cowboy boots, hands in his jean pockets, and stopped.
"Can I talk to ya a second?"
"Sure." He walked up to me and asked, "What about?"
At this point I had one million years, condensed into less than half a second, to think of something to say. And this is what came out.
"Can I give you some money for Hurricane Carter?" At the time, Bob was busy raising money to help out Mr. Carter, whom he believed was an innocent man behind innocent bars. He had played Houston the night before at the Astrodome with Stevie Wonder and Ringo Starr at a big Hurricane Carter benefit.
"Naw, they won't let me accept it myself - kinda looks bad, ya know?"
"I guess it would. So what do I do?"
"Got a pen? I'll give you the address where you can send the money."
(Please, Dear Reader, do not ask me what I was doing without a pen in such a situation. Actually, I almost never ask for autographs).
"Just tell me the address, I can remember it maybe."
"Send it to too-wun-too-fotey-ateTH-street-new-yawk-new-yawk-wun-oh-oh-wun-nine.
"Too-wun-too-fotey-ate-TH-street-new-yawk-new-yawk-wun-oh-oh-wun-nine. Got it. It won't be much."
"That's okay, it'll help."
"See ya around." Him and Kinky walked to the limo. And then he did a strange thing. He stopped, turned around, and walked back to me. "Anything else?"
Bob Dylan was staring at me, wondering if I had anything else on my mind.
"Not really. Just have a good time in Dallas. You gonna play tonight?"
"Probably not, we just played last night." He smiled and got into the car and it whished away.
The concert was great. During the encore Bob stood at the edge of the stage with some people, but did not play. After the show, I went back to the same area where I'd met Bob, because I still hadn't met Joni. There were about 100 fans gathered around the backstage door. When she finally came out, the crowd erupted into cheers and awe. Joni spent the next half hour talking with us, posing for pictures, and telling stories. But mainly she was teasing and flirting with a young Dallas police officer who wanted his cap back. During the encore, she knelt down and flirted with him, and took the police cap off of his head before leaving the stage. Now she was demanding a kiss in exchange for the hat. He blushingly obliged and she put the cap back on his head and everyone cheered. When she was walking toward me to get to the limo I said, "Hey Joni, can I get an autograph for a friend? She really loves your music." (Yes, I had found a pen this time around).
"What should I write?" she asked.
"Anything," I replied.
She scribbled on the paper and got into the limo which took her directly to the rest of her life. I looked at the piece of paper, which read 'Anything, Joni Mitchell.' How cool is THAT. What a chick. The next day in art class (I was 17) I told my friends the story and everybody made a mild fuss. I gave the autograph to a miss Pati Lane, the biggest Joni freak in Dallas, who had begged me the previous day to get her an autograph if I could. Pati was an amazingly gifted singer and guitarist for her age, wrote her own songs and knew all of Joni's. So it was a grand moment to actualize her wish. I handed her the autograph, smiling proudly like a knight returned from war. She looked at it, said "Thanks," and put it in her purse, and resumed work on her drawing. I can't remember ever having much to say to Pati after that. I was shocked that she treated it like a paperclip or something. If I'd known she was gonna be so flippant about it, I would have kept it for myself or sent it to that New York address I could no longer remember. What a bitch, there, I said it. I wonder if she kept on playing after she graduated. She would've made a good star, she had the right attitude. A few days later there was a story in The Dallas Morning News about Joni. She had realized, after taking off from Dallas in a plane, that her personal journal was missing. She frantically contacted the paper as soon as she landed, pleading with anyone who could help to find the journal. It had addresses and phone numbers, drawings, lyrics and poems. She told the reporter it was irreplacable and that she would pay a reward for its return. I don't know if she ever got it back, but if I ever find it, you can count on one thing for sure. I won't be fucking handing it to Pati Lane.
Thanks for reading, Bucks Burnett