John Doe (Live) — “See How We Are” and Other Songs (At “HOLE IN THE WALL,” 2021)

January 21, 2021 (Thursday)

It’s been a rough first week of the Spring semester, and it’s not going to get any easier. I got a jury summons in the mail, but needless to say, no one in a position of authority is willing to make any promises about when I will get a vaccine shot. It’s too late for my sister to get a shot to head off the encroachment of the virus, although so far she is avoiding the worst effects since being diagnosed positive.

This evening, though, I celebrated the inauguration of Joe Biden by watching a solo concert by John Doe, streamed online by Mandolin. Making use of three guitars, He played a variety of songs by himself and others for an hour and a half, non-stop. It was an impressive display of musicianship and singing. His voice was even sweeter than I remember it back in the early days of X, and his fingerpicking was superb.

Halfway through the set, I realized that I was not writing down the names of the songs, and at this point it is a bit of joyful blur, but they included a song by Exene (“I Live in Arizona”); “In This House that We Call Home”; “Big Rock Candy Mountain”; and “See How We Are.” Other covers included Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,” which he dedicated to Peter Case, who had shown Jon had to play in open tuning, and one of the Replacements’ great songs, “Here Comes a Regular.” As John said, “If you don’t know the song, you should look it up.” He performed it with a passion worthy of the original. Also included in the set was a plaintive, touching ballad by Wynn Stewart, which first became well known because of Merle Haggard’s recording. Finally, I would note that John dedicated a song to his late friend, Michael Blake.

Though relieved at yesterday’s shift in governance, I still feel very agitated and aggrieved. John’s concert helped soothe some of that tension. I remain grateful his commitment to songwriting and poetry and all of his collaborations with poet-songwriter Exene Cervenka.

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