You may have noticed a drop in verbiage since my trip to St. Louis. What can I say after an experience like that one? Two Chuck Berry shows in less than a week. A trip to Wentzville. Numerous excursions into North St. Louis. A view of the old Crank Club. An opportunity to attend a sound check. A chance to see Bob Lohr again and meet Jim Marsala, CBII, Keith Robinson, Karen and Judy for the first time. And an opportunity to shake my hero’s hand and tell him, as best I could, how I feel about him.
Suffice it to say, I came home pretty satisfied. (Of course, I'll feel more satisfied if I can give you interviews from Mr. Marsala or Mr. Robinson or Ms. Clay or the son of rock and roll. Hey-- I'm an optimist!)
I suppose some fantasies remain-- but they are just that: fantasies, idle thoughts.
I suppose I would like to have dinner with the man, or ride in his car while he talks-- some sort of extended chance to know more certainly who he is, what he thinks, etc. But I don’t need it. I don't think he’s held back that much. I think his book, and the better interviews over the years, tell us a whole lot.
But I do have this one vision. It's a silly one, because it involves telling Chuck Berry what to do on stage, and he doesn't need advice about that.
But I’d like to see a Chuck Berry show that settles down for a few minutes of quieter stuff, with a chair on stage, and some ballads and blues. A sort of “Chuck Berry Unplugged.”
It happens now and then, without the chair. Daryl Davis tells of a Nat King Cole song during the Strathmore show. He tells of a blues, too. And I’ve certainly seen Chuck dismiss the band for a time, and play solo-- but usually something funny like "My Ding-a-Ling," or "South of the Border."
Some of the best, most interesting performances I’ve seen or heard from the man were him leaning back during “Hail! Hail!” playing those sad ballads, or the beautiful “Annie Lou” done with just him and his guitar on the “Have Mercy” set.
So I’d love for him to sit down for a bit, settle back, and give us a taste of what we might hear if we somehow found him at home, in his study, strumming or singing something he especially loved.
And of course, I would like to hear some of the “new” songs, or some of the stone cold classics that just don't get played enough. "Thirty Days." "Havana Moon." "Oh Louisiana." Now that he's got a band, it would be nice to take advantage of it.
But why even say this? What we get, night after night, year after year, is so good, so classic, that I'd be a fool to complain, and feel foolish imagining something different. When all is said and done, what more would I want, and what more could he give?