I'm gonna tell two stories. I swear they will relate eventually, The first story is simple and short. I had a friend named Mark during my last years of college. We just met a few weeks before graduation, but we became mutual music mentors. Mark had a crazy habit of suddenly selling all his CDs and records...only to eventually buy them all back!!! Well anyway, once we were out of school we would trade cassette tapes through the mail. One day he sent me a tape with a group called Old 97s on one side and some dude named Johnny Dowd on the other side. The Old 97s were amazing!!!!! But this Johnny guy...well I'll listen to it again so I can get the tape back to the beginning of the Old 97s. That's the thing here. You might have to listen to Johnny a couple times to get it. I've heard once that the human brain automatically tries to compare musical sounds to something recognizable, and that this makes completely new sounds difficult to like right away. I'm no sonic scientist but it makes sound sense to me. So about the third time I heard "Just Like a Dog" I got it.
The second story is from 1998. Back when I was young, cool and drunk all the time* Met some sister of a friend of a friend. And oh gosh, she was beautiful, quick-witted, friendly and (most importantly to me at the time) planning on seeing the play I was in the next day. I was immediately and temporarily smitten. But no, this is not a love story. She was a happily coupled up woman, and was not flirting or interested in me. But she was still so damn cool!!!
So the girl, her brother, my friend and several other friends all came to see me perform as a drunken version of Bob Cratchitt in a re-write of a Christmas Carol in which Scrooge was the communist tragic hero. And after that she became sort of a pen-friend. And let me remind you, this isn't a romance story. 19 years later she's married with children to the man she was dating then. But I still thought she was so damn cool!! So when she'd come to town to visit her brother I always looked forward to seeing her among all our various mutual friends.
So one day she sends me an e-mail. "Hey, my boyfriend's band is coming to Columbus. You should check them out, it's Johnny Dowd." Johnny F--in' Dowd!!!! Her boyfriend is Johnny Dowd's drummer!!! Now by this time I'd grown to love Johnny and not met ONE SINGLE PERSON who had ever heard of him (except my buddy Mark in Chicago who had originally sent me a tape). And now I'm gonna see him in my town and I've even got a small connection. And that was the firs time I saw Johnny Dowd live. He played some amazing songs from an upcoming album I had yet to hear and it was just an extraordinary night. And yes, a couple years later Johnny did in fact play a concert at MadLab Theatre. Maybe that'll come in a future post.
Remember, you might have to listen to this a few times. Or don't. I'm pretty sure Johnny doesn't care. He's going to keep doing what he does whether we like him or don't. And I'm very thankful for that!
* I continued to be young until about 2007. I continued to be drunk all the time until through 2016. I figured out I wasn't actually cool around 2008, then realized "Bullshit, I am too" in 2017.
Just Like A Dog by Johnny Dowd on youtube
Buy Johnny Dowd's music and merchandise
And here's me as Bob Cratchitt in 1998