Friday, December 21, 2012

No. 531 – Drunken Hearted Boy

Performer: The Allman Brothers Band
Songwriter: Elvin Bishop
Original Release: The Fillmore Concerts
Year: 1992
Definitive Version: None

The song today really should be It’s the End of the World As We Know It, or at least Until the End of the World, which is a song I actually like (Good old No. 917), right? Oh well …

When I got Live at Fillmore East back in 1989, I didn’t know much of the history of it. I was always intrigued that after the epic Whipping Post, it sounded like the band was going into another song that was cut off. Later, I found out it was the even more epic Mountain Jam, and that’s when I learned even THAT wasn’t the last song of the night. It was this one.

I love how Duane at the end tells the audience that it’s 6 o’clock, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t mean in the evening. I suppose they started really late, but I like thinking that the Allman Brothers played for, like, eight hours until 6 a.m.. What the heck, when two of last songs total an hour by themselves, that HAS to be a long show. My guess is they actually started about 2.

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned, the Fillmore Concerts was a regular play when Debbie and I went back to Maine in 1998. We stayed at the same place as before, but we did a lot of new things, which I’ve documented. One thing that was the same was dinner at the Rocktide Inn.

We found the Rocktide in 1996, more or less by accident. When we went into town for dinner one night, we noticed a bright restaurant across the bay from the central part of town. It was accessible by a 200-foot-long pedestrian bridge just above the water, so we decided to check it out.

The $15 twin one-pound lobster dinner was the hook, but the sale was the place itself. The Rocktide in 1996 was one of my three all-time favorite restaurants in terms of décor.

When you walked in, you were greeted by wooden models of old whalers, steamers and schooners, with the occasional tall-ships model thrown in for variation. The hostess stand wasn’t far inside the door, and if you had a wait, which we did, you were ushered into a sitting room to the left.

Inside was a fireplace and bookshelves that were filled not with books but rows upon rows of intricately painted toy soldiers of various countries, regiments and ages. The sofas showed the deep, permanent indentations of their decades of use.

The Rocktide had three dining rooms, one of which doubled as the bar. The two main rooms had tables clad in red-checked plastic overlooking the harbor, and because it was September and chilly when Debbie and I were there, flaps of plastic had been pulled down to provide protection of the porch outside that was closed for the season. So the view outside wasn’t what it could’ve been.

Fortunately, the view of the inside was unencumbered. One room had the salad bar; we sat in the other room. Both rooms were lit almost entirely, as I recall, by Christmas lights. At least they certainly provided much of the light and all of the ambience.

But the killer feature was a model train just below the ceiling that snaked through all three dining rooms. I suppose it’s possible that each room had a separate track and train, but my memory is that each train went through each room at some point.

When Debbie and I went back in 1998, I was pleased to see it was just the same, although the twin-pound lobsters had been increased to—gasp—$16. It was just as great as the first time.

But you know how it is: Almost everything changes. Laurie and I made it to Boothbay Harbor in 2008, the first time I’d been back in a decade, and although the Rocktide still was there (and I suppose it’s there still), it was totally different.

The sofas had been replaced; most of the miniature toy soldiers were gone, as was the twin-pound lobster special. Worst of all, the décor went from funky basement to big-city chic—dark woods, candle-lamp wall sconces and white-linen tablecloths.

And the trains were gone, or they might as well have been. One ran in only one room, and you had to ask to see it run. Then it would circle the track only once before stopping.


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