A 1996 episode of Friends introduced the “Freebie List” to the lexicon. In essence, it is a list of five celebrities who, should the situation present itself, earn an “all-clear” from one’s current significant other. It’s a truth universally acknowledged … if this predetermined famous person will have you, you’re allowed to have him or her, with no negative repercussions to any current relationship.
Taking the top slot on my own “Freebie List” from 1999 until about, well, the time the photo below was snapped, was Johnny Rzeznik. The seemingly tortured, impressively coiffed, front man for Buffalo punk outfit (turned adult-contemporary-radio mainstay) The Goo Goo Dolls.
As luck would have it, I actually got to meet Mr. Rzeznik when he played a corporate gig I attended in 2009. I made a stupid request (“Will you be playing We Are the Normal?”); he dismissed me with a stupid lie (“Well, I dunno! I haven’t seen the set list yet!”); I entered a weeks-long shame spiral. At least I got a good profile picture out of it:
After this impressive meet-and-greet, I assumed what will certainly be my best concert vantage point ever — immediately in front of the stage.
From here, I watched them do their (modern-day) classics. Slide (remains a jam). Here is Gone (remains filler). Iris (whatever). And I looked forward to watching Broadway up close and personal for the …
Best part? 2:00 – 2:04. In a thinly veiled rant against his abusive and alcoholic (and, btw, dead) father, Johnny asserts, “Your anger don’t impress me.” The progression of notes is lovely, and differs enough from the first verse that it stands out, as is the suggested intent.
And yet! Johnny screwed up this night’s performance. Instead of launching into the second verse at the appropriate time, he started to repeat the first verse. I tried to save him, from inches away, but he was doing his best to try and ignore me.
Whatever, dude. Nice plastic surgery of late. See you on LITE-FM.