Sometimes I feel the need to summon the ghosts of the 70s crowds around me, or maybe they come to me. These ghosts appear as people I meet by chance, people who actually saw Queen in concert.
Adding insult to injury, these people usually have seen them, like, four, five times. I'll corner them, say, at a barbeque, ask himit's always a guya battery of questions.
'What songs do you remember,' or, 'What was Freddie wearing" might be lead-offs. I move on to set lists, how they sounded. Inevitably, these people tire of my inquiries, and run back to their wives.
Once I bought a cherry copy of Live Killers at a church yard sale in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. The man who was selling them also had a box set, The Complete Prestige Recordings of Miles Davis. Got it for ten dollars. The Queen album cost 50 cents.
My new copy of Live Killers, the one with all four members onstage, with arms raised receiving adulation from the crowd, had four photos inserted inside one of the albums' slots. I remembered how I used to stick girly photos inside an album I had designated for this purpose, to retrieve them in private moments.
The dates on the back of the photos were 1979, the year the album came out. In one picture, a guy is grabbing a blonde girl's bare tits from behind, cupping them. In another, the same guy, his faint brown mustache rides an ear-to-ear smile. His pants are completely down. The third and fourth document the amount of coke the two had in their private basement party. Both the boy and girl smiling, each taking a turn snorting three and four-inch lines.
The way I find out about someone seeing Queen in concert is the following. After my meek confession of my love for the band, after a longer conversation about music, there's a set-up for the other person to mention his own guilty generational pleasure. For instance, he liked Styx at one time, he saw Journey once on the Escape tour. Then, my reasoning goes, the path is made for me to say that my favorite band is not some hip or critically acclaimed band, either; that it is, in fact, Queen. It's like I'm outing myself, and then the guy always a guytries to console me, tells me about the times he had seen Queen at concert. Then, I get to ask the battery of questions. It's a safe framing for the information that I mythopoetically need to hear. "They rocked the Garden or wherever," or "they blew my mind, man," while off-hand remarks for some, is music to my ears.
During one easy-going outing/concert re-creation session, I brought up these found photos I found in the yard sale copy of Live Killers. I was trying to spice up the conversation. I told him about the picturesthe girl's tits, the guy's pants completely down, the smiling pictures, the coke. We both laughed. I excused myself, offering to buy him a drink at the bar.
When I came back to our seats, my recollect or muse had gone.