I have collected a lot of music souvenirs over the years: posters, guitar picks (Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick was known for tossing them into the audience – you could put a hole in them and wear them in a chain around your neck), ticket stubs, passes, and song lists. Song lists were among the first things I collected — a perfect addition to the scrapbook I ambitiously attempted for the bands I went to see. (That didn’t last long…I went to too many shows!)
A long-standing habit was established during the early clubbing days with Eric and Jane: we would get there early to get a spot at the stage (that’s how I got some of the pictures I have posted in my Fan’s History series). Sometimes we would be standing there for over an hour before the show, taking turns going to get drinks or making a bathroom run. If we weren’t early enough, or if the show was popular, we would push our way through the crowd and would end up pressed against the speakers (trust me, my ears paid the price for those nights). Often one of the last things the stage crew did before the show began was to tape set lists to the speakers. We would eagerly await this to get a peek at the songs; sometimes ripping them off to examine them, and then taping them back on before the band came out. They could be like a puzzle: the shorthand names for the songs cryptic, and we tested our knowledge of the artists by trying to figure them out. The other thing that fascinated me was that these lists were often written on whatever paper product was handy: paper towels, newspaper pages or phone book pages (most notably this was true for the local bands). After the show was over, you had to have quick hands to get the song lists, so there was the competitive element. This made them an attractive memento: a well-earned souvenir of the night.
When I started collecting them I liked to imagine that they were written by the artists themselves: maybe it was their handwriting? Naw…likely a stage crew member. Maybe one of them was the original and the others were copies? Maybe I scored THE one? Probably not.
Even without the imaginative factor, I’m glad I collected them because my memory certainly isn’t as good as it used to be. Most of my really old ones are packed away in a plastic tub so I didn’t pull them out for this post. I found this in a drawer because it was “fairly” recent (translation: from the last decade): Aimee Mann at the South Shore Music Circus in 2003.
Notice the folded-back duct tape that once held it to the speaker. Also, notice the pencil marks; these are my writing. I felt the need to make it accurate for memory’s sake. The songs listed below the horizontal line were the encore; apparently what the band actually played was different from what was originally planned.
I almost never go to shows anymore; it’s no longer in my budget. Certainly after working shows for so many years, and being fortunate enough to see all the wonderful musicians I once saw for free, I would have to want to see a band really bad to shell out the money for a ticket. And certainly, I wouldn’t be within song-list swiping distance. So this Aimee Mann list is a special one; maybe I should frame it?