Jun 252011

Phoebe Snow and Linda Rondstadt cover The Roches‘ “The Married Men” on Saturday Night Live. I like how they take it upon themselves to introduce to the country a then-practically unknown band. This would have been around the time of the sisters’ breakthrough s/t album. I like how Snow and Rondstadt are appearing together just because they feel like it—as if they’d just happened to be doing lines in Lorne Michaels‘ office during the Not Ready for Prime Time Players’ final run through. Paul Simon and George Harrison made a similar non-promotional appearance. Could a national television show, not to mention artists’ managers, allow such an informal, generous appearance again? Thinking about this makes me feel twice my new age.

Whether you’re 24 or 48 or 96, what musical moment can you not imagine ever happening on national televlsion again?


  14 Responses to “Musical Moments I Cannot Imagine Ever Happening on National Television Again”

  1. You can see Robert Fripp in the shadows off to the left, next to the tape machine. He was producing the Roches at this time. Shame the Roches never really made it beyond small-cult status – they were really talented.

    Also, both Phoebe Snow and Linda Ronstadt would be facing tough times ahead. Phoebe pretty much left show business to care for her brain-damaged child. Linda would make an ill-advised New Wave venture then lost a lot of her audience and credibility when she played Sun City in South Africa during 1983 in defiance of UN boycotts and popular condemnation.

    As far as non-repeatable TV moments, I can’t see anything that would have the impact as the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.

  2. The Elvis ’68 Comeback Special.

    Fear on SNL: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=107188909305973

    PiL on American Bandstand.

  3. Bing Crosby and David Bowie — every Christmas this blows me away. Never get tired of the back and forth between Bing and Bowie . . .


  4. I think Linda made a calculated move away from the limelight with her Nelson Riddle standards albums and the Mexican album . . . her Trio record with Emmylou and Dolly Parton was a huge seller . . . so I don’t feel too bad for Linda, who is kicking it somewhere in New Mexico. I guess I missed the Sun City backlash . . .

  5. Nirvana “Unplugged”

  6. Allowing Fear to play SNL simply because Belushi was an early punk fan and Michael O’Donoghue thought it would raise a little hell. Nothing in TV is run that loose anymore.

  7. k. If you’re interested, you can see the entire performance at the link I gave.

  8. I don’t think we’ll ever hear a “Star Spangled Banner” sung straight-up, sans embellishment, ever again.

  9. That’s such a good point.

  10. mockcarr

    Or played as a tv station’s sign off.

  11. misterioso

    Dylan on SNL in 1980 performing 3 songs from Slow Train Coming–3 long songs (Gotta Serve Somebody, I Believe in You, When You Gonna Wake Up) that must have taken up 16-18 minutes of show time, 16-18 minutes of his particular form of evangelism.

    In fact, this thought (“I can’t imagine this being on national tv”) occurs to me often as I am trolling through youtube, shakin’ my head in wonder: Was That Really on TV?

  12. cherguevara

    I wonder if we’ll ever have a popular singer host a music variety show again, or if that form is completely passé. Those led to some weird moments, like this duet with Tom Jones and Janis Joplin:


  13. tonyola

    Interesting point. Variety shows were big when there were only a few TV channels, and they were created with the “something for everyone” mindset. Now, because there are so many channels and genres available on TV, the audiences have become very fragmented. There’s no longer a need or demand for the old-fashioned variety show.

  14. I remember The Cars hosting The Midnight Special in, I think, ’79, and they didn’t speak; a member of the band would just stare into the camera and a subtitle would appear on the screen to introduce the next act or video. They had Suicide & The Records as live guests, and played Iggy’s videos for “I’m Bored” & “5′ 1″”.

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