Great moments in life are built by the chemistry of your surroundings. So often these moments occur toward the end of a special evening when a final drink punctuates the night. It’s exactly at these points in which I like to take control of the stereo, play a song that runs down my spine and partake in a well-chosen dram.
The key to appreciation is context. It’s a motto we’ve come to know here on the Scotch Journal. And this rule applies to choosing a choice tune for your nightcap. For the below songs, I’ve chosen live performances as they’re saturated with raw emotion derived from the music and circumstances surrounding the concert. Each of these shows have a common thread in that they are all critical points in the artists’ careers where their conditions are driving their music to another level. So if you’re about to call it a night, grab your Glencairn and let’s do this:
#1 – Oasis – Don’t Go Away – Live in Manchester 1997
In the late 90’s, it was estimated that 1 in every 3 UK homes owned an Oasis CD. In 1997, 2 years after their album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, which is estimated to have sold over 22M copies, the band returned with a blistering record called Be Here Now. The songs all clock in at ridiculous lengths and at even more ridiculous decibels. Excess was the norm as every whim was indulged, including one of the strangest stage set-ups a band has ever dreamed up (substance abuse was also par for the course). It was beautiful – rock and rollers at the top of their game dictating their own rules. Don’t Go Away is a sentimental stand-out on the album with Liam Gallagher’s voice at its best along with his brother Noel’s songwriting (if sentimentality is your thing, try the acoustic version on for size). The homecoming performance of the song in Manchester in December 1997 is a moment in rock history to be admired. May I suggest an Islay to pair with the overdriven tones of Britain’s last world-conquering Rock band.
#2 – Eagles – Take It To The Limit – Live in Maryland 1977
The Eagles soared to uncharted levels of popularity in the 70’s (150M+ albums sold) and became known for their perfectionism in the studio and as a live act. Hotel California was released in ’76 and following that, the Eagles did what they did best and hit the road. In this clip, Randy Meisner, bass player and vocalist, gave one of his last performances as an Eagle before he left the band due to “exhaustion“. This performance captures one of the most epic falsetto notes in live rock and roll history; a note which people would literally buy a concert ticket to come and see (check out the 4:19 mark). The pressure of performance, personal issues and general touring fatigue began to wear on Randy to the point where he’d refuse to play the song. These refusals led to fights which led to the discontinuation of Randy’s role as an Eagle. Subplots aside, Randy’s vocals, combined with legendary songwriting and gifted musicians, provide one of the finest backdrops for a mellow Speyside “at the end of the evening”.
#3 – Bruce Springsteen – Thunder Road – Live In London 1975
It’s hard to imagine a time when Bruce Springsteen wasn’t globally referred to as “The Boss”, but that’s what makes this performance so compelling, aside from the fact that it’s a stripped-back version of one of his greatest songs. In November 1975, Bruce was on a UK/European promo tour after the release of Born To Run to try and continue the momentum that was picking up in the US. At 27 years old, he’d been in the music industry for years struggling to gain notoriety and this show marked his overseas debut. The concerts were accompanied by huge amounts of publicity that led to frayed nerves and rising tensions, however, all of the pressure seemed to dissipate once the “screen door slams” and “Mary’s dress waves”. With this song, any Scotch will fit the profile, but I always seem to gravitate toward Macallan for the “Thunder Road” nightcap.
I’d encourage you to share any infamous pairings that you may have up your sleeve as Scotch and Music are best when combined and shared.