the amazingly talented piano/keyboard/organ player and back up singer of the Heartbreakers turns older today. Besides being an awesome influence on the band who flavors every song perfectly with the piano/keyboard/organ and who helped prevent the Heartbreakers in the 80s from turning to the disastrous synthetic means of music production by insisting on “real instruments” and that the band ALWAYS making their “own” sounds rather than turning to synthesized or sampled ones—-he also comes off as a really smart, cool cat in concert videos. And in this hysterically funny and insightful interview, with the briefest of answers he communicates that wit and intelligence http://www.tompetty.com/lastdj_newsdetail.php?section=announcements&id=4226 for those unfamiliar with it. And for those who are.
In my i-pod playlists, I compile a playlist of a definitive performance of every song for which I have a live Heartbreakers version. Every major variation gets a distinct spot on the playlist as well. At one point in the playlist, I string together the songs driven by Benmont’s piano. Here is my current list of Benmont songs in the order that I am currently most happy with presenting them. Still working this out and will hopefully one day get all these “definitive” live versions burned and this disc relating to Benmont will be called “Benmont Tench and the Heartbreakers.”
What normally makes Benmont so good is that he is able to richly enhance songs by finding the way to be a perfect accompaniment to what Tom and Mike are trying to do rather than by taking over the song. His brilliance allows itself to be missed until you start paying attention. But when you start listening to his portions specifically, they’re always so good and they always leave me wanting more of what he’s doing. On this Benmont Tench and the Heartbreakers live list are many songs where Benmont for the sake of concerts is showcased by being given the chance to totally jam (or boogie) out to wonderful results. Listening to all these jams together is just a delight.
Here, for your consideration is my “playlist” for the Best of Benmont Live with the dates of the performances next to the song titles. (Note, sometimes he contributes amazing things to songs that do not let him be the featured player, but we will skip those songs for now and just focus on the songs where his piano is front and center for the purposes of this “playlist.”1 Melinda 7-24-05
2 Melinda 4-14-03
3 Ben’s Boogie 3-30-92
4 Like A Diamond 4-14-03
5 Dreamville 10-30-02
6 Southern Accents 11-4-93
7 Learning To Fly 4-23-99
8 Honky Tonk Turtle 9-13-89
9 Melinda 4-21-03
10 Piano solo 3-12-92
11 I’m In Love 12-4-82
12 A Woman In Love 12-4-82
13 Don’t Do Me Like That (with R&B piano intro) 8-17-81
14 Melinda 4-19-03
15 The Best of Everything 7-26-85
16 Spiritual Boogie 11-4-93
17 Think About Me (1986 Dylan tour)
18 The Death Ray Boogie 11-4-93
which is then followed in the playlist by Don’t Come Around Here No More from 11-4-93 in an amazing segue, which still features Benmont in a great piano role, but not as chiefly. Wondering where to find such live performances? A good start would be http://www.dimeadozen.org/, the amazing website where I picked up 20-30 shows without having to leave my home, pay a single dollar, or make a single new friend. It takes a few attempts for them to let you register since they have a cap on member totals, but it is WELL worth repeat attempts.
Not included in this list but equally great performances I should integrate with the list soon from Benmont include the following truly amazing covers:
Too Much Monkey Business 8-18-06
Waitin’ In School 1-15-97
Pretty Mama 1-15-97
Call Me The Breeze 1-15-97
The Image of Me 7-24-87
Some other songs off the top of my head where you can go to get an appreciation of the talents of the great Benmont Tench even if you do not have an extensive bootleg collection include from the albums (and available for purchase in stores and on the internet):
Straight Into Darkness from “Long After Dark”
Lonesome Sundown from “Echo”
Here Comes My Girl from “Damn The Torpedoes”
and many more I do not have time to list right now because I have to be at work by 8am! E-mail me if you’re curious to sample some of Benmont’s prowess on the keys live.
Happy Birthday Benmont!