Last night, we went to see a show by Jack Gallagher called “The Joke’s On Me…Again.” Gallagher, a Sacramento-based comedian, playwright, and author, should be familiar to anyone who has ever flown in and out of Sacramento International Airport, because that’s his voice you hear on the PA system warning you - in amusing and clever ways – to do things like watch your luggage at all times and be careful about where you park. He’s done stand-up on both the Johnny Carson and Jay Leno versions of “The Tonight Show,” and the Conan O’Brien version of “Late Night.” He may not be a household word across the country, but he’s probably one of the most recognizable faces in Sacramento.
I can’t say that I know him well, but I do know him. I work with his wife Jean, and during the nearly six years that we’ve been colleagues, we’ve discovered that our tastes in music are remarkably similar. We also share that trait among music aficionados of wanting to own every great song that’s ever been recorded. She looks out for me (introducing me, for example, to Drive-By Truckers, The Avett Brothers, and The Low Anthem), and I try to look out for her (I’m way behind on this score, but I did tell her about the newest Bryan Ferry album, so that counts for something).
The show he did last night can best be described as a man telling the story of his life through the music that he’s listened to over the years. For someone who doesn’t make his living as a singer, Gallagher has a strong voice, and the musicians in his backing band – including Dick Bright, and members of the Rubinoos – were just great.
But for a show like this, it all comes down to song selection, and on that score Gallagher gets an A+. Now, some will be tempted to say that I’m saying that just because we appear to have almost identical tastes in music. To that I say: well, yeah. We both have great taste in music – anyone whose list of favorites includes Warren Zevon and Elvis Costello is a winner in my book. But there was more, much more – Jackson Browne, The Standells, The Turtles, Mott the Hoople, and many others, including one classic example of the kind of glorious AM trash that has always held a soft spot in my heart.
So in honor of a great show, a special edition of the 7-Song Perfect Playlist – all songs performed last night by Jack and the band.
“Dirty Water,” The Standells
“Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes),” Edison Lighthouse
“White Rabbit,” Jefferson Airplane
“Mother’s Little Helper,” Rolling Stones
“All The Young Dudes,” Mott the Hoople
“Poor Poor Pitiful Me,” Warren Zevon
“What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?”, Elvis Costello
And Jack…if you’d asked who wrote that last one? I’ll bet not too many people would have gotten that one.