Nashville's Barry Tashian remembers playing second base at New York's
Well, playing a guitar on a stage erected near second base. Tashian
wasn't good enough at baseball to become one of the 127 second basemen
in New York Mets history.
Not that it was ever an ambition. He was a Dodgers fan.
Also, he preferred music over hardball, and he stood on that infield
stage at Shea in 1966 because he and his band, The Remains -- a
collective launched when the members were students at Boston University --
were in the midst of a rock 'n' roll tour.
They were opening for a Liverpool combo called The Beatles.
So, what was that like? Funny, but a lot of people seem to ask Tashian
that very question. Turns out it was pretty cool.
It was cool to be 21 years old and be part of the biggest rock tour
in the world. It was cool to hang out with George Harrison in hotel
rooms, playing guitar and listening to sitar player Ravi Shankar's music
on Harrison's futuristic portable music device, a "cassette player."
"He had headphones for it," Tashian says. "He'd let me put the
headphones on and listen, and he'd say, 'This is North Indian classical
George was a nice guy, as were John, Paul and Ringo. Tashian says
they were just like their characters in the comedy film A Hard Day's
Tashian says he'll never forget the shrieking, crying and roaring
from the stadium crowds on that tour.
And Tashian says he really, really should have asked for autographs.
But why would he collect autographs? After all, he was going to spend
the rest of his life around rock stars and adolescent shrieks and
cassette players. He and The Remains weren't at fantasy camp, they were
joining the club.
"Oh, I thought we were going to be world famous as soon as the tour
was over," he says. "But...we weren't. And we broke up. Now, I think,
'Why did we ever break up the band after we did that tour?'
Because we were kids, and I guess that's what was going on."
The Remains became part of Boston rock lore: Beantown's no-hit
wonders. They were way-pavers for Aerosmith, the J. Geils Band and
others. In 2009, the America's Lost Band documentary explored
the group's legacy, and last year Barry & The Remains were inducted
into the Boston Music Awards' Hall of Fame.
As for Tashian, he found other doors through which to walk. He found
himself drawn to country music, went west, joined up with country-rock
Parsons and contributed vocals and guitar work to Parsons'
now-legendary 1973 solo debut, G.P. He moved to Nashville in
1980 and spent nine years as a member of Emmylou
Harris' Hot Band. And he and wife Holly Tashian have released seven
studio albums and toured the world as a heralded country and folk duo.
Every now and again, at a concert hall or a folk club, a festival or a
house concert, a fan would appear holding a Remains album, hoping for a
signature and a conversation. Sometimes the autograph-seeker had seen
Barry & The Remains play sweaty, energetic shows in 1964 at Boston
club The Rathskeller. Other fans had seen stadium shows with The Beatles
and remembered the hard-charging little rock quartet that opened the
evening and then backed The Ronettes and Nashville-born Bobby Hebb
(of "Sunny" fame) before ceding the stage to the Fab Four.
Those fan interactions were reminders to Tashian that The Remains had
been a fun thing for people, that the lack of popular success hadn't
negated the good feelings folks had for the music. And Tashian missed
playing rock 'n' roll.
He and original members Vern Miller, Bill Briggs and Chip Damaini
re-formed, releasing Movin' On in 2002. It was their first
album in 36 years. They began playing live shows, too, and they noticed
that much of their audience wasn't even alive when The Beatles were
As he prepared to turn 60, Tashian heard his first adolescent shrieks
since August 29, 1966, when he walked offstage at San Francisco's
Candlestick Park, just before The Beatles last-ever concert tour
"We have a young fan base," he says. "For the most part, it's not
people our age."
Where do young people in Nashville go to hear music? One place is The Basement, a venue on
Eighth Avenue South that holds approximately 55,500 fewer people than
showed up for the Beatles/Remains Shea Stadium gig. (That one drew
55,600, by the way.) On Wednesday, Barry & The Remains will play a 9
p.m. show at The Basement. They'll play old favorites (including "Why
Do I Cry," featured in the recent movie Superbad) for a roomful
of mostly new fans, and in the days to follow they'll begin work on
another new album.
From The Beatles to The Basement in 45 short years, and Tashian is
pleased as punch with the whole thing.