Of all the many and wondrous events that took place at New York’s legendary McGovern’s Bar (and there are countless such events) the one that never fails to amaze is our memory of the night The Beatles debuted a new song, Free As A Bird as a finale to part one of their Anthology Specials.
The guys in Native were at the bar, raptly watching it with all the other patrons who’d gathered around the TV, while Mat Hutt and Steve Greenberg (a.k.a. Steve McGovern) frantically tried to keep up with calls for libation from the teeming horde. Standing in that horde was one Dan Hovey who, along with his sterling band, The Haunted Lobsters, was on the bill for that night’s entertainment.
No band in their right mind wants to compete with the Beatles, so it was not thought unusual that the Lobsters were delaying their set until the show was over. Cue the extraordinary video that accompanied Paul, George, Ringo, and John Lennon’s distant, haunting vocals, and the inevitable subsequent razzing Dan & the band got — “Yeah, go ahead, guys! Follow that!”
We now come to the part that I hold in amazement — Dan and The Lobsters calmly went on stage, picked up their instruments, and proceeded to play Free As A Bird perfectly from start to finish, a song the whole world had only just heard for the first time. Leaving everyone in the place incredulous and dumbstruck, they went on to perform their set.
The onus was on Native now, as people around the bar turned to us with: “Yeah, go ahead, guys! Follow that!”
We were always in awe of Dan and his buckets of talent. So, when the day came that he presented us with a song, we were more than blown away, we worked harder than ever to do it justice.
Can’t Leave It Alone became a setlist tentpole for us. When all else was going wrong, we could reliably pull it out of our bag of tricks and set things right again. It’s such a great melody, and the little turns of phrase throughout are the hallmark of a truly gifted writer of those pesky word-things. In one tune, Dan upped the ante, and we were better for it.
Dan now lives in the D.C. area. His website is danhovey.com. We’ve tried to contact him through it, but the mail folder appears to be not functioning. So, here’s our way of saying thank you, Dan. You are a better man than we. Your guitar prowess is unassailable. Your songcraft is inspiring. And, The Haunted Lobsters live on in the firmament of our collective amazement. Rock on!!!