What Every Musician Needs: Better Shut Up Lines
We all hate the trope "Houston, we have a problem," but we do have a problem in Houston with talkative, inattentive crowds at live shows. Scanning back over reviews from the past two years, at least 20 percent of them mention crowd noise.
So what do the musicians think and, more importantly, what do they do? The last time we saw Steve Earle he pulled out Doc Watson's famous one-liner to silence a request screamer: "I remember my first beer, too, buddy." We've also seen Earle quiet two talkative ladies with the sarcastic, "Am I botherin' y'all?"
And Jon Dee Graham stopped mid-story one night a couple years back at the Continental Club and said to someone talking at the corner of the stage, "Hey, buddy, if you'd shut the fuck up you might learn something and not be a big dumb ass." And we've always loved listening to Bob Dylan's retort to a heckler at his infamous 1966 electric gig at the Royal Albert Hall. The fan screams something like "traitor" and Dylan snarls back, "Liar....I don't believe you."
Perhaps the favorite one we've ever heard was about five years back when Herb Pederson and Chris Hillman played the Mucky Duck. Two men near the front kept talking during the songs and between songs one of the guys would holler out some Flying Burrito Brothers song title as a request. This went on for 5-6 songs. Just as they were starting a song the guy called out "Gilded Palace of Sin." Hillman stopped, pointed to the guy and said very sarcastically, "Buddy, I knew you were gonna be here tonight, I just didn't know what you'd look like 'til now."
We polled some musicians on the issue and Watson's "first beer" retort is easily the most often used. But here are some others that are amusing and helpful: