I just re-listened to the live album Linda Ronstadt recorded in 1980 (which I wrote about in April, shortly after it was released), and noticed something I missed the first time: the audience stays quiet, except between songs, when they applaud as you’d expect.
It’s really apparent while she performs her cover of Willin’, a song Lowell George wrote and recorded with Little Feat. When Ronstadt and her backup singers get to the chorus, they pause for a second or two between the words weed, whites, and wine — and you know what you hear during those moments? Nothing! No one in the audience whoops, cheers, or shouts “Yeah!” Click the YouTube embed above to hear for yourself.
Perhaps it was a sign of the times, but I bet that every live album recorded in the last decade or two includes some nitwit feeling like they have to fill the silence anytime a performer pauses during a song. These are the same idiots who shout out song requests from 30 rows back, which serve as nothing more than an annoying distraction to the performer, who already has a set list worked out in advance. Or the ones who don’t give a damn about anyone else attending the show, so they hold up their iPads to capture it on video, thus blocking the view of everyone in a direct line behind them. Or those who go to a comedy club and talk back to the comic in the middle of a routine. Or feel their opinion is so important — emboldened by everyone’s relentless need to express themselves on social media — that they’ll stand up and start mouthing off wherever and whenever.
What’s lost is the simple rule every person in every audience should follow: if you’ll shut up, sit down, and let the professionals do their jobs, we’ll all have a much better time. If you’re not willin’ to do that, stay home and write nasty comments on Facebook.