In 1988, late on a summer night, my girlfriend and I pulled up to a red light in a borrowed van. My friend and his girlfriend pulled up next to us in his car. He rolled down the window, and had “Down By the River” going in the background as he made some kind of joke to us. The light changed to green, we turned left, he turned left to follow us, and then about ten seconds later I looked in the mirror and watched him get creamed from behind by a drunk driver. His girlfriend was dazed, but my friend was catatonic for the rest of the night in the emergency room, and only came “back to reality” the next day. But otherwise, remarkably, he wasn’t really hurt badly at all.
In 1989 I played “Cinnamon Girl” on stage. I was on guitar. My brother sang, and I did the harmony. Then in 1996 I did the same thing again, but this time it was a quieter version without drums.
In 1990 a friend and I spent an inordinately drunken amount of time giggling over a particular “Life in Hell” cartoon, specifically the one where the pregnant bunny (is that what they were?) shows up at her Dad’s place with her boyfriend. The boyfriend says “I only put it in a little bit,” and the girlfriend says “We’re in love.” My friend and I serendipitously discovered that these two lines fit in perfectly with the vocally unaccompanied guitar line in the last part of the first verse of “Winterlong.”
“Heart of Gold” was one of the first songs I ever learned how to play on guitar. “The Needle and the Damage Done” was one of the second ones.