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On The Streets of Oslo
(Oslo, Norway, June 29, 1996)

by Thor Henning Bugsett

I attended four shows in Europe this summer. In Stockholm we passed Pegi, Amber Jean and a bunch of other kids in the street but we didn't want to bother them. But some days later, in Oslo on Saturday, June 29 I actually met Neil, Poncho, Billy and Elliot Roberts.   :-)

Me and my friend went downtown and sat down at an outdoor cafe right beside the main entrance of the Hotel where we assumed Neil would be staying. (He'd stayed there in 1993.) We hadn't been sitting there long before Ponch turned up. We got his autograph and asked about the tour. A bit later Neil came strolling down the street (not the mainstreet but the sidewalk :-) together with another guy I didn't know. We got his autograph.

I was stupid enough to only bring with me a piece of paper, but my friend brought along the For the Turntables promo CD, which Neil signed. He asked us what it was, and we told him. He said that he had never seen it, and didn't know about it at all! We assured him that it was no bootleg at which he only laughed.

I asked him if it was going to be a long show tomorrow (Oslo June 30) but he didn't know. He said that they didn't have a set list. They just made the show up as they went along. (They sure did, I noticed the next day :-)

The rest of the conversation was just small talk about the weather (Neil: "Just fine"), the tour (Neil: "Great"), the previous show in Turku, Finland (Neil: "Great show, great people") and so on before he went inside the Hotel. Stupid questions I know -- but what do you really ask about when you suddenly stand face to face with Neil and he looks you in the eyes waiting for your move?

Anyway, a little bit later Billy came out of the hotel. We got his autograph and asked if they were going to do Dangerbird the next day. He said he, too, hoped they would do it but it was up to Neil. Billy was the most talkative of the three (Ralph was nowhere to be found). I showed him some reviews from the Scandinavian shows and partly translated them for him. When I mentioned that some of the Swedish reviews were pretty lukewarm he got a little bit irritated and asked me why I told him about bad reviews! I apologized and he calmed down and smiled as he went inside the hotel again.

We then drank some more beers and had a great time. About an hour later Billy came out again and went straight to our table. He asked me if I had mentioned the bad (well they weren't bad, just pretty indifferent) reviews to Neil, which I said I hadn't. He said "good, don't do it." (Hope the involved parts don't get to read this!) He then went into the hotel and shortly afterward Neil, Poncho and Elliot Roberts came out and went into a bus for some sightseeing and dinner (according to the bus driver!)

Before he got onto the bus, I got a new autograph from Neil with a better pen (the first one was hardly readable). He only laughed when I told him so.

Other than that I didn't want to bother him any more, so I turned to Elliot instead, and made some small talk about the tour. My friend had the Young Neils T-shirt on which Elliot remembered and commented about. (For those who haven't heard fo them, The Young Neils are a Norwegian cover band. Neil was wearing their T-shirt on stage at several occations during the 1993 tour - the lead singer gave it to him through Elliot.) I told Elliot about this cover band, and the over-sold show the next day (21,000 of a capacity of 20,000!) He didn't know it was sold out.

Then off they went. Neil and Poncho waved to us from inside the bus - before we waved to them! About 11 o'clock they returned. By then a third guy that I didn't know had turned up for autographs. Neil signed The back of his NYAS membership card with "Turn this card into cash, signed Neil Young"!   :-)   As this was the third time I saw Neil during the day, I didn't want to bother him more.

A couple of hours later we figured it was time to go home, to prepare for the next day's show. As I was heading for the subway, by coincidence I passed Billy in the street. Though Neil and Poncho had come from a better dinner, Billy was on his way to McDonald's!

There's more I could tell -- I got some interesting stories from the bus driver. But I'll leave it at that. I guess this isn't all that interesting for the rest of you, but it's just that it isn't often we get to meet Neil in my hometown!

Thor Henning Bugsett (tbugsett@sn.no)

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