are you listening, bob stirner?

now playing: fleetwood mac, “you make lovin’ fun”



so this was in todays’ new york times:



December 27, 2005


The Net Is a Boon for Indie Labels




Even as the recording industry staggers through another year of declining sales over all, there are new signs that a democratization of music made possible by the Internet is shifting the industry’s balance of power.


Exploiting online message boards, music blogs and social networks, independent music companies are making big advances at the expense of the four global music conglomerates, whose established business model of blockbuster hits promoted through radio airplay now looks increasingly outdated.


CD and digital album sales so far this year are down 8 percent compared with the same period a year ago, according to Nielsen SoundScan data. And while sales of digital tracks through services like iTunes have risen 150 percent, to well over 320 million songs this year, that rise is not enough to offset the plunge in album sales. Overall sales are down less than 5 percent if the digital singles are bundled into units of 10 and counted as albums, according to estimates by Billboard magazine.


Still, despite the slide, dozens of independent labels are faring well with steady-selling releases by, among others, the Miami rapper Pitbull and the indie bands Hawthorne Heights, Bright Eyes, Interpol and the Arcade Fire. Independent labels account for more than 18 percent of album sales this year – their biggest share of the market in at least five years, according to Nielsen SoundScan data. (If several big independent companies whose music is marketed by the major music labels distribution units are included, the figure exceeds 27 percent.)


The surge by independents comes as the four dominant music conglomerates – Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI Group – find themselves hamstrung in their traditional ways of doing business by an array of forces, including a crackdown on payola (undisclosed payments made to broadcasters in exchange for airplay).


In a world of broadband connections, 60-gigabyte MP3 players and custom playlists, consumers have perhaps more power than ever to indulge their curiosities beyond the music that is presented through the industry’s established outlets, primarily radio stations and MTV.


“Fans are dictating,” said John Janick, co-founder of Fueled by Ramen, the independent label in Tampa, Fla., whose roster includes underground acts like Panic! At the Disco and Cute Is What We Aim For. “It’s not as easy to shove something down people’s throats anymore and make them buy it. It’s not even that they are smarter; they just have everything at their fingertips. They can go find something that’s cool and different. They go tell people about it and it just starts spreading.”


and so i’m offering this simple phrase…

now playing: darcie miner, “boys”



it’s come and gone now, and it was all actually quite nice. the kids have been here most of the weekend, and we’ve all had a great time together, and this particular christmas has registered much higher on the scale than i had figured it would.

tomorrow morning it’s back to work – and it’s a short week, with not one but two viva gigs (on wednesday and thursday) and then new years’ weekend….then i’m going to be appearing on michael anthony smiths’ radio show on WRVV on sunday night – new years’ night. then, from that day forward, it’s a new year.

i played two gigs this past friday, too – the usual happy hour gig, with my favorite three year old in the audience…kevin and angela brought alicia and angelas’ mom out for dinner, since kevin’s christmas party was there earlier that afternoon, and she was a joy – she danced and would walk over to me, then i’d ask her to sing and she’d run back to her mom. finally, she had come over on the other side of the fireplace and we convinced her to sing the alphabet song and jingle bells, but that was about it for her. plus, i think her general rambunctiousness was starting to wear on the other folks in her party. she’s great, though…she reminds me so much of jayda when she was that age.

then after that, wendy and i piled into the trooper and shot out the turnpike to philadelphia to play the tin angel with my buddy charlie degenhart. we got there at a decent time, got in and set up, and got ready to play – and of course, when everything goes that well up until showtime, then there’s gonna be something that happens at some point to cast a pall over it…in this case, there was a recurring 60 cycle hum that i just could NOT shake, and it only took about ten seconds for it to turn into the urine in my cornflakes. i thought it might be the guitar or the cable or a pedal, but i swapped through all of the above and the hum was still there. charlie was happy with the show, though, and mitch (who was a complete soldier and came out to the show) was impressed as well…i’ve just never, in all the years that i’ve been playing professionally, gotten to a point where i can rise above that kind of thing. i can be somewhat unaffected by it, in terms of how i carry myself, but it affects my playing, and the amount of confidence i have in my playing. when everything is right and correct, i play a certain way that i can’t seem to reach when i have these kinds of problems. i can rise above personal stuff, i can rise above whatever crap that might be swimming the moat around a specific gig, that sort of thing…but when something mechanical is wrong, it freezes me up in a way i can’t really explain. i mean, i’m functional – but i’m not myself.

darcie miner was phenomenal – she came on by herself and just tore it up. i meant to grab a copy of her record before we left, but i went to get the car and pull it around to the back stairs to load up and she was gone when i got back. ah, well…next time.

so saturday – christmas eve – i got up earlier than i ever get up on a non-guitar-shop day and drove to philadelphia to pick up wendys’ christmas present…i was back in reading by early afternoon, though. i had gotten a phone call from keith amos to come help with some errands at the shop while i was on my way down, and i drove straight there when i got back but he was gone already…i called his cell and got no answer, and there was a lone black truck backed into the second dock and nothing else anywhere in the parking lot…and the door was locked. i had told his voicemail when i called that i’d be available on monday since i wasn’t working, but i didn’t hear from him today, either.

so since that didn’t pan out, i went shopping for some additional christmas stuff…didn’t finish until almost 7pm, but once i was done, i headed back to the house to find that wendy had very nearly finished a complete yuletide transformation of the house. she had put up the charlie brown christmas tree, gotten out the christmas decorations and hung things, put down tablecloths and blankets over the back of the loveseat, she had broken out the christmas dishes and the christmas bowls full of snacks on the coffeetable…it was pretty unreal.

so, with all that done, we commenced our traditional christmas eve tradition of wrapping presents and watching christmas TV…the mainstay being the 1951 version of “a christmas carol” that always runs on public television, followed by “it’s a wonderful life” (which i’ve owned on video for longer than i can remember…i know i bought it at a boscovs’ tent sale when i was still married to the kids’ mom, and i’ve had it ever since…watched it once a year all this time). this year, there was no need to stay up until 4 or 5am wrapping – we got all of that done at a relatively early hour, so getting up on sunday wasn’t as painful as it could have been. i went to pick the kids up at their moms’ early sunday afternoon and brought them back to tear into their presents. i don’t think there were any huge surprises, but i did slip a couple of “gotchas” in there…i got jayda a couple of things that i don’t think she was expecting, and i know i surprised dylan quite a bit…wendy and i got each other the exact same gift…i got her the first four seasons of gilmore girls on DVD, and she got me all four seasons of soap on DVD. definitely one of my top five, all time tv shows…we actually sat on our asses for a good chunk of the afternoon today and watched about 75% of the first season – even dylan was enjoying it.


now, though, the holiday is over…i feel like a bit of an ass for my attitude about it leading up to the weekend, because i was completely prepared to loathe it straight through the whole thing. all the pressure, all the expectations, all the awful, awful music…it’s enough to break much stronger men than myself. but we managed to snatch a nice holiday from the jaws of perpetual dysfunction, somehow. jayda actually gave me a hug of her own free will, and said (unprovoked) that this was one of the best christmases she’d had since she was small.


that was better than a round of applause.


up from the funk

now playing: simon apple, “weight of the world”


so i’ve spent most of the time since, oh, sunday night or so in a weird pseudo-influenza-influenced funk…completely drained of any energy whatsoever, pounding headache, on the verge of asthmatic (in that i was actually conscious of my ability to breathe)…i don’t think i’ve spent more than six to eight hours in a position other than prone on the sofa or in bed.

i can’t remember the last time i missed two days of work in a row. today is my first day back from the weekend.

i’m still kinda achy – i replaced a power supply in a PC first thing today, and i’m all tuckered out already.

now, though, i have to focus on the next 96 hours and get through this whole thing somehow.

i don’t know if we’re even going to go through the motions of putting a tree up this year…we haven’t made any inroads towards doing so.

between myself and the kids, there just seems to be this pervasive “screw christmas” attitude – poor wendy is doing her best not to let our scrooginess affect her, and she seems to be succeeding – for the most part, anyway. she had asked a while back if i would go with her to pick up a christmas tree for her house, and i agreed to – but she’s yet to say when she wants to go (if at all at this point)…walking into my house, you wouldn’t know that it christmas at all, save for the smattering of christmas cards sent by folks who have yet to catch on that i don’t really do christmas cards, ever…no tree, no decorations, no nothing.

as i said before, i come into this whole thing every year thinking that i’m going to do this whole christmas thing differently…and yet every year i’m so sick of christmas by the time december finally even arrives that i can’t wait for the barrage to be over. i mean literally, there’s no escaping it. i refuse to listen to the radio of my own accord, and yet still everywhere i go, the awful, awful music seems to seek me out. the other day at the mall, i heard the most godawful version of “rudolph” i’ve ever heard…completely “american idol”ed out by some fuckin’ vocal gymnast who couldn’t carry a tune in both arms, warbling all up and down the scale of whatever chord in the key happened to be playing at the time, a la whitney houston or someone of her ilk – and that’s just one example i can site.

then there’s the commercials…like the kay jewelers commercial where santa goes to the mall counter and picks out a nice rock to take home to mrs. claus, who is – naturally – always dressed to the nines and is hurtin’ for something with which to accesorize the smock she wears 24/7/365, and santa comes home with the bling and hooks her up and she gazes up and him and says, “how did you know?”

and then santa gives her the look. oh, come on, you’ve seen the commercial, you know what i’m talking about. the look at the end of the commercial? the one that, we can only assume, is supposed to be santas’ “he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake” look, but the one that would much more likely be the “this fat old mans’ gettin’ laid tonight” look.


yeah, that look.

and there’s the dramatic jewelry commercial…the one where the guy snowed in at the airport while gazing at his girls’ ring hangs up the phone in a cloud of dejection as the commercial cuts to the “to be continued” riff. that one plays for a while until the conclusion starts to air, in which our hero is charioted home by a snowplow in time to spring the bling on his forlorn-looking victoria’s secret model…

see, i have personal experience with this particular scenario. dude – wake up call from your buddy tom, here.  if she was worth keeping, she would’ve gotten in her car and braved the snowstorm to retrieve your ass from a potential overnight stay at the terminal there. as it is, she’s sittin’ at home with a cup of hot chocolate, warm and dry, while you’re out in the cold flagging down snowplows like a buffoon just to try to get to her to give her the bling? what did she get you, studley?


hope you have a prenup.


then there’s the completely absurd ones…the visa commercial where the dudes’ toy boat becomes a miami cocaine barge when he charges the thing on his card. and this nerd looks at the cashier and asks her to gift wrap it? hey, dick – ask for your money back. it’s not what you wanted in the first place, and it’s obviously appreciated in value several thousand times since you sat it on the counter.


cool heads prevail, jerky. grace under pressure. use your noodle.


so without getting into the totally absurd ones – like the lexuses (lexii?) with the bows on them and the like – i’ll simply ask this question:

if you’re in a position to give a diamond for christmas, do you really need the goddamn tv to tell you to do so? likewise with your visa card – do you really need to be told to max out your personal debt this time of year? most of us can do that just fine without any prodding whatsoever from the television or otherwise.

i think i’m going to take a mental inventory, once all this is over, of all the companies who haven’t beaten my senses to a pulp over christmas with inane commercials, and show them my appreciation by giving my business to them for a change.

and yet i look around me at what appears to be a healthy majority of people who handle christmas much better than i do and i wonder where this deep-seated distaste for the season comes from….??

i wouldn’t say that i’m in a tiny little insignificant minority…a couple of weeks ago, i took jayda to the mall and i sat near center court and watched the kids file past santa – some of whom stopped to do the obligatory lap time, some who just gawked and kept on moving, and others who cried to their parents to stop but were ignored – and i see a lot of people who aren’t handling this christmas thing any better than i am. no, in fact, some folks come completely unglued at this time of year…for reasons that i couldn’t begin to speculate.

i don’t feel unglued…just noticably irritated, i think. correct me if necessary.

i’m sensing, though, that i’ve gradually passed this disdain for christmas on to my teenage children, and i find myself wishing i’d made more of an effort to put on a brave face and try to keep the season better than i have in the past. i think that if i had, perhaps they wouldn’t share my outlook on the whole holiday fiasco…because it really is my cross to bear. i never meant to pass that on.

i also suspect that my outlook towards the holidays might be reintroducing some familiar distances in other relationships…i’m not sure if that’ll be permanent or not, but it’s certainly a tangible thing at the moment. perhaps passing, perhaps not…but there’s more to that situation than meets the eye.

anyway – i got to spend some time with my buddy bob stirner over the weekend, who lamented earlier today that i hadn’t mentioned him yet, as i usually have cause to do so when we speak at length…and i’ve decided that he’s right. you catch that, bob? you’re right.

now what i have to figure out is what – if anything – i intend to do about it. bob’s ultimatum was simply to “flip that switch in your head and start writing songs”. and maybe it really is just that simple – i couldn’t tell you until i sit down and take a swing at it. my fear at this point is that i’ve become so devoid of internal nerve endings that i literally don’t have anything to say about anything.

this, of course, is the point at which you have nothing to write about in the first place.

i’ve yet to test the waters to see if that’s the case or not – i just haven’t felt the need to do so. as i had pretty much resolved that i wouldn’t be making any more records, i couldn’t see any real need to write anything. back when i was writing, i was never one of those people who sprang from my bed in the dead of the night with something in my head that i just had to write down before i forgot it. i wrote because i achieved something positive from the process, not because i was driven by unseen forces or anything quite so dramatic as some people would have you believe. i’m not saying that this isn’t true for some people, but it never really was for me. there was a motivation of some sort present, but it wasn’t pushed along by the sense of urgency that it was for some people…which makes it really easy to just shut off the valve if you don’t perceive a point to it all.

and for a long time, i haven’t felt that there’s been a point to it all.

will that change now, due to this new wave of support and encouragement moving in? i don’t know…as i’d said before, kind words burn off really quickly when that’s the only fuel you have.


so let’s see what comes my way in the form of tangible progress. then we can say for certain.


to cover or not to cover

now playing: shane nicholson, “keep it together”

todays’ friday top five, all time list:

all time top five worst cover songs in rock and roll history

“it’s my life” – no doubt

there’s obviously an adage in the music business that if you can just get gwen stefani to inhale and exhale in quarter notes, you then have a song and all the other parts are irrelevant.

wrong. wrong. wrong.

“big yellow taxi” – counting crows

when you’re the debutante and your coming out party is august and everything after, you’re almost expected to be consigned to irrelevance with any effort that you put forth after that. adam duritz and company released a fine follow up in recovering the satellites, but lost it not long after that. frankly, i don’t think they’ve ever gotten it back.

the pinnacle of the post-peak blandness comes with this weak-assed “let’s do it for schreck” effort, that has none of the buoyancy of the original version and suffers from a bad case of overwroughtness. duritz never really pulls off the happy crooner, much as he tries in this song, and while no one wants to stereotype him, neither does anyone want to see him looking just plain silly like this either.

“layla” – eric clapton unplugged

how does an artist land on a list like this when they do one of their own songs? easy – by lounging it up and sucking the last drop of life from a once timeless and vital piece of work. when clapton and duane allman teamed up to do the layla and assorted love songs album, he personified the tortured artist – embroiled in unrequited love and playing some of the best guitar of his career. certainly, no one can maintain that frame of mind indefinitely, and artists are expected to have their peaks and valleys (neil young, anyone?), but the eric clapton that sat down with his martin acoustic on his knee in 1989 to bleed this song and a number of others of any real sense of urgency they may have once had wasn’t even in the same ballbark with the eric clapton that channeled his love for george harrisons’ wife into rock and roll immortality.

eric – let’s not do this again real soon, ok?

the entire pat boone heavy metal album

yeah, sure, an easy shot – but come on, man! this album is the lays’ potato chip bag of the list – how can you pick just one? everything on this record sucks, and after a listen or two, you start to get the idea that the album was essentially the end result of a huge practical joke set up to make boone look like more of a dweeb than he already did before the whole concept came to light.

even funnier is the fact that pat boone lobbied the rock and roll hall of fame some years back for membership on the basis that he made rock and roll safe for white, middle class kids and that he deserved to be in the hall of fame as such.

percy sledge was damaging enough to the hall’s reputation – that would be the cinder block that broke the camel’s back.

“baby i love your way/free bird” – will to power

whose list is this not on? sure, it’s another easy shot to take, but this piece of shit deserves every LAPD boot laid upon its Rodney King ass. take one mullet, add to one set of muscle & fitness abs, blend with one set of hair extensions and implants – baste with milli vanilli soulless vocals and serve with two thoroughly crushed rock and roll chestnuts and bake at room temperature until video becomes stale. remove from oven and rush to garbage can before the stink settles in.

there are people walking around out in the world today who actually went to the record store and bought this garbage. if you happen to be one of them, please don’t tell me.

let it be your little secret. i won’t mind.

honorable mentions:

“sweet child o’ mine”, sheryl crow

there are so many swings to take at this song, it’s almost unfair…while it is possible to occasionally pull of a cover of an established song in a completely different genre, this song is a huge swing and a miss.

there are certain bands that have so much of a signature that their songs are practically uncoverable. led zeppelin, for instance. you can count on your testicles the number of times that bands have pulled off successful covers of their songs (my personal favorite: train’s version of “ramble on”), and in all (both?) of those instances, it’ll be pretty faithful to the original in most ways.

this particular version of this song isn’t faithful to jack shit.

“boys of summer”, the ataris

play loud and carelessly. hit things hard. turn everything up all the way. don’t sing –scream. secretly conspire to become billie joe armstrongs’ bitch.
seriously, ask yourself for a minute – who’da ever thunk that covering don henley songs would be considered PUNK?

“stateshoro blues”, dan fogelberg

this is what happens when the person you see in the mirror bears no resemblance whatsoever to who you’ve become…

are you gettin’ the feeling that this could go on indefinitely?

although it’s been said many times, many ways…

now playing: jars of clay, “tea and sympathy”

where have i been, you might ask?

doing my traditional christmas hiding.

yeah, i know…it’s silly and immature, but i do it in some form or fashion every year, it seems.

every year, i promise myself sometime around halloween that i’m going to make a conscious, concerted effort to change this year. this year, i’m going to set aside my cynical, hardened outlook and i’m going to lighten up and enjoy the holidays…this year.

and it’s always with the best of intentions that i do so. this year has been no different.

but every year, usually either right after or maybe even a little before thanksgiving, the rot sets in.

the commercials start. the music starts creeping into the radio playlists. the newspaper gets fatter. the billboards change.

and it’s not any one of those things, mind you…it’s the cumulative effect of them all, together, assaulting my senses relentlessly until my will is broken and i’m right back to being the miserable bastard that i am every december.

it would be even more cynical than i am to say that i hate christmas. i don’t.

but i do hate this time of year.

i hate the greedy, selfish bastards we become. i hate the pressure from everything around us to conform to some frank capra-perpetuated image of what a family is and what a family does at christmas. i hate the steady diet of stale christmas tv programming.

and the music – shit, man. let’s not even go there.

it’s the same shit that drives normally sane, healthy people to put barrel of a gun in their mouth every winter. sometimes i think that if i hear that awful caterwauling in the background of “blue christmas” or those fuckin’ jingle bell dogs or “grandma got run over by a reindeer” or the twelve pains of christmas just one more fucking time that I WON’T BE RESPONSIBLE FOR MY ACTIONS….

it really is the worst part of it.

and yet, somehow, i always resolve the following year to try and be the spark plug that pulls my family up from our shared “yeah, right”-ness and to find a way that’s uniquely our own of celebrating this season of spotlighted, intensified dysfunction. and while it’s true that this year, i can’t say that i’ve been that inclined to try and salvage something out of this season that it never lives up to, i did stay up late last night with wendy and jayda discussing how we should handle the whole thing.

jayda has a lot of the same familial frustrations that i had as a kid…that perhaps we all have as kids. there’s a rift in the family on her mothers’ side, and she has some pretty strong feelings about it, and isn’t really even inclined to play along this year. and, as you can probably surmise, my family is a moot point…based on mileage and history, anyway. and every year for me and the kids, it bears less and less resemblance to what anyone would consider a typical holiday. certainly, we’ve had worse times than we’re having right now, but the fact remains that christmas feels less and less important as a holiday and more and more like a financial obligation with every year that passes.

so we think we might’ve come up with a plan for this year – or at least the sketch of an outline of one. it’s rather vague at the moment, but it’s a start. we’ll see how it pans out.

i think the dialogue is the important part.

don’t call it a comeback

now playing: jackson browne, “in the shape of a heart”

there are times when it’s insanely easy for me to think that i just wasn’t intended to be a part of the music business.

this would be one of those times.

a great songwriter from nashville, jamie o’hara (one half of the late, lamented o’kanes), said in an interview once…and this is damn near a quote…that the very things that make a good songwriter – sensitivity, creativity, a keen sense of observation – are the same traits that make them so ill-equipped to deal with the trappings of the business.

i am very much ill-equipped to deal with the trappings of this business.

from a rational standpoint, i know that there’s not a lot of what goes on that should be taken personally…but i’ve never let that stop me from doing it anyway. you see, ultimately, we’re all salesmen. and what we’re selling is a part of who we are – our talents, our creativity, some small piece of ourselves that we snatch out of mid-air and turn into something that we hope the rest of the world will relate to.

so when you put yourself out there, and turn yourself over to the world, you’re asking for a peculiar brand of approval from – from who, really? a demographic? the inhabitants of a specific geographic area? family and friends? i guess it’s different with everyone who does it…but for those of us who choose to crystallize our talents into a salable form that ultimately becomes a product, we’re inevitably asking of the world to consider our talents, perhaps invest in them either emotionally or financially, and to connect with us somehow.

so if that connection fails…or if whatever feedback you get is negative…how are younot supposed to take that personally?

now, granted – if we’re lucky, we get a certain amount of positive reinforcement from those close to us.

i’m not insinuating that this support be taken for granted, but i think that’s typically counted on. it’s the reaction of those on the next levels that seems to make or break us. the total strangers who experience whatever you have to offer from a totally unbiased viewpoint.

they’re the true litmus test, really – they know nothing of you and have nothing to gain or lose by reacting to you honestly.

it’s a test that, by my own standards, i failed some time ago.

now don’t start in on me yet…hear me out.

i spent a considerable amount of time, money, and creative capital assembling a record that i thought was the absolute best i had to offer at the time – i gave it up to the world, and the world yawned.

now this is not to discount the opinions expressed by the hundreds – literally, hundreds – of people who have bought that album, expressed their appreciation of it, and have shown their support for what i have to offer creatively. i have a wonderful extended family of people for whom that record is important, and i’m thankful for that.

but the unfortunate reality is that kind words burn off very quickly when that’s the only fuel you have. momentum is important. visibility is important. growth is important. professional support is important – and by professional support, i mean having people with a professional stake in your career in your corner, doing the things necessary to help elevate your standing. while it may be true that in the past ten years or so, the internet has made going it alone a much more realistic proposition, it’s still hard to elevate yourself to the next level without the help of a professional in your corner.

i won’t start beating the well-worn “talent is secondary” drum…we’ve all heard it, we all know it. and it really is all about luck, moreso now than ever before.

and while the beatles were right when they said money can’t buy you love…it sure can buy you a lot of luck.

look, the fact is – if you’re in this business, you already know all this. if you’re not, the constraints of a journal entry (even one of my journal entries) isn’t going to allow for much of a primer in the way this business operates. hunter s. thompson was right – it’s every bit as backstabbing and cliquish as any political organization, any corporate entity, and that goes from the top right down to the local music scene in your very own hometown – wherever that might be. you’ll find the same code of ethics in place, no matter what part of the food chain you might call your own.

it’s very much a relationship business – which is good and bad. good in that you can forge bonds with people who can be helpful to your career, and you establish friendships with people empathetic to where you are at any given point in your career. bad, however, in that so many of the relationships you forge are based entirely on the WHYD4ML dynamic (what have you done for me lately), and you never really know where you stand with people like that. many nights, i stood among the crowd at grape street and heard people talk trash about someone while they were on stage, only to kiss their asses when their set was over.

how do you gauge the encouragement you get from someone like that? i don’t know that you even do. certainly, several grains of salt would come in handy.

what i did was to take that simple fact of life and let it cast a cloud of distrust over everyone i knew who had anything nice to say about my music – and unfortunately, that’s been the legacy of the time that i’ve spent playing this game…a pervasive sense of distrust of anyone who has offered anything complimentary in that regard.

even with that being said, though, i’ve made friends in this business – many that i consider to be legitimate friends, who legitimately care about me and my family, and how i am on a given day.

so when someone (or an appointed representative of someone) whom you’ve counted among their numbers for over a decade throws an underhanded music-biz curveball in your direction, it is – at the very least – cause for some degree of contemplation.

the kind of thing that happened here happens all the time…and it’s purely a business concern, and it shouldn’t reflect on me personally from that particular perspective.

but on the surface, it demonstrates a fundamental lack of respect for me and for any talent i might possess and for whatever stature i may occupy at this particular point in time. to discount my contributions to the situation and wrap it in a cliche’ and say that it’s just the way the business works just goes to further illustrate my viewpoint here.

it’s hard to say much more than any of this without getting specific, and i don’t intend to do that…so maybe it just boils down to this:

if it’s my destiny to forever remain plankton in this particular food chain, then maybe it’s time to find another cycle to inhabit.

i will say this – the timing is interesting, to say the least. i’ve been experiencing something of a resurgence of late – just in terms of my desire to participate in this madness in the first place. i’ve heard from a couple of venue representatives about the prospect of playing there…i’ve moved a sizeable number of discs lately for some reason, and this whole myspace phenomena has put me back in touch with a lot of people i’d fallen out of contact with. i just signed a contract for six months’ worth of work at viva. i had started this benefit record and was enjoying working on that, and i started a separate blog to document the goings-on in the studio, which grew into a separate concept for potentially doing a series of low-key recordings separate from the benefit album and releasing them through the site…

and after this week, i don’t know if i really give a shit if any of it gets done. now knowing myself the way i do, i’ll probably start plugging away again at some point, because somehow that just happens…but right now, my heart’s not even remotely in it.

and i’m sad to say, that seems to be the rule rather than the exception with me.

i heard the news today, oh boy…

now playing: antigone rising, “don’t look back”

so they’re all coming up to the light now…all the 25 year retrospectives. everyone has their own “where i was/what i was doing when i heard” story today…and really, i’m no different. it’s as if john lennon’s death is my generations’ own JFK moment – the tragedy that binds us all together. so in that light, i guess it’s only natural that we all want to share our own memories about it.

i can’t help but be struck by the realization that my daughter is the same age right now as i was when it happened. i think about the time that has passed with that single fact as the Grand Barometer of all that has changed in the time since. i think about her life and her social circles and the things she contends with and her personality and her taste in music and generally speaking, who she is – and compare it and contrast it to that timeframe in my life – and the differences speak volumes about the cultural microcosm that the two of us represent.

tonight i drove her back to her moms’ as she talked on her cell phone to a friend at school about a fight that had occured at the bus stop earlier this morning…there’s a metamorphosis that occurs when jayda talks to her friends – i guess it’s probably not that uncommon, really – but when you hear jayda talk to her family and then hear her talk to her friends, you’d swear it was two different people.

i digress.

when i was fifteen, i dealt with a lot of the same things she did – violence in school, bullies and thugs, peer groups that split entire classes of people into segregated cliques that didn’t interact with one another under any circumstances, pressure to do well academically, trying to fit in and be popular among my classmates – none of these things are new to her generation, any more than they were to mine…although every generation that comes along takes all the things that suck about being a teenager to a new level.

jayda, like her father before her, has found a refuge – a safe place – in her music. it’s where she turns when she’s stressed, when she wants to block out the pressures of being her age, it’s her tool for reflecting or reinforcing her frame of mind at a given time. it’s so much a part of her life that it’d be a trite understatement to say “it’s important to her”.

in that way, perhaps, i see myself in her more clearly than any other.

i had already set my course in my head at jayda’s age…i had acquired my first drumset, was already playing with a family of country musicians who lived down the road from me…and i just felt like i knew that this was what i was going to do. i don’t think jayda takes music quite so seriously from a performance standpoint as i did, but that might be changing now…she’s met a kid who’s an acid whiz, who produces his own tracks, and he’s had her come in to sing on a project, and they’re talking about doing more. i heard the track she sang on, and she put a harmony part on the chorus that’s absolutely dead on. there’s no denying her talent – it’s just a matter of what she chooses to do with it, and what the world is willing to acknowledge.

i’m not sure, though, that pop music as the world sees it in 2005 is even geared for a tragedy of lennonesque proportions. who would have to die today whose presence would be missed on the scale of a john lennon twenty five years ago? springsteen? bono? michael stipe? madonna? fifteen year olds don’t care about them. the pop music of the past decade hasn’t created a superstar of lennons’ stature – someone so universally respected; who was so important to the music as he was. the closest analogy i can personally conjure is eminem – he’s the only artist whose appeal and catalog would support the comparison.

and that’s not the fault of the current teenage generation – the fact is, pop music in general isn’t built that way anymore. we’re smack dab in the middle of short attention span central – where the general reality show consensus doesn’t allow for careers, only singles and videos that are here this morning and gone this afternoon. it’s how it is, and that’s what they’ve got, so they go with it.

and, if the truth be told, when i was jayda’s age, i didn’t understand how important john lennon was. i knew who he was, and i knew his work…double fantasy had just come out, and i had heard the single on the radio. of course, i knew about the beatles – but i didn’t have the historical perspective then that i came to have as i grew older. as i viewed the significance of the beatles in both a musical and cultural sense in my later years, it was certainly apparent how important they were to the Big Musical Picture. they turned everything before them upside down and changed all the rules and influenced everyone who came after them and the fact is, if not for the beatles, there’s really no way to gauge what pop music would have been in the years after them – if, in fact, rock and roll lived to the ripe old age it did.

twenty five years ago, the dream of the beatles putting aside their differences and returning to save us from ourselves ceased to be real anymore. but the effect of johns’ death was bigger than that. in a sense, it really was the JFK Moment of our generation, in that we all came to realize that living your life within the hippie ideal, as a practitioner of peace, as someone who genuinely loved the world they lived in, was no guarantee that the world would treat you in kind. it was another brick in the cynical wall built by JFK, Vietnam, and Watergate – in the spirit of douglas adams, it was the fourth installment in the trilogy.

the universe told us once again that life isn’t fair…that there’s no written agreement that you’ll get back what you put in.

i woke up every morning to the alarm from the treasured clock radio that was, in many ways, my salvation – in that it was my window to the world outside my house and the only conduit to rock and roll that i had at the time. i set the alarm of my own accord, so that i didn’t have to rely on anyone else to wake me (interestingly enough, my daughter does this now with her own conduit to the outside world, her cell phone).

that morning was no different – the alarm simply turned on the radio, which came on right before ABC news on Q-107…and the entire four minute news broadcast was devoted to the shooting, which had happened the night before while i slept.

i still wasn’t completely awake, but i heard and clung to every word he said – and immediately after the news broadcast, without so much as a commercial, they played dan fogelberg‘s “same auld lang syne”.

twenty five years later, when i hear that song at christmas, i don’t think about two star-crossed lovers in a supermarket…i’m back under my blankets in the dim, glowing clock radio light, weighing the consequences of what had just happened.

i had occasion to think about it all again this past weekend, when i played that song at a rare full-set solo acoustic show (“full-set” meaning that i brought everything – piano, guitars, dobro, sound and lights, the works – the deluxe version.)…and the immediate, unescapable conclusion that i came to was very simply that those days – and his kind – shall not pass this way again.

and while i want to feel sorry for those who came after who may never understand why he was as important as he was, i’m not so inclined to.

it all belongs to the ages now.


dance like no one’s watching, my ass!

now playing: joseph parsons, “another way around”
i know what the cute little saying is tryin’ to get across – but the fact is, if someones’ watching, you really should at least make some effort to dance like someone’s watching…otherwise, it may come back to haunt you.

why do i bring this up, you may ask?
three words….

company. christmas. party.
yes, i was there…and yes, i danced.
and yes, i kinda suck at it.
the funny thing is, i used to dance all the time – in my late teens, early twenties…i was never self conscious about it at the time. hell, i’m not really so much self conscious about it now. it’s just that i have no idea what to do with myself. i didn’t realize this until i had gotten up and went out onto the dance floor, and it hit me – what the hell do i do now?

i guess the natural response to that question would be, “whatever you feel like doing” – but i literally had no idea what it was that i was supposed to do…so i just kinda started rocking from one side to the other and trying to get my body to respond to my mental commands – you know, very specific things…like “don’t act like a dork” or “maybe it’s been long enough since hitch was out that you won’t draw too many comparisons” or even “watch the guy who knows what he’s doing” – which would’ve been great if there was anyone who fell into that category. that, in and of itself, was my saving grace, because had there been anyone there who had some skills, i’d have looked even more like a doofus. as it was, i just looked like a rhythmically stunted preppy caucasian version of rerun from what’s happening after taking a little too much ecstasy.

i did, however, have a good time.
this year, HR approached me about playing at the christmas party, so i set up the whole production and played a 60 minute set before dinner – i got a lot of compliments, with the only complaint that’s made it back to me thus far being that it was hard to hear in the back of the hall. if this happens again, i’ll make sure that this isn’t an issue.

there were several people taking pictures, but none have made it back to me yet. wendy got one, in particular, of me at the piano that looks pretty good on the camera LCD, but i haven’t seen any of those yet, either.

i felt pretty good about the show, all in all – i recorded it to my laptop, from the headphone jack of the console, just to be able to go back and listen to it after the fact to see how i did…if i’d paid a little more attention to how the acoustic guitars sounded through the console, i’d have had a really good show recording. as it was, the guitars didn’t carry to the recording well at all…so i’ll probably end up getting rid of most of it…at least that’s my first impression.

i did go all out, though, in terms of presentation – i brought a pair of regular acoustics, a twelve string, a resonator guitar (and a mandolin that didn’t get used at all) and the piano. it was the complete jackson browne setup – i was determined to do the most professional show i was capable of doing, and i did. it didn’t mean, however, that i was ignored any less than i am when i play any other gig – because that was certainly not the case. i think that, had i been playing during dinner, that circumstance might have been different…and i may suggest just that for next year. i really don’t care if that means that i won’t get to eat, to be honest. if the food is along the lines of what they had this year, that’ll be ok.
anyway – i played well. i danced with wendy and angela and patty, who showed up determined to have a good time, and i’m glad she did. chris and jamie, the perennial goofballs of the party, were largely themselves…that is, until an unnamed employee began gettin’ just a little close to ol’ chris, much to the dismay of his wife….so they retreated to their table until things cooled down.
yesterday, there was a plan, of course – but i woke up with a splitting headache…apparently, even a single corona counts as a bender when you get to be my age…and all i really managed to do for the day was to go visit my adopted daughter – well, depending on who you ask. angela and kevin’s daughter alicia reminds me a great deal of jayda when she was her age…precocious, adorable, curious and energetic. i had told angela earlier in the week that i might stop over this weekend to take a look at their computer, and she told me that when she told alicia, she immediately informed her mom that “tom will play dora with me!” (“dora” being a flash animation/game on the nick jr. website that she fancies).

and then when we left, alicia stood in the doorway with her hands up against the glass and watched us drive away….
…just like jayda used to.


this just in: politics and favoritism revealed in the music biz!

now playing: sportscenter on espn



revealed in this groundbreaking article – why your favorite band isn’t in the rock and roll hall of fame!

— by Jem Aswad

Every year since 1986, a handful of artists have been inducted with great fanfare into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, on the basis of the influence and significance of their music.

And every year, another list grows: The artists you’d think would be members, but aren’t. The artists on that list — many of whom have been nominated but not voted in — include Black Sabbath, the Sex Pistols, Kiss, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Grandmaster Flash, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Patti Smith, the New York Dolls, the MC5 and many others.

Is that because the bar of influence and significance is set so high that even those legendary artists don’t qualify? Well, take a look at who is in: James Taylor, the Dells, the Flamingos, Jackson Browne, Billy Joel, the Young Rascals, the Ink Spots, the Lovin’ Spoonful, the Four Seasons, the Orioles and — just inducted this year — soul singer Percy Sledge, whose one major hit occurred in 1966.

Without demeaning any of these artists, what the f—?

There’s been no shortage of bellyaching on this subject, but there hasn’t really been an examination of why it’s happened.

We tried to find out what’s up — and although we didn’t get a definitive answer, we dug up a lot more dirt than we expected.

Let’s start by taking a look at the rules.

Candidates for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are nominated by a committee of “music historians” — currently numbering 75 people, mostly executives and journalists — and are then voted upon by approximately 750 people (formerly around 1,000) from “across the spectrum of the music industry, including artists, broadcasters, writers, historians, producers and industry executives who are involved with making music,” according to the hall’s executive director, Suzan Evans.

Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record and are judged on the basis of “the influence and significance of the artist’s contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll,” according to the hall’s Web site. (Categories include Performers, Non-Performers, Early Influences and Sidemen; we’ll just examine Performers.) The performers who receive the highest number of votes, and more than 50 percent of the vote, are inducted.

So how have the Sex Pistols and Black Sabbath, whose “influence and significance” are beyond question, been denied induction several times?

After speaking with hall of fame executives and several members of the nominating committee, two theories emerge.

One generally blames it on the baffling results that democracy, combined with a lack of education, can produce. Dave Marsh, a pioneering music journalist and nominating committee member, subscribes to this notion. “There are 25, maybe 50 people in the world who have paid attention to all of this music from the beginning, and I would say the majority of those people are represented on the nominating committee. We come up with a pretty good list every year, and that list is then [voted upon] by an electorate that is not very knowledgeable.

“I don’t think there’s anything inherently bad about democracy,” he continues, “but I do think there’s something bad about asking a broad group of people to make judgments on something when they’re not very well informed. The hall of fame is failing in not educating them.”

Although the hall sends out a CD every year containing two songs by each of the nominees, you do wonder why these 750-odd people are voting members if they need to be educated.

The hall’s flaws are readily admitted by President Seymour Stein, who co-founded the hall and was inducted in the Non-Performer category this year.

“We’re not perfect. We try to be so fair by having such a big nominating committee,” explains Stein, who co-founded Sire Records in 1966. “It infuriates me sometimes. I wonder why [some of the artists named above] aren’t in. I get frustrated too.”

Indeed, judging from the heated conversations one can get into with members of the nominating committee, the debates are refreshingly geeky. Lines like “So you’re saying that the Sex Pistols were a better band than the Dells?” are stated with all the fury of a divorce hearing.

That passion can play as much of a role in keeping artists out as it can in getting them in.

“Kiss is not a great band, Kiss was never a great band, Kiss never will be a great band, and I have done my share to keep them off the ballot,” Marsh says. “And there’s your problem: There’s a wide discrepancy in points of view about who should be in, and there’s an enormous field of candidates. There’s nothing you can do to change the fact that other people’s taste is different.”

However, there’s a second theory. According to two members of the nominating committee who prefer to remain anonymous, there’s more at work here than fanboyism.

The main players in the hall are its primary officers — Stein, hall Chairman/Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun, Vice Chairman/Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner, and Senior Vice President Jon Landau, who also manages Bruce Springsteen — and the list of inductees includes a strikingly large number of people they’ve worked with, people they’ve championed, and their personal friends. To a degree, this is inevitable — the world of multi-decade rock and roll veterans is pretty small — but one anonymous member says a line is being crossed.

“These people really do love rock and roll, and they want to push the things they like,” nom-anon #1 says. “But there are also personal and financial agendas as well — and even personal vendettas.

“Let me give you an example,” he continues. “[A major hall of fame officer] wanted me to get a favor from an artist, and it was above and beyond what this artist was willing to do, and rightfully so. I went back to this guy and said, ‘Look, he doesn’t wanna do it.’ And he said, ‘Well, you tell him he’s never gonna get into the hall of fame.’ To me, that’s an example of how these guys run the hall.”

He also feels that the befuddling exclusion of the Sex Pistols may be due to a personal slight. “Whenever the Sex Pistols come up, the attitude is, ‘No, we’re not putting them in!’ ” he says. “Somewhere along the line, did John Lydon tell [one of the officers] that he’s a big fat pig? I don’t know if that happened, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did, because when the Sex Pistols are brought up, he goes ballistic.”

“Why do you think Patti Smith isn’t in?” nom-anon #2 says, alluding to an alleged beef between the legendary punk singer and one of the hall of fame’s officers. “Don’t you think that’s odd?”

By the same token, he says the personal interests that have kept certain artists out have gotten others in.

“There are forces at work there which I hesitate to call political, but I will say are political or personal, that put voters on [the nominating committee],” says nom-anon #2. “When the Talking Heads and Ramones were inducted at the same time [in 2002] — my, my, there couldn’t be any coincidence about Seymour Stein [who signed both artists] being the head of the hall of fame?”

“I did not nominate the Talking Heads, the Ramones or [Sire artists] the Pretenders,” Stein says. “I voted for all of them. However, I have one vote in the nominating committee and one vote in the [voting committee].”

Hall Executive Director Evans also denies the role of personal favoritism in the process. “The board of the museum is made up of the heads of the record companies, top managers, artists. I think everyone necessarily has relationships with people who want to be inducted, [but] I really don’t think that relationships with members of the board have ever gotten anyone into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Obviously we’re going to know people, but the nominating committee is a pretty purist group of writers and critics — the majority of them are journalists — and I really doubt that they are swayed by anybody coming in and saying, ‘I want you to induct so-and-so.’ ”

Evans attributes the glaring exclusions to the vagaries of the voting committee. “I know sometimes the voting results seem to be more purist than populist,” she says. “But I can’t pretend to know why people vote the way they do, at all. Everyone has different tastes in music, and I think every genre in rock and roll is well represented in both our nominating committee as well as the larger voting group. And if you listen to any of our historians’ discussions in the nominating procedure, you would hear a wide variety of tastes and judgments as to who is influential and who should go in before whom, depending on that person’s personal preferences of the rock and roll genre — one person might put a name into a nomination and another might say, ‘That’s not rock and roll!’ I get that all the time.”

So we’re to believe that more than half of the hall’s voters, and its nominating committee, feel that Kiss and Sabbath aren’t significant or influential enough to be in the hall of fame?

Indeed, nom-anon #1 says, “With Kiss and Black Sabbath, I don’t believe those are conspiratorial cases. I think [the nominating committee members are] very split and very acrimonious about them. Kiss is brought up every year, and some people feel very passionately that they should be in, and some people feel very passionately that they shouldn’t, based on the fact that they hate Kiss, and it’s a similar thing with Sabbath. Some people think the hall of fame is invalidated by not having them in there, and other people just think they stink.”

Lydon and members of Black Sabbath have spoken bitterly about the hall of fame. Neither group responded to requests for comment — Sabbath’s publicist even said “the band as a whole is no longer interested in commenting on the hall of fame” — but they don’t really need to. Lydon has called the hall “the place where old rockers go to die,” and both Ozzy Osbourne and guitarist Tony Iommi have been outspoken in their displeasure at Sabbath being passed over.

After the group — which has been nominated and not inducted three times — was passed over in 1999, Osbourne issued a press release asking that the band be removed from consideration. “Just take our name off the list,” he said. “Save the ink. Forget about us. The nomination is meaningless, because it’s not voted on by the fans. It’s voted on by the supposed elite of the industry and the media, who’ve never bought an album or concert ticket in their lives, so their vote is totally irrelevant to me. Let’s face it, Black Sabbath have never been media darlings. We’re a people’s band, and that suits us just fine.”

Interestingly, none of the people interviewed for this article said they felt those comments had played a role in keeping Sabbath or the Pistols out of the hall.

While the members of the nominating committee are often lobbied extensively by managers, executives and artists themselves (the list of people on the nominating committee is made public; the voting committee is not), all agree that it doesn’t make much difference. “I think Chicago sends a lot of things, and the Moody Blues and the Doobie Brothers, but no one has bought me lunch or sent me a case of champagne,” says nom-anon #2. “I get a lot of letters, but I’m not influenced by them.”

However, the lobbying within the committee — where one person’s influence can get an artist nominated — is another matter. “In the meeting itself, there is some heated debate,” says nom-anon #1. “And there’ll be someone who’s really an advocate for somebody — year after year after year, they’ll hone their arguments and make their case. Every year [one nominating committee member] was bringing up ZZ Top. I honestly believed that they would never get in or get past the nominating committee, but he was indefatigable and he got it through. There was a lot of resistance, but he overcame it. It happened just because of him.”

Some members may defer to other members’ greater knowledge of a genre, which goes a long way toward explaining the presence of ’50s acts like the Flamingos and the Ink Spots in the hall. “My hunch,” says veteran journalist Bud Scoppa, a member of the nominating committee since 1998, “is that some of the more vintage acts that have gotten in, particularly in doo-wop, have been little heard by the majority of voters, but tastemakers don’t want to think of themselves as ignorant or — more crucially — biased. Seymour, who does know this stuff, has been a big supporter of the doo-wop groups, and I suppose it’s possible that some voters defer to his greater knowledge of the dim past.

“But as for the [absence of certain] punk bands,” he continues, “I don’t get it either.”

Although both anonymous members say the nominating committee’s nominations are “pretty true to what we’ve voted on,” there have been a couple that don’t add up.

“Sometimes, in one or two cases, [the results] don’t necessarily feel right to me,” says nom-anon #1. “There’s usually a moment at the very end of the meetings [where it’s like] ‘This doesn’t quite make sense, maybe one person out of the ones we nominated didn’t really have that many votes,’ but I have no proof of that.”

So what you’ve got is a hall of fame that no one seems to be happy with, yet no one seems to be working to fix, either. After aging prog-rockers Jethro Tull won the Grammy for Best Heavy Metal band — over Metallica — in 1989, the RIAA underwent at least an outward revision of its procedures and established some new categories. Nom-anon #2 feels the hall of fame is beyond saving.

“It’s already a total joke,” he says. “The more the ‘institution’ disgraces itself with Percy Sledges [and other marginal inductees], the less interesting it will be, and in two or three years, nobody will care anymore.”

But for nom-anon #1, there’s a simple solution.

“I walk into this room and it’s full of old men,” he says. “There’s no young people, there’s like two women, there’s no people of color — well, I shouldn’t say none, but there’s a preponderance of old men. I look across the table and I see people sleeping — I’m just waiting for someone to die at the table — and they’re making the decisions! They have their point of view, and it’s a legitimate point of view that should be represented, but it’s the whole thing.”

Stein, however, attributes the hall’s flaws to the impossibility of quantifying art. “Rock and roll is a hybrid,” he says. “You ask 50 experts what it is and you’ll get 50 different definitions. It’s not baseball or basketball, where there are stat sheets. There are no scorecards, it keeps changing all the time.

“From his deathbed, Johnny Ramone sent me a letter advocating that Cat Stevens get in, and he got John Frusciante from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Eddie Vedder to send letters saying the same thing,” he continues. “From his deathbed, he said that — and there couldn’t be anything more opposite the Ramones than Cat Stevens. It just goes to show the kind of music people do is not always indicative of our taste. I think the age of the voters has a lot to do with it — obviously we’re influenced by the things we loved when we were 13.”

Yet despite Stein’s touching words, what all of this seems to indicate is that, with the exception of a strikingly large number of comparatively young Rolling Stone staffers, the majority of the hall’s nominating committee — the members of which are overwhelmingly over 50 — has no idea what it felt like to be 13 and hear the Sex Pistols or see Kiss on TV for the first time, or at least they’re failing to translate their own experiences to it. It’s very different to experience music as a pure fan, especially a young one, than it is as a seasoned, if not jaded, music executive or journalist; this, despite the obviously juvenile arguments that go on during the meetings.

“Are you a voting member?” Stein asks. “Let me send you the materials. We can use a few more voters. Maybe you can help!”


opie revisited

now playing: jimmie spheeris, “moon on the water”

so last night i got to talk to someone i haven’t spoken with in ages.


jerry opdycke, the lead guitar player from the band i was in during my teenage years back in savannah, tennessee – we’ve touched base a few times via email over the years, and he sent me a very thoughtful email when my mother passed away last spring, but we hadn’t really had any kind of dialogue until i put up a page on myspace, and he found me over there. last night, i actually picked up the phone and gave him a call after he sent me his number, and we got to reminisce about the old days for a while…he had seen the basement blog and mentioned that he actually remembered the time i spoke of when our keyboard player showed me a trick for cutting out the ring on my snare head for recording. apparently, reggie died a few years ago of lung cancer…i meant to ask about the rest of the folks from the band, but it didn’t occur to me while we were talking – we jumped around quite a bit.

i was the drummer in this particular band – and was perfectly content to be so…i was in the early stages of learning guitar at the time, and being able to watch opie when we were in the band together was invaluable to me. i learned a lot from him, in terms of how he got his tone, his phrasing, and the like – in fact, when i was amp shopping early in my stone road tenure, wendy and i walked into a pawn shop in reading and lo and behold – there sat a lab series L-7 amp (jerry used to use an L-5 back in the day). i had no choice but to buy it…and i still have it. i don’t get to use it as much as i’d like, but it’s right there, waitin’ for me.

this was a great band – i mean, i’m sure that there are plenty of people who insist that the band they were in when they were a teenager was the best thing since sliced bread, but this really was a good band. and when you’re sixteen, seventeen years old and you’re out in the clubs, playing with guys who’ve got ten years on you in experience…guys who are really pretty much the best that your town has to offer – well, it was a good couple of years. let’s put it that way.

i often wish i could go back to that point in time knowing what i know now…i mean, at the time, i was as guilty as every other seventeen year old musician is of overplaying…i was waaaay too heavy on the fills and we could’ve been that much better if i was as interested in playing for the song then as i am now. but – i wanted to be neil peart. at that point in my life, anyway. and this band was so not about that kind of music. but also, if i had the ability to do the whole “turn back time” thing, i think i would’ve liked to have gotten involved with the band before i did – but hey…everything happens for a reason, i’m sure.

jerry was the first guy to turn me on to little feat – there were a few times when i’d ride back from gigs with him and he’d have them on in the car, and they didn’t sound like anything else i’d ever heard. i also remember hearing karla bonoff‘s “restless nights” album for the first time at jerry’s house after a gig.

man…if our penchant for nostalgia increases with age, i imagine i’ll be insufferable if i add a couple more decades onto the time i’ve been here – my kids won’t be able to stand me.

speaking of the kids….

dylan, if i haven’t mentioned it already, nailed down the drumkit chair for the jazz ensemble a while back…he was so excited to tell me when he came home with his music and the CD of the songs he had to learn = “night train”, “you made me love you”, and the piece de resistance – “st. thomas” by sonny rollins. if you’ve ever heard the piece, you already know what he’s up against…it starts off with something of a samba beat, run through the bo diddley filter. it’s not, by any definition, an easy piece.

so the drumkit is set up in the basement, complete with baffles, and i ran a copy of the disc for him to practice with and set him on a pretty rigid practice schedule. tuesday night, he came over a little late and i set him up in the basement while i went to do something else…and i heard him start with the saint thomas beat a couple of times and muff it pretty hopelessly. i went downstairs and took a couple of minutes to show him the easiest way to go about it, and had him hang up the headphones for a bit and just practice the intro beat – dylan has a tendency towards frustration when he doesn’t learn everything in one pass, and i’m going to have to stay on him to keep him from beating himself up, but after i showed him an easier way to play it and had him work strictly on that, he caught on pretty quickly. he’s still not where he needs to be with it, but man – he progresses quickly when he gets a little guidance.

then there’s jayda.

jayda has a friend at school who introduced her to a kid named byron, whos’ an acid whiz and has a small production company called 2Much, and he’s put together a couple of tracks that he had her come over and sing on on tuesday night. they had a data mishap the first night she was there, and she was afraid that they lost all the work they did that night – but he managed to salvage the tracks and only had to resync everything. they were at his house in his upstairs studio from the time school let out until a little after 11 o’clock working on the song, and she’s stoked about it. in fact, i haven’t seen her this excited about anything musical for a number of years.

i’ve accepted some time ago that she’s not cut from the same cloth as i am, from a musical standpoint – she’s not seven years old anymore, and she doesn’t listen to patty griffin anymore, and that’s just the way it is. i’ve made peace with it. but i had also begun to think that with her change in taste, that whatever musical aspirations she may have had must’ve fallen by the wayside as well. and i still don’t see her as having any grand plan for Rich And Famous By Seventeen Or Bust, or anything like that – but she’s really enjoying what she’s doing, and that makes me feel good.

she’s also learning, though – as i did when faced with the same scenario – that her mother is probably not the first place to look to for support or encouragement. last night in the car, byron called her on her cellphone to play the finished track for her over the phone so she could hear it. after it had come and gone, jayda asked him to play it again so her mom could hear it, and she handed her mom the phone to listen. apparently, a few seconds went by and, according to jayda, her face kinda fell into a dismayed expression and she made a comment about the song being in spanish.

she didn’t tell me as much when she told me about this, but i know her feelings were hurt. i think she was expecting some kind of a positive reaction from her mother with regard to something she did that she was proud of…and justifiably so. this was her first (as far as she was concerned) recording session, and it was a song that she’d helped write and sing, and i’m sure that somewhere in her mind, she’d thought that perhaps her mom would have at least had some kind words about it.

as sad as it is to say, that’s a lesson i learned a long time ago. jill is a dry well where that sort of thing is concerned.

reggaeton isn’t my thing – that’s something of an understatement. but if that’s what jayda wants to do, then i’m all for it. tastes change over time, and it may or may not be a phase she’s going through – or it may not, and that’s fine, too. i want her to make whatever kind of music she wants to make, and i’m not here to pass judgement on that. we’ve already had the “agree to disagree” conversation about music, and frankly – as much as i fantasize about the prospect, i don’t think it’s terribly likely that both of my kids will ever really fully appreciate my taste in music. nor are they supposed to.

my buddy jon has passed a great deal of his musical appreciations on to his daughter, and she has a healthy respect for the music he listens to – she goes to poco shows, helps sell merchandise, the whole nine yards – but i’m pretty sure she has a healthy appetite for the music that her friends listen to at school, as well. i’d like for my own relationship with my kids’ musical taste to be a lot more like jons’, but the fact is, it sure as hell could be worse than it is now.

i think that, all in all, we’re ok.

jayda is actually accompanying byron to a local radio station for her first on-air appearance tomorrow night, between 8 and 10pm on 91.3 FM – if you’re in the reading area and can withstand two hours of reggaeton, feel free to tune in.