Sunday, May 16, 2010

What Rhymes with Tsk?

Mark Twain pegged it.

"When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."

Nicely played, Samuel.

I'll go you one better.

When I was a boy of 21, my father had little or no use for any of the music that I enjoyed.

By the time I was 51, I understood why.

Doing a little musical research, I came across the video for the latest Eminem single. Generational gap aside, I've simply never been a fan of the genre' where Mr. Mathers has made his mark.

That said, I think of myself as a creative man, possessed of an open mind.

At least as regards the creative arts.

So, I gave it a look/listen.

And while Marshall's latest self portrait isn't going to convert me, it does accomplish one thing for certain.

It is a textbook illustration of why we tend to hate what our kids listen to as we get older.

And it has nothing to do with the content, per se'.

More in a moment.

First, ladies and gentlemen, the shit stirring stylings of Eminem...

Here's the thing about the thing.

You don't have to be a Rhodes Scholar, or even over the age of eleven or twelve, to see that this is one pissed off fellow.

Live and let live.

And while there's no denying that the envelope of " the world sucks and I'm here to tell you about it" gets pushed exponentially harder with each new generation of tellers, it's also true that there's really no new information being included in the envelope.

Sooner or later, everybody finds out that the world sucks.

Happiness seems to be largely a matter of learning to live with the pony philosophy.

As in "with all this shit...there must be a pony..."

While Marshall's blunt, and very well paid, approach to sharing the shit side of the story isn't exactly the kind of prose you would vote to have carved on a DC monument, it is, like every other point of view, deserving of the freedom to be expressed.

When I was younger and the musical heroes of that youth were pushing that era's envelope, mothers and fathers were quick to dismiss those expressions as, at best, inappropriate, at worst, vulgar, obscene, even moral warping.


Somehow, my generation managed to weather the warping and went on to become the mothers and fathers of the next generation.

Whose envelope pushing is, at best, inappropriate, at worst, vulgar, obscene, even moral warping.

Emotional knee jerking aside, I never intellectually understood why my father had no use for the music that I enjoyed.

And why a lot of what I listened to evoked either stony silence or the tell tale subtle head shaking with a gentle, but obvious, tsk-tsk attached.

I wrote it off to a predictable lack of hip.

The man was in his 50's, for God's sake. Old people don't get shit.

Turned out, I was missing the point.

It came to me some years later.

Long before M and M started venting his spleen to the tune of ten figures.

And I understood why the music I enjoyed pissed my father off.

Because it made him feel old.

By turning him into his father.

As the tsk-tsk torch was passed.

Couldn't help but think, though, as I finished listening to Mr. Mathers' musings.

Time marches on.

Sooner or later.

We all get handed the torch.

Marshall, too.

Yo. Tsk-tsk, muthafucka...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"She's Not Ready To Make Nice...They're Not Ready To Retire..."

Today, a quick lesson in showbiz speak.

Martie McGuire and Emily Robison, late of The Dixie Chicks, have a new project being released in May.

They're calling themselves The Courtyard Hounds.

And you can look/listen by clicking here...

The official line, as you can read on their website, is that this is a "side project" and The Dixie Chicks have not officially disbanded.

Translation: Martie, Emily and Sony are scoping out what kind of sales/support/enthusiasm, et al, a Natalie-less Dixie Chick thing will create.

Should it flop, Martie and Emily will wait out Natalie's witness protection thing.

Should it take off, Mrs. Pasdar will have to be content raising the rugrats and spooning with the TV hunk.

And Dubya will have the last laugh.

Here endeth the lesson.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

"The Super Bowl....Sanitized for Your Protection..."

The NFL, I imagine, has more than its share of medical issues.

After all, with the exception of boxing, professional football is probably the most physically damaging sport still allowed by law.

With the other possible exception, of course, being golf.

But only if you're Tiger Woods and forget to delete the damn numbers on the speed dial.

It occurs to me, lately though, that there seems to be a fairly new malady afflicting the league or, at least, some of the folks associated with the league.


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Oh, not the players, past or present, necessarily.

I'm talking about the folks who book the talent for the Super Bowl halftime shows.

They show definite signs of anxiety, insecurity, skittishness, et al, all recognized symptoms of the anxiety disorder known to be caused by exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal.

In this case, I'd suggest, said terrifying event or ordeal was the sudden, "unplanned" appearance of Janet Jackson's exposed right boob at the 2004 Super Bowl.

Entertainment organizers were obviously stunned, appalled, even terrified at the un-bra-ing.

The emotional nipple ripple effect was swift, obvious and apparently long lasting.

Just look at who's appeared at Super Bowl halftime in the years since.

Paul McCartney.

The Stones.


Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

Bruce Springsteen.

Not a boob in the bunch.

Come to think of it, not a soul under the age of, at the time, fifty, either.

And this year...."ladies and gentlemen....for your half time entertainment....people try to put em' down....t-t-talkin bout.................THE WHO!!!!"


Safe rock and roll.

In the top ten of oxymorons, number four with a bullet.

Don't get me wrong. I grew up with all those guys and am a card carrying old fart with a full collection of the assorted works of the aforementioned superstars.

But it's clear that the halftime organizers are totally pushing the envelope of bringing "contemporary" superstar entertainment to the half time show....without risking offending anybody.

Couple of random thoughts.

First, there's a truth in advertising problem.

The Who is Pete Townshend, Roger Daltry, John Entwhistle and Keith Moon.

John died a few years back and Keith has been dead for decades.

The two Who left standing are talented boys, but the "group" that will play the show is not The Who who gave pop culture, among others, the seminal albums "The Who Sells Out", "Tommy" and "Who's Next".

This duo would be better described as "Who's Left".

Second, it pisses me off personally, just a little bit, to be forced to face the reality that accompanies the booking of these folks.

The ass kicking, culture changing, parentally unacceptable, various and sundry rock and roll bad boys of my youth are now considered the safe choice.

I can't begin to tell you how much that sucks.

Cause I can just hear the conference room planning session that preceded the choice.

"...Amy Winehouse?...nah, she'll show up drunk and punch somebody......Lady Gaga?....well, let's not even go there.......hey, how about Adam Lamber......oh, yeah....wait!....I know!......Mick Jagger!"


Or, more to the point, geez-er.

I suppose PTSD was inevitable after Justin launched the good ship Janet's Tit, but...damn.

Could be worse, I suppose.

They could simply rewind and recycle, talking us back to the half time entertainment that appeared at Super Bowl XXI in 1987.

Mickey Rooney.

George Burns.

And an assortment of Disney characters.

Wait a second....look at that that Goofy's hand on Snow White's boob?

Get Wayne Newton on the phone.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

"The Bad News is.....The Good News...."

Tommy Boyce wasn't a happy camper.

But he got over it pretty quickly.

Some years ago, while burning the midnight job oil at Tower Records in Nashville, I was often visited by Tommy who, by that time in his life, had begun the sad decline into poor health and depression that culminated in his suicide in 1994.

But I remember those visits as a great deal of fun, if only because this was one of the few who could back up his "been there, done that" attitude with an amazing list of the places he had been and the things that he had done.

For the back story, check out

One story he told that remains my favorite to this day was how he was upset to learn that a song that he and Bobby had written especially for the super successful Paul Revere and the Raiders that had, in fact, already been recorded by Paul Revere and the Raiders was going to be hijacked by a new, as yet, relatively unproven band.

Tommy's motivation for getting over it was that the song ended up making the top twenty of the U.S. pop singles charts and being prominently featured on the multi million selling debut album of the aforementioned unproven band.

The Monkees.

The night Tommy told me the story I confessed to him that I had always preferred the Raiders version as the Monkees take was less edgy, the very cool guitar lick much less prominent.

Though he didn't say anything, I had the impression that Tommy was pleased that his belief in the Raiders version was being validated. So much so, that a few nights later, he came in and brought me an autographed photo of himself and Bobby and Mark Lindsay, et al hanging out at in an L.A. club.

All these years later, I think about those late night chats and, as a songwriter, can't help but smile when I realize that this was a guy who got the kind of "bad break" every writer hopes for.

Getting a song bumped by one successful group...

So that it can be recorded by an even more successful one.

Way to go, Tommy...and thanks for the nights.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"Songwriter Ain't The Half of It..."

Chances are you don't know Jimmy Webb.

Even if you know Jimmy Webb.

Pop music fans over the age of forty will, of course, know his work, ranging from "Galveston" and "Wichita Lineman" to "By The Time I Get To Phoenix"; from "MacArthur Park" to "Up, Up and Away".


Jimmy Webb.

The song I have included here was never a hit single for anyone, not a song likely familiar to any but the most ardent Webb fans.

And the video that I found on YouTube has its own charm, but that's not why I've posted this for you.

Close your eyes. Play the song. Listen to the song.

Without using anything but your ears....heart...and spirit.

Most especially to the bridge of the song.

The lyric that begins "if I could do it over..."

Trust me when I tell you that if you're over the age of forty, you're going to be, at least, touched and, possibly moved, by those few lines.

And the last two lines of that bridge...are genius.

Good songwriters speak about us.

Great songwriters speak about, and to, us.

Genius knows us.

You might not know Jimmy Webb.

But he knows you.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"The More I Know, The Less I Understand...But The More I Appreciate It..."

In its very best moments, pop music transcends the conventional formulas, disregards the flavor of the week mentality and offers lyrical and musical art in a way that will resonate as poignantly and truthfully hundreds of years from now as it does right now.

This is one of pop music's very best moments.

Lyrics and music by Don Henley, John David Souther and Mike Campbell.