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.