238 years old and counting. We aren’t perfect but I’m proud to be an American. As I said in the title…..Let’s Rock!!!
I hate doing “best of” lists! It is really hard to decided what’s best and I change my mind day to day. I can really identify with the sentiment of that great old song by the Loving Spoonful…..
But I have a post to so let’s make some decisions…..
TOP FIVE SONGS OF 2013
Go In Peace – Sam Baker
She Will – Savages
There’ll Be Hard Times – Joe Matzzie
All The Kids – Iska Dhoof
Used – Ashley Monroe
And the best song of 2013 is Used by Ashley Monroe. This song speaks to me on a very personal level and I just can’t hear it enough!
Top Five Albums Of 2013
Silence Yourself – Savages
Stories Don’t End – Dawes
Say Grace – Sam Baker
Let’s Be Still – The Head and The Heart
Like A Rose – Ashley Monroe/Same Trailer Different Park – Kacey Musgraves
I just couldn’t decide between these two albums so I’m recognizing both of them. There are some brilliant new female country singer/songwriters coming out of Nashville and these are two of the best!
And the album of the year is Stories Don’t End by Dawes. This album is close to perfect and has been my go to album since it was released this year. It shows the incredible songwriting growth of the band over the past few years and includes some amazing music. Here is one of my favorite songs from the album…..
At the scene of all I’ve left unlearned, in the directions to your house
In every swing I took to crack the code
I need a cold beer from a dressing room, I need a string of dates back out
I think there are a few of us that still belong out on the road
Biggest Musical Disappointments 0f 2013
Trouble Will Find Me – The National
An incredible let down, and a big step in the wrong direction, after the brilliance of High Violet!
Best Music Related Movie Of 2013
Springsteen and I
After being a rabid Bruce Springsteen fan for over 40 years I didn’t think that anything could make me love the man more than I already do. I was wrong! Springsteen & I is a movie about Bruce from the fan’s perspective and it shows that Bruce is not only a great musician but he is also a great human being. You need to watch it! I got an email from my friend Gerard from the Netherlands just this morning indicating that he had seen it and enjoyed it….you will too!
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it in this blog but I love Formula One and Indycar open wheel auto racing. My two racing heroes, Aryton Senna and Michael Andretti, actually tell you a lot about me and how I approach life and work.
Michael drove the wheels off of race cars, sometimes literally, because as a driver he only knew one speed……full throttle. He still holds the record for leading the most laps of the Indy 500 without ever winning the race. If he would have taken better care of his cars, he might have won multiple Indy 500s but my, my, my he was wicked fast (until his cars blew up). Watch the following clip from the 1992 Indy 500 and you’ll l see what I mean. (The start of the race is about 17 minutes into the clip.) Michael qualified 6th (on the outside of the second row) and if you watch closely you will see him go from the outside to the inside and around the leader by the first turn. Absolutely amazing. I was there to see it in person and it was a performance I’ll never forget…….
Michael ended up leading 160 laps of that race but his car broke 10 laps before the end. Like I said….wicked fast as long as his car was running.
Aryton Senna was arguably the greatest race car driver of all time. He was, is, and always will be a hero for me. The man was incredible in a race car and an absolute magician in the rain. Watch this clip from the 1993 Formula One race at Donnington Park. In wet conditions that were absolutely atrocious you can observe Senna go from fifth to first within a few corners into the race. This first lap performance may be the best single race lap of all time.
Senna won the race and had lapped all but the second place car by the end of it. It was a stunning performance but only one of many similar performance in his career.
You are probably asking yourself what’s the link between me and these racing legends? The answer is that in life I only know one speed….full throttle. I firmly believe that if something is worth doing it’s worth throwing yourself into 110%. I work hard, harder than just about anyone that I know. Not bragging, it’s just a fact. My equipment (in this case it’s my body and not a race car) might wear out before the natural end of my race but by God I’m running full throttle until that happens.
Two of my musical heroes produced songs that helped shape my approach to life. To close out this post let me share those songs with you.
First up, Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen. The message of this song is pretty self evident so let’s listen to it without any further explanation.
Next up, My My Hey Hey (both the Out of the Blue and the Into the Black versions), by Neil Young. The two versions of this song are absolutely brilliant and capture the way I feel about life in a couple of key lines:
It’s better to burn out than to fade away
It’s better to burn out that to rust
It’s better to burn out cause rust never sleeps
I firmly believe that if I move fast enough the rust will never catch me……burning out, well that’s probably something that can’t be avoided. Let’s listen to both versions…..
Got an email from Bruce yesterday about a new album that he’s releasing early next year. Here’s what he had to say about it…..
I was working on a record of some of our best unreleased material from the past decade when Tom Morello (sitting in for Steve during the Australian leg of our tour) suggested we ought to add “High Hopes” to our live set. I had cut “High Hopes,” a song by Tim Scott McConnell of the LA based Havalinas, in the 90′s. We worked it up in our Aussie rehearsals and Tom then proceeded to burn the house down with it. We re-cut it mid tour at Studios 301 in Sydney along with “Just Like Fire Would,” a song from one of my favorite early Australian punk bands, The Saints (check out “I’m Stranded”). Tom and his guitar became my muse, pushing the rest of this project to another level. Thanks for the inspiration Tom.
Some of these songs, “American Skin” and “Ghost of Tom Joad,” you’ll be familiar with from our live versions. I felt they were among the best of my writing and deserved a proper studio recording. ”The Wall” is something I’d played on stage a few times and remains very close to my heart. The title and idea were Joe Grushecky’s, then the song appeared after Patti and I made a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. It was inspired by my memories of Walter Cichon. Walter was one of the great early Jersey Shore rockers, who along with his brother Ray (one of my early guitar mentors) led the ”Motifs”. The Motifs were a local rock band who were always a head above everybody else. Raw, sexy and rebellious, they were the heroes you aspired to be. But these were heroes you could touch, speak to, and go to with your musical inquiries. Cool, but always accessible, they were an inspiration to me, and many young working musicians in 1960′s central New Jersey. Though my character in “The Wall” is a Marine, Walter was actually in the Army, A Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Infantry. He was the first person I ever stood in the presence of who was filled with the mystique of the true rock star. Walter went missing in action in Vietnam in March 1968. He still performs somewhat regularly in my mind, the way he stood, dressed, held the tambourine, the casual cool, the freeness. The man who by his attitude, his walk said “you can defy all this, all of what’s here, all of what you’ve been taught, taught to fear, to love and you’ll still be alright.” His was a terrible loss to us, his loved ones and the local music scene. I still miss him.
This is music I always felt needed to be released. From the gangsters of “Harry’s Place,” the ill-prepared roomies on “Frankie Fell In Love” (shades of Steve and I bumming together in our Asbury Park apartment) the travelers in the wasteland of “Hunter Of Invisible Game,” to the soldier and his visiting friend in “The Wall”, I felt they all deserved a home and a hearing.
Hope you enjoy it,
Let’s listen to the album’s title track……
It’s a little bit of a different sound…can’t wait to check out the rest of the album next year. I’m really looking forward to hearing his studio version of The Wall. Here is a rare live performance of the song from back in 2005….
While we’re waiting for the new album, here’s a bonus performance of Secret Garden from Bruce’s stop in Leeds this year. It’s one of my favorite songs and it really sounds great here….
I love this man and his music!
So…..today it seems like the Senate might be on the verge of a deal to temporarily end the Government Shutdown and temporarily raise the Debt Ceiling. Not the long term solution that we need but one that is being touted by the media as a big break through. I don’t want to bring anyone down but I suggest that we not count our chickens before they hatch! Here’s what I predict is going to happen……
The Senate is going to reach a deal on a bipartisan bill, pass it, and send it to the House relatively close to the debt default deadline. The House will get the bill, load it up with ransom demands, and send the modified bill back to the Senate where it will not pass. Game Over……..US defaults on debt!
I hope I’m wrong but time will tell……part of my rationale for this prediction has to do with a recent statement by Mo Brooks (as reported on AL.com). Here is what he had to say……
Mo Brooks says he’s not bluffing
on debt ceiling
Congressman Mo Brooks says he is not bluffing.
If Congress does not slash welfare programs, or take steps to adopt a balanced budget, he will vote against raising the debt ceiling.
“We address the cause of the problem or else I vote against it,” said Brooks, R-Huntsville, during a phone interview with AL.com this afternoon. He said public benefits program would also include Obamacare.
Brooks, who campaigned on the issue of a balanced budget in 2010, said the nation’s greatest threat is bankruptcy.
He said he would rather face the consequences of an unprecedented federal default — which could happen if Congress fails to raise the borrowing limit within the next 10 days — than allow the nation to continue piling up long-term debt and face “total devastation” of insolvency.
“We’re down to bad choices,” said Brooks, ”due to decades of financial irresponsibility and we’re having to choose a path that does the least amount of damage to our country.”
Brooks compared the current government shutdown to a 3 or 4 on the Richter scale. A few folks felt tremors and there was some localized damage. He said failure to raise the debt ceiling could be a greater earthquake of 5 or 6, with greater economic damage. But he said insolvency would be a devastating 10.
Earlier today, Brooks told the House: “As bad as government shutdown and debt ceiling risks may be, they are relatively inconsequential compared to the economic devastation resulting from an American bankruptcy.”
During his remarks in Congress, Brooks compared the trajectory of the United States to Greece and to Detroit, arguing pensions would be lost, assets seized or left valueless in the face of a federal bankruptcy.
“No question, not raising the debt ceiling poses economic risks. No one knows for sure how much risk because America has never crossed this threshold before,” he said on the House floor. “Whatever it is, it can be overcome.”
And he did not adhere strictly to partisan lines. Brooks said he was combating financially irresponsible members of both parties. On the phone, when asked, he said it was irresponsible not to budget for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Specifically, Brooks said he would urge Congress to reduce spending in two areas, public benefits and foreign aid.
He said he would limit public housing and food stamps and other welfare programs to the physically disabled. “The welfare programs, we don’t have the money for them,” he said, adding later: “It will force more people to work.”
He mentioned Obamacare only when asked, but added: “That is a big one.”
As for foreign aid, Brooks said he would maintain aid to Pakistan and Israel, as well as Afghanistan while U.S. troops are still present. “Outside of that, the rest of it has to go,” he said, adding: “I’m at a loss why we would borrow money to give it away.”
The only alternative to steep cuts, said Brooks, would be a long-term deal to break with the federal practice of deficit spending. The nation is approaching $17 trillion in debt and estimates show roughly $750 billion more in deficit spending this year.
He said a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution would require that federal spending cannot exceed tax revenues except during extraordinary circumstances approved by a supermajority in both houses of Congress.
When asked why now was a moment to draw a line in the sand, Brooks said it’s not. He noted that in August of 2011 he also broke with fellow Republican and voted against raising the debt limit.
Brooks had earlier shared concerns that Republicans would be blamed for the shutdown, but today he said the White House “overreach” was changing perceptions, as federal agents blocked off access to national monuments. “They are open air. You actually have to spend money to shut them down,” he said.
Thanks a lot Mo for pledging to destroy the US economy. Unless I’m mistaken that’s not what North Alabama was hoping for when they decided to vote you into the House of Representatives! So guess what…..you gotta go……
Although things look grim at this point we (all reasonable non-Tea Party Americans) all need to remember two things: 1) we have the power to change things and 2) this land is our land.
People Have The Power – Patti Smith
This Land is Your Land – Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen and his band just wrapped up their Wrecking Ball tour and he distributed this letter to his fans.
As a special treat for his fans Bruce has also released the following video that includes some amazing tour footage. Bruce has amazed and inspired me for over 40 years and this video is no different. Gerard – I’m sending this one out to you……