Category Archives: Music

Never Can Say Goodbye … to 1971

First 1971

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – I’m told I was repeatedly played Civil Rights anthems like “We Shall Overcome” and “Blowin’ In The Wind” — after my earthly debut two days into spring of 1965.

Knowing my mother’s penchant for tall tales and exaggerations, I’m not 100 percent of the accuracy of this folklore, but I think there could be a strain of truth it.

I can say, for sure, that I never had time for nursery rhymes.

My grandparents, a more reliable source of information, said I was fully captivated by the song “Georgy Girl” by the New Seekers, which was released in late 1966 and continued its heavy air play and chart climb in 1967.

I have vague recollections of being called “Georgy” because of this, so I’ll buy it.

I was just learning to walk, but I had an ear on the Top 40.

Fast forward to the holiday season of 1970, and I was totally hooked on “Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson.

From there, well, there was no looking back.

If there was a time to fall in love with music, 1971 was it.

I was 6, but I could have been 16.

The feel of the breeze, the smell in the air, the feel of drizzle — they all collide as first-time memories with amazing music coming from anywhere and everywhere.

I guess it was car radios (some with 8-track machines), the turntables of my older cousins and stepsisters, or just piped in somehow from the skies above.

There was Carole King’s groundbreaking Tapestry album – featuring “It’s Too Late” and “I Feel The Earth Move” and “So Far Away” – and “You’ve Got A Friend” by James Taylor (written by King, and a deep track on “Tapestry”).

King Taylor

The Beatles were just breaking through with solo careers, with George Harrison hitting my heart with “My Sweet Lord.”

By the middle of the decade, no one was taking a piano lesson without learning “Colour My World” by Chicago or “If” by Bread – both 1971 megahits.

You also had “Wild World” by Cat Stevens, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology” and “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye, “I Am … I Said” by Neil Diamond, “Mr. Bojangles” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and “Rainy Days And Mondays” and “For All We Know” by The Carpenters.

There is my all-time favorite of the year, Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind,” which had nothing to do with his first name (although I was pumped to find out once I was hooked on the song).

And there was the song that prompted this trip back in time, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” by Bill Withers (pictured below), who sadly became the latest to join so many of these artists in leaving us in body but not in how they touched us with their music (“Lean On Me,” though not from 1971, has quickly become the theme song in this current national crisis).

bill-withers-1972-feature-billboard-1500-1585946742-768x433

I could go on, but I’m actually getting emotional – with serious goose bumps – by scratching the surface here with this list that doesn’t even go into a lot of the classic rock that I discovered down the road.

I just turned 55, meaning it’s almost the golden anniversary of that year in music.

A lot has happened since 1971, that’s for sure.

Richard Nixon wasn’t yet impeached, Russia was still the Soviet Union, the Flyers had to yet to become bullies and win two Stanley Cups, the concepts of AIDS and 9/11 seemed surrealistic, Barack Obama had not be elected president and there was no such thing as the coronavirus to make us all freeze in place and, if we’re lucky, think back to simpler times.

“Godfather” and “Rocky” weren’t movies, and the concept of cable TV and original programming – bringing “The Sopranos” and others – seemed as far-fetched as home computers and microwave ovens.

A scruffy kid from New Jersey named Bruce Springsteen (pictured below in 1970) was a year away from releasing his first album.

1970 Bruce

Just like I had no latency period with music, I didn’t with the fairer sex.

I liked girls enough to propose to one in the schoolyard that first-grade year (maybe it was the music), but it would take another three decades until I got down on one knee and asked a woman to be my bride.

And then, in 2007, my daughter was born, becoming the rightful center of our universe.

It’s no surprise that she also caught the music bug early. A ballet dancer/softball catcher, it is the acoustic guitar that is her spirit device (see below). Her musical tastes are not the same as mine, but 1971 was not her time to fall in love with music.

It was mine.

One more song from that year, “Never Can Say Goodbye” by The Jackson 5, sums it up the best.

As deep as I’ve gotten into other kinds of popular music, including that of the 1960s leading up to it, I will never say goodbye to the songs of 1971.

Sofia Guitar

 

Peart: The Beat Goes On

Peart

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — My high school, Northeast High, is perhaps best known in popular culture for the 1968 Frederick Wiseman documentary “High School” and for B-actor Tony Danza starring in a “Teach: Tony Danza,” where he taught an English class for the 2009-10 school year.

In between, particularly in the late 1970s through the early to mid-1980s, was the era that housed my unique generation.

Tuning in, turning on and dropping out (well, at least cutting class and hanging in the cafeteria) was more the norm than in Wiseman’s critically acclaimed documentary during the actual Age of Aquarius.

We were the hippies, albeit on tape delay.

The boys had longer hair than a lot of the girls, almost everyone smoked something to some extent and the standard mode of dress was naturally worn jeans and a concert shirt with three-quarters sleeves.

And when you think of generic Hollywood portrayals of high schools, where the so-called “cool” kids named the tune that everyone else had to dance to, this world – our world — was the polar opposite.

Those who posed themselves as “cool” – with their rugby shirts and turned up collars — were generally mocked for it.

More kids of the approximate 1,000 in my grade (not the whole school, but just my grade) didn’t go to the prom than those who did (I did not).

On Friday nights, when the football team was playing, there were more of us roaming the Roosevelt Mall – in search of whatever — than in the bleachers.

There was a penance to be paid for bending and breaking the rules, but the lure of the side wall of the neighboring convenience store, which was more like a Turkish marketplace, was too alluring.

The reason for this trip down memory lane is not for laughs, however.

It is to set a backdrop, culturally, for context. Madonna and Michael Jackson may have been topping the charts and selling zillions of records, but not at our school (MTV was not even available within the city limits yet).

Those acts may have been for the outnumbered “cool” kids.

Don’t know. Don’t care.

Aside from the Classic Rock from a decade earlier, one of the major groups for the great unwashed masses of the “uncool” was Rush.

There had been other groups as supremely talented: Yes, Genesis, Kansas, Supertramp, etc.

For reasons best left to sociologists, Rush was the ideal band for our school, circa that era.

If there was a soundtrack for Fast Times at Northeast High, I’d put “Spirit of the Radio” on it for 10th grade, “Limelight” and/or “Tom Sawyer” for 11th and “Subdivisions” for my senior year.

In fact, Rush was so big in this time window that it spawned a bit of a Canadian invasion (Triumph, Bryan Adams, April Wine, Chilliwack, Red Rider, Saga, Prism, etc.).

Rush was still occupying so much space in my head in 1984, the year after graduation, that I still swear I had a dream about hearing the song “Distant Early Warning” before I actually heard it for real.

Rush was a three-piece band. Alex Lifeson was stellar on guitar, while Geddy Lee was the ultimate juggler. He played both bass and keyboards while handling lead vocals.

And then there was Neil Peart on drums.

Man, was there Neil Peart on drums.

I’ve been listening to music my whole life.

There were no nursery rhymes with me; no latency period (hence, being half-deaf and working on the other half).

Peart was the best drummer I ever heard on record, and the best I ever saw in concert.

And this is not meant to disparage any of the surreal drummers who came before or after. The list of incredible timekeepers is long, luminous and still growing.

But he tops it.

That, in and of itself, is enough to make Peart legendary.

But it is only part of the story.

In those days, I began finding myself by writing song lyrics. I look back at those notebooks now, and it’s easy to see I wasn’t quite there yet.

At all.

I had set a high bar for myself, and was clearly swimming in the deep end of the pool with a life vest.

That can largely be attributed to a vain attempt to come within the same hemisphere as the lyrics I was hearing from Rush, my favorite band/artist for a good stretch of time (before getting bumped, permanently, by some Springsteen guy).

Suffice it to say that Peart was my primary English teacher in high school. I learned more from him than any of those who took next to zero interest in me combined.

Not only was he the greatest rock drummer that ever lived, bar none, but also one of the genres greatest lyricists.

That’s quite a legacy.

Peart was just 67 when he passed away last week, and it was not a real surprise, as there were murmurings of a brain tumor for a while.

I didn’t mourn the way I did when, say, Tom Petty died suddenly.

Perhaps I didn’t mourn at all.

I listened to a lot of Rush instead.

I reflected.

And I remembered.

I remembered an amazing talent – and person – who helped me walk proud among the uncool.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Jan. 19, 2020

Bracing for Civil War 2.0

BattleOfChancellorsvilleReenactment

By GORDOON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — If the gauntlet had not already been laid down for the American Civil War 2.0, recent events have inched us closer.

Let us count the ways:

-Impeachment: The hearings kicked off Wednesday, with the Union (Democrats) and Confederacy (Republicans) painting two entirely different portraits about what your president (not mine) said to the Ukrainian president during a phone call.

The other thing that can prevent this from leading to a bloodbath that will spill over into the streets is that all of us – left, right and center – just don’t have the same attention spans from when the same thing happened with Richard Nixon in the early 1970s or even Bill Clinton in the late 1990s.

These proceedings will drag on for weeks, if not months, providing enough lead time for diversionary tactics – ranging from childish 3 a.m. tweets to creating new and inventive instabilities overseas – that will draw the mainstream media away from both the impeachment hearings and who currently leads in the Iowa polls.

The “base” will refuse to believe any evidence that their president did anything wrong. At the least, they will just convince themselves – via the mastery of false equivalencies and believing conspiracy theories – that it was nothing different than what anyone else has done in the back rooms of the West Wing.

They said that about Nixon, too. And, well, we know how that turned out.

The whole election of your president (not mine) was a sign of the times, revealing we were ripe for a Civil War. No qualifications were required, as only venom toward outgoing president Barack Obama – and the use of code words and hot-button topics like immigration – were enough to capture the imagination of those who didn’t want to be bothered with the gory details involved in sorting out fact from fiction.

He has done 1,000 things that cry out “Impeach Me, Hard” – kind of like those “Kick Me Hard” signs we would put on someone’s back in middle school – and this is just No. 1,001.

Whether it does the trick or not is irrelevant.

There are those who see this, and those who don’t want to see it. In the middle, we have a portion of the country – the same portion that will likely decide the next election – who may just want to take the time to understand the US Constitution and whether or not he breached the document he swore to uphold above his own personal interest.

-Sandy Hook Revisited: There may be no more hot-button topic in this brewing war between the states than gun control (yet another school shooting in suburban Los Angeles Thursday morning).

It is said that if nothing changed after the horrific mass shooting of 26 people, including 20 first-graders, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. in 2012, it was never going to happen.

And nothing has.

However, what seemed to be a Hail Mary pass, a lawsuit against Remington Arms Co., the maker of the weapon used by the shooter in the Sandy Hook massacre worked its way all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And the high court, despite having an extra vote from the right, allowed the families to move forward with the suit, the essence of which states that Remington was at fault because its marketing targeted “vulnerable young men” – i.e. losers – with its phallic symbols thinly disguised as weaponry.

At face value, there is some merit against the lawsuit, as it could create a slippery slope. However, as is the case in the impeachment situation, the devil lives in the details.

The reality is that most of the country, even gun-owning members of the NRA, are for some form of gun control.

Still, the startling fact is that three percent of Americans own half of the country’s estimated 265 million guns, and they are likely not those with any interest in any form of gun control legislation.

This case will be worth watching. The NRA’s deep pockets haven’t stopped its momentum yet, even when going to the right-leaning Supreme Court, the ruling of which will not only will likely open the door to more lawsuits from victims of gun crimes.

If that happens, there will be backlash from those who don’t get the fact that no one is physically coming for their guns in a conspiratorial attempt to trash their rights under the Second Amendment.

-Colin Kaepernick Workout – While it should be a sports story, it is anything but when Kaepernick’s name is involved.

Your president (not mine) infamously called on NFL owners to “fire” (wrong terminology, as players are released or waived, depending on their contract verbiage) any athlete who didn’t stand at attention during the national anthem before games.

Kaepernick, who began kneeling for the anthem in protest, has been out the NFL for almost three full seasons now.

While it is ironic that many of those who insist of their rights under the arcane and misinterpreted Second Amendment are unwavering in denying Kaepernick his right of free speech under the First Amendment, it is also fair to say that Kaepernick was getting more mileage out of being martyr than trying to make a comeback as a rusty quarterback.

The whole saga took a shocking turn this past week when Kaepernick tweeted out that he would be holding a surprise, open workout for NFL executives.

Initial indications were that just one team out of 32, the Dallas Cowboys, would attend the workout via a “team official” who could be nothing more than a low-level scout.

Whether Kaepernick throws another NFL pass, a tight spiral goes into the great divide. If he isn’t signed, he becomes even more of a martyr for the cause. If he is given a chance, others – the Confederates – will be up in arms.

And then there are the nuances of the scenario. If he signs but sits behind a starter who is not a standout, there will be cries of discrimination. If he kneels again during the national anthem, there could be protests at stadiums. If he doesn’t, the Confederacy will declare a moral victory and the Union will see a sellout to the man.

Controversial (and, fingers crossed, viral) Music Video – A bit of shameless self-promotion here, folks. A video of a Gordonville, U.S.A. song “Angry White Male” was released, via Facebook watch party, on Nov. 16 (World Unity Day) and remains available for viewing.

The images of how far we have devolved, with so-called patriots using symbols of those our forefathers fought against to save our union and democracy, are not pretty.

But they were necessary to convey the brevity of the song, which can be found on YouTube and at the Gordonville, U.S.A. Facebook page (give a brother a “like” while you are there).

I would say enjoy, but that’s not the intent.

This column initially ran in Times Herald on Nov. 17, 2019.

Rockin’ The Vote (while rockin’ the boat)

Rundgren

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — I voted.

I not only voted today, but yesterday and the day before that and the day before that and the day before that.

And I’ll do it again tomorrow — and will continue until I can’t anymore.

These votes, which are allowed on repeat (and hopefully without Russian interference), are cast online for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Hall got over itself and allowed fan voting to become part of the process, and that led to some overdue inductions (Rush, Journey, The Cars) but inherent injustices remain because the playing field is still made uneven by a self-righteous group of know-it-alls creating the ballot.

The 2020 induction nominees include some who just became eligible (25 years since their first release, some who have been eligible but have not been on the ballot and others who are repeat nominees).

The list (in alphabetical order, with those I have repeatedly voted for in bold) includes: Pat Benatar; Dave Matthews Band; Depeche Mode; The Doobie Brothers; Whitney Houston; Judas Priest; Kraftwerk; MC5; Motörhead; Nine Inch Nails; The Notorious B.I.G.; Rufus featuring Chaka Khan; Todd Rundgren; Soundgarden; T.Rex and Thin Lizzy.

My first reaction to the ballot was one of both joy and disgust. I was excited to see Benatar, Rundgren and T.Rex but some of the others – Whitney Houston, The Notorious B.I.G., Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Depeche Mode and MC5 – continue to cause me angst.

T_Rex_The_Slider

Over the years, the Hall has defined and redefined what is and isn’t Rock so many times that it is enough to make a statue dizzy.

Considering the varied genres that merged into some magical chemistry to make rock and roll what it became, it is understandable that some lines will get blurred.

But something stinks in the town of Cleveland, which is somehow home to the Rock and Roll Hall (should have been in Philly, but don’t get me started).

Either those who pull the strings from behind the curtain are tripping over themselves to be too inclusive, or something more subversive could be at play. They could be trying to monopolize all music outside of opera under one roof.

Since 1961, Nashville has been home to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

There is a Hip Hop Hall of Fame and Museum in New York City that was established in 1992.

There is a Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame. Founded in 2010, it is currently a mobile museum with several cities bidding to be its permanent home.

Plans are afoot for an American Pop Hall of Fame in Western Pittsburgh and a Folk Music Hall of Fame with a broad vision and not many firm details.

Meanwhile, the R&R Hall continues to violate trespassing laws to fish in other ponds while ignoring many of its own.

There was not much criticism early on, as choices like Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley seemed rather obvious.

The shark was officially jumped in 2007, when The Dave Clark Five finished fifth in the voting, earning the final spot, but the spot was given away by self-appointed chairman Jann Wenner (publisher of Rolling Stone magazine) to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five because of a perceived dire need to include a rap act.

The curious ballots and omissions ever since have landed the entity in a world where it is not taken seriously.

Me? I’m still trying. That’s why I still vote.

 

I grew up listening to AOR (album-oriented rock), which was gargantuan from the late 1960s through to the arrival of the MTV era of the early 1980s.

A band could sell a zillion records and pack arenas without ever putting a song in the Top 40. Those were the days.

But many of the artists and acts of that era – Bad Company, Jethro Tull, Foreigner, Warren Zevon, Foghat, Supertramp, Boston, Styx, Peter Frampton, Kansas, ELP and those I voted for (Benatar, The Doobie Brothers, Judas Priest, Rundgren and T.Rex) – are annually spurned.

Badco

Ironically, there is a channel on Sirius Radio – Classic Vinyl – that broadcasts live from … The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You hear these bands, not past “pop” inductees like ABBA or Bee Gees, all the time.

And then there are the singer-songwriters that once owned the music scene. I’m talking about Gordon Lightfoot (pictured below), Harry Chapin, Jim Croce, Carole King (in the Hall as a writer but not a performer, despite her seminal “Tapestry” album that blazed a trail for female singer-songwriters for decades) and John Denver.

Lightfoot

And then we have the curious omissions of America and Seals and Crofts.

Not rock? That argument can only be made if The Eagles, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Simon & Garfunkel (and Paul Simon) and James Taylor were not among those inducted.

Music is subjective. I get it. But there can still be a measure of objectivity to it — just based on body of work and evidence and what fits the definition of rock in the most loose of terms.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Oct. 27.

Lost: Three ‘Rock’ Stars

Ocasek

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — While it’s true the saying that “it comes in threes” can be easily debunked, as any three names can be plucked from recent obituary pages to make a case.

Nonetheless, three losses this week have placed the flags at half-staff here in the mystical town of Gordonville.

I am referencing, in order of their recent passings: Eddie Money (Sept. 13), Ric Ocasek (Sept. 15) and Cokie Roberts (Sept. 17).

And the empty world is a bit emptier as a result.

Money (real name Edward Mahoney) was born in Brooklyn, but also grew up – with a passion for music – in Queens and Long Island.

From a large Irish-Catholic family with a rich tradition of police officers, he enlisted as a police trainee in 1968 and found it was not in his heart.

If you can’t picture Eddie Money, our Eddie Money, as a police officer – neither could he.

“I couldn’t see myself in a police uniform for 20 years of my life, with short hair,” he was quoted as saying.

The NYPD’s loss was our gain.

Well, at least it was mine.

I’m not going to try to say that Money was one of my all-time favorites, but many of his songs – such as “Gimme Some Water” and “Baby, Hold On” – were among those that always resonated.

For lack of a better term, he falls in a category they (whoever “they” are) call blue-eyed soul (a cute term for white guys who can hang with the black singers).

Music was clearly in his soul, and that placed his heart on his sleeve. You believed every word, because that’s the way he delivered them.

I think we can all rip a page from that playbook, just in the way we deal with one another, no?

eddie-money-take-me-home-tonight

Ocasek (real name Richard Otcasek) was born in Baltimore on March 23, 1944 (same day, different year, as yours truly). The son of a NASA systems analyst, the family moved to Ohio when he was 16. He briefly tried college, at two different schools, but the music bug was too strong to be an academic.

He played in various bands in Ohio with bassist Benjamin Orr, and the pair took off for Boston, where there the multitude of college campuses created a vibrant scene that also produced the likes of classic bands like Aerosmith and Boston.

Several band carnations later, Ocasek and Orr formed a Boston-area super group – with Greg Hawkes on keyboards, Elliott Easton on lead guitar and David Robinson on drums – that the world would come to know as The Cars.

Ocasek (rhythm guitar) wrote the songs with thought-provoking lyrics and split the lead vocals with Orr.

This is when they came into my orbit, as they may have single-handedly rescued us all from the Disco-era with an eponymous debut album that featured the likes of “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “Just What I Needed” getting the most initial airplay.

In junior high (yeah, I’m too old to know of middle schools), I played the grooves out of this album, which had deep cuts like “All Mixed Up” and “Moving In Stereo” to give it the depth and breadth to make it an enduring classic.

That said, it was the next album by The Cars – Candy-O – that remains my personal favorite. People say they fell off after the first album, as people like to label bands as one-shot deals, but I’ll fight to death to say they’re wrong. The likes of “It’s All I Can Do” and “Dangerous Type” – and the title track – among others (“Let’s Go”) can’t be ignored by anyone with functioning eardrums.

Being a songwriter of sorts myself, I credit Ocasek as a strong secondary influence, particularly with the willingness to take chances with lyrics.

This was not the end of me going to war on behalf of The Cars, who I considered my favorite band as I crossed the threshold into Northeast High School from Wilson State Pen (I mean, Middle School). People said they weren’t good live, and they were right. The Cars weren’t good live. They were outstanding live, both at a Spectrum show my senior year of high school and at Live Aid.

I stayed in the ring on behalf of The Cars, as it was an abomination that they had to wait until 2018 for an induction into the enigmatic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s nice Ocasek lived to see it, but an abomination he didn’t enjoy it longer.

I can tell, from listening to Sofia’s bands, that the influence of The Cars – one of the alleged prerequisites of the R&R Hall’s know-it-alls – is alive and well.

This brings us to Roberts (real name … get this … Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs). Thanks to her brother, Tommy, she became known to us all as Cokie.

She had the good sense to marry a Jewish guy (wink), fellow journalist Steven V. Roberts, and became Cokie Roberts.

cokieroberts_custom-

She was born into a Louisiana family steeped in Southern Democratic political traditions. Just about her entire nuclear family ran for political office, but her passion was journalism.

While this seems a million miles away from the background of Money, who didn’t want to be a cop – or Ocasek, who spurned the high academic standards of his family – there is a common thread.

It goes to show how passion to follow your dreams can go a long way.

There isn’t a woman in journalism today, whether in print or television or somewhere in between, who doesn’t owe a debt of gratitude for the trail blazed by Roberts.

When Roberts passed, my first reaction was that, since it wasn’t a rock star, it didn’t count as part of the threes.

Upon further review, I was wrong.

She was a rock star, too.

And, sadly, it did come in threes.

Rough week.

This column first appeared in The Times Herald on Sept. 21. 2019

No More Grieving For Your ‘Loss’

Bruce

BY GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — While there are some things worth fighting for, others just aren’t worth the time.

After going to the brink of World War III on the topic of Bruce Springsteen, I have come to the realization that it is simply not worth the spike in blood pressure.

Either you get it, or you don’t.

And if you don’t, you don’t.

I feel more pity for you than anything else.

I don’t get the entertainment value of NASCAR or professional wrestling – let alone more meaningful saving graces for others, such as organized religion or thinking the founding fathers were seers and mystics with all the answers.

Either you see the light – and are willing to be blinded by it – or you are mired in darkness.

And, yes, this is coming on the heels of seeing the movie inspired by the music of Springsteen, “Blinded By The Light.”

It’s actually not the first attempt to incorporate the impact of Springsteen’s music on film characters.

Early in the filmmaking career of indie icon John Sayles, a movie called “Baby, It’s you” (made in 1983 but set in Trenton, N.J., circa 1966) featured Springsteen’s music. Although the songs in that film, starring a young Rosanna Arquette, were anachronistic (Springsteen didn’t record his first album until 1972), they surely represented how it he felt as a New Jersey high school student in the 60s (and were ideal for the lead male character).

Unfortunately, this critically acclaimed flick was more arthouse fare, and not something for large audiences.

The movie “Mask” (1985), was the true story of a teen boy with a facial deformity who was inspired by the music of Springsteen. The original movie had four Springsteen songs in it that were cut out by studio executives, who thought a swap with Bob Seger songs wouldn’t matter.

The director’s cut of the film, which netted Cher a well-earned Oscar nomination, has since been released with the intended Springsteen music and some powerful additional scenes.

Unfortunately, the damage was done.

A good movie could have been great. As such, it is now semi-forgotten in time, as it is both uncomfortable for some to watch and not as effective as it could have been.

So, now we have “Blinded By The Light.” It is neither set in the familiar Springsteen terrain of 1960s New Jersey of “Baby, It’s You” nor the outlaw biker California lifestyle depicted in “Mask.”

It is a true story about someone who came of age as an outsider – a Pakistani Muslim immigrant in 1987 London (when lack of jobs caused a lot of intolerance) – and yet it rings as true as if the central character were from a traditional Springsteen hub on the U.S. East Coast.

Like, for example, myself in high school in Northeast Philadelphia.

As a 10-year-old, I bought Springsteen’s “Born To Run” album when it came out in 1975, so I was well aware of who he was for a long time.

When I entered high school in 10th grade, circa 1980, his album “The River” was all over the radio, but I have to admit that it wasn’t speaking to me.

I was more into Genesis, Pink Floyd, the aforementioned Seger, Tom Petty and The Cars.

Then came the mandatory heavy 1960s trip of The Doors and Jimi Hendrix, before coming to believe that the members of Led Zeppelin were living Gods.

But, as high school progressed, so did the natural feelings of alienation that almost all teens – from those in the Homecoming Court to the marching band to the delinquents catching a smoke between classes outside – felt.

All those bands had a place and stirred something inside me, but nothing spoke to my soul.

Not until I felt like taking a knife cutting the pain from my heart.

Not until I wanted to say that I wasn’t a boy, but a man.

Not until I talked about a dream and tried to make it real.

For the uneducated – and that’s OK – those are all paraphrased lines from Springsteen songs.

I don’t know who or where I’d be today – not that I’m anything anyway, but I can’t complain – without learning them like a seminary student learns to recite, and interpret, scripture.

I should have nothing in common with the main character of “Blinded By The Light,” but I actually related to Javed as much I have with any character in any movie I’ve ever seen.

I was semi-skeptical going in – I read they turned some songs in to Bollywood-style dance routines – but I knew pretty quickly that it was tailor-made when Javed, also a writer, first popped in a Springsteen cassette.

The song was “Dancing In The Dark.”

It was generally regarded by some of my Bruce brethren as just a frivolous pop song, while casual fans see it as a fun tune that doesn’t dig too deep and make them think too hard.

I never felt that way about “Dancing In The Dark.” From the moment it was released as a single in advance of the eponymous “Born In The U.S.A.” album that made Springsteen an international star, the lyrics – though set against non-threatening synthesizer chords and a steady beat that almost sounded electronic – came at me at a time in my life when I was transitioning from high school, where the music of Springsteen helped me find my niche, to college.

I was nothing but tired – tired and bored with myself.

I wanted to change my clothes, my hair, my face.

They said I had to stay hungry. I was just about starving.

I knew there was something happening somewhere.

And I knew – with the words of Bruce Springsteen – I’d find it.

And I did.

Just like many of you did.

Because you get it.

Some of you don’t.

If you don’t, you don’t.

All I can say is that I’m sorry.

I really am.

This column appeared in The Times Herald on Sept. 1, 2019.

Let It Be (And Other Thoughts)

No Wood

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — It’s been a long time, perhaps too long.

Let’s press reset with another installment of “What Is And What Should Never Be” (named in honor of the Led Zeppelin Song).

If you don’t recall how it works, it won’t take long to catch on.

And we’re off:

What Is: We just celebrated the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, providing a chance to relive all the music and magic that took place (without getting caught in the rain and mud, let alone having to sleep outside). One of the most amazing aspects about the festival – beyond featuring a lineup of classic acts (The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, etc.) that can only be duplicated by those who turned down invites (The Doors, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel) – is that it was as peaceful as advertised. There were two deaths – one from an insulin injection gone wrong and one when an attendee sleeping in a nearby field was run over by a tractor – and two births.

And What Should Never Be: Attempts to mark the anniversary with a reboot. A 50th anniversary try failed miserably, but at least the plug was pulled to avoid the type of chaos that occurred at the 25th anniversary attempt (although the Philly-area band Huffamoose, featuring some real talented guys I’ve worked with, played the first day – before it went haywire on the second). That should serve notice to anyone wanting to make a 55th, 60th, 75th or 100th. It was a once in a lifetime event. It was a historical event. History naturally repeats itself anyway – often tragically – so we need not spur it along because we can’t think outside the box. In my mind, there was another Woodstock. It was Live Aid in 1985. I was there, at old JFK Stadium. It was my Woodstock. I’m good, thanks.

Iowa

What Is: In the landscape of our country still struggling to reach its potential greatness, consider Iowa as Exhibit A.

And What Should Never Be: Iowa wielding the political power that it currently does in the flawed political system that ultimately leaves voters from the other 49 states – and the District of Columbia, which somehow isn’t its own state – holding their noses in voting booths and feeling like they are voting for the lesser of two evils. Consider Steve King, the Iowa Congressman, who has uttered so many hateful and absurd pronouncements that they are not worth repeating. Do we really want a state whose voters elected this sad individual to disproportionately control to fate of America the way it does?

colin_kaepernick_jan_rtr_img

What Is: As soon as Eagles backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld was lost for 6-8 weeks, which equates to a few weeks of the regular season, the chirping began for the Eagles to sign exiled Colin Kaepernick began. It only increased when the No. 3 quarterback, Cody Kessler, went down for the count with a concussion and the Eagles coaxed 40-year-old Josh McCown out of a short-lived retirement.

And What Should Never Be: Sorry. Not the case. This was a football move, period. To paraphrase “The Godfather” (greatest movie of all time), this is business and not personal. A commitment to Kaepernick would have been complicated. Other teams – most notably, Seattle in 2017 – have kicked those tires. His reported contract demands were unrealistic (immediate chance to start, at starter’s pay). In a league with a fixed salary cap, and considering the pending media circus, the choice against becomes more vivid. I have my own personal feelings on Kaepernick, and where he was and is coming from, but it wouldn’t be fair to put them out there with any proof. Let’s just say, as both an Eagles’ fan and a bleeding heart liberal (i.e. snowflake) who supported his right to protest under the First Amendment, I’m fine with how it went down. If Sudfeld were out for the season, different conversation. He’s not, so drop it.

Bibi

What Is: Israel banned two U.S. Congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, from visiting the West Bank, sparking such outrage on the left that Bernie Sanders – my Bernie Sanders, whose family fled the same Nazi persecution that help lead to the formation of Israel – called for an end to U.S. aid there.

 

And What Should Never Be: Hopping, skipping and jumping to the facts here. While it was wrong to not let elected officials visit, it’s also wrong to sweep with one broad brush about Israel. These are the actions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (a graduate of Cheltenham High School right here in Montgomery County). Known as “Bibi,” he was elected by a narrow margin, with his Likud party eking out the more moderate Blue And White party of Benny Gantz. Sound familiar? It should. They are almost as polarized there about their leader, also working on his third marriage while operating under corruption charges, as we are with ours here. Just like many of us don’t want to be judged by the actions of your president (not mine) many there feel the same about their prime minister. When detractors quickly seek to punish “all Israelis,” I can’t help but think some other bells are going off in their heads.

Looop

What Is: John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, dropped out of a crowded Democratic presidential race that most average citizens didn’t even know he was in.

And What Should Never Be: I like to make fun of John Hickenlooper because, well, his name is John Hickenlooper. Worse yet, he actually looks like someone whose name is John Hickenlooper. However, to his credit, he did the right thing here. Not only is the herd thinned by one, but he is now going to run for a senate seat currently occupied by a vulnerable Republican. All he needs is a nickname. Go get ‘em, “Loop.”

This column appeared in Time Times Herald on Aug. 25