Category Archives: Music

Until It’s ‘Better Than Today’

Sanders4

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — I have this song called “Better Than Today.” I rank it high among the hundreds of thousands I have written since the early 1980s – those painful mid-teen years when girls alternated between breaking my heart or not even knowing I existed.

This one, like most since that era, has nothing to with relationships.

In terms of the lyrics, the narrator is a married man who goes wherever the low-wage work takes him, but the drill is wearing thin.

He cashes paychecks and clears as many bills as he can, only to start the process over again. He is willing to eat once a day to ration. He buys a few Christmas gifts but takes no credit, letting them still believe in Santa as he tries to shield them from life’s harsh realities.

The song ends with a “reason to celebrate.” The narrator gets a second job and he’ll be now be working 16 hours a day. Though it’s not necessarily safe, the scenario is still “better than today.”

It wreaks of Bruce Springsteen, maybe as much as any and all previous attempts to reach that Promised Land.

But it was written, sometime in 2015-2016, while cast under the spell of another influence.

That would be Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Yeah, that Bernie Sanders.

That angry old grandpa type spewing the virtues of Democratic Socialism – with “free this” and “free that” – who also talked about American families like those in “Better Than Today” during his campaign.

Sanders’ proposed policies – framed as unrealistic – are already battle-tested in other countries (namely in Northern Europe) that do a lot things better than we do here.

It’s not unpatriotic to say so, either.

It’s blind patriotism, the worst kind there is, to believe it’s better to go into debt because a family member gets seriously ill or because our sons and daughters seek higher education than to admit defeat to Norway or Sweden.

All that doesn’t go away with a bunch flags on Flag Day.

It’s interesting how the first question about Sanders’ proposed policies were about the realistic ways they could be paid for, and yet many of the same people – some turned off by Hillary Clinton, but not necessarily by Sanders – ultimately voted for a candidate who proclaimed that he was going to build a fantastical border wall and have the country on the other side pay for it.

Staunch Democrats tell me to get over it, refusing to let me enumerate the many ways Clinton lost the election and accuse Sanders — an independent who almost always caucuses and votes with the Democrats — of being an interloper who crashed their invitation-only party.

To my eye, Sanders held up a mirror and showed the Democratic party just how un-democratic their flawed process was – with one candidate hand-picked, with super delegates lined up like penguins, to slide through the of 57-primaries/caucuses unchallenged.

Sanders didn’t take a dime of SuperPAC money, instead pushing on with average donations of $27 (I contributed my share, and have the coffee mug and water bottle to show for it). Despite legitimately packed houses, mostly on college campuses, he got almost no coverage of his rallies from the same mainstream media that the current president labels “the enemy of the people.”

The reality is that Clinton, though clearly done dirty by the other side, was not done in by Sanders.

What is easier to believe, and what historians will hopefully acknowledge, is that his challenge should have done anything but make her the weaker candidate she proved to be in the eyes of too many.

Maybe he didn’t campaign for her as vigorously as he could have, but he still left her a GPS route to success.

Example: She should have virtually lived in some the crucial swing states won by Sanders.

Instead, she blew them off.

Polls show Sanders very well might have won the general election, and could be best equipped to do it again in 2020.

While he is not the new “kid” in town anymore, there are other higher hurdles to clear.

While Democratic Socialism really just means capitalism with a few less backs being stabbed and throats getting slit, the word “socialism” is too much of a non-starter in the swayable heartland and bible belt.

I also find it odd that some are lightning quick to point to Sanders’ age (he would be 78 if/when elected) when some of the same people doing the questioning trumpet white-haired Joe Biden, only slightly younger than Sanders but with stale ideas that Generations X, Y and Z are rejecting.

While Sanders is a secular guy, his Jewish heritage probably won’t help much, either (even though it won’t show up in polls, as few will admit it as a primary reason).

Despite the polls, I still see Sanders as a longshot and I am prepared to back the last candidate standing, just like I still backed Hillary Clinton when she limped across the finish line in front of Sanders in 2016.

We still have a lot in common on the left. We couldn’t believe our eyes watching the horror of Charlottesville unfold, and couldn’t believe our ears the way our president responded. We can’t believe we are being governed by Twitter. We can’t believe news time is taken up about payoffs to porn stars.

We can’t believe what tomorrow will bring, other than it will make us more numbed up and dumbed down than the day before, leaving the nation ripe for more of the same.

That just can’t happen.

And the first step is to declare a truce in this Sanders-Clinton spillover effect – the bad blood between moderates and progressives — and see the big picture.

Clinton was the first woman seen as a serious candidate from a major party running for president. She was neck-and-neck with Barack Obama, the first president of color, in the 2007-2008 primaries and lost in 2016 general election (despite taking the popular vote).

Sanders was the first Jewish-American to make a serious bid.

The first female vice presidential candidate was Geraldine Ferraro in 1984. The first Jewish vice presidential candidate was Joe Lieberman in 2000.

Sense a pattern, fellow liberals? All Democrats.

The party of diversity now sees an array of potential candidates from coast to coast and north to south, from fresh-faced to experienced, and from male to female.

The truth is that I’d vote for a gold fish or an amoeba – anything but a Lyme-carrying tick – to bring back sanity.

But nothing has really changed for me in the last few years.

Bernie Sanders still sits at the top my list.

Until further notice.

Until it’s better than today.

This column first appeared in The Times Herald on Jan. 6.

Lyrics to Better Than Today:

Better Than Today

Finally got my paycheck
Cashed it down at Hank’s
When you live on the fringes
Can’t take it to the bank

Coins for the laundromat
Some candy for the kids
Get straight on the rent
Ration what’s in the fridge

And if we can’t make it stretch
Mister, I’ll just eat once a day
Ain’t thinking about tomorrow
Just pray it’s better than today

Winter just around the bend
I can feel it in my bones
Could find work down south
Family can’t go it alone

And we’re not gonna uproot
Jimmy’s already back a grade
Ain’t thinking about the future
Just pray it’s better than today

Sometimes I hear Anna crying
Or just praying softly to a saint
They put you in so many corners
When the break out the war paint

Finally got my paycheck
Christmas toys for the kids
Real man takes no credit
Says Santa left the gifts

Let’s call for my sister
Takin’ Anna for a date
Been keeping a secret
It’s time to celebrate

Yeah, I just got that second job
High risk but it really pays
Ain’t thinking about dying
Just pray it’s better than today

And I’ll be working 16 hours
Sir, there’s 24 in a day
Ain’t thinking about sleeping
Just pray it’s better than today

Hey You, Get Off Of My Lawn

Grumpy

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — There are a lot of people I like.

You know who you are.

All eight of you.

Everyone else?

Eh, not so much.

I have followed a collision course from my younger self and, right on time, became a grumpy middle-aged man.

A combination of Archie Bunker, Frank Costanza, Fred Flintstone and Andy Sipowicz.

Perhaps, on a good day, a little bit of the great curmudgeon philosophers — Bob Dylan and George Carlin — sprinkled in.

And I guess we can’t forget Sonny Corleone, had he not met his premature fate as a younger hothead.

While you’re getting off my lawn and turning down the Justin Bieber noise, keep the following grievances in mind as I dance around my Festivus pole:

1) This “Merry Christmas” Thing: I do know a lot of people from a lot of backgrounds. Life has been good to me that way. And guess what? I know no one — at all — who ever said you can’t say “Merry Christmas.” As matter of fact, even though the holiday is now past us, say it twice and call me in the morning. There are real societal outrages right outside your window. Why create one that doesn’t exist?

2) Road Work At Rush Hour: A necessary evil. I get it. What I don’t get is creating a backup on a major thoroughfare between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m. Unless it’s an emergency, go have breakfast at your local diner. Speaking of which …

3) Male Waiters At Diners: I expect to be waited on by an old-school waitress — not waiter — with a bouffant hairdo who calls me “baby” and “honey” and has a natural instinct to fill up my coffee (and remembers I’m a decaf guy) and pre-butters my toast. I have nothing against male waiters in other dining scenarios — like, say, certain authentic ethnic restaurants (even if they are faking the accent for effect) — but we really don’t need the world spinning off its axis any more than what it already is, do we?

4) Casual Cyclists: I’m all for exercise (especially if I’m not the only doing it), but can’t they stick to the bike path? It’s not like we haven’t made them a few hundred to use. As far as I know, if a cyclist is on the road — even if it’s merely to get to one bike path to another on the other side — they are supposed to obey the same traffic laws as a motorist already stuck behind rush-hour roadwork. The next cyclist I see actually yield the right of way — or actually stop at a stop sign — will be the first. And don’t even get me started on the way they hog the roadway, oblivious to the world, once they are on it.

5) Royal Families: They can do what they want in the UK, but we won the Revolutionary War (in all the history books, if you’d like to check). If there any leaves floating about from the John Adams family tree, no thanks. Same for Roosevelts, Kennedys and Bushes. Suggestions of Michelle Obama running are just as bad as those of Chelsea Clinton. And don’t get me started on Ivanka (my eyes just rolled so hard that I got a detached retina). We are better than thinking certain bloodlines are better than others.

6) Guys Who Aren’t Sports Fans But Pretend They Are: You know the type? They show up at a Super Bowl party asking who is playing and then they ask the line (a real sports fan could care less who does or doesn’t cover the spread). Listen, buddy, if you don’t follow sports, that’s fine. Just be upfront about it. I don’t play the stock market. I don’t hunt or fish. I don’t even know how to play poker. I don’t have a woodshop in my house. If you’re into those things, I won’t insult your intelligence by trying to fake my way through a train-to-nowhere conversation. I’m into sports, so don’t insult mine. This is especially if the game in question is a life-or-death scenario involving a Philadelphia pro team or Temple. Speaking of which …

7) Ersatz Dallas Cowboys And/Or Penn State Fans: If you’re from the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan area, or if you attended Penn State (or one of its 32,492 satellite campuses), fine. I’ll even be nice about it. I’ll let you slide on Penn State if you are Pennsyltuckian, and maybe even on the Cowboys if you are from a place in the country cursed with no pro team and have a weird fetish about blue stars on silver helmets. Otherwise, for your own safety, keep moving. You are morally bankrupt and spiritually corrupt. Side Note: Villanova is a national basketball program that happens to based on the Main Line. Unless you went there, which probably means you are from North Jersey or Connecticut anyway, zip it.

8) Lincoln Was A Republican: Easy there, cowboy. Not quite. We’ll get into this more down the line, but let’s leave this here for now: Lincoln was a progressive, which is what the Republican party was then but the polar opposite of what it is now.  If you have to go back nearly 16 decades — doing a selective hop, skip and jump over a clear role reversal in between — you don’t have much to go on, do you?

9) Self Checkout: When people in our moral conscience to the north — Canada — are refusing this concept of eliminating minimal wage jobs, it’s mirror time for us in the US. So wrong on so many levels, it’s yet another sign of apocalypse.

10) Unwanted Calls: Don’t tell me about a Do Not Call List. Been there, done that. No such thing. We still live with daily calls from weird numbers (i.e. 111-111-1111). Because I’m me, a stubborn curmudgeon, I sometimes call back and turn the tables. The best joys are when I get someone clearly from a foreign country trying to tell me his name is Tom or Joe — or Archie, Frank, Fred or Andy.

This column originally appeared in The Times Herald (www.timesherald.com) on Dec. 30, 2018.

 

 

Soul Saved By ‘Saint’ Sheeran

Sheeran

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — How is this for pretzel logic?

Wildly popular singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran comes from an Irish-Catholic/English-Protestant background, and this lapsed Jew is nominating him for sainthood.

He has performed a miracle.

As soon as Thanksgiving was in the books, Sofia tucked away her Taylor Swift CDs into an alphabetically organized CD wallet and “requested” holiday music be played 25/8 in the car.

And since we are a family thoroughly spoiled by Sirius (commercial-free) radio, we don’t have the patience for any FM channel that may have 12 commercials – and 15 fifteen minutes of babble — between every two songs that we may or may not even want to hear.

Problem is that Sirius spread itself so thin with holiday music channels that my direct bosses, Sofia and her mom, settled on just two: Bad (Channel 3) and Worse (Channel 4).

But, as fate would have it, Hanukkah scheduled itself early this year. By the end of the eight crazy nights, Sofia had been caught up on her Sheeran catalogue.

She was so excited that I was able to put the axis of evil – Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis and the Ray Conniff Singers – on ice.

This isn’t to say Ed Sheeran has a lofty place in my hierarchy of music, but enough songs run from passable (“Shape Of You”) to pretty darn good (“Castle On The Hill”) and his music is playing a vital role by getting playing time in my car in the holiday season.

I even ran out to buy a second version of his new release when the first vanished between the car seats.

All is right with the world.

Even though my soul was saved by St. Ed Sheeran, I was thinking about those of you who still need to navigate through the rest of the season without losing your mind.

There are some wonderful songs of the season, religious and otherwise, but GPS is needed.

As Norristown icon Hank Cisco would say, “If you want to walk on water, you have to know where the rocks are.”

Here are some of the rocks to get you to the other side:

10) Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Bruce Springsteen: A nice enough rendition, but it has worn way too thin. It would have been nice if one of the greatest songwriters of all time could have penned his own song of the season. If I can do it (check out “Gray Christmas” at http://www.ingordonville.come), so can my ultimate boss.

9) Hanukkah Song(s) – Adam Sandler: All three versions, with each one funnier than the next, refused to take a holiday that really isn’t that serious too seriously. This is pop culture at its best, with Sandler rattling off – and rhyming – famous, and infamous, Jewish notables. Though comedic, there is a deeper message about breaking down religious barriers without beating anyone over the head.

8) Same Auld Lang Syne — Dan Fogelberg:  The late Fogelberg, who passed away in December of 2007 – and too late to make any of those gone-too-soon lists against the backdrop of somber music – lamented the ironies of life after running into an old flame on Christmas Eve. At the end of the story song, the snow turns into rain. Gets me all verklempt (too emotional to speak) every time.

7) Father Christmas – The Kinks: Not a song you’d go caroling with at your local senior center, but it tells a real tale of poor kids resorting to roughing up a Santa to get the toys that only “the little rich boys” were going to get. A little crass, yeah, but I can dig the intent of songwriter Ray Davies.

6) River – Joni Mitchell: Like the Dan Fogelberg effort above, it’s more a song that paints a picture of the season than preaching about being naughty or nice. In the process, it’s a real nice offering that still resonates.

5) I Believe In Father Christmas Greg Lake: An original song by the lead vocalist of Emerson, Lake and Palmer sends a strong message in a gentle way about the commercialism of Christmas.

4) Christmas On The Block – Alan Mann: This effort from a late Philadelphia singer-songwriter might not be the easiest song to find but it is a beautiful song – especially for those from rowhouse city neighborhoods – that speaks for itself.

3) Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – John Lennon: The fact that John Lennon was gunned down in cold blood in the holiday season only makes this song all the more powerful. And now, I’m getting all verklempt again.

2) Silent Night – Stevie Nicks: I’m not a Grinch, I’m really not. “Silent Night” truly is a gorgeous song, but it has been brutally mistreated. Stevie Nicks, the high priestess of Gordonville (and pending inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), flat-out owns it.

1) Little Drummer Boy – Bob Seger: You can keep your Bing Crosby/David Bowie duet. Whenever Bob Seger sings, the vocal cords are secondary. It’s all heart and soul, and this version – with a steady and consistent drumbeat (in a song about a drummer, for crying out loud) — is the perfect match of song with singer.

Honorable Mention: Feliz Navidad (Jose Feliciano); 2000 Miles (Pretenders); Christmas Shoes (NewSong); Christmastime For The Jews (Ronnie Spector); Please Come Home For Christmas (Eagles); Feliz Navidad (Bob Marley); Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Band Aid); Hanukkah Dance (Woody Guthrie); Winterlong (Neil Young); Merry Christmas, Baby (Bruce Springsteen); Wonderful Christmas Time (Paul McCartney); Mistress For Christmas (AC/DC); This Christmas (Donny Hathaway); Christmas In Dixie (Alabama); White Christmas (Otis Redding).

This column originally ran in The Times Herald on Dec. 15.

Jive Turkeys To Avoid on Turkey Day

Nugent

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Three years northbound of 50 (the new 30), I’m old enough to remember when the term “jive turkey” was as common as men wearing platform shoes and women all trying (and failing) to look like the one and only Farrah Fawcett (my second celebrity crush after Marcia Brady).

With us now into Thanksgiving week, we are a country in such turmoil that we are deathly afraid to stray from narrowing choice of safe topics just to avoid the fun of the healthy political debate that should be as required as cranberry sauce.

Adding to the tension is the outside noise from jive turkeys keeping the volume raised.

A start would be to end the constant “gobble-gobble” of certain attention seekers. They have their pulpits – i.e. blogs, Twitter accounts, microphones in front of their non-stop traps, etc. – but that doesn’t mean anyone is required to take in their sermons as gospel.

For this pre-Thanksgiving public service, we will exclude elected officials and full-time employees of accredited media outlets, from the PNML (Pay No Mind List).

As for the rest, get these noisemakers out of your life:

1) Michael Avenatti – During minutes 10-12 of his 15 of prime-time exposure as Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, some saw him as an out-of-the-box Democratic presidential candidate who would actually bring some fight into the ring. His act has since worn thin, though. A recent poll of Democrats showed him with less than 1 percent support as a candidate in 2020. Bye, Michael. Hello, Richard Ojeda of West Virginia, a new gloves-off kind of a guy.

2) Steve Bannon — For many of us, any chance to give the president half a chance was ruined in Charlottesville. That horrific August weekend in 2017 – from the planning, to the chilling nighttime Nazi-to-English chants to the equal blaming of both sides afterward – had the DNA of Bannon, then serving as White House Chief Strategist, all over it. He has since departed from that role. That’s the good news. The bad news? He still draws the same air as the rest of us, and has a full calendar of public speaking engagements to prove it. Ain’t that America for you and me?

3) Ann Coulter – If we had a dollar for every idiotic thing this Cornell graduate has written and said just to grab back the attention she briefly enjoyed a decade ago, every homeless veteran would have shelter and every hungry child would be fed. She has a right to spew her nonsense – “liberals love America like O.J. loved Nicole,” etc. — but we have a right to ignore it.

4) Louis Farrakhan – No denying the good he has done within the black community, with the Million Man March of 1995 serving as a highlight, but there is no denying the bad vibes puts out simply because he just won’t let his raging anti-Semitism rest. With each incendiary remark (questioning what Jews did to Hitler to earn what they got), he loses any credibility in the mainstream — let alone the mainstream black community.

5) Kardashians – Not going to break it down to this Kardashian or that Kardashian. They are not even worth the time I just spent on them.

6) Ted Nugent – Going back to the Classic Rock era, when people used the term “jive turkey,” this guy was just another B-level turkey mostly known for one song – “Cat Scratch Fever.” It seemed nonsensical at the time, with lyrics just to serve as fodder for his half-decent guitar chops. Upon further scientific review, “Cat Scratch Fever” is an ailment with long-term side effects of brain damage. Nugent is entitled to extreme right-wing views, but a “tough guy” who admittedly did whatever it took to get out of going to Vietnam shouldn’t be considered a cogent voice in the political debate.

7) Sarah Palin – Oh, man, what was the late John McCain was thinking by adding someone with limited political experience (not even one full term as governor of Alaska and mayor of a small city) to the bottom of his presidential ticket in 2008? Right idea, going with a woman, but the wrong choice. Those who were bitter about Barrack Obama winning the presidency, and immediately – and curiously – demanded their country back, should trace their angst to Palin, as she may have cost McCain the election (I know it made my decision easy). She seemed to go away for a bit, but was empowered all over again by the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Ugh!

8) Phil Robertson – Ah, the Duck Commander of Duck Dynasty infamy. Remember that? The once formidable A&E Network chose to grab the low hanging fruit and produced a reality show about a family of duck hunters. You can’t make this stuff up. His relatives grew beards to fit the façade and, with consequences we are still dealing with, western civilization went on life support as ratings soared. The show ended, and his kinfolk shaved their beards and went back to the real world. Meanwhile, Robertson’s sense of self-importance continued when he became a right-wing Buddha often propped up by Bannon. If you hear this guy’s patented duck call (eye roll), please duck!

9) Melania Trump – I have kept her off-limits, but no more. The first “lady” is suddenly sticking her beak in where it does not belong, ripping a page out of Nancy Reagan’s playbook (and we know why Mrs. Reagan had to become increasingly protective of her husband). Isn’t it ironic that Mrs. Trump’s stance is supposedly against bullying, especially cyber bullying? She not only condones it with her husband’s 3 a.m. Twitter tantrums, but she is becoming one herself. What’s up with that? Three cheers for the Einstein Visa.

10) Kanye West – Already public enemy No. 1 on the Glantz home front for that bizarre awards-show incident with Taylor Swift back in 2009 (Sofia was only 2 at the time, but she knows every detail the way I do about the JFK assassination that took place two years before I was born). “Kanye being Kanye” was a cover-up for clear untreated mental health issues. He lauded the president’s persona, earning a bizarre visit to the White House, and then changed what is left of his mind about his support. We are dealing with the ultimate jive turkey. And don’t get me started on the “music.” I’d rather listen to Ted Nugent.

This column first appeared in The Times Herald.

Many Forms of Abuse

Lizanne

By LIZZANE KNOTT

In light of the outpouring of sexual abuse stories in professional scenarios, I have to say that I have never encountered it (in my private/personal life, Lord yes – but never in a workplace).

While I spent a good deal of my life working with horses, I also held an office in a rapidly growing tech company for years which was largely male dominated. I was only ever treated with kindness and respect by my peers.

And too, my work in my studio, which is male-dominated as well, the same. I have though, experienced being bullied in the music industry by other artists. One fairly well known singer-songwriter (who shall remain nameless and is not someone I travel in circles with) actually took me out to dinner so that he could tell me that I basically had little talent as a writer or singer and at my stage of life had almost no chance of “making it”. Hmph.

I think the point I’m trying to make here is that abuse comes in all forms from all types of people. We, as women – hell, everyone – need to take a stand against the negativity that seems to be permeating our lives on a daily basis. No one of us is more or less deserving of following our path, making our own way, than anyone else, regardless of our sexual orientation, race, age, religion – or for that matter species (but that’s a whole another argument).

Long ago I made the choice to not be a victim to other peoples ego’s and hurtful behaviors, their karma is their own. I choose to put positivity and love out there because that’s what’s needed most in these times and the only thing that will get us through this stormy political sea we’ve all been cast out on.

So hold steady and sail on, better days are coming.

Ride My See-Saw

moodybluescenter

By GORDON GLANTZ

@Managing2Edit

GORDONVILLE – Of all the bologna that should keep me up at night – or, in my case, up while trying to take my afternoon nap – who is or is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should not be among them.

But it is.

You just can’t teach a grumpy old dog new tricks, especially when he has yet to chew his way through the same rawhide bone.

Just to repeat – a nut graph, if you will – I could, and maybe should, just leave it alone. All my all-time favorites are long-since inducted. That arm’s-length list goes from Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan to U2 and The Clash to all the obvious Classic Rock icons (Beatles, Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, etc.).

I hocked upon a righteous drum solo for Bob Seger, and was almost committed to a mental institution when one-hit wonder Isaac Hayes got in first, but all was made right a year later. I then began screaming for Genesis, Rush and Journey.

Inducted, inducted and inducted.

But the sports half of my brain get reconcile the more artsy-fartsy way the Hall goes about laying out nominees and coming to its final conclusion each year.

And even though fans vote – the only reason likes of Rush, Journey and others got in – the snot-nosed critics are still able to force their agenda of such extreme inclusion of forms of music that really are not Rock and Roll that obvious choices remain excluded.

This year’s list of 19, of which a grand total of five will be inducted, is no exception. I see some I’m happy with and others that don’t pass the smell test.

And I’m still left wondering what Bad Company, the Doobie Brothers and Steppenwolf ever did to be treated with such blatant disregard.

After I huff and puff, I’ll cast my vote. And then I’ll sit back and contemplate therapy as a day perfect for napping, like when it’s raining, is lost starring at the celing.

Let’s look at the list and I’ll give one of three answers – Yes (in bold), Maybe (italics) or No – for whether or not induction is deserved. I won’t give the “yes” nod for more than five, but a maybe means I can live with it.

  • Bon Jovi – Yes (Not a huge fan, but I was a first-hand witness to their impact and you can’t deny the body of work and the songs that continue to resonate).
  • Kate Bush – Maybe (Good music, but a little too quirky and out the mainstream to break into my Top 5. Still, I’d be OK with it).
  • The Cars – Yes. Hell Yes. (My favorite band for a stretch in ninth grade. I did out-grow them but still appreciate the tell-tale body of work and the obvious influence on other bands that came after. To me, they are on the same level as The Talking Heads, who were inducted a while back. How did that happen, you may wonder? Critics loved The Talking Heads and were never really into The Cars. It’s a New York vs. Boston thing).
  • Depeche Mode – No (I mean, they had their moments but, uh, no).
  • Dire Straits – Yes (A no-brainer, really, so brace yourselves for the inevitable WTF moment).
  • Eurythmics – No (A few OK songs does not a Hall of Fame career make, sorry).
  • J. Geils Band – Yes (This is a case of waiting until somebody dies –in this case, J. Geils himself, to act. Pretty damned pathetic).
  • Judas Priest – Maybe (We are talking about heavy metal icons with a hefty catalogue, but going in before metal pioneers Steppenwolf wouldn’t be right).
  • LL Cool J – No (But it will happen, and at the expense of an act or artist way more deserving, mark my words. Rap isn’t my thing, but I can appreciate it and where it’s coming from as a form of urban expression. That said, it is a whole different genre that should have its own Hall of Fame).
  • MC5 – Maybe (And only because they are pretty good. Still, the body of work just doesn’t measure up. Line them up against Steppenwolf, for example, and that should end this discussion).
  • The Meters – No (They keep coming up on the nominee list like acid reflux. Until somebody explains to me why, when Todd Rundgren or Boston and singer-songwriters like Harry Chapin and Gordon Lightfoot get no love, I’m going to keep going for the Alka-Seltzer when I see them listed).
  • Moody Blues – Yes (It’s even more of a no-brainer and so overdue that I might miss two naps if they don’t get in).
  • Radiohead – Maybe (Not my cup of tea, but there seems to be a compelling need from the board to leapfrog bands from this era over people who may not be around to appreciate being inducted much longer).
  • Rage Against the Machine – Maybe (I can appreciate the impact, and I dig Tom Morello, but I’m just not feeling it).
  • Rufus featuring Chaka Khan – Maybe (I can’t put it in my obvious Top 5, but they like to look like to do the annual “politically correct thing to do,” and this is not this band’s first time on the nominee list. For what it’s worth, “Tell Me Something Good” was the first 45 I ever bought, so I have a soft spot. Just not that soft).
  • Nina Simone – No (Her own bio lists about every genre under the sun – from Jazz to Soul to Gospel – but not Rock and Roll. Her only Top 40 hit, “I Loves You, Porgy,” reached No. 18 (No. 2 on R&B charts) in 1959. We can appreciate the longevity and respect in the music business, but this would be like putting a rugby player in the football hall of fame).
  • Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Maybe (Actually, not maybe. Yes, but as a pioneer selection. How she, as a more of an inventor of what became Rock and Roll than Bill Haley and his friggin’ Comets, is not in is beyond me)
  • Link Wray – LOL (not means no, as in N-O.).
  • The Zombies – Maybe (I really like their stuff but there just isn’t enough of it).

So, the summarize, from this list (and I could come up with five more deserving inductees fast than you can say Boston, Styx, Foreigner, America and Warren Zevon), we have: Bon Jovi, The Cars, Dire Straits, J. Geils Band and Moody Blues — with  special “pioneer” designation for Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Now go forth and stuff those ballot boxes.

I need my sleep.

 

Letting You Go

PETTY2

By GORDON GLANTZ

@Managing2Edit

GORDONVILLE – How am I feeling in the aftermath of the sudden death of Tom Petty?

I feel like I lost a family member.

That’s a pretty powerful statement, and I really yearn not to be easily given to hyperbole, but I don’t swing for the fences on the first pitch without have been under the influence of perhaps the best writer of first verses in the history of Rock and Roll.

That would be none other Petty, who will write no more songs – with historic opening salvos — but leaves behind unlimited masterpieces ranging from his best-known songs to deep album cuts.

To understand, you would have to understand the inner G2 and how music in general, with Petty’s music near the top of the charts, has shaped all I am – for better or worse and all points in between.

My wife and daughter certainly didn’t flinch when I was pretty much hysterical upon learning the news Monday – news that changed slightly, saying he was near death – to learning that he was gone.

It seemed an odd reaction on the same day as the indiscriminate mass killing in Las Vegas, which drew more anger from me, as a longtime gun control advocate, than sentimentality.

I mourn for those who lost their lives, and those who a scarred by the experience, and can’t really fathom the shock of their loved ones.

But I can understand the gut-punch of losing family. You live five decades and it gets to be hard to avoid.

And “family” is not just those who share your blood.

When the magic of Rock and Roll gets into your blood, your family tree takes a different form.

It can be a stranger whose art was such that he seemed like they knew you.

And it includes those who are there for you in moments of extreme darkness and light, moments when your range of emotions can be explained – or enhanced – by a well-written and performed song.

And not many combined those skills better than Petty and his band, the Heartbreakers.

They came along at the tail end of the Classic Rock era, which runs roughly from the arrival of The Beatles in America (1964) until the 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever spawned Disco Fever and seemingly forced Bob Dylan to ask Jesus what the hell was going on.

And yet Petty’s clan, with roots firmly in 1960s sensibilities, was easily grandfathered in as a Classic Rock act, although the raw sound on those foretelling first two albums – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1976) and You’re Gonna Get It (1978) – made for a nice bridge between AOR (album oriented rock) and the burgeoning punk rock scene.

That status would be further cemented when he later joined forces with the likes of Dylan, former Beatle George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne of ELO fame in the Traveling Wilburys for two albums (1988, 1990) and the deal sealed with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

As honors go, it was as well-earned as it was deserved.

When Damn The Torpedoes came out in 1979 – and shot right up to No. 2 – that album’s classics (Refugee, Here Comes My Girl, Don’t Don’t Me Like That, Even The Losers, etc.) joined airwaves already populated by songs from his first two releases (most notably Breakdown and American Girl from the first and I Need To Know and Listen To Her Heart from the second).

At the time, I was transitioning into high school and was trying to find my place in a world where I was, for all intents and purposes, just another kid.

The songs resonated. No matter where I was, or what I was doing, I stopped in my tracks. It was a natural instinct. They just reached out from the radio and grabbed you.

I couldn’t quite explain how or why, but they did.

By the time of his next album — and my personal favorite, 1981’s Hard Promises – I began the arduous, and still ongoing journey, of putting pen to paper to try and make sense of it all.

And writing lyrics, for me, was a natural fit.

I listened to a lot of music, and pondered the messages being sent, to direct me on this quest.

For all the Prog Rock concept albums that made it almost easier to dabble in free-form writing that barely made sense – even to myself – I began to marvel at the way Petty, among others, who could keep it real with concise prose that pretty much told it all in a simply-stated way.

It was a knack I longed to have, and I marveled at Hard Promises songs like The Waiting, Letting You Go, A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me), Something Big, A Thing About You and most especially Insider (with Stevie Nicks singing background vocals).

I longed to be able to do it like that.

But the waiting was the hardest part.

To this day, in many ways, those are the types of lyrics I’m trying to write.

On our last SpringHouse Revival CD (check us out on Spotify and iTunes and shame on you if you have to “like” our Facebook page), co-writer Terri Camilari and I were going for the Tom Petty vibe, while keeping our own identity, in the offering Million Dollar Words, during which I was channeling my inner Petty telling someone who can’t get to the point to, well, just get to the effin’ point.

And with Terri’s vocals, I liked to imagine it was Stevie Nicks doing a Petty cover.

I had carried Petty with me a long time, and it was time for a homage.

Way back in my senior year of high school, a lot was going on. I had freedom with a car (1975 Chevy Malibu that dripped oil), a job as a dishwasher/bus boy to pay for gas and the Sixers won the title.

Petty was still at it, putting out another record to play in the backdrop – Long After Dark – and songs like Change of Heart, You Got Lucky and Straight Into Darkness continued to form the soundtrack of my insistence on having an existence to call my own.

I also had something else that year: An actual girlfriend (even the losers get lucky sometimes). But, lo and behold, she dumped me a few about six weeks before the senior prom.

I could have tapped into my long list of “just a friend” girls to take, but I was never really into going anyway.

I hatched a better plan with dateless running mates.

I returned my tux, and used the money (tickets were cheaper in those days, and there were no pre-sales 64 weeks in advance) for two concerts – Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

Seger was great, and Petty was even better.

Best proms I never went to.

And every time Seger or Petty came to town, I went back for more (plus their live albums put me in the house countless of other times).

Except the last time, last summer, when a pending vacation made me miss the Petty show.

It is now a regret that I will just have to live with, and one I mitigate with the bigger picture.

In college, I remember my friends and I performing a mock awards show in 1985 and naming Southern Accents – Rebels, Don’t Come Around Here No More, etc.— as the album of the year.

The concert, at the Mann Music Center on a gorgeous summer night, was surreal.

As for the album of the year thing, it still remains a silly tradition of mine, and a lot of Petty’s records – 1999’s Full Moon Fever (featuring  Free Fallin’ and I Won’t Back Down)  through to 1994’s solo-acoustic Wildflowers to 1999’s Echo and 2014’s Hypnotic Eye have pulled in the honor known as the “Gordie.”

During my college years, when I was earning my doctorate in Dylaniac studies (and writing some of my best-ever lyrics) – while barely maintaining a 2.0 in my real-world classes – I was able to see the Heartbreakers back up Dylan and Petty while trading off sets of songs (Zimmy took a few breaks).

Petty’s subsequent release, the underappreciated Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough), best known for Jammin’ Me, wreaked of Dylan’s influence.

Petty was not too happy with the effort, but I still dig it.

As I allegedly matured, my musical tastes sort of solidified. My “Big Four” – Bruce Springsteen, U2, Dylan and Petty – has never changed.

I adore dozens upon dozens of other artists, but none – not even SpringHouse Revival – can break into that group.

Petty has earned that same stature with legions of other fans through a dedication to craft (you’ll note how quickly he rattled off those classic albums in lockstep with my formative years) that had to come at a cost for such a young guy.

Addiction cost him his first marriage and put his latter career in temporary peril, but he was still there – with new music just as brilliant as the classic songs that invaded my soul, dating back to when I was kid to being a parent.

Every year, when we get Sofia’s picture taken, we use a song title to give it a theme. When she was real little, it was not much of a fight. We used Springsteen’s “She’s the One” for Year 1, for example. But as music grows in importance to Sofia, she has had insisted on other songs more to her liking.

Knowing that Year 10 of her life would mark the end of the annual tradition, Laurie and I pressed her hard for American Girl.

Even though Sofia collects “American Girl” dolls, she was reluctant, pushing for something by her own family member, Taylor Swift.

But we made her listen to the song.

After a moment of silence, she said, “Yeah, that one is pretty good.”

Victory (although it helped the cause that Swift has her own nifty cover version of the song).

That picture just went up on the wall, and it takes on enhanced meaning.

I will think of our lost family member every time I look at it, knowing I can bring him back to life with the music that will last as long as skeptical kids also can’t deny what they are hearing.

During the shock of the news Monday, I couldn’t even get through Free Fallin’ without a breakdown.

Today, I heard Mary Jane’s Last Dance and I was good to go, playing his music all day, grateful for the years of lyrical inspiration and stone-cold grooves while driving down the road on a summer night with the windows down.

That’s the story of Tom Petty and me.

And it explains why I felt like I lost a family member, as overly dramatic as some may think it sounds.

On such a horrible day, with the tragedy in Vegas, I had to wonder why it had to happen then.

And I fell apart more than maybe I would have on another day.

I was, pretty much, inconsolable.

While Sofia hugged me up during my meltdown, she exuded some of her wisdom beyond her years and said that “it could be worse.”

One could take that many different ways, but you would have had to have heard her tone – and to understand how much on the same wavelength we are – to get it.

And I got it.

It could have been worse — way worse.

These ears ravaged by years of having a Rock and Roll heart could have not taken in the music of a dropout from Gainesville, Fla. who made his way to California to somehow buck the odds and strike gold.

What a loss that would have been, as that would have meant him not being a member of the family.

And that notion, of not finding him at all, would have been worse than losing him.

Way worse.