Category Archives: Music

Ride My See-Saw




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




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.


One For My Baby

People ask why I don’t write a song about Sofia. The answer is that it is complicated. In many ways, I have, but not really. Not directly. Not until now.Bunnypie My lyrics are generally not about one particular person or experience. Additionally, they tend to be from the dark side of my brain – an outlet for my angst and negativity and quest for justice. Sofia represents the polar opposite, a light so blinding that I can’t help but smile in spite of the darkness. That said, long-time readers of my former employer are well-aware that she was a consistent topic in my Sunday columns — so much so that she was probably the most well-known toddler in Central Montgomery County. Sofia just turned 9, going on 19, meaning she is no toddler anymore. They have been the best 9 years of my life and, with me penning lyrics on a nearly daily basis, this is reflected in many songs in an ancillary way. In this song, though, it is more direct. As I patiently wait on the music to be written (hint, partner), let me know what you think.

Song for Sofia (Promise I Will Keep)

I got a bum thumb

From sharpening your pencils

Spend my Father’s Days

At your dance recitals

But what else would I do?

Where else would I be?

No one means more than you

This is what you’ve done to me


We’ll play catch

Till one lands in your glove

Keep getting pets

So you can share all your love

You are my promise

A promise I will keep

A light in the darkness

That is what you are to me


Drive you to school

Send you off to your world

Watching you grow

Still Daddy’s little girl

What else would I do?

What else could I be?

I do it all for you

You are the world to me


You are my promise

A promise I will keep

A light in the darkness

That’s what you are to me

This Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore




GORDONVILLE — I only have one working windshield wiper, which is probably the result of trying to use them to swipe away layers of ice –usually without much success — this past winter.

Because the non-working wiper is on the passenger’s side, and because I won’t have time to get it addressed until after Sofia starts back to school in a few weeks, I’m just keeping an eye on the weather forecast and doing rain dances.

We could use my wife’s Honda Civic for long drives, but it’s so cramped in there that it leaves my back aching for days.

So, I was within my rights to have Sulu signal a yellow alert when a few sprinkles appeared on my already scratched windshield on the way to the American Music Theater in Lancaster Monday evening to see Loretta Lynn in concert.

Life is tough with only one windshield wiper, but nowhere near as tough as it is when you live in A country where too many around you have one working brain cell.

We were fortunate Monday. We sort of out-drove the rain and made it to our seats, front and center and in the fourth row (why can’t I get those for Springsteen or U2?).

As we looked upon the stage, with the rain coming down much harder outside, the stage was figuratively set for an ideal night.

All in all, Sofia would have rather been at home playing with her American Girl dolls and watching her reruns of reruns on the Disney Channel, but she will thank us one day for taking on the tour of legends.

It began last December, when we saw Bob Dylan from the nose-bleeds SEATS? at the Academy of Music and continued this summer with Gordon Lightfoot at the Keswick and Lynn on Monday.

Plus, unlike Lightfoot, we figured this would be a short concert. Lynn, after all, is 83 years old – making her the oldest performer I’ve seen (not counting my grandfather, Poppie, who played just about any string instrument that was ever made).

Much to our chagrin, a warm-up act, Walker County, was announced. I warmed up quick when I saw the  two sisters, Cutie and Pie, in the three-piece band. They were pretty talented, too, playing more of the Americana country that I enjoy. Pie, the singer with Maria McKee-type pipes, said they would be in the lobby during intermission selling their CD and signing autographs and was “hoping to meet all of y’all” out there.

Sofia professed an interest, and I gladly volunteered to take her to their table – at intermission.

But there was no intermission.

After Walker County exited stage left, Lynn’s “kids” — 51-year-old twin daughters, Peggy and Patsy, and 62-year-old son Ernie — did a few ditties. Then, Lynn came out onto the stage to a lot of the justifiable pomp and circumstance due an icon. There were a few pauses in the action, as other members of the group did some songs to give her a rest.

But, more or less, Lynn rolled through her hit songs to a crowd so long in the tooth – and as white-skinned, and haired, as the driven snow that damaged my windshield – that I felt as young as Sofia.

She did the two songs I knew and liked enough to download on iTunes – “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man) and wrapped up “Coal Minter’s Daughter.”

All in all, a cool experience.

But it had to be tarnished.

Toward the end of the show, Lynn said Ernie , who already ruined a tender moment about the death of Conway Twitty with some sort of quip that earns a yahoo strips in a trailer park, wanted to make a political statement. He hollered out “Trump” and the crowd roared with approval through their dentures while stomping their canes.

Something didn’t connect, but everything fell into place.

We were in America – and relatively close to home – but on a distant planet. Cancel the yellow alert and beam me up, Scotty. No intelligent life down here.

We just listened to this woman, a great American rags-to-riches success story (read the book, see the movie … or at least Google her)  – roll through many of her self-penned songs that, for their time, gave voice to working class women before it was fashionable – and those who felt a connection with that music, whether they had also been wronged by their man or came from humble beginnings, roared their approval for a billionaire candidate who started his personal race about a foot from the finish line because he was born into wealth.

How and why could this be?

Won’t wasted too much time scratching the hair of my goatee.

The same reason that President Obama, despite the fact that it was him – and not Reagan, or anyone named Bush, that gave the Coal Miner’s Daughter with little formal education the Presidential Medal of Freedom — meets with derision.

Racism, plain and simple.

To me, something about Trumpmania is a bit Hitleresque. Not saying he is Hitler, but there are parallels – with the scape-goating of an ethnic to tap into people’s fears – that should not be ignored.

We didn’t defeat Nazi Germany in World War II to become Nazi Germany in an era where more than a 1,000 veterans of that war die per day.

I first thought about this uncomfortable parallel watching Trump babble – in a football stadium, no less – in front of a crowd with the combined wealth of his shoelaces in Mobile, Alabama a few days back.

It hit home in the American Music Theater in Lancaster Monday night when Ernie Lynn did his thang.

And from that moment on, the show was over in my mind.

Some of the other guys in the band did a passable cover of “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” but I was feeling anything but peaceful and easy, especially with my daughter being exposed to that nonsense.

When Lynn finished singing “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” there was a moment of indecision in the room.

Was it over, or was there an intermission?

The side doors opened, the house lights went up.

Right on cue.

At Sofia’s insistence – she is the alpha of the family – we went to the lobby to find the girls from Walker County.

Their real names are Sophie Dawn and Ivey Dene (their daddy, Billy Walker, plays guitar and helps write the tunes) and could not have been any nicer, posing for a picture with Sofia and signing an autograph.

When I wished Sophie Dawn good luck, and told her how good they sounded, she put down what she

was holding and shook my hand and thanked me.

All good, and we have a young band to root for, but it could not erase the sour taste.

We played the Walker County CD on the way home, and didn’t say much as we listened. When it ended – it’s an EP (only six songs) – Laurie and I discussed the scenario and how it related to the state of the country.

One of Sofia’s new pop idols, Becky G, came on the radio — Disney Channell, which now one of my presets (gulp) — and Laurie mentioned that the Mexican-American teen who went to work at age 9 to help parents who were struggling – likely as much as Loretta Lynn’s were — had recently written a song in response to Trump called “We Are Mexico.”

I’m sure it’s not my kind of music, but it’s the type of message we need to send.

Perhaps, while we are taking Sofia to see as many older musical icons while they are still standing, she has a role model with her finger on the pulse of a divided country.

When Trump entered the contest, I laughed. When he surged to the top of the polls, I chuckled.

I figured he would divide the GOP enough that the way would be paved for a Democrat – hopefully Bernie Sanders, but not likely (more to do with his ethnicity than being a “s-s-s-socialist”) – to win the election next November.

Now, I’m not so sure. Now, I really think this guy can win.

Before Obama even had a second foot through the door of the oval office, haters started hating, saying they wanted their country back.

To put a spin on Lynn’s aforementioned hit, I fear Trump may just be man enough to take my country.

I would say I don’t get it.

Sadly, I do.

And this joke isn’t funny anymore.

I may only have one working windshield wiper, but I can see clearly now.

It’s not a pretty picture.

Watching The Detectives




GORDONVILLE — In May of 1983, in celebration of my pending walking papers from Northeast High School, The Police – the new wave/pop band, not the fuzz that we used to hide from in alleys – released what was the top-selling song of the year and fifth-biggest of the “me” decade, “Every Breath You Take.”

The song’s writer, Sting (real name Gordon Sumner), said: “I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had it written in a half an hour.” While he added that the tune was simplistic, the ominous lyrics were “interesting.”

He added: “It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn’t realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control.”

He was also looking 32 years into the future.

A clairvoyant Sting knew I’d be, well … stung by not getting a key role in the Eagles’ front office, the one since filled by Ed Marynowitz, to be in Chip Kelly’s right ear on personnel assessments (the fun part) and Howie Roseman’s left on making it all work within the unforgiving constraints of the salary cap (the hard realities).

You don’t want me in the inner circle? Fine. Whatever. I can take my heap of crow and eat it without crying over lost causes.

But that doesn’t mean that I, as one with an Eagles Super Bowl victory before I perish holding the top spot on my sports bucket list, won’t be watching you.

I will.

Every breath you take.

And every move you make.

Every bond you break, every step you take.

I’ll be watching you.

With the stopwatches dusted off for the NFL Scouting Combine and free agency pending, no one has any seeds of an inkling or clue what is up your sleeves.

I can only hope that your vision comes equipped with a plan, and that the plan has enough built-in vision to be flexible.

I know mine does.

Don’t believe me?

What good are cards if not laid out on the table? That’s what my grandfather, a former player for the famed Frankford Yellowjackets, used to say (not really, on both accounts, but it sounds good).

So here it is. It’s fourth-and-short, and I’m going for it.

I’m operating on the belief that this team is close, coming off a pair of 10-6 seasons, and taking two steps back for a step ahead is simply idiotic.

The line in the sand is no immediate fixes. I want to keep this team young and ascending with all moves, but no young and ascending assets will be jettisoned (you know, like that team with the eternal timetable that works across the street).

The risk – for a team that is close – outweighs the reward.

I guess you know where this is all going

Yes, for some inexplicable reason, I will have to start with a vision for the quarterback position. No, in the execution of my plan – within my broader vision – there will be no deal for Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.

Nick Foles is our guy, at least for now, folks.

I know it’s tempting to take Mariota as a plug-and-play option in Kelly’s up-tempo offense that sometimes makes Foles look like a foil for nay-saying fans, being that Kelly’s template at Oregon is what made Mariota a household name.

The irony is that there may not be any other place in the league for Mariota to thrive. Maybe a read-option team.  Maybe.

A dink-and-dunk West Coast team, like Kansas City, might – with “might” being the operative word – work out.

But price tag to move up from No. 20 to grab Mariota – if not first or second, then probably at No. 6, when the Jets pick – would be too steep.

One of those teams will surely ask for Foles, who has already proven to be a quality pro quarterback who can make all the NFL throws, and an ascending defensive player (Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks) and maybe a third player (Brandon Boykin, Jaylen Watkins, Josh Huff). The outgoing UPS package would include multiple draft picks, beginning with firsts this year and next and Day 2 picks (seconds and/or thirds) for the next two or three years.

For one guy, who may or may not work out? Pardon the pun, but I’ll pass.

What would I do behind Foles? Try to bring back Mark Sanchez as the backup. That’s Plan A. Plan B, I go after Jake Locker. Yes, his was a sad lament in Nashville as a first-round bust, but he was in a toxic work environment with the Titans. The zip on the arm is there (better than Mariota, to be honest) and he was some running ability.

The one move I would make is with third-stringer Matt Barkley. I’m thinking about something like packaging Barkley with the 20th overall pick, and the fourth-rounder obtained from Buffalo for Bryce Brown, and sending them to Houston for the 16th overall pick and a fifth.

At No. 16, we have a better chance of grabbing the best player available without sweating it out. And if contract negotiations with receiver Jeremy Maclin go sour (if I’m in charge, they wouldn’t), we could take someone like West Virginia receiver Kevin White.

Moving Barkley would open up a spot for developmental quarterback to be nabbed on Day 3 (fourth through seventh round) to compete with holdover G.J. Kinne, who might make a better third-stringer, in this system, than Barkley anyway.

File away the name of Bryan Bennent. He was recruited by Kelly at Oregon, waged a fierce battle with Mariota for the starting job and then transferred to Southeastern Louisiana and put up big numbers — albeit at a lower level of competition — and recently impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl and combine.

Again, his deep arm is probably better than that of Mariota. Doesn’t mean he has the same accuracy or release, let alone the mobility, but all the tools are there. Think of Tony Romo without the smirk and, hopefully, the penchant for losing in the clutch.

Aside from a developmental quarterback and receiver – someone like Washington State’s Vince Mayle in the middle rounds would be highway robbery – I’m not touching the offense.

Yes, third-string tight end James Casey was just released, but the trio of Zach Ertz – backed up by Brent Celek and Trey Burton – is sound.

No, not even the line. The numbers may say to cut guard Todd Herremans loose, but that would be a mistake. Not one, in this fantasy, that I would make.

Remember, top reserve Allen Barbre, who missed 15 ½ games last year, will be back. Ditto for Andrew Gardner, who finished the season at the right guard in place of the injured Herremans. Other lineman, from Matt Tobin to practice-squaders Kevin Graf and Josh Andrews are also in the mix.

The focus is on the defense, period. Substantially improving the defense – as opposed to some cost-effective tinkering — is what will turn 10-6 (and maybe making the playoffs) into 12-4 (and hosting, and winning, a playoff game) by next year and 14-2 (and going to, and winning, the Super Bowl) the year after that.

The Eagles’ had, to be kind, a porous secondary. And all the big-gaining, back-breaking plays were made more disturbing by the fact that the Eagles have an OK pass rush.

The only players that could return are Boykin at slot corner and safety Malcolm Jenkins, who had a knack for the being in the right place at the right time – even though he had a penchant for dropping interceptions after three in the first three games – but couldn’t be everywhere at once.

That means another safety to replace the oft-exposed Nate Allen, who was caught with his pants down one too many times – despite a misleading team-high four picks. And it means two corners. Bradley Fletcher, who evoked memories of Izell “Toast” Jenkins (my friends and I used to call him “I Smell” back in the days when The Police dominated the radio), is a free agent who won’t be retained, if only for his own health and psychological well-being.

The other outside corner spot is a little trickier, with Cary Williams still under contract. He was not the disaster that Fletcher and Allen were, and we are talking about a guy who was a No. 2 corner on a Super Bowl winner in Baltimore just a few years back, but his escalating price may not be worth the lack of production (one interception) and constant motor mouth and locker-room lawyering.

My plan/vision – or is it vision/plan? – is to address the dire state of the secondary before the draft so that we have the freedom to draft the best player available without feeling we have to fill a need (i.e. Marcus Smith).

One way to shop is to go right to the high-end products, like Darrelle Revis (assuming he is not retained in New England) or Seattle’s Byron Maxwell, but either might cost so much that the option at the other corner would be to either ask Williams to restructure his contract – and then watch him laugh in our faces – or try to get by with Watkins, Nolan Carroll or even Boykin on the  outside.

Or, draft a rookie high and live through the growing pains of having him tested while the highest-paid guy on the team barely sees any action.

A more prudent move would be a two-for-one deal. We could sign a pair of ascending corners that would cost the same as a pair as either Revis or Maxwell would after what would likely be a long bidding war that would cost opportunities to add other pieces.

Without getting too bogged down with names, guys like Kareem Jackson and Davon House of Green Bay would fit the bill. Jackson (5-10, 188) is 26. House (6-0, 195) is 25.

At safety, there is the draft, and I would rule it out in a “best player available” situation. A veteran like Troy Polamalu might be cut loose by the Steelers, or Tampa’s Bay’s Deshon Goldson could be had in a trade for probably not much in return.

In free agency, there could be an under-the-radar type, like Kansas City’s Ron Parker, who could fit the scheme of defensive coordinator Billy Davis, who really needs versatile defensive backs – guys who have played corner, safety and in the slot – to cover pesky extra receivers and tight ends and running backs over the middle of the field to make his system truly work.

But there are also a lot of in-house options – with Carroll, a physical guy who last year’s nickel linebacker and a leading special-teams tackler last year, heading a list that includes Watkins and fifth-round picks from the last two years, Earl Wolff and Ed Reynolds, to battle it out for one spot. For some reason, I’m not as worried about it.

I’m actually more concerned about inside linebacker, and the opportunity to line up Eric Kenricks of UCLA next to Mychal Kendricks, is tempting. That doesn’t preclude DeMeco Ryans returning as a mentor, but a does realism is needed. The front seven, at least at linebacker, is not as solvent as it seems.

This is what keeps me up at night.

And it should do the same for Kelly and Marynowitz, the “boy wonder” (my ageism lawsuit is in the works), with Roseman sitting in the next room with calculator and crying towel.

The frustrating part is that they can, and will, do what they want, and people like you and me can do nothing about it.

Except maintain surveillance.

I will.

Every breath you take.

And every move you make.

Every bond you break, every step you take.

I’ll be watching you.

This column initially appeared at

Spirits In The Night




GORDONVILLE – The dogs on Main Street are howling. Hungry hearts are starving. It’s getting harder to be saint in the city. Glory days are getting a little gory these days.

Bruce Springsteen is under attack for his alleged offensive song choices during the Veterans Day “Concert For Valor” in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.

But don’t go hiding on the backstreets just yet. No need to feel like rider on a downbound train. There is a lot of light on this right now, but no need to be blinded by it.

It is not something new for Springsteen, as a proud disciple of the Woody Guthrie lineage of singer-songwriters speaking for the people not the ones who take their voices away, to be under fire.

If you are a power lifter when it comes to having strength in your convictions, you can weather these storms on your own.

Springsteen did this years back when his song “American Skin (41 Shots)” was first performed in concert in 2000 – later to appear on a 2001 live album (“Live In New York City”) and eventually a studio release – and the subject matter, the 1999 shooting of an unarmed African immigrant under unclear circumstances, irked the law enforcement community to the point that a boycott of concerts was urged.

His first dalliance with national controversy was in 1984, when the song “Born in the U.S.A.” – from the album of the same name – was taking the country by storm. Misunderstood – or misinformed by his advisers – Ronald Reagan heralded the song that is more of a rant than an anthem.

Inspired by his friendship with Ron Kovic (the real-life character of the 1989 “Born on the Fourth of July” film starring Tom Cruise, Springsteen wrote “Born in the U.S.A.” about how a large number of veterans of the Vietnam War were scattered to the wind and forgotten.

He hadn’t forgotten them, though. Another song that didn’t make that album, “Shut Out The Light,” further illuminated Springsteen’s empathy – and some modicum of guilt for being from that generation but having not served (he failed his draft physical because a recently broken leg from a motorcycle accident had yet to heal) – on the topic that had been swept under the rug in terms of national dialogue.

He not only called attention an issue no longer chic for the anti-war protestors who had gone on to cut their hair and become cocaine-snorting yuppies. He put his money where his mouth was by donating time and money to the cause without fanfare and photo opportunities.

When he hit the stage Tuesday, I kind of cringed to see him come out alone with just an acoustic guitar and a neck harmonica holder. After Metallica had just rocked the house down, an acoustic Springsteen set was not going to bode well.

I admit, even as a devotee who rarely criticizes the only person I called Boss (aside from the wife), what followed was not a career highlight.

I don’t say this because of the three songs he did – “The Promised Land” and then “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Dancing in the Dark” – but the way he played them. If he was going to go it alone, without the E Street Band in tow, at least have another picker or two – Nils Lofgren, Steven Van Zandt, Tom Morello or just someone from a band already there – and play the acoustic versions a little more straightforward and hard-driving to engage a crowd that was too large for a coffee house approach.

And that was it, in terms of criticism.

The song selections, in and of themselves, were fine.

“The Promised Land” is more of a social statement than it is overtly political, while “Dancing in the Dark” was a just pure pop song.

As for “Born in the U.S.A.,” causing conservatives to go apoplectic, it was more of the aforementioned style in which it was played to a crowd looking more to cut loose and pump fists that was a cause for pause.

As Springsteen said when he introduced it, “Born in the U.S.A. remains as relevant today (after the Vietnam-like quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, followed by inconsistent treatment of returning veterans) as it was when it first came onto the landscape and confused Ronald Reagan.

That is the real shame, and not addressed that self-evident truth is nothing more than a diversionary tactic by the right.

The sobering statistics on suicide for veterans — estimated at more than 20 per day — solemnly speak for themselves.

Having seen enough, I turned off the television after the three songs. My wife was at a late meeting and Sofia hadn’t started her homework. It dawned on me that Springsteen might come back out and join in some jam session later in the show but, honestly, I didn’t really care that much.

With the invention of DVR, and On Demand, I knew I could dial it up again.

Turns out, what I missed was Springsteen and Dave Grohl joining the Zac Brown Band for a rendition of the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic “Fortunate Son,” which stood out from a litany of anti-war songs from the Vietnam era in that it came from the perspective of the pool of largely poor kids being sent to fight in a rich man’s war of folly.

Apparently — with those in the crowd, the ones for whom the concert was taking place — it struck a chord and went over well.

With the naysayers on the right, who probably think anything less than “God Bless America” in a post-9/11 world is strategically deemed an act of treason and the performer labeled a heretic to be blacklisted like in the McCarthy era.

I was hit with the news on social media the next day, and disgusted by the right-wing’s righteous indignation.

The good news amid the bad was that most of the venom was directed Springsteen, the biggest name, not Brown or Grohl.

The other guys may react with less tact, and make a bad situation worse.

But this is par for Bruce’s course since getting in touch with his inner Bob Dylan after more of a John Steinbeck approach in his coming-of-age run from 1975-1980.

He’s been there, done that.

It’s not that he is looking for trouble – if he were, there were other songs from his catalogue that could have really made the heavens heavy in Brill Cream – but he isn’t running from it, either.

Just since 9/11, the date where those who decry political correctness set strict boundaries when comes to wartime etiquette – we must thank soldiers for their service to our country but repeatedly support policies that do them and their families a disservice – Springsteen has, and will continue to, write songs to expose those bitter ironies.

He started on his first release since 9/11, 2002’s “The Rising,” with the first song, “Lonesome Day,” that included lyrics such as “better ask questions before you shoot.”

Not a popular sentiment back then, but he was seeing through the smoke and mirrors. He was a step ahead of the curve about what he termed the “seeds of betrayal” about the selling of the Iraqi War were self-evident.

He went on the stump for John Kerry in 2004 and for Barack Obama in 2008.

The title track of his “Devils & Dust” release in 2005 was written from the perspective of a front-line soldier in Iraq. He continued decrying the injustice of war with no draft – making it a silent class war (the point of the song “Fortunate Son”) by definition – on “Magic” in 2007.

The title track spoke directly to the deception involved in putting the country into war and included war-related songs such as “Last To Die” (featured the refrain “who’ll be the last to die for a mistake”), “Gypsy Biker” and “Devil’s Arcade.”

The economy ravaged by George W. Bush going to war but no raising taxes, something unheard of in modern history, was illuminated in the song “Long Walk Home” and remained a theme up through current releases.

If Springsteen really want to be controversial, he could have played any of these songs instead.

If the wrong-wing pundits knew this – which would mean they knew what they were talking about before letting actual words fall from their tongues – they wouldn’t look quite as idiotic as they did Wednesday morning.

But we have the option to rise above.

We were born in the U.S.A., making us fortunate sons.

A musical journey from Springsteen to ‘Springhouse Revival’

Bruce and Van Zandt


The debut album from Springhouse Revival is called "Return to Nothing." (Photo by Mike Morsch)

One of the first guys I met when I started college in the fall of 1977 at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, was an upperclassman by the name of Duane Morrison. A bespectacled  Iowa farm boy, he was at an agriculture school to study . . . agriculture. Go figure.

Duane and his roommate, another upperclassman named Al Steinbach, lived right next door to me and my roommate Billy, in the dorms. A native New Yorker, Al apparently had decided to go to college in the heartland to study – best I could tell as a young, impressionable freshman – hillbillies. Since I lived right next door and appeared early on to be one of the new subjects of his study, he was in the right place.

The thing about Duane was that he had an advanced appreciation of music in 1977, especially vinyl. Duane and Al had the best record collection on our dorm floor, and whenever I happened by their room and the door was open, they’d invite me in to listen to records.

And nearly every time I went in there, Duane had a particular  artist on the turntable that he was absolutely enamored with. I had never heard of the guy, some dude from the East Coast. I’d listen to the record, but it really didn’t do much for me. I’d shrug my shoulders and politely shuffle my hick behind toward the door as Duane would encourage me to listen more closely and appreciate the music.

“You wait, this guy is going to be a big deal,” Duane would say.

The artist was Bruce Springsteen. The album was “Born to Run” from 1975.

I didn’t pay any attention then to Duane, and for many years after, on the topic of Bruce Springsteen.

Moving east in 2000 and a renewed interest in music over the past 15 years brought me to the Springsteen party quite late. And with the encouragement of a few close friends who happen to be Springsteen diehards, I’m now all in for The Boss. In fact, Steven Van Zandt of Springsteen’s E Street Band was interviewed for The Vinyl Dialogues.

One of those Springsteen devotees is my friend Gordon Glantz. He and I have been colleagues in the media business for years. Gordon is a brilliant writer so I am not unbiased when it comes to his work.

And now Gordon is in the music business himself. He and his song-writing partner, Terri Camilari, call themselves SpringHouse Revival and have just released their first album “Return to Nothing.” Gordon penned the lyrics, as well as arranged and co-produced with Glenn Barratt of Morningstar Studios in East Norriton, PA. Meanwhile, Terri composed the music and handled the vocals on this record.

If you’re in the suburban Philadelphia area, there is a “listening party” to debut the album on Sunday, Nov. 9, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Greco Roman Restaurant on West Main Street in West Norriton, PA. The public is invited.

I’ve come to appreciate the Philadelphia music scene over the years. There are a lot of great local artists putting out some pretty good stuff. They don’t get the recognition of the big-name artists, but they’re inspired people who are working hard, living their dreams and putting their creative efforts out there for people to see and hear. And I try to support their efforts by buying their CDs and attending their concerts.

I’m not a record reviewer, but I know what I like. And I like “Return to Nothing.” The release, which is available on iTunes and numerous other sites (CD Baby, Google Play, Spotify, etc.), features 14 original songs. Gordon’s lyrics are mature and sophisticated and Terri’s compositions and vocals perfectly complement the material. And they’ve hired some ridiculously talented musicians – such as guitarist Tom Hampton (another friend of mine), drummer Grant MacAvoy, cellist Michael G. Ronstadt, viola player Larry Zelson and Barratt on keyboards and bass – to help them make their dream come alive.

Gordon helped me see the light when it came to Springsteen, and that gives him musical credibility with me. So I’m happy to be in on the ground floor of support for his project.

Check it out when you get a chance. The SpringHouse Revival  website is There is a Facebook page was well that you can “like” for updates.