Friday, October 13, 2017


My heart is broken all over again.

It was during the late afternoon of Monday, October 2nd when I first heard the news. I was just ten minutes or so from the end of my day at work when a co-worker, who was just about to leave for the day herself, quickly entered my classroom with her smartphone in her hand and a look of shock and disbelief upon her face. "Tom Petty died!" she said.
     "What?!"I asked, quite certain that I had completely misheard her.
     "Tom Petty had a massive heart attack and died. They just took him off life support."
In that moment, I heard my voice crack and tears rapidly appeared in my eyes. As I was indeed still in my classroom full of three year olds, I knew that I had to keep myself together. But still, I felt as if I had been punched in the face for how much this news was painful to me.

After leaving the classroom for the day, I stepped into the Teacher's Lounge to check the staff computer for any news. At that point, whatever stories I saw on search engine  home pages all listed Tom Petty as remaining on life support while throughout my Facebook feed, friends were already voicing their words of shock and sadness at the news of a musical giant now fallen.

Of course, by that evening, we were all up to speed. The news of Tom Petty's death had been misreported yet the news of the heart attack and his status on life support remained true. "Clinging to life," read one report while "Likely not to survive the night" read another. And even still, I hoped.

I held out hope that perhaps maybe Tom Petty would pull through much like how Joni Mitchell seemed to be ready to depart this mortal coil after suffering a brain aneurysm in 2015 yet she emerged from her illness, has partaken in physical therapy to regain strength, she has returned to painting and has even made a few public appearances, most notably, the pre-Grammy Awards event where she was escorted by none other than Writer/Director/Journalist Cameron Crowe.  Because of Mitchell's experience, I hoped for Tom Petty. I hoped that he would somehow emerge from this tragedy and maybe...just maybe...he would be able to rise again to write and sing once more. I knew that it would be unlikely but even so, I listened to his music that night as a sort of a vigil. I knew that the night just may spell the end for Petty...but I continued to hope.

The following morning, the news was confirmed. Tom Petty, just a hair over one week from completing his 40th anniversary concert tour with The Heartbreakers, suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu. He was unable to be revived by the UCLA Medical Center team and at 8:40 p.m., surrounded by his family, friends and bandmates, Tom Petty died.
Dear readers and listeners, while I realize and understand that news of this sort will only become more frequent as we all age, it does not make the news any easier to endure, especially when it comes to saying goodbye to one's heroes. After the passings of David Bowie, Kevin Junior, Phife Dawg, Glenn Frey, my beloved Prince among others last year plus Chris Cornell this year, the cycle of pain and healing from experiencing these losses has not made me any more used to the process. In fact, it just gets more painful each time. The death of Tom Petty is especially painful for me, and I am certain for many of you, because he was a figure that really felt to exist as being one of us. Nothing interstellar like Bowie or almost unknowable like Prince. But, an everyman, a hard working ordinary individual who just happened to be blessed with an unbelievably extraordinary gift.

Tom Petty always felt to be as if he were just one of us perhaps because all of the music which he created, the music that formulated his legacy, the music that has indeed become the soundtrack for countless lives over several generations, was music that was essentially about us all of the time. Despite his wealth and fame, Tom Petty was an artist that truly never forgot his roots because those very roots gave birth to the full contents of his entire discography. As he wrote and sang to and about us, maybe all the while, he wrote and sang of himself, about his life journey, experiences, trials, tribulations, defeats and successes and the willingness to keep pushing forwards relentlessly, passionately, and triumphantly, therefore offering inspiration to anyone whoever chose to listen to his work to try and do the same.

How many of us have loved and latched onto a song like "I Won't Back Down"? That song is entirely characteristic of Petty's musical aesthetic. Defiant, direct, deceptively simple and filled end-to-end with golden melodies, harmonies, punchy rock and roll power all congealed into a perfect pop song.

Yet, through the lyrics, we arrive with the very messages he sang about from the very beginning of his career all the way to the end of his life for Tom Petty's music in completion were all songs about the various states of resilience, endurance, tenacity, integrity, remaining steadfast and true and with all of the myriad of references to flight and freedom, Tom Petty wrote and sang of the possibilities, realities, successes and failures of reaching transcendence and deliverance. In doing so, all of his music was superbly built to last, to withstand the superior tests of time and aging as his work would shapeshift meanings and effects for any listener at any stage of life based upon one's circumstances. Tom Petty's music is indeed that malleable and simultaneously rock solid.
I've said it before and I will say it again and again, I find it quite easy to see how one could possibly have taken Tom Petty for granted. I know that I did and I realized that unfortunate fact upon watching Director Peter Bogdanovich's wonderful "Runnin' Down A Dream" (2007), a compulsively watchable 4 hour documentary about the  history and (then) on-going legacy of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. By film's end, as enraptured as I was with all that I had watched, I also had felt ashamed. Ashamed that I could have ever seen Tom Petty as not being precisely what he and his bandmates actually were: rock and roll royalty.

And they had existed as such from the very start.
My introduction to the musical world of Tom Petty arrived sometime in 1979, when I was 10 years old and obsessively listened to WLS-AM radio as I grew up in Chicago. I do not remember exactly when I first heard it, but when I did hear "Don't Do Me Like That" for the very first time, I LOVED it instantly.

The completely infectious melody, the rhythmic pulse and swirling dynamics of keyboardist Benmont Tench's piano and organ, the punch of those fat, dry drums courtesy of the great Stan Lynch, the six stringed glory of right-hand man Mike Campbell's guitars and the rock steady bass work of Ron Blair. And directly out in front starred the soulful, strutting snarl of Tom Petty's vocals, which magically led the band that more than confidently bridged the gaps between soul, vintage rock and roll and the (then) more dangerous sounding punk and (also then) emerging New Wave scene. It was a song that felt like a classic even though (at that time) it was brand new and to this day, nearly 40 years later, the song still feels so vibrantly fresh out of the box!

And so it was for me and the music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers from that point onwards. For so many of you that have been reeling from this news as much as I have been, the phrase "soundtrack of my life" has undoubtedly been utilized regarding the fullness of Petty's work and our relationship with it. Again, after watching Bogdonavich's documentary, the reality of that phrase became so crystallized in its clarity for me regarding my own life because from the age of 10, Tom Petty has remained not only so gifted and dependable, he has remained ever present through all of my life phases, filling them with song after song after song that were the equal of "Don't Do Me Like That" in terms of quality and rock and roll power, so much so that I now am unable to imagine my life without having heard and loved Petty's music.
I ask you at this time to just look backwards into your own lives just as I am about to do the very same with mine for you and the purposes of this tribute. In childhood, I was graced with having nothing less than "Refugee" and "The Waiting."

Upon graduating to FM radio, by early adolescence and throughout my high school years, "American Girl," "Breakdown," "I Need To Know," Listen To Her Heart," "Insider," "Even The Losers," "Shadow Of A Doubt (A Complex Kid)," "Letting You Go," "A Woman In Love (It's Not Me)," "You Got Lucky," "Change Of Heat," "Straight Into Darkness," "Rebels," "Don't Come Around Here No More," "Jammin' Me," the outstanding killer duet with Stevie Nicks "Stop Dragging My Heart Around," and to this day, my number one favorite Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song "Here Comes My Girl," all became permanent fixtures within my life jukebox.  

By college, "I Won't Back Down," "Free Fallin'," and "Runnin' Down A Dream" became staples.
And immediately after graduating and just beginning to dip my toe into an adult, post-collegiate world (literally two days after graduating), "Learning To Fly" entered my life like the most beautifully rendered beacon, lighting my way to my future.

Where were you when you heard those songs? Those incredible, downright indestructible songs that are as much products of their respective times while also completely transcending those times to become timeless works of art. How could I ever have taken him for granted? Maybe it was because in addition to his sheer dependability and rock solid quality control, Tom Petty just made everything look to be so easy.
Please take a moment and just think about the legacy of Tom Petty. Through his material with The Heartbreakers, his pre-Heartbreakers band Mudcrutch as well as a solo artist, here is a man whose musical output was a complete amalgamation of roadhouse bar band rough and tumble with rock and roll stadium glory. It combined vintage 1950's era rock, 1960's psychedelia by way of The Beatles and The Byrds while always remaining up to the minute in its currency, even finding ways to dabble in synthesizers and drum machines without betraying the purity of the song's core. It mixed horn driven R&B, down in the gutter blues, ragged punk rock, glitzy New Wave, pensive folk music and dusty road country music while constantly and proudly re-affirming the Southern roots of Petty's hometown of Gainesvlle, Florida.

He superbly adapted to all of the changes of the times, even becoming one of the very best artists of the music video era without sacrificing any sense of of grit and integrity. The hallucinatory video for "Don't Come Around Here No More" still gives me the creeps even after 30 years. The playfully morbid humor of the outstanding "Mary Jane's Last Dance" and the sheer storytelling power of the Johnny Depp starring "Into The Great Wide Open" still feel like vivid mini-movies.

Tom Petty earned the respect of his heroes with aplomb as he and the Heartbreakers backed the likes of Bob Dylan for a celebrated tour in 1987, recorded with Johnny Cash near the end of his life for his revered "Unchained" album (released November 5, 1996) and of course, joined up with Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne to formulate The Traveling Wilburys, making him fan and peer all in one.

Through the humble nature of how he presented himself to the often breeziness of his music, it would have been so easy for all of us to think and feel that Petty could dash off song after song in his sleep and not even break a sweat. But, that specific quality showcases precisely just how difficult the level of songwriting Tom Petty constantly and consistently displayed is reached in actuality. To reach his level takes undeniable, strenuously hard work which Tom Petty clearly displayed through the entirety of his career and no wonder he made it look so easy. The man NEVER let us see him sweat!

And by the early 1990's, after twenty years in the game, at a point when Tom Petty already had nothing more to prove to anyone, he only continue to rise. The man inexplicably got even better!!!
Over the second half of Tom Petty's career, he released material which struck powerfully deeper chords with me as they all seemed to eschew any surrounding musical trends or pop cultural distractions and really just got down to the business of crafting material that was sounded even more personal, determined, and distinctly individualistic, all the while earning even greater critical praise and unending fan devotion through albums that sparkled with supreme soul.
"Wildflowers" (released November 1, 1994), his second solo album, remains my #1 favorite release from Tom Petty. The musical diversity and expansiveness of the collection felt like a great double album of the past made so perfectly present (and to think there is still more in the can from this era just waiting to be released). It is an album of pastoral, succulent warmth as the title track, "Only A Broken Heart," and "Don't Fade On Me" stood shoulder to shoulder with more orchestrated epics like the stunning closing track "Wake Up Time" and the sunshine daydreams of "It's Good To Be King," as well as the barn burners of "Honey Bee," "You Wreck Me" and most certainly, the rustic yet anthemic "You Don't Know How It Feels." Just an album of blinding beauty.  
The controversial "Echo" (released April 13, 1999), was not only Petty and the Heartbreakers darkest affair, it is easily my second favorite Petty release, even though Petty himself rarely spoke of the album due to his personal behind-the-scenes trauma (a painful divorce, self imposed exile in the woods, reported substance abuse issues) and their influences upon the strained recording sessions and the songs themselves. 

With the shattering Dylan-esque title track as the album's centerpiece, "Echo" found Petty at his most inscrutable and even arcane as the directness of his songwriting became cloudy, shaded, muddled and with identities and subjects purposefully hidden from view. It felt like an album where music clearly was the source of healing and even therapy as he created a collection of songs, while not explicit, seemed to say everything that needed or even could be said by him at that time. And frankly, it's all there right in the song titles: "Counting On You," "Won't Last Long," "This One's For Me," "No More," "About To Give Out" and the self-lacerating, brutally ironic "Room At The Top." For a man who built a career of singing songs of hard fought and earned perseverance and freedom, as depicted in "Free Girl Now," it was the work of an artist who at that time may have felt like "Billy The Kid" and he was going down "Swingin'." A powerful, painful artistic statement, quite possibly his version of Dylan's "Blood On The Tracks" (released January 20, 1975).  
With "The Last DJ" (released October 8, 2002), Petty and the Heartbreakers, created their first rock and roll concept album and it was an embittered one indeed as he took on nothing less than the music industry itself, seemingly biting the hands that have fed him and his band for so long. Yet, I think that concept is sort of a Trojan horse even with mournful, meditative selections like the cinematic "Money Becomes King" and "Dreamville" and the grinding, vicious satire of "Joe" (Petty's vocals are just this close to equaling the venom of Roger Waters) are all positioned at the album's opening stretches. 

What I feel Petty was really lamenting was the state of America itself as he utilized the music industry as a metaphor to explore the social and spiritual decay of a nation and how it has all sadly trickled down to our children who are unwitting recipients of our own greed, avarice and lack of compassion. With "When A Kid Goes Bad" and "Lost Children," Petty's anger and ache come to the forefront as he truly, wisely questions what kind of a world are we leaving behind. Yet, with the anthemic Beatle-esque fireworks of "Can't Stop The Sun," hope remains vigilant. 
Petty's third and final solo album "Highway Companion" (released July 25, 2006) found the man at his most stripped down and reflective. Working solely with Jeff Lynne and Mike Campbell and handling the lion's share of the instruments himself (including the drums!), the album, featuring the crystalline "Square One," "Down South," and "This Old Town," among others utilized the imagery of travel and the open road as an elegant meditation on aging, memories and mortality.
"Mojo" (released June 15, 2010), the penultimate studio album recorded with the Heartbreakers found the band at their most unleashed with a work that found then in celebration with their love of the blues. With clean, crisp, no frills production and Petty and his bandmates performing in white hot symmetry, style and stellar musicianship, "Mojo" is an unapologetically defiant move in the era of Auto-Tune as well as a richly presented love letter to the music that formed the basis of rock and roll.

All of that plus two Mudcrutch albums, a film score in Writer/Director/Actor Edward Burns' working class romantic comedy "She's The One" (released April 6, 1996), an absolutely seamless and splendidly executed 4 disc boxed set with "The Live Anthology" (released November 23, 2009) and "Hypnotic Eye" (released July 29, 2014), the gritty (and so sadly final) statement from the Heartbreakers, I am still stunned that I could ever take an artist of this stature and accomplishment for granted. Tom Petty was, and will forever be, one of the GREATS...and the GREATS even knew it themselves!!! 

It may have always looked easy to all of us but the work he placed into proving  his stature again and again is staggering. This is a figure that never at any point released one bad album. In fact, some write-ups after Petty's passing have proclaimed that he never, ever released even one bad song.

And now, with Tom Petty's death, I am inclined to agree. I am inclined to believe. For the music of Tom Petty is as timeless as it is indestructible.
With nearly two weeks passed since Tom Petty's death, I have listened to his music more than ever, as these things tend to occur. And you know, even with his determination and artistry, I think what quite possibly has endeared him to me for so much of my live, and maybe for all of yours, is his humility. 

Yes, he was a rock star of the first degree. Yes, he was an uncommonly gifted songwriter.  Yes, he was world traveled to levels many of us could only fantasize about. But through it all, it really felt, even after all of the fame, fortune, accolades, hero worship and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2002, Tom Petty was forever the kid with the smokin'-in-the-boys-room smirk from Gainesville, Florida. He seemed approachable somehow. He seemed to be an everyman. Therefore, he always felt to be just one of us.

Maybe that is a huge reason why his death has been so painful, despite its suddenness. It felt as if Tom Petty was our friend. A friend who was upon the exact same existential life journey as every one of us but he was just in the position to share his songs, characters and stories with the world. He seemed to step right alongside with us, sharing his tales, his woes, his life lessons like the finest,  most gracious storyteller all along the way. His language was clear and poetic. His economy of words ever inviting and identifiable. There was no Dylan-esque mystery to his public persona or Springsteen-esque epic-ness either. He seemed to signify an equal amount of comfort sitting at a bar stool or tending the land of his home or on stage in front of 50,000 people because when you were among Petty and his band of musicians, you were indeed among friends. 

Sometimes, we take our friends for granted. Not for any real reasons or intent. Sometimes it just happens. But, oh when we do realize the value that we have been so fortunate to have received through the gift of a friend, how do we treasure that person as never before. Tom Petty is indeed that friend to me, a person who was 100% with me from the very start. 
Early in the morning on the very day that Tom Petty passed away, I had a doctor's appointment. Through the speakers overhead, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "The Waiting" piped into the room as I was indeed waiting for my session to begin. In those moments, there was no way to know how this very day would turn out for myself or Petty of course. I just reveled in the fact that I was again hearing this song, this incredible, indestructible song and it worked as blissfully as it had the very first time that I had heard it.

Since his passing, the glory of "The Waiting" has revealed itself to me in a startling new way. Just look at these lyrics...words that we all know by heart:

"Oh baby, don't it feel like Heaven right now
Don't it feel like something from a dream
Yeah, I've never known nothing quite like this 
Don't it feel like tonight might never be again
Baby, we know better than to try and pretend..."

Let's stop right there for a moment, shall we. Just read and sign them again to yourselves. Right now, those words are not just an urgent representation of teenage romance and the skyrockets of first love. For how rock and roll those words are, right now, I read them and I feel they are designed to echo nothing less than the poetry of Robert Herrick, for those words, merged with the music, create a "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may/Carpe Diem" moment if there ever was one.

And then, in the song's bridge, we hear Petty sing the following:

"Oh, don't let it kill you baby
Don't let it get to you
Don't let 'em kill you baby
Don't let it get to you
I'll be your breathin' heart, I'll be your cryin' fool
Don't let this go too far
Don't let it get to you..."

If those words do not signify the entirety of Tom Petty's musical legacy and the words he expressed time and again to himself, as well as to all of us, then I do not know what else could be more representative.

Tom Petty is, and will forever be, a treasure to the culture of American music and to music itself as an art form. He was a true believer in the truth and power of rock and roll and I will be eternally grateful for every single lyric and every single note he wrote, recorded and performed. Never will I be able to thank him enough for all he has given to me. So, at the very least, I will listen, share and rejoice with the legacy he has left behind, even as it brings me to tears right now.

"Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There's not some trick involved with it. It's pure and it's real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things."

OCTOBER 20, 1950-OCTOBER 2, 2017



PLAY LOUD!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 30, 2017


September 1, 2017
"September Song" performed by Lindsey Buckingham
"Strange" performed by R.E.M.
"other voices" performed by LCD Soundsystem-WSPC PREMIERE
"Un-Reborn Again" performed by Queens Of The Stone Age-WSPC PREMIERE
"September Song" performed by Lou Reed

September 2, 2017
"Saturdays" performed by Cut Copy

"Money" performed by Andre Cymone-WSPC PREMIERE
"John Henry" performed by Billy Preston
"Finding The Bomb" performed by The Dust Brothers
"Hitchhiker" performed by Neil Young-WSPC PREMIERE
"Powderfinger" performed by The Cowboy Junkies
"Rubberband Girl" performed by Kate Bush

September 3, 2017
"Xenophobia" (live) performed by Prince
FEBRUARY 20, 1950-SEPTEMBER 3, 2017
all songs performed by Steely Dan
"Turn That Heartbeat Over Again"
"Your Gold Teeth"
"Deacon Blues"
"Pretzel Logic"
"Reelin' In The Years"
"Here At The Western World"
"Any Major Dude Will Tell You"
"Haitian Divorce"

September 4, 2017
"One More Day (No Word)" performed by Todd Rundgren
"Jackie Blue" performed by Ozark Mountain Daredevils
"Couldn't Get It Right" performed by Climax Blues Band

"Keep On Working" performed by Pete Townshend
"Work The Do" performed by The Isley Brothers
"Let's Work" (live 1982) performed by Prince
"I Go To Work" performed by Kool Moe Dee
"Dirty Work" performed by Steely Dan

September 5, 2017
"Here We Go" performed by Jon Brion

"School Days" performed by Chuck Berry
"What A Wonderful World" performed by Sam Cooke
"Steve Vai Boyfriend" (live) performed by The German Art Students
"Chemistry" performed by Rush
"Teacher, Teacher" performed by Rockpile
"Rock N' Roll High School Forever" performed by The Pursuit Of Happiness

"The Millionaire's Waltz" performed by Queen

September 7, 2017
"Air" composed by Bach
"Party Up (Up In Here)" performed by DMX
"The Line" performed by Foo Fighters-WSPC PREMIERE
"Up The Creek" performed by Tori Amos-WSPC PREMIERE
"Hideaway" performed by Queens Of The Stone Age-WSPC PREMIERE

September 8, 2017
"Growing Pains" performed by Tim Finn

"Friday Street" (live) performed by Paul Weller
"Friday's Child" performed by Nancy Sinatra
"Friday On My Mind" performed by David Bowie
"Friday Night" performed by The Darkness
"This Is How We Do It" performed by Montell Jordan

September 9, 2017
"How Do You Sleep?" performed by John Lennon
"how do you sleep?" performed by LCD Soundsystem
"Mike Mills" performed by Air
"One Of These Days" (live at Pompeii 2016) performed by David Gilmour
"All You Can Carry" performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
'Ridin' The Storm Out" performed by REO Speedwagon

September 10, 2017
"You're The Best Thing About Me" performed by U2-WSPC PREMIERE

"Six Different Ways" performed by The Cure
"Man Of War" performed by Radiohead-WSPC PREMIERE
"Up All Night" performed by Beck-WSPC PREMIERE
"The Mark Has Been Made" performed by Nine Inch Nails

September 11, 2017
"A Wall In NYC" performed by Todd Rundgren
"Flying" performed by Living Colour
"The Rising" performed by Bruce Springsteen

September 12, 2017
"I Can't Quit You Babe" (live) performed by Led Zeppelin
"Cocaine" (live) performed by Eric Clapton
"Tom Sawyer" performed by Rush
"Bonin' In The Boneyard" performed by Fishbone
"Never Gonna Give You Up" performed by Barry White
"Towers Of London" performed by XTC
MARCH 18, 1961-SEPTEMBER 13, 2017
September 14, 2017
"All Of My Senses" performed by Grant Hart
"2541" performed by Grant Hart
"Morningstar" performed by Grant Hart
"Pink Turns To Blue' performed by Husker Du

September 15, 2017
"Take Control" performed by Weezer
"La Dee Da" performed by Foo Fighters-WSPC PREMIERE
"Women" performed by Def Leppard
"I'm A Bad Man" performed by Juicy Bananas
"Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain" performed by Harry Dean Stanton (R.I.P.)

September 16, 2017
"Nucleus/Day After Day" performed by The Alan Parsons Project

"New Feeling" performed by Talking Heads
"Rock N' Roll Love Affair' performed by Prince
"In The Black" performed by Lenny Kravitz
"Dreaming" performed by Blondie
"Still Breathing" performed by Green Day

September 17, 2017
"Mother" performed by John Lennon
"Mother" performed by Pink Floyd
"Mother" performed by Natalie Maines
"Mother" performed by Tori Amos
"Mother" performed by The Police

September 18, 2017
"Black Lives Matter" performed by Andre Cymone

"Beach Boys" performed by Weezer-WSPC PREMIERE
"The Gate" performed by Bjork-WSPC PREMIERE
"Wilderness" (live on KEXP) performed by Explosions In The Sky

September 19, 2017
"Coming Your Way" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Why Was It So Easy" performed by Daryl Hall
"If There Is Something" performed by Roxy Music
"Baby's On Fire" performed by Brian Eno

"Who Knows" performed by Jimi Hendrix

September 21, 2017
"Tear Down The Grey Skies" performed by Tangerine Dream-WSPC PREMIERE

"? (Modern Industry)" performed by Fishbone
"Serve The Servants" performed by Nirvana
"That Wave" performed by XTC
"Greyhounds" performed by De La Soul
"Why Didn't You Say That?" performed by The Lemon Twigs-WSPC PREMIERE

September 22, 2017
"Too Hot" performed by Kool and the Gang
"The Chain" (live on KEXP) performed by Reignwolf
"Lovin' You Baby" (live on KEXP) performed by Charles Bradley
"Who's That" performed by Living Colour-WSPC PREMIERE
"Lavender" performed by BADBADNOTGOOD featuring Kaytranada

September 23, 2017
"Rosalita" (live) performed by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
"Mind Power" performed by JAMES BROWN
"Program" performed by Living Colour-WSPC PREMIERE
"Zimzallabim" performed by Mos Def
"Walk Us Uptown" (live) performed by Elvis Costello and The Roots

September 25, 2017
"Johnee Jingo" performed by Todd Rundgren

"Private Eyes" performed by Hall and Oates
"Heartbeat" performed by King Crimson
"Lucy September" performed by The Dream Academy
"The Working Hour" performed by Tears For Fears
"Natural's Not In It" performed by Gang Of Four

September 26, 2017
"I Want You (She's Sop Heavy)" performed by The Beatles

"Sick Again" (live) performed by Led Zeppelin
"Fever Broke" (live) performed by Todd Rundgren

September 27, 2017
"I Keep Forgetting" performed by Michael McDonald
"Baker Street" performed by Gerry Rafferty
"Baker Street" performed by Foo Fighters

"B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me)" performed by Bell Biv Devoe
"Butter" performed by A Tribe Called Quest
"Yassassin (Turkish For: Long Live)" performed by David Bowie
"Dinner With Dolores" performed by Prince

September 28, 2017
"The Playboy Mansion" performed by U2

"Jimmy Mack" performed by Martha and the Vandellas
"As" performed by Stevie Wonder
"You Might Recall" performed by Genesis
"Come Dancing" performed by Jeff Beck
"The Headmaster Ritual" performed by The Smiths

September 29, 2017
"Cold Roses" performed by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
"The Stranger" performed by Billy Joel
"Aja" performed by Steely Dan
"Black Maria" performed by Todd Rundgren
"Everyone" performed by Post Social
"The Spaniards" performed by William Patrick Corgan-WSPC PREMIERE

September 30, 2017
"Bluebirds Over The Mountain" performed by Robert Plant-WSPC PREMIERE
"Talk Of The Town" performed by Pretenders
"Silver String" performed by James Iha
"House In The Woods" performed by Tom Petty
"September" performed by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals


1. "Be True To Your School" performed by The Beach Boys
2. "And The Cradle Will Rock..." performed by Van Halen
3. "Black Math" performed by The White Stripes
4. "Elephant" performed by Tame Impala
5. "American Worker" performed by The Bus Boys
6. "I Touch Roses" performed by Book Of Love
7. "How Should I Know You've Changed?" performed by Field Music
8. "Education" performed by The Kinks
9. "Lady Blue" performed by Wild Nothing
10."All The Best Friends" performed by R.E.M.
11."My Old School" performed by Steely Dan

1. "Feet Don't Fail Me" performed by Queens Of The Stone Age
2. "Tenement Song" performed by Pixies
3. "Teenage Hustling" performed by Tori Amos
4. "Regret" performed by St. Vincent
5. "Older Than I Am" performed by Kainalu
6. "I'm Not Real" performed by Disq
7. "The Millionaire's Waltz" performed by Queen
8. "change yr mind" performed by LCD Soundsystem
9. "The Golden Calf" performed by Prefab Sprout
10."Arrows" performed by Foo Fighters

1. "The Lifting" performed by R.E.M.
2. "Since You're Gone" performed by The Cars
3. "Glances Part II" performed by Skyline Sounds
4. "Vow" performed by Garbage
5. "Brutal" performed by New Order
6. "That Is Why" performed by Jellyfish
7. "It's Different For Girls" performed by Joe Jackson
8. "Praying Mantis" performed by Don Dixon
9. "Always In My Dreams" performed by Wendy & Lisa
10."Isn't It Midnight" performed by Fleetwood Mac
11."Sunkissed" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins

1. "Magnolia Mountain" performed by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
2. "New Song" performed by The Who
3. "Something In 4/4 Time" performed by Daryl Hall
4. "Way Of The World" performed by Cheap Trick
5. "We Almost Lost Detroit" performed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
6. "Money" performed by Andre Cymone
7. "Come On" performed by Living Colour
8. "Come On And Love Me" performed by Lenny Kravitz
9. "Square Pegs" performed by The Waitresses
10."Saturdays" performed by Cut Copy
11."This Beat Goes On/Switch Into Glide" performed by The Kings

Friday, September 29, 2017


Released November 1972
Released November 10, 2014

Released March 1980

Released January 1, 2008

Released March 9, 1993
Released August 3, 1987
Released July 23, 1978


Released September 1, 2017

-I guess none of us should have been that surprised but regardless, we were and so thankfully, the new results were more than worth the wait.

Yes, when James Murphy announced and orchestrated the dissolution of LCD Soundsystem five years ago after releasing three highly celebrated and influential albums and the band's epic farewell shows performed at Madison Square Garden, all chronicled in Directors Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern's excellent documentary "Shut Up And Play The Hits" (2012), it would not have been unheard of for fans to begin speculating when the full blown reunion would occur. As for me, the finality of the band felt to be more than sincere. Yet, when Murphy announced the re-formation, I was certainly curious as to the results and now that they have arrived, I am thrilled to inform you that "American Dream," the fourth album from LCD Soundsystem, is easily one of 2017 finest releases.

With 10 tracks and a running time of just shy of 70 minutes, LCD Soundsystem return to our lives with their signature idiosyncratic blend of post-punk rock dance floor rhythms that lovingly reference David Bowie, Talking Heads, Brian Eno and the late 1970's/1980's era of CBGB'S while somehow eschewing with nostalgia in favor of remaining up to the minute with its sense of existential urgency, most specifically, being middle aged in the 21st century with more years behind than ahead.

From the album's opening Krautrock slow jam of "oh baby," to the Talking Heads circa "Speaking In Tongues" (released June 1, 1983) influenced "change yr mind" and "other voices" (itself featuring an outstanding vocal contribution from LCD member Nancy Whang), to the pulsating tribal rhythms of the nine minute "how do you sleep?", the anthemic "call the police," dance floor epic of "tonite," the synthetic doo wop of the album's title track and the droning finale entitled "black screen" plus two more tracks, James Murphy (who again handles the lion's share of the instruments) creates a palpably engaging and often emotionally propulsive musical odyssey that demonstrates that the five years away did not dull his talents in the least.

Following the same music and studio aesthetic as its predecessors, LCD Soundsystem effortlessly bridges the gap between a handmade DIY approach and the machine driven synthetic as the 10 songs on "American Dream" musically paint a picture of middle aged malaise and angst that is as earnest as it is humorous and absurd. There are moments when Murphy sounds almost bemused that he has lived as long as he has, and especially into the venomous tenor of our current American landscape. And so, sometimes what else is there to even do except to "dance yrself clean," as an older LCD song exclaimed.

Let us all sweat it out together with this excellent return from oblivion.
Released September 8, 2017

-"Don't ask me why I play this music
It's my culture, so naturally I use it"

Those lyrics, which originate from the song "Pride" from Living Colour's brilliant second album "Time's Up" (released August 20, 1990), is a song that has resonated with me to a primal level. It is a song that I would wear as battle scarred armor if I were able and I would imagine, the band would as well, as it is a song that defiantly lays claim to the inherent right of Black people to write, record, perform and even listen to rock music, most often perceived as existing as "White music."

Now, eight years after their previous release and with five years of on and off recording, Living Colour, the collective of Corey Glover (vocals), Vernon Reid (guitars), Doug Wimbish (bass guitar) and Will Calhoun (drums), return in full flame throwing force with "Shade," a more blues based album that also serves as their most unapologetically BLACK musical statement to date.

With their trademark amalgamation of hard rock and heavy metal with jazz, soul and even hip-hop, Living Colour fuses three blistering cover songs from Robert Johnson's "Preachin' Blues," Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" and The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Who Shot Ya?" (on which Glover's vocals are righteously explosive) with ten new originals to creative an impassioned, combative, confrontational yet powerfully inclusive battle music for the resistance in 2017 while also crafting the lineage of Black music from the past to the present.

From the punk rock cage match fury of "Pattern In Time," the lion's roar of "Come On" and "Program," the growling "Glass Teeth," the unsettling atmospherics of "Blak Out,"  the triumphant "Invincible," the elegiac "Two Sides" featuring album guest George Clinton and more, Living Colour's "Shade" feels like a 15 round boxing match against the world with the band emerging, bruised, bloody yet victorious and with still enough force to swagger out of the ring and into the night for another round. Essentially, the musical representation of  historically being Black in America.

Black Lives Matter and equally, Black Rock Matters and we need Living Colour more than ever, dear readers and listeners. With "Shade," the band reunites with us with an album as open hearted as it is two-fisted.
Released April 28, 2017

-This one initially left me scratching my head.

"Humanz," the first new release in six years from the animated band Gorillaz (as conceived by the collective vision of journeyman musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett) is not in the same league as the group's first three releases, especially the doomsday dance rhythms of "Demon Days" (released May 23, 2005) or the band's finest work to date, the kaleidoscopic "Plastic Beach" (released March 8, 2010).

In fact, for quite a spell during the album, and with the lack of Albarn's presence being overt by any means, I really began to wonder if this was even a Gorillaz album at all as it felt to be something akin to something created by Handsome Boy Modeling School, soundscapes envisioned and produced by the non-vocal team of Prince Paul and Dan The Automator with all manner of special guests taking the lead vocals. Now, it is not as if guest stars have not featured on past Gorillaz albums but to the degree they appear upon "Humanz," the effect was disorienting as if Gorillaz were not present upon their own album.

Yet, after some spins, I am thinking that perhaps the heavy prevalence of special guest stars may have been precisely the point. "Humanz" is exactly what is advertised within its own title as it is an album that gives us a chorus of voices rather than mainly Albarn's in a work that serves as a restless journey to and through an apocalyptic nightclub as the world threatens to extinguish itself--certainly a dark mirror Albarn, Hewlitt and their animated co-horts have designed to hold up to all of us as we dance our bodies ragged.

Let's face it...many of the tracks are indeed booming. From "Ascension" featuring Vince Staples to the terrific buzzsaw groove of "Charger" featuring Grace Jones to the slinky, seductive yet jittery soul of "Submission" featuring Danny Brown and Kelela, the woozy fairground of "Carnival" featuring Anthony Hamilton, the grim gospel of "Let Me Out" (with Mavis Staples and Pusha T) and "Hallelujah Money" (with Benjamin Clementine), the anthemic finale of "We Got The Power" plus even more and also including brief interludes starring actor Ben Mendelsohn as a crusty voiced Brit riding the elevator towards the festivities, "Humanz" invites us all to join the ranks of the "cool clown clan" to hold and claw onto each other in vivid, vulgar, vivacious song and dance within an unfathomable yet very true Trump universe. And all the while, his name never being mentioned even once throughout the album.

"The sky's falling baby/Drop dat ass 'fo it crash!"


Saturday, September 16, 2017



Dave Grohl: Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Guitars, Percussion
Taylor Hawkins: Drums, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals on "Sunday Rain"
Nate Mendel:  Bass Guitar
Pat Smear: Guitars
Chris Shiflett: Guitars
Remi Jaffe: Piano, Keyboards, Synthesizers

All music and lyrics by Foo Fighters

Produced by Greg Kurstin and Foo Fighters
Released September 15, 2017

I think this is the Foo Fighters album that I had always wished that they woud make. Well...just about..let me explain.

When we last left Foo Fighters at the time of their eighth album, "Sonic Highways" (released November 10, 2014), itself the companion/soundtrack to bandleader/songwriter/guitarist/drummer Dave Grohl's superlative HBO series of the same name, I praised the album as being the band's finest release due to there being not one wasted moment in a collection of songs that did indeed represent the band's songwriting at its leanest and tightest as well as showcasing a natural creative progression, beginning with the acoustic based half of the double album "In Your Honor" (released June 14, 2005), which was then followed by "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace" (released September 25, 2007), and culminating with Grohl's beautiful, brilliant documentary film and accompanying album for "Sound City" (released March 12, 2013), the album that indeed gave birth to "Sonic Highways."

All of that being said, and with no disrespect to Grohl and his bandmates for their consistently driven work ethic and hefty flag waving for American heavy rock and roll and for music itself overall, I did wish for Grohl to allow himself to perhaps take some more creative risks as he has more than earned the right to roll the dice on the massive good will that he has earned over the years. On this site, and within my posting for "Sonic Highways," I wrote the following words, which I then published on November 15, 2014:

"I would urge them to completely get outside (ha ha) of their own comfort zone and make an album unlike they have ever made before...

...Record to analog tape again certainly, even use Butch Vig again if you wish and definitely keep collaborating with your heroes and other musical figures. But that's it. Don't record in Grohl's home. Go out into the desert perhaps or any unfamiliar location and just let your freak flags fly. Create nine minute epics to crash alongside one minute punk rock thrashes and then zig-zag into pop songs and hard rock slammers. Do a full on country song. Do a song with no guitars at all. How about instrumentals or even songs that are built from completely different recordings a la Frank Zappa (i.e. take Grohl's guitars from one source and marry them with Hawkins' drums from a completely different recording regardless of tempo) and see what magic arrives. Dabble even further with vocal interplay and stacked harmonies. Allow Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett and Nate Mendel to also create tracks that showcase their respective talents like on Yes' "Fragile" (released January 4, 1972) or Living Colour's "Time's Up" (released August 20, 1990). Trade instruments and even lead vocals as well. Do anything that really shakes you up and then carve it all into a double album, a truly '70s era double album full of color and flash, vision and massive volume. Don't worry if the fans will "get it." Don't worry abut becoming Radiohead. Just be the Foo Fighters and go for it! We've been with you for 20 years, we'll still be here."

As much as I still stand by those words (and still wish the band would indeed make this sort of a album), "Concrete And Gold, " the ninth album from Foo Fighters is an album of such vibrancy, unabashed enthusiasm, creativity and studio driven imagination that it did feel and sound to match the very album that perhaps, I had always wished for them to make. It is a speaker shaking work, packed with sonic delights so fully that even your headphones would be unable to contain them all. The melodies feel as if they have all been shot from canons and the rock and roll fireworks completely live up to their description and then some. Foo Fighters' "Concrete And Gold" is the album that is ready made for the stadium and should be an ultimate blast to hear performed live and even so, it works on its own powerfully well as an artistic statement and testament that in the dwindling rock scene, the mountain that Dave Grohl and his bandmates have constructed is in no danger of falling into the sea. In fact, other mountains should graciously move to the sides because the Foos latest release needs more than enough ample room to swagger!!

"I don't want to be King
I just want to sing love songs
Pretend there's nothing wrong
You can sing along with me..."

Those are the opening lyrics to "T-Shirt," the inaugural track to "Concrete And Gold." More than serving as an invitation to the album itself, it is a statement of purpose that is as overtly political and philosophically probing as any other musical protest statement released this year from LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire to Living Colour, Father John Misty and Kendrick Lamar. With his plaintive, solo acoustic guitar and Grohl's raspy, tender vocal, he certainly is speaking for a nation painfully fatigued with the turbulence of the United States post-election season and current Trump era without ever mentioning names or events. At this time, we know the state of the world is terrifying with no less than uncertainties of potential nuclear war with North Korea looming dangerously overhead. And yet, Dave Grohl soothes and invites, just as much for himself as he achieves for all of us and then...let the s how begin!!!

"T-Shirt," in only less than 90 seconds of duration, EXPLODES into choirs of stacked harmony vocals and wide open skies of guitars. You can almost see the clouds parting, with massive beams of sunrays shining downwards, gracing the Earth in warmth and release before settling down back to Grohl and his quiet acoustic guitar before the floodgates seriously open.

"Run," the album's second track, is a dynamic, pummeling tour de force of rhythm and propulsive force that feels to only increase in velocity (hence the song's title) although in actuality, the band is superbly locked into a tight, fighting precision and the effect is positively breathless, ensuring that we are caught in a whirlwind of what sounds like a thrash metal carnival.

Instead of allowing us to settle down, we are encouraged to keep pace with the band as they launch into the speed racer/percolating drum propelling "Make It Right" (complete with uncredited album guest Justin Timberlake's background chorus of vocal "la la las") and even then, we find ourselves launched into the wild, swirling, downright monolithic "The Sky Is A Neighborhood," during which Grohl suggests his, and our, inner turbulence again as he sings, "Mind is a battlefield/All hope is gone/Trouble to the right and the left/Whose side you're on?"

Delving back into a more autobiographical window, Foo Fighters take us back to Dave Grohl's teen years and his feelings of alienation in an encroaching conservative landscape in the pile driving "La Dee Da," a track that finds the band exploring subtle synthetic textures that doubles with Nate Mendel's bass guitar, therefore deepening the impact.

By the album's midpoint, Foo Fighters are finally allowing us to catch our collective breaths with the more acoustic based "Dirty Water," a selection that features a full summer's wind of gorgeous backing vocals from Inara George of The Bird And The Bee. The aural surprises continue as this song is one that is in no hurry, breezily soaring for nearly three minutes before the full attack arrives and even then, keyboardist Remi Jeffe's synths doubles with Mendel's bass guitar, making the two sounds beautifully inseparable and again providing a bottom end that carries  more weight while also becoming hypnotic.

The more classic Foo Fighters sound returns triumphantly with the roar of the blinding white light of "Arrows," as power chords upon power chords scorch the Earth and spiral upwards splitting the sky with Grohl's battle cry of "Fire away!!!!!!" at the forefront. As the smoke clears and the dust settles, the band bring us to "Happy Ever After (Zero  Hour)," a song of Beatle-esque "White Album" pastoral quality that sits very well within the Foo aesthetic, as Grohl's excellent vocals suggest a gentle campfire with those elegant harmony vocals backing him lovingly.

Speaking of The Beatles, with the astounding "Sunday Rain," Foo Fighters welcome a special guest contributor in an audacious fashion: Sir Paul McCartney, who does not sing or contribute to the writing of the song but participates as the band's drummer!! Surrounding McCartney's expert shuffle groove, Grohl takes a back set vocally to allow drummer Taylor Hawkins to grace the microphone with his raspy soul that suggests 70's era Don Henley, making the six minute track sound sort of like an update of the Eagles' "Victim Of Love."

"Concrete And Gold" reaches its home stretch with the glorious melodic metal of "The Line," and the five and a half minute title track, a brooding, booming Pink Floyd-ian epic featuring the unlikely yet powerfully effective presence of Boyz II Men's Shawn Stockman who contributes a reportedly 40 vocal track choir, further cementing the societal angst and struggle inherent within the words of hope that conclude the album. Grohl has mentioned that he wants this album to sort of serve as "Motorhead meets 'Sgt. Pepper'." Utilizing that analogy, then the title track is essentially the Foo Fighters' version of The Beatles' "A Day In The Life," with a massive power chord being struck and fading into infinity.

Foo Fighters' "Concrete And Gold" not only marks the perfect next step for the veteran band, it is a work that represents them at the finest and flashiest they have ever been. Now officially six members strong, the band is a well oiled machine to be true but not one that is happy to lazily rest upon its collective laurels, which they ore than have earned the right to do. Yet, what remains so endearing about Dave Grohl and his bandmates is you can always, without question, feel the strength behind their collective efforts. Nothing is ever phoned in. No song ever feels like a lazy re-write. On the contrary, they are a band that has consistently found ways to craft better songs, which then translate into making better albums with this one being the very best, and most addictive, they have made thus far.

Contributing to their growth, I deeply appreciate how they have taken whatever lessons learned from the previous album and apply them to the current one, therefore we can hear the progression and evolution of a band who has created a signature sound but always finds new ways to try and present that sound, gladly removing themselves from certain comfort zones in order to inspire creation. With "Concrete And Gold," the band made the head scratching decision to work with producer Greg Kurstin of The Bird and The Bee and who has worked the boards for the likes of Adele, Sia, Kelly Clarkson and will soon be heard working directly alongside Beck on his upcoming album--and of course, none of these artists remotely suggest the hard stadium rock and roll that is the Foo Fighters' trademark.

Yet, Dave Grohl remains a fearless and restlessly curious artist as he continues to utilize the sense of camaraderie and musical companionship that has now become a crucial element of the band's work since the "Sound City" documentary and soundtrack album, It may not sound right on paper but once seemingly disparate forces come together in the Foo Fighters' world, great things have the potential of happening, Working with Kurstin, on what is clearly their most produced album to date, has in actuality brought out the very best of the entire band as Grohl's pop sensibilities with songcraft are at their tightest while not sacrificing any rock shock and awe whatsoever. In fact. the band sounds even more bombastic and to an outstanding effect. The melodies, vocals and guitars all feel as if they are in surround sound while the drums and bottom end rumble, rattle, bam and boom with that Zeppelin-esque stomp and yet, almost every song on the album could be released as a hit single.

In fact, if this album reminded me of anything, it just feels more than fitting that Foo Fighters' "Concrete And Gold" is arriving upon the 30th anniversary of Def Leppard's titanic, towering album "Hysteria" (released August 3, 1987), a tremendously HUGE and glisteningly pristine sounding album that blended the world of glam rock, heavy metal and top 40 pop into a magical stew and scoring critical acclaim and stratospheric album sales. Whether Foo Fighters are able to achieve similar goals, especially as the music industry has changed so drastically over the past 30 years, remains to be seen. But, as the musical, artistic statement that it is, it is a perfect album for 2017 that showcases passionately that guitar driven rock and roll remains vibrantly alive and Foo Fighters are one of the best.

And still, it is very easy to take the band for granted as Grohl's easy going, everybody's best friend persona downplays his actual ferocious skill as well as those of his bandmates. In some ways, he is kind of like modern rock's version of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, because they do make it all look so easy and that Foo Fighters have been so dependable throughout the entirety of their 20 year plus career. A bad album has never been made. Their sound has never undergone any radical changes. Their quality control has remained consistent. All qualities that could make it easy to overlook or even ignore the strength of their craft and presentation, especially now as Grohl has peppered many of the tracks with political references that feel purposefully veiled, so to as not upset his populist, inclusive stance with any and all listeners.

But really read and listen closely, as Dave Grohl's social/political views can be easily inferred but they are all presented for each listener to read into them whatever they wish and then, Grohl is able to continue presenting himself as being just like any one of us in the audience as he is struggling with the same fears that we are in a vicious Trump world. As Grohl sings in "T-Shirt":

"There's one thing that I have learned
If it gets much better, it's only going to get worse
And you get what you deserve" 

I know what those words mean to me but they may not mean the same to you and it is in that certain ambiguity that saves the band from becoming politicized even when concerns about the state of the world rear their heads in their songs.
Yet, never fear as Foo Fighters are not preaching to us or creating musical diatribes. Like us, it feels as if  they are also just trying to figure everything out while pumping their fists in the air to great, electric rock and roll in the process. And as Grohl sings in the album's opening song, we can pump our fists in the air right alongside them in blissful unity.

Foo Fighters' "Concrete And Gold" is one of my favorite albums of 2017.

Sunday, September 3, 2017


FEBRUARY 20, 1950-SEPTEMBER 3, 2017

Another one gone...

It was very early this morning, Sunday, September 3rd, when I first read the news on-line, deeply hoping that it was yet another internet hoax. But yes indeed, as reported on his personal website and eventually further confirmed through musical outlets, Walter Becker, co-founder, songwriter, guitarist, bassist, producer of Steely Dan, had passed away from as yet undisclosed circumstances. He was 67 years old. 

I have to admit that I had not intended to write a piece about Walter Becker but the musical spirits have dictated to me that this man just needed to have one more soul ready to honor him at this time. And why not, for this man's timeless and iconic contributions to music have indeed existed as a crucial piece of my musical being for much of the entirety of my life. To not pay homage would be insensitive, to say the least and dishonorable at most for Walter Becker truly deserves any and all good words that now arrive in tribute.

Truth be told, Steely Dan and the two core members of that band, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, remain wholly inscrutable and almost unknowable to this day for me. In many ways, Steely Dan proved itself to being the ultimate "faceless" band, musical units that really were not identifiable by the visages of its members and solely through the music and visual presentation as devised throughout their albums, bands like Pink Floyd, Supertramp, and certainly, a collective like The Alan Parsons Project. You never really knew what these figures looked like and their physical appearances never contributed to the impressions of the music. 

Steely Dan felt to be so uniquely anonymous, from the name of the band that suggested an actual person to its revolving cast of musicians from album to album. Who really knew that ALL of the music, concepts and the full presentation of Steely Dan honestly came down to the partnership between Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. Certainly Fagen's presence was more acknowledged as he was indeed the "face" of the band as he was the primary lead singer and frontman. Becker, by contrast, remained in the shadows, presumably where he rather have wished to exist, allowing the music to be in the spotlight rather than himself. But really, at this time, it feels more than fitting to shine that light for the quiet man, whose voluminous material has transcended musical genres, as well as demographics and generations upon generations. It cannot be overstated that Walter Becker was, and shall forever be, a musical giant who pushed the boundaries of what rock and roll music could actually be.  
Walter Becker & Donald Fagen

To my ears, Steely Dan especially felt to be a musical universe created unto itself, so much so, that it is still surprising to me hat they have found an eternal home within classic rock radio stations as their sound so often was based in pristinely slick jazz puzzles rather than raucous rock and roll fury. But maybe it was all in the delivery, the contradictions and juxtapositions of the material Becker and Fagen created together: cerebral music that was populated with stories, themes and characters that described life on the fringes with all manner of low-lifes, miscreants, troubled people and copious alcohol references at the core. Sentimentality and anything approaching the neighborhood of maudlin were strictly off limits as a dark cynicism and wicked sense of humor were at the forefront creating a perfect tension when combined with arcane chord progressions and superior musicianship. Don;t quite believe me? Just listen to the very nasty "Everyone's Gone To The Movies" and tell me that's not rock and roll! 

And yet, there existed a powerful warmth in all of the Steely Dan material, that inexplicable je ne sais quoi that just keep bringing you back to explore all over again and again and again. Just think about the quality and quantity of the songs Walter Becker co-created. "Here At The Western World,""Do It Again," "Bodhisattva," "Any Major Dude Will Tell You," "Deacon Blues," "Josie," "Kid Charlemagne," "My Old School," "Your Gold Teeth," "Hey Nineteen," the epic masterpiece that is "Aja" and so much, much more. Their catalog between 1972-1980 is as jaw dropping and staggering as it is undeniably brilliant and Walter Becker was at the center of every note of it.

I first became aware of Steely Dan during my childhood as songs like "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" and "Reelin' In The Years" (a song I happen to be listening to as I write and also, it is one of those rare songs that I can listen to ten times in a row and it always feels like the first time) populated Chicago's WLS-AM radio. To this day, I have no idea of what or whom those songs are necessarily about and to think, that element has become a Steely Dan key element: songs that are simultaneously crystal clear and maddeningly obtuse, a conundrum that ensures their overall mystery and interpretive quality.

By the time I had discovered FM radio (no static at all), I did become quite versed in the Steely Dan universe while not really knowing who they were at all. I loved every single song and I loved the overall sound, which became so startling unique and instantly identifiable. I remember vividly purchasing the soundtrack for the R rated science-fiction/soft-core animated film "Heavy Metal" (released July 1981), on which Donald Fagen contributed the track "True Companion." Now, at that time, I had no idea of who Fagen even was but the second I heard the song, I remember thinking to myself, "This sounds exactly like Steely Dan!" Now that is a testament to what Fagen created and cultivated with Walter Becker. 

Remember....WITH Walter Becker!!! Just because he remained further from the spotlight than Fagen, that cannot even begin to diminish his essential and irreplaceable contributions to the legacy of Steely Dan and to music itself. It is easy to not take notice or to disregard altogether due to his reticence. But please, as you and I listen and re-listen to Steely Dan, I wish for all of us to really honor the life and artistry of a man who had the ability to envision and execute an amalgamation of jazz, rock, R&B, pop, blues, as well as a supreme gift for language and satire into so seemingly effortlessly as well as defiantly and so lovingly, as we can hear in each and every superbly composed, performed and crafted song and album.


While there is not even one bad album in the entirety of the Steely Dan discography, I will never, ever tire of the early '70s haze of their debut "Can't Buy A Thrill" (released November 1972), the brilliant mid period releases "Katy Lied" (released March 1975) and "The Royal Scam" (released May 1976) and most certainly their masterpiece "Aja" (released September 23, 1977). Even so, Steely Dan is one of the rare musical outfits that created a legacy so timeless that one could potentially put on any song or album at any time whatsoever and it will feel absolutely perfect. 

And I am compelled to say it again, Walter Becker, despite his enigmatic nature, was at the forefront of it all and to honor him best is to not just listen but to acknowledge his superior gifts in creating and sharing this priceless catalog that has already withstood the test of time. 

To Walter Becker, I salute you for contributing so heavily to the musical soundtrack of my life for so much of my life. I could never thank you enough.