Hoping Machine

July 19, 2016 5 comments

13769385_1237780639566013_7469367090825700743_nI lost my friend George Wesley today. Cancer stole him from us. Cancer is the devil. It is evil in its purest form. It seeks health, and its aim is destruction. It does not discriminate and it does not get sidetracked. It’s a bully that never backs down.

I received the news early this morning. Since then I’ve been engulfed in a sort of fog. I’ve been physically and mentally wandering….not getting anywhere either way.

You think you’re prepared, but you never are. The mind has an almost endless capacity for hoping. The great Woody Guthrie once called human beings great “hoping machine(s)”. I knew George was ill. Very ill. But I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that he wouldn’t, in some way, find a way to beat the shit out of this thing. Because some people are just born to live. Dying doesn’t even enter into the equation. I’m a walking, talking hoping machine. And George Wesley is one of the reasons. And today, I’ve been diminished. We all have. To be diminished. Is there anything more sad than that?

I loved him. I told him that the last time we spoke. He gave me infinitely more than I ever gave him. He was the most generous man alive. I suspect there’s a lot of us out there admitting that to ourselves tonight. George just engulfed you. He radiated like a summer firefly. He wrapped you in a hug and blessed you, and turned non-believers into believers. I’m telling you this. If there ain’t no heaven….somebody ought to invent the place. Because for George to be anywhere else right now would be a cosmic blunder.

He thanked us for the inspiration. Truth be told nobody ever heard George’s music without feeling uplifted……like a child trying out a trampoline for the first time. He bobbed and weaved and sang Jah’s praises and invited everybody along for the ride. His music was unconditional and spiritual. He could rock. He could roll. He could groove. He could bring the funk. And he did it all on the offbeat. He asked for nothing in return except humanity. Peace. Love. In many ways George was a complex man. But his message could not have been more simple.

When we cry, we do so mostly for ourselves. I’m a selfish prick sometimes. I want him here. I want to call him up….to write some more songs together….to weave our guitars together and find melodies and phrases and reasons to smile. I want to sit at his knee and watch his hands on the frets….to close my eyes and listen when the visual gets too overwhelming. I want to hear him laugh with and at me. I want to call him and hear that growl….”greetings”….on the other end of the phone. I want to be blessed by Jah and I don’t even know who the hell Jah is. I want to see that smile obliterate the need for any other lights in the room. I want my kids to know him better and longer. I want my friend back. I’m selfish. For ME. My tears today were self-pity. I’m guilty. But I’m not sorry. I feel like Morgan Freeman in the Shawshank Redemption. “I guess I just miss my friend”.

George deserved more than this world gave him. Much more. All he did was give. All the world did was take. George lived with that. He left songs on everybody’s lips and smiles on their faces. And then he was alone, and life rolled the dice and whisked him away because she can be a dirty bitch sometimes.

Since the day I was born George Wesley has been in this world. Tomorrow will be the first full day he’s not here. It’s like a hole in the musical ozone layer. I have memories. And I have the music. That has to be enough. It doesn’t feel like it is, but it has to be.

When you grind life down to its powder, all it really consists of are the moments that you can remember. The rest is lost in the ether. The word “unforgettable” is dangerous, because forcing a memory and actually having one is the difference between knowing a phone number and repeating one you just heard over and over again so you can quick dial it before it’s gone.

With George nothing was forced. He was unforgettable for one reason. Because I’ll never forget him.

In peaceful water that’s where I’ll be
With eyes closed I don’t need to see
The hurt we bring on each other
Bless up my sister and my brother

In  a bit..

–tf

 

Categories: Uncategorized

America, 2016

July 8, 2016 Leave a comment

Before there was always grey area. We at least had that.

But that’s gone. Philando Castile was executed at point blank range for a broken tail-light. Spin it one way. Spin it the other. You’ll end up in the same place. He was no threat. He was shot point blank 4 times while reaching for his car registration. His fiance sat next to him in the car. Her 4 year old daughter was in the back seat. Based on how agitated and crazed the cop acted, it’s a wonder he didn’t shoot the woman and child as well. Castile’s fiancee pulled out her cell phone and recorded live video of him dying. One of the most horrific things you’ll ever see. America, 2016.

Castile was a legal gun owner with a concealed permit. He did exactly what he was supposed to do. Announced he was legally carrying. Clearly. No grey area. Didn’t matter. Gun advocates are strangely silent. America, 2016.

Dallas police officer Brent Thompson was killed by a sniper. A fucking sniper. Thompson was married 2 weeks ago. Spin it one way. Spin it the other. You’ll end up in the same place. 

One man died because he was a black male. The other died because he was a white cop.

Is it even worth pointing out that neither fit the stereotype they were killed over? It should be, so I just said it. But I’d be shouted down on TV. Eaten alive. I’d look weak and silly. Both sides justify the unjustifiable. Those who point this out get run over in both directions.

America 2016.

If Castile was white, he’d be alive now. Most likely, he wouldn’t have been stopped by the police in the first place. If he was? White guy….with white fiancee next to him. Behind them a 4 year old white baby in a car seat. A cop is gonna blast away when he reaches for his car registration? In fucking Minnesota?

And, put bluntly, if Thompson were black, the rifle scope would have passed him by. Because he didn’t fit the profile.

Hate does strange things. And it makes for strange bedfellows.

Castile mattered. For a few hours. But once that sniper rifle opened up, he became just another statistic. Because America, 2016 can’t handle nuance. We are too divided to find fault on our own side.

It has to be one story, or the other story. It can’t be both. There can only be one headline. And that headline is screaming right now. Cops were picked off like ducks in an American city, 2016. That’s what it has come to. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my lifetime.

We cannot handle nuance. We shout too loud. Facts become pesky. Like mosquitoes.

160708035505-17-dallas-shooting-0708-restricted-overlay-teaseAnd then I saw this photo. And I thought, if we’re gonna put blinders on, maybe we should do so while staring at this photo. For a few seconds. A few minutes. Hours.

What do you see?

You know….maybe that’s America, 2016 too. Maybe, when the haters stop hating and the shouters stop shouting and the marchers stop marching….when we all collect our collective breaths, we can live and die together. We can comfort each other and ignore the fuck out of color and religion and class and geographical boundaries…..we can breathe the same air on this small planet and together cherish our children’s futures. And perhaps wrap our heads around the fact that the man who suggested we try something like this previously was killed. By a sniper. In Dallas. Hate can win battles but the war still rages. There’s still a chance. I can see it in this picture. Can you?

My eldest was born with the empathy gene. She feels the lash on the backs of others. At times like this she asks me, over and over…”why?” I stutter. I start to reply and then stop, because I realize that nothing rational is going to come out. She’s starting college in the fall. She’ll be away. I want to steal her and hide her and keep her from all of this. I want to block her ears and cover her eyes and cherry-pick her adventures.

But no. It’s those that feel the lash on another’s back that are in this picture. And if we’re going to heal this fracture, it’s those who must do the doctoring. The world needs her every bit as much as I do.

In a bit…

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

Bringing the Healing

June 17, 2016 1 comment

Some years back Bob Dylan was being honored, as Bob Dylan often is. I think it was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this time. Springsteen was doing the honoring. And Bruce looked around the room, filled with rock royalty, and said that there wasn’t a single person in the room who didn’t owe Dylan thanks. A pretty breathtaking statement really, but entirely apt. Dylan’s footprint is the size of America, and then some.

If we condensed our world down to the northeast corner of Pennsylvania (and why wouldn’t we?), the same statement could be made about George Wesley. If you make music here, you should thank him. Because he inspired you. Mentored you. Jammed with you. Supported you. Laid back so you could shine. The people who dance like nobody’s watching are most likely listening to George’s music. He’s our man in black…our soundtrack…..our constant. No matter what is going on around us, what trends are catching on and/or dying out, what flavor of the month is fearing the flip of the calendar, you can bet George is onstage someplace….doing what he’s been doing for as long as I’ve been alive. Bringing the positive vibrations, healing us while being healed himself…..the music seemingly passing through him as much as coming from him.

12119112_10200913022985820_7805608614052689493_n

October, 2015 Meshoppen, PA

I remember the first time I saw and heard him. It was the 80s….I wasn’t 21 yet but close enough for Gallaghers in Dunmore, a place that checked IDs about as carefully as the person checking your Sams Club purchases on your way out the door. The good ‘ol days is what we call them now.

This skinny guy was fronting a trio. Just crushing Marley tunes. The dance floor was packed. It seemed to be vibrating. The beard was halfway down his pale chest….and it would swing back and forth like a pendulum as he played the type of guitar that made me, who had just taken up the instrument, want to go home and put a boot through mine. He oozed charisma. Dressed head to toe in black, when the lights went out between songs he completely disappeared…like a Dickens ghost. I was enthralled. I asked my sisters (always more hip than me), who were in the bar too, pretending not to see their underage brother drinking a Bud long neck.. “Yea, that’s George Wesley. He’s amazing and has been around forever…now get the hell out of here before I tell Mom…”

Even then, at the beginning, George had always been there. The definition of ageless.

We first met in the mid 90s. George Graham at WVIA thought it would be interesting to bring 3 disparate songwriters together and see what came of it. So he picked the biggest musical oddballs he knew. George Wesley, Canadian Lorne Clarke, and myself. I think he figured we’d either kill each other, or close ranks and become friends. We were like lab mice.

Over 20 years later my kids call George “Uncle”, and Lorne is the godfather to my youngest daughter. We’ve collaborated and covered each other and recorded together and done shows together and cheered each other on. And when one falls…he’s got 2 sets of hands to help him up. Friendship is a powerful thing.

Over that time, what comes to mind?

Bits and pieces. Like how George always has a guitar strapped on. Even visiting him at home….he’d walk around holding a guitar. He’d get a drink from the kitchen….while playing. You listen to him play, and it sounds like magic. And it looks effortless….his left hand like a large spider crawling up and down the neck. But make no mistake. He’s as good as he is because he put the time in. He never stops playing….which means he never stops learning. It looks so easy now because of how hard he works when the crowd ain’t there.

We even joke about how he can’t not play. We’d do these singer-songwriter in-the-round shows, where we’d debut brand new songs. I’d be in the middle of a new one, trying not to forget the bridge I just finished an hour ago….and George, in the chair next to me, would start playing along. It didn’t matter that he never heard the song before. He’s physically incapable of holding a guitar without playing it. “You’re sick, You know that, right?” I’d say with a laugh. “I know”, he said. “But it sounds good.”

Music is the reason he gets up in the morning. The only reason he sleeps is because music is also what fills his dreams.

You probably never heard him play old country songs. Hank Williams. Waylon. Willie. I have. And it damn near makes me cry. Because George can play Hank Williams as good as he can play Peter Tosh. I wish he’d do it more. Lorne and I once badgered him for months to write some songs in that vein. He finally did. I still have the tape. It’s incredible. George probably forgets what’s on it. To him it was like creating breaths of air.

His songwriting is way too often overlooked. Much of what you’re hearing when you see him is stuff he wrote. He’s been so long associated with Bob Marley’s music, but just think about that, and this, for a moment. George’s songs sit comfortably next to Marley’s in his sets….so much so that you don’t even notice the juxtaposition. Bob Marley is one of the greatest songwriters of our generation. You see where I’m going with this, right?

George would scoff at the comparison, but I ain’t scoffing. My daughter has a poster of Marley on her bedroom wall. I have a picture of myself and Lorne and George after a gig, hanging on my office wall 2 floors down. I’ll take “The Wheel” or “Music Sweet Music” to the same kitchen table where “No Woman, No Cry” is seated. And I’ll stand on the table.

But enough of my gushing. He’s my friend. He’s your friend too. He’s got a fight in front of him, but he’s a stubborn old cuss and he’ll be back out there doing what he’s always done as soon as he beats back this thing. He’ll be bringing the healing.

There’s a benefit coming up next weekend at Mountain Sky. You can pick up a t-shirt. Some big medical bills are on the way, and the NEPA music community is gonna come together and see what we can do about that.

Because sometimes thank you ain’t enough. Sometimes you gotta sing along.

In a bit..

–tf

 

Categories: Uncategorized

The leaders we deserve…..

June 10, 2016 Leave a comment

Americans are a complicated people who are in love with simple solutions. This spells trouble. We are fertile hunting ground for a vast variety of snake-oil salesmen. Thus, we want more guns, no guns, walls built, less taxes, more services, free schools, blue skies, cheap drugs, the free market, Jesus in the pledge, no muslims, less mexicans, and government cheese. And we want it all now. And if somebody dares to stand up and point out that such wants require, you know, details and stuff, well…that person is stomped by the populist mob, who view an intellectual argument as highbrow elitist snobbery at best, or, at worst, just a bunch of long words strung together to test the spell-checker.

293976465_liberty_face_in_hands_answer_2_xlargeOur current political climate is so juvenile that it is collectively dumbing down all of us, to the point where all that we leave behind on the couches we collapse into every night is the residue of freshly killed brain cells. A man who could very well be the next President of the United States recently proposed printing more money as a solution to our economic woes. Read the sentence again if you want. I’ll wait. Ok? And his sage economic advice was met with howls of, not derision for being so breathtakingly ignorant, but delight. For isn’t it so obvious? You want more money? Just fire up the lazy proles at the US Mint. Make America great again.

We used to have guardians against this type of nonsense. But Cronkite and Murrow have long been replaced by bought-hacks like Hannity and O’Reilly, and the generation that once marched to stop a war are now out pounding the pavement looking for their 2nd or 3rd jobs, because “retirement” is now a synonym for “the day you die”. All but the top 1% are doing the doggie-paddle every minute of the day, and instead of getting pissed at the ones who tossed us in the dirty water, we’re shitting in the pool to spite each other. Pissed off people are rarely rational. And Americans these days have to be the most pissed off people on the planet. And the least rational.

Words have no meaning anymore. Or, rather, they mean whatever we want them to mean. So telling the truth has become quaint, like a kid who takes his hat off when he walks into your house. Thus many can and will still argue that universal healthcare is an American impossibility, despite the happy healthy Canadians looking down at them and waving frantically saying….”you fucking idiots realize that all of the politicians arguing against government health care HAVE government health care, right?” Facts are extremely inconvenient at times…..and never more so when we have no time. I gotta pick up my kid from the sitter after leaving my 2nd job, and you want me to hit up Snopes.com to validate a meme on facebook? You’re ADORABLE.

So 2 are left standing. Our choices. To run this nation. If you were to take a poll they’d probably be the 2 most hated people in America. So you gotta hand it to us. When we fuck things up, we do it monumentally.

I’ve become tone-deaf, as only someone who supported Bernie Sanders but considered him far too conservative can be. I look at Donald Trump and think he’s hilarious. I’m not scared of him. There’s a part of me…..the part that loses myself inside Netflix binges…..that actually wants him to win for the sheer entertainment value alone. I want to see him on the world’s stage, kissing Putin’s ass and getting everyone else’s name wrong, desperate to access the launch codes but not knowing how to open the briefcase…..wondering why the lowest bidder can’t seem to find the laborers to get the wall built even armed with wheelbarrows full of not exactly inflation proof freshly printed green-backs. I want to see him issue crazy orders….and watch as nothing happens. I want to see him take on the iceberg that is the house of representatives, recently described as “435 heads up 435 asses”, and slowly lose what little is left of his small mind in the process. You want change? Oh, you’ll get change alright. I’m almost tempted to vote for the asshole myself.

Hillary has better hair, but that’s about as far as I’ll go. For years she’s been bloated with the same dirty money that republicans have gorged themselves on. She’s so bought and sold she might as well decorate herself with corporate stickers, like a Nascar driver. The main joy I’d get from her winning is watching Fox news collectively set themselves on fire in protest, like those Vietnamese monks.

I want to take all of this seriously. I really do. But I have to stop laughing first. I presume that won’t happen until after November, when it’ll be too late. When we start casting votes not for who we admire, but for whom we despise the least, democracy has officially broken down. I should feel inspired inside a voting booth, not like I need a shower.

If you think this is the best we’re capable of, you’re part of the problem. Only nationwide disgust can save us now.

“In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.”

Joseph de Maistre

God help us…

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

Memorial Day

May 30, 2016 1 comment

CEM46521925_110063655007I visited my father’s grave last night. It’s a beautiful spot as these places go. Well maintained. Green. Trees providing comforting breezes and pleasant shade. It was early in the evening so the heat was dying down. The sun was dropping slowly behind the stones. It had the area mostly to myself. Kept company by the birds and the fresh flowers and the American flags on the graves of veterans. It’s a day/weekend to honor their sacrifice. For many it’s a facebook meme spouting a cliche. Facebook posts and Tweets have so sozzled our brains that after a while we actual think we’re being patriotic and clever. In the age of the soundbite it seems the best many, including Presidential candidates, can do…as if anything more than 140 characters would require a Doctorate degree and a year abroad.

Our area has annual parades every year. The one on St Patrick’s Day turns epic…a hilarious cheap-beer-fueled amateur orgy of short college-aged white guys punching each other in the face to honor the guy who supposedly chased snakes out of Ireland. Or something like that. It attracts crowds well into the 5 digits. The same for the St Ubaldo festival in Jessup this weekend, back and better than ever in the 2000s after being shut down for a few years due to a local beating a guy to death on a Jessup sidewalk because….well…..I’m sure he had a good reason. So goes the legend. Anyway, the cops have since cracked down and now you only risk being beaten to death inside the enclosed beer tent…..which this year featured a “no weapons allowed” sign, right next to a sign advertising “$2 Genessee Cream Ale 16oz cans”…..a drink so vile I assumed it was either made illegal or is what rednecks now use to shock their swimming pools. Think of Wal-Mart on check day….add beer, greasy food, outhouses, and $5 for a chance to win your girl a stuffed animal while being laughed at by a barely-legal carny who can’t speak English. Ubaldo is not exactly the valley’s finest hour, but it raises a pile of money for a local hose company, so at least some good comes out of it. Oh….and it’s religious-based too. Catholics know how to fucking party.

Where am I going with this? Well….our area also has one or two Veteran themed parades every year…where active and retired service men and women march down streets lined with their own family members and pretty much nobody else. Which is another way of saying that we don’t come close to honoring either our live or dead veterans, on Memorial or any other day. And that’s a damn shame…..and that’s what I was thinking about when I was visiting my father last night….all by myself with the birds and the flags while the rest of the valley was getting drunk on Genny Creme Ale and trying not to get beaten up by roaming toughs wearing wife-beaters stained with potato-pancake grease.

We live in interesting times.

We live in interesting places.

We’ve got a long way to go.

Sometimes we have no idea where we’re going.

In other words, we’re lost.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

Living gets in the way of life…

May 20, 2016 1 comment

I’ve been thinking about time a lot lately. I’m damn near 50, so that might be why. But I think it’s actually more than that.

I don’t have enough of it to do the things I want to do. I spend too much of it doing things I don’t want to do. Of course this doesn’t make me any different than 96% of the people I know but I adore obsessing over things I have little control over. It’s one of my many charms.

Plus, I write.

I’m one of those people.

I don’t talk much. I’d rather listen and then regurgitate.

classical_guitar_clock-r201cd44db5554d78a1903efec46c9142_fup1y_8byvr_630I write songs mostly. And plays. In my spare time. And therein lies the rub. Because as time passes “spare time” takes on a different meaning. In my early 20s a few free hours could turn into pretty girls and a 12 pack. Now I use the time to cut my relentlessly growing grass….or put on my Uber driving cap for my 2 kids….or run errands…..or to attend to 1000 things that need attending to because that’s the way life works for most of us. Living gets in the way of life…one of the world’s cruelest ironies.

I have a full time job, for which I’m grateful, but let’s face it. Unless your full time job entails doing what you love to do (does yours? No? Gee, really?), a full time job is pretty much a huge pain in the ass. We get up earlier than we want to and spend a third of our day with people we’d probably avoid in a Wal-Mart aisle. We make less than we should for the work we do and come home at the end of the day with way less brain cells than we had when the day started. It’s a ghastly cycle really, but going through it doesn’t make us special. It makes us normal. It allows me to pay the bank monthly rent for the house I pretend I own.

What’s not normal is the rare bird who can wake up and go to bed every day immersed in his or her passion. If I could wake up, ice up a case of Diet Coke, and go into a room with a guitar and a legal pad and a few condenser microphones, and emerge 16 hours later, day after day…..that would be just swell. 

I could do this, of course. But I don’t like divorce lawyers and repo-men and threatening letters and phone calls from creditors. I also don’t like the idea of not having health insurance. That’s the sort of thing that can ruin your day and keep you up at night staring at the black ceiling.

So what’s a poor boy to do?

I’ve got so many talented friends. Musicians mostly. I’m talking guys and gals who can wail…who can play anything with strings or keys or that requires sticks and can sing the paint off the walls…all the while creating very impressive bar tabs. Rock and rollers as badass as anybody you can mention. And nobody knows who the fuck they are except for the locals. Maybe that’s as it should be. We all deserve our own rock stars. They’re way more interesting than the universal ones.

So yea….time. When I’m making music the clock moves like somebody is winding it forward. When I’m doing the 9-5 thing, it’s more like there’s a power outage and the clocks stop working entirely. So what does this mean, in practical terms?

And why do I feel like, despite having less and less time to write and make music, I’m actually getting better at it?

Gather round, children….and I’ll enlighten you. Like much enlightenment, it ain’t rocket science.

Knowing that I may only have, say, 2 hours in a week to creating something, when those 2 hours arrive I don’t fuck around. I focus and I work my ass off. If I’m in a recording studio, I don’t obsess over the drum sound. I deal with people who know how to make drums sound good and leave them to it. I make sure my guitar is in tune, count “1-2-3”, hope the bass player is sober, and we’re off. I don’t say “let’s try this and see if it works”…..I decide beforehand if it’s going to work, and then do it. Because in 2 hours I have to pick up my kid at the movies. If you think the song would sound better with a Hammond overdub…..have you come-to-Jesus moment before the clock starts running and your kid is standing on the curb waiting for your late ass.

Want to know why the Guns N’ Roses record “Chinese Democracy” record took 15 years to make? Because Axl Rose didn’t have a full time job and have to cut his own grass, that’s why. If he did, maybe it would have taken a week and not been a piece of pretentious gibberish. (As one critic wrote on the day the record was finally released…”If you purchased a kitten on the day that Use Your Illusion I & II arrived in stores, it’s probably dead by now….”)

Oh, and write a good song. I’ve written many un-good songs. If there is a good song in there ready to come out, it’s gonna come quickly. If it’s leaking out like the drip-drip of a faucet, it’s probably fighting to remain unheard for very good reasons. Have an idea. A title. A riff. Something. Then take it out for a spin and try not to drive into any walls.

Focus. Work smart and only waste time if you have it to waste, which most of us don’t. So, in short, don’t waste time.

Shortcuts for some are just a quaint change of scenery. For others it’s how we get home without running out of gas.

Oh, and it helps if you don’t need a lot of sleep because between midnight and 2am are excellent “free time”.

Thus endeth the lesson.

In a bit..

–tf

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Welcome to Feeling Old

May 3, 2016 2 comments

In a few months I’ll be 50 years old. Want some glorious alliteration? Ok, how’s this?

Fucking fifty.

There are lots of roundabout ways of feeling old.

images“Purple Rain” is 32 years old. At the time of Prince’s release, “Love Me Do” was 21 years old. Ponder that for a moment. “Purple Rain” is older now than “Love Me Do” was then.

The song “Wonderwall” is 21 years old. In 1995 the song “Kung Fu Fighting” was 21 years old. Doesn’t that make you think that you should have taken more drugs when you had the chance?

“Stairway to Heaven” was only 9 years old when drummer John Bonham died, and the song was already embedded in “classic rock” playlists, never to be dislodged. You know who had the top song in the nation 9 years ago? Something I never heard of by someone named Beyonce.

Isn’t that just……messed up?

One of the great rock and roll documentaries is”Hail Hail Rock and Roll”, a film wrapped around the great Chuck Berry’s 60th birthday celebration. Keith Richards helped roll Chuck out of mothballs to sing 30 year old songs to 40 and 50 year olds. Pure nostalgia. Chuck was 7 years younger then than Springsteen is now. Bruce is currently ending his shows promoting his 36 year old record “The River” with a roof rattling version of “Shout”, which most people know through the movie “Animal House”, which was released the same year as “Miss You” by the Rolling Stones…their attempt to ride the disco wave kick started by the Bee Gees and Vinnie Barbarino. By the way Chuck Berry is now 89 years old and playing gigs in his home state of Missouri….duckwalking through the same songs he wrote during the 1950s, a decade before I was born, and a mere decade after Truman dropped the bombs.

When Tom Petty had his first hit with “Breakdown”, Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong was 5 years old. Green Day’s “Dookie” is 22 years old, the same age as One Direction’s Harry Styles. “American Idiot” is 12 years old, older than the life of the Beatles.

My favorite REM album is “Fables of the Reconstruction”, released in 1985, the same year as the Live Aid concert, and the year Bruno Mars was born. I was 19 years old. That REM record is now 31 years old. In 1985, the song “Rock Around the Clock” was 31 years old.

Justin Bieber and Roger Daltrey share the same March 1st birthday, born 50 years apart. The length of my life thus far.

See how circular (and sad) this all is?

I bought my first CD (“Green Thoughts” by the Smithereens) 28 years ago, the year I graduated from a small college that is now a significantly larger university. That year Elvis Presley’s “It’s Now Or Never” was 28 years old. You know who else is 28 years old right now? Snooki.

Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” is older than the combined ages of my teenage daughters.

And just to remind myself how broke I am and will continue to be….my parents bought their home for less than it cost me to put up a fence in my backyard. A entire year in college for me cost less than a single semester’s meal plan for a kid today. And so it goes. Time mocks me forever and ever.

I have to blame the death of Prince for all of this. I sorta built my own little world in between my stereo speakers….and in this world people like Prince aren’t supposed to die. Ever. Of course Elvis and Lennon and Cobain and Levon Helm weren’t supposed to die either. You’d think I’d learn but I never do. It’s like algebra class. You can sit my ass in there all you want, but I ain’t ever gonna get it.

And speaking of Prince….do you realize he started recording the year before Pink Floyd released the album “Animals”? I immediately thought of this when I saw David Gilmour’s glorious wordless tribute last week…..turning “Comfortably Numb” into “Purple Rain” and back again during a show in London, proving once again that the only music that isn’t timeless is music that sucks.

Of course this didn’t make me feel any less old…..to the contrary. But it did remind me that there are advantages to years, especially if you’re lucky enough to live at the same time as people like Prince and David Gilmour.

Comfortably numb indeed…

I don’t ever wanna get old. I might miss stuff like this.

In a bit..

–tf

 

 

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