Blog

Book Excerpt: I've Got the Music in Me - by Bruce Braine

Recently, a fellow stopped by the coffee shop saying he had written a book about rock n roll and he heard that I might be interested in such a project. I responded, yes, I would be interested. Nothing us folks here at Pencilstorm like more than a good rock n roll book. Also how could we not help a person who loves rock n roll so much they write and self-publish their own book. Like a real book you can hold in your hands. Not some poser blog like Ricki C. is semi-famous for. Much respect to local author Bruce Braine and his new book, I've Got the Music in Me. Anne Marie promptly snatched up the coffee house copy so I only got to thumb through it briefly but Bruce sent the following excerpt to share focusing on the year 1976. - Colin G.

Click here for I've Got the Music in Me by Bruce Braine at Amazon.com

 

Book Excerpt – 1976


“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”

Forty-one years ago in 1976, America celebrated its bicentennial with tall ships in New York Harbor on the Fourth of July. It was also the year that the U.S. started to emerge from the deep 1974-75 stock market crash and recession. But for me, when it came to 1976, Charles Dickens may have described it best: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.  I had fallen in love in my senior year with Molly, a sophomore at Brown, who I subsequently dated for two years. I had a single in Miller Hall with my good friend John just down the hall. And I already had enough credits to graduate so I only took the minimum of three classes per semester. In many ways, senior year was my best year at Brown. And the end of the year was the best – graduation weekend and the campus dance at Brown, my first trip to Chicago were part of a whirlwind end of May, early June that I still remember fondly to this day.

But I had also learned at the end of 1975 that my father had lymphoma and it had not been caught early. He had surgery removing lymph nodes in his neck but the cancer had spread requiring more major surgery in late January 1976.  They removed his spleen and a significant portion of his stomach but they couldn’t get all the cancer and the prognosis was not good. He was sent home in February and then my brother and I came home to be with my mother and sister to wait out the inevitable. He died on March 25. He was only 58.

The reality of life quickly followed his death. I started work at a Newark bank in June and experienced “the first job after college” syndrome that so many do. Moving from a great college social community to a more isolated life in New York City and reverse commuting for two hours a day to a job I didn’t really like at all was depressing to say the least. When coupled with a distance relationship with my girlfriend and still grieving the loss of my father, life in New York seemed almost unbearable.

Music in 1976 followed an eerily similar pattern. While there were some excellent albums, most notably the best ever from the Eagles, Boston, ELO and the Steve Miller Band and a few other excellent rock songs (e.g., Blue Öyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, the Four Seasons’ “December 1963”, and Kansas’ “Carry on Wayward Son”), a lot of music in 1976 was downright dreary or simply bad.

 

Most Popular Hits in 1976

 1. Afternoon Delight – Starland Vocal Band

 2. Silly Love Songs – Wings

 3. Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright) – Rod Stewart

 4. I Write the Songs – Barry Manilow

 5. Kiss and Say Goodbye – Manhattans

 6. Disco Duck (Part 1) – Rick Dees

 7. A Fifth of Beethoven – Walter Murphy

 8. Convoy – C.W. McCall

 9. Welcome Back – John Sebastian

10. Muskrat Love – Captain and Tennille

 

Was Rock Music Dead?

In 1976, British rock music was particularly disappointing. There was no new material from The Who, Yes or The Moody Blues (i.e., three of my favorite groups). Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled and excellent late-1975 album was all over the radio in 1976, including three top 20 hits with “Over My Head”, “Rhiannon” and “Say You Love Me”, but it wasn’t until 1977 when the superb Rumours album came out that they would have any new material.  Led Zeppelin had a sub-par album, Presence, though I did like the hard rocker “Nobody’s Fault but Mine”. The Rolling Stones had a decent album, Black and Blue, but only the song  “Fool to Cry” (#10 June) was particularly memorable. Elton John had his two sub-par albums, Blue Moves and Here and There and only his duet with Kiki Dee, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (#1 Aug.) (“I couldn’t if I tried”), made me smile. In the U.S., Bruce Springsteen, after his successful and excellent Born to Run album in 1975, was prevented for almost three years by a court injunction from recording new material owing to a bitter legal dispute over royalties with manager Mike Appel.

Meanwhile, the former Beatles’ solo careers had fallen to a new low. Lennon began a five-year period without any new recordings (apparently a lot of it spent partying) before his excellent comeback album with Yoko, Double Fantasy in 1980. Harrison’s Thirty Three and 1/3 was better than his most recent disastrous efforts (e.g., the Dark Horse album) and did contain two decent songs, “Crackerbox Palace” (#19 Mar. 1977) and “This Song” (#25 Dec.) (George’s comment about the “My Sweet Lord” plagiarizing “He’s So Fine” lawsuit), but the rest of the album was not memorable. Ringo Starr sank further with his Ringo’s Rotogravure album and Paul McCartney and Wings’ Wings At The Speed of Sound was another step down for the group from 1975’s Venus and Mars though at least it boasted two good songs, “Silly Love Songs”

(#1 June) and “Let ’Em In” (#3 Aug.). The former became a favorite of mine in April possibly because it was an upbeat love song, in contrast to many others in 1976.

British rock was clearly suffering, while disco ruled the American charts and the rise of punk and new wave was still a year or two away. However, rock music did have some excellent music in 1976 albeit mostly during the second half of the year and with American groups in the lead.

 

In December 1976, the Eagles released by far and away their best album, Hotel California. Joe Walsh, formerly of the James Gang and best known for his solo rocker “Rocky Mountain Way” (#23 Sep.’73), joined the group in 1976 and Hotel California benefits mightily from his addition. The album is a fusion of folk-rock and more mainstream rock and works very nicely. It features more traditional-style Eagles songs such as “New Kid in Town” (#1 Feb. 1977), an excellent folk-rock tune that was the first single from the album, as well as “Wasted Time” and “Try and Love Again”, two excellent album cuts that could have easily come from any of the Eagles earlier albums. But it is the Joe Walsh-influenced electric guitar songs “Life in the Fast Lane” (#11 June 1977) (which Walsh co-wrote) and “Victim of Love” (B-side of “New Kid in Town”) along with the title track “Hotel California” (#1 Apr. 1977) that really make the album soar. The former two songs are great rockers, but “Hotel California” was a very special song. Building slowly with acoustic guitars, then a slow rhythm track and great infectious tune and vocals from Don Henley, the song finishes with an extraordinary guitar duet from Don Felder and Joe Walsh. This melding of folk-rock and hard rock works perfectly and makes “Hotel California” one of the best rock songs ever and my favorite in 1976 or for that matter in 1977 when it received most of its airplay.

Boston released their self-titled debut album in August, which was every bit the equal of Hotel California by the Eagles in terms of overall quality. Led by writer/producer and lead guitarist Tom Scholz and vocalist Brad Delp, Boston had a unique rock sound that made their music irresistible. Highlighted by the soaring single “More Than A Feeling” (#5 Dec.) (“I closed my eyes and I slipped away”), the Boston album features nine tracks which all could have been hit singles. “Foreplay/Long Time” was another favorite, particularly the link between the instrumental “Foreplay” and “Long Time” (#22 Feb. 1977) (“It’s been such a long time, I think I should be going”). “Peace of Mind” (#38 June 1977) as well as the album cuts “Hitch a Ride” (“Gonna hitch a ride. Head for the other side”) and “Something About You” were not far behind. Great guitar hooks, nice vocals and strong melodies make Boston one of my favorite rock albums of all time.

Heart had their U.S. release of their first album Dreamboat Annie in February.  The album’s success was primarily due to two superb songs: “Magic Man” (#9 Oct.) and “Crazy on You” (#35 June). After Nancy Wilson’s excellent acoustic guitar intro, “Crazy on You” morphs into a hard rock ballad featuring an unforgettable guitar riff and Ann Wilson’s soaring vocals. The rest of the album doesn’t offer anything comparable, but it isn’t bad either. “Dreamboat Annie” (#42 Jan. 1977) is a nice folk-rock song that was also a successful single and is reprised to good effect at the end of the album. Another folk-rock song “How Deep It Goes” and the rocker “White Lightning” are also good.

The Steve Miller Band and their album Fly Like an Eagle, released in May, soared to #3 on the album charts. The album is the best single album the group ever did, highlighted by three very catchy hit singles – “Take the Money and Run” (#11 July) (“This is the story about Billy Joe and Bobby Sue”), “Rock N Me” (#1 Oct.), and “Fly Like an Eagle” (#2 Mar. 1977). But the album featured much more, most notably two very good songs, “Serenade” and “Dance, Dance, Dance” (which both also appeared on the group’s Greatest Hits album in 1978) and the interesting rock-blues song “Mercury Blues”.

Takin’ It to the Streets, the Doobie Brothers’ fifth album, was their best since the excellent The Captain and Me.  In late 1975, Michael McDonald joined the group, effectively replacing lead singer Tom Johnston who was having serious health issues. McDonald’s keyboards, vocals and blue-eyed soul sound permeate the album. And the best two songs on the album were McDonald compositions with his distinctive vocal style –  “It Keeps You Running” (#37 Jan. 1977), a great soul ballad, and the up-tempo “Takin’ It to the Streets” (#13 June) (“You don’t know me but I’m your brother”), one of my favorite songs by the Doobie Brothers.

Steely Dan had another strong album, The Royal Scam. I’ll admit I didn’t listen to it much in 1976, but grew to love four songs in particular from the album (after I listened to them repeatedly on a “Best of” collection in 1978) – “The Fez” (#59 Oct.), “Don’t Take Me Alive”, “Haitian Divorce”, and “Kid Charlemagne” (#82 July) (“Every A-Frame had your number on the wall, you must have had it all”). All four were catchy with Steely Dan’s very distinctive rock-jazz fusion sound and their usual interesting lyrics.

English rockers the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) released their best album in September, A New World Record. Consistently good throughout and featuring Jeff Lynne’s distinctive, orchestrated rock sound, the album was also ELO’s most popular to date. It features three singles: “Livin’ Thing” (#13 Dec.) (“It’s a terrible thing to lose”), “Do Ya” (#24 Mar. 1977), and “Telephone Line” (#7 Sep. 1977) as well as several other good rock-’n’-roll songs, notably “Rockaria” and “So Fine”. My two favorites from the album were “Livin’ Thing”  (“I’m taking a dive”), a nice lively upbeat song, and “Do Ya” (“Do ya, do ya, want my love”), an excellent rock-’n’-roll song. I bought this album in 1977 and played it constantly.

Peter Frampton released the highly successful live double album Frampton Comes Alive in early 1976. The album spent 10 weeks at #1 and spawned three top-20 hits in 1976, “Show Me the Way” (#6 May), “Baby, I Love Your Way” (#12 Aug.), and “Do You Feel Like We Do” (#10 Nov.). The album was one of the first live albums I can remember where the music quality was actually quite good. Nonetheless, while I

enjoyed the three hit songs from the album, particularly the long version of “Do You Feel Like We Do” as well as another album cut “Shine On”, the rest of the double album was underwhelming for me and didn’t live up to its popular hype.

My Favorite Songs in 1976

 1. Hotel California – Eagles

 2. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

 3. Crazy on You – Heart

 4. Carry on Wayward Son – Kansas

 5. More Than a Feeling – Boston

 6. Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Öyster Cult

 7. Rock’n Me – Steve Miller Band

 8. Foreplay/Long Time – Boston

 9. Dream On – Aerosmith

10. Magic Man – Heart

 

Other rock songs that I enjoyed included:

 

Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” (#9 Apr.) (“So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye? So you think you can love me and leave me to die?”) was one of the best songs of the year – a rock-opera hit featuring great guitar and contrapuntal vocals that was great fun even after multiple listenings. The song has the rare distinction of actually charting 16 years later and reaching #2 on the charts after it was featured in the movie Wayne’s World. Queen also had the very good song “Somebody to Love” (#13 Jan. 1977) (“can anybody find me somebody to love?”), which featured some great singing by Freddie Mercury and the rest of Queen as well as the excellent single “You’re My Best Friend” (#16 July).

 

Blue Öyster Cult had their first hit and best song with “Don’t Fear The Reaper” (#12 Oct.), which is one of my favorites of 1976. It was the source material for a great SNL skit in the 1990s featuring Christopher Walken as the music producer who demands “more cowbell” from band member Will Ferrell.

 

Boston-based Aerosmith had its first two top 10 hits with its re-release of the 1973 song “Dream On” (#6 Apr.) (“Dream until your dream comes true”) in 1976 and the release of “Walk This Way” in November (#10 Jan. 1977), two of the best songs the group has ever done. “Sweet Emotion”, which barely made the top 40 in 1975, was another excellent Aerosmith song that received more airplay in 1976, because of the group’s newfound popularity. While having their own distinctive style, both musically and vocally, Aerosmith’s early hits reminded me of an American version of Led Zeppelin.

Gordon Lightfoot had the lengthy epic song “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” (#2 Nov.), one of those rare recordings that tells a riveting story through an excellent song.

“Carry on Wayward Son” (#11 Feb. 1977) (“Don’t you cry no more”) by Kansas was a great rock song. Taken from the 1976 Leftoverture album, the single was released in December 1976 and became the trademark hit for the group and is among my favorites.

Gary Wright had two very catchy pop-rock singles – the synthesizer heavy “Dream Weaver” (#2 Mar.), and “Love Alive” (#2 July) (“My heart is on fire, my soul’s like a wheel that’s turning”).

“Love Is a Drug” (#30 Mar.) by Roxy Music from England was an interesting art-rock song that presaged the beginning of new wave in 1977.

English rockers Foghat had their best song “Slow Ride” (#20 Mar.) (“Slow ride, take it easy”) with a unique pacing and rhythm for a hard rock song. Later, they had the catchy “Fool for the City” (#45 July).

Thin Lizzy from Dublin had their first and only major U.S. hit “The Boys Are Back in Town” (#12 July).

Manfred Mann had a huge comeback hit in late 1976 when they successfully covered Bruce Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light” (#1 Feb. 77). This was the group’s first top 40 hit since “Mighty Quinn” in 1968.

And speaking of comebacks, “Rock and Roll Music” (#5 Aug.) by The Beach Boys was an excellent remake of the Chuck Berry classic and was The Beach Boys’ first top 40 song in nine years. Technically, The Beatles also had a comeback hit except it was just a re-release of an album cut from the 1966 album Revolver, “Got to Get You into My Life” (#7 July). That the song was a re-release of a 10-year-old song as a single and still made the top 10 is a good indication of the dearth of strong rock songs in 1976.

The longtime British artist Cliff Richard had fourteen #1 hits in the U.K. but had never had a top 20 hit in the U.S. However, with “Devil Woman” (#6 Sep.) (“She’s just a devil woman, with evil on her mind”), Richard finally had an American hit single and a pretty good one at that. “All By Myself”

Music in 1976 raises an interesting “chicken or the egg” question. Did so many songs seem depressing to me because I was feeling down in the dumps during much of 1976 or was I depressed because there were so many dreary songs? While logic says that it was the former, some of the songs didn’t help matters much. Songs about breakups, relationships on the rocks or loneliness were particularly difficult for me to listen to even though I will admit that a few of them were good songs. Consider some egregious examples from 1976:

“If You Leave Me Now” (#1 Oct.), Chicago – “If you leave me now, you’ll take away the greatest part of me, ooh no, please don’t go…you’ll take away the very heart of me.”

“Here Comes Those Tears Again” (#23 Mar. 1977), Jackson Browne – “Here comes those tears again, just when I was getting over you, just when I was going to make it thru another night without missing you.”

“You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” (#2 Sep.), Lou Rawls – “Late in the midnight hour, baby (you’re gonna miss my lovin’). When it’s cold outside (you’re gonna miss my loving’), you’re gonna miss, you’re gonna miss my lo-o-ove.”

“The Pretender” (#58 June 1977), Jackson Browne – “And when the evening rolls around, I’ll go home and lay my body down, and when the morning sun comes streaming in I’ll get up and do it again, Amen… Caught between the longing for love and the struggle for the legal tender... Out into the cool of the evening strolls the pretender.”

“Kiss and Say Goodbye” (#1 July), The Manhattans – “This has to be the saddest day of my life... I’m gonna miss you, I can’t lie (I’m gonna miss you), Understand me, won’t you try (I’m gonna miss you) It’s gonna hurt me, I can’t lie (I’m gonna miss you)...Let’s just kiss and say goodbye.”

“Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” (#6 Dec.), Elton John – “What I’ve got to do to make you love me, what I’ve got to do to make you care...it’s sad, so sad, it’s a sad sad situation.” (To make matters worse, this song featured a VERY dreary vocal style and music.)

“It’s Over” (#38 May), Boz Scaggs – “Why can’t you get it thru your head, it’s over, it’s over now. Yes, you heard me clearly now I said, it’s over, it’s over now.”

“She’s Gone” (#7 Oct.), Hall and Oates – “Everybody’s high on consolation. Everybody’s trying to tell me what is right for me, yeah, I need a drink and a quick decision. Now it’s up to me. Ooooh, what will be. She’s gone, oh why, oh why, I better learn how to face it, she’s gone, she’s gone, oh why, oh why, I’d pay the devil to replace her, she’s gone, she’s gone oh why, what went wrong?”

This last song caused me to trash one clock radio when I woke up to this song a few mornings after Molly and I broke up in November 1977. (At least, I was angry instead of depressed!).

But the king of depressing songs in 1976 was the Eric Carmen hit “All By Myself” (#2 Mar.):

When I was young
I never needed anyone
and making love was just for fun.
Those days are gone.

Living alone
I think of all the friends I’ve known,
but when I dial the telephone
Nobody’s home.

All by myself
Don’t want to be all by myself anymore
All by myself
Don’t want to live all by myself anymore

This song should come with a warning: “Do not listen to when all alone in your apartment!” Fittingly, Carmen had the follow-up hit  “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again” (#11 July), to which my response was, “Well yeah, particularly if you depress everybody.”

Disco, Funk and Soul

While most disco songs were pretty bad, there were a few exceptions. My favorite disco songs were by artists that were not disco acts per se.  The best was “December 1963 (Oh What a Night)” (#1 Mar.) by the Four Seasons, a catchy comeback song for Frankie Valli on the heels of “Who Loves You” (the Four Seasons’ first disco hit) in late 1975. My other favorite disco hit was “Love Hangover” (#1 May) (“I don’t want to get over”) by Diana Ross probably indicating my general preferences for ’60s artists.

But the rest of disco was pretty dismal. Among the most popular, but still bad, a faux classic  “A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy (#1 Oct.), the instrumental disco song that certainly had Beethoven “rolling over” in his grave, yet another KC and the Sunshine Band disco hit “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty” (#1 Sep.), and “Love to Love You Baby” (#2 Feb.), the orgasmic first hit by the “Queen of Disco” Donna Summer.

Fortunately, funk and soul music was quite a bit better. War had their best song with the mellow and picturesque “Summer” (#7 Sep.) (“Riding round town with the all the windows down...Yes it’s summer, my time of year”). Earth, Wind and Fire had yet another excellent funk and soul hit “Getaway” (#12 Oct.) featuring their unique harmonies. Brothers Johnson had the soulful “I’ll Be Good to You” (#3 July). And my favorite funk song of the year was “Play That Funky Music” (#1 Sep.) by Wild Cherry that would get even the most reclusive types on the dance floor.

The Bad

Unfortunately, there were a number of bad songs, even beyond disco.  Captain and Tennille did such a saccharine version of  “Muskrat Love” (#4 Nov.), I found myself pining for the original by America, even though it was never a favorite of mine. The Carpenters destroyed a nice Herman’s Hermits hit “There’s a Kind of a Hush” (#12 Apr.). Barry Manilow sang “Tryin’ to Get the Feeling Again” (#10 May) and I sorely wished he wouldn’t try! Then, there was the #1 song of the year “Afternoon Delight”

(#1 July) which took saccharine to new heights both musically and lyrically – “Gonna find my baby, gonna hold her tight...skyrockets in sight, afternoon delight.” But perhaps the worst song of the year (if you can call it a song) was C.W. McCall’s “Convoy” (#1 Feb.), which combined trucker C.B. slang with a silly tune. I can still remember one of my friends putting that on the jukebox at our favorite pizza joint at Brown and having some woman scream out, “What asshole put that song on?!”

*****

Despite the bad and dreary songs, 1976 was a decent year for music. For the Eagles, Steve Miller, Boston and Heart, their 1976 records ultimately represented the best of their careers. And there was promise that 1977-1978 would be even better with a new album, Rumours, on the way from Fleetwood Mac, and several new wave groups, The Police, the Talking Heads and the Cars, beginning to gain in popularity. In 1977, rock would be taking a new turn and in December 1977, I learned I would be heading west to Stanford Business School and a new chapter in my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Coast Posse and the Browns March on Baltimore

                          All Browns fans should follow the NCP @northcoastposse

Q:  All things considered, not a bad way to start the season. What did you think about Kizer's debut and the rest of the offense?

Big$: I'm sure he would love to have the interception back, and he definitely held on to the ball a bit too long on occasion, but a lil film study will iron those wrinkles. Outside of that he showed off an NFL ready cannon and was putting the ball on the money. Plus, he looked like the statuesque AFC north behemoth QB behind center. I think Hue is all in on him which is key, if he can mitigate the hits he was taking (not playing a bunch of degenerate yinzers will help) it should be a fun year.

K-Dubs, the Soldier:  Despite Kizer’s promise, if this offense is going to click, it needs to get the running game going.  Isaiah Crowell had just 33 yards in the opener, averaging less than 2 yards per carry, and the team had just 57 yards total.  The game only gets harder when Kenny Britt, the purported replacement for Terrelle Pryor, is dropping passes, like he did on a key third down last week.  Rookie David Njoku did snag a couple passes, and fellow tight end Seth DeValve emerged as trusted target for Kizer, but the receiving core really needs to step up and aid in Kizer’s development.  

Q:  Thoughts on the D holding the Steelers to 14 points?

K-Dubs, the Soldier:  I hate to play the “yeah, but” game, but if not for truly scrumtrulescent Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh was doing nothing on offense.  If you take away his numbers, the Steelers had just 81 yards passing.  And Le’Veon Bell was a nonfactor.  The D also held tough on a couple of key short-yard situations and picked off Big Ben on the goal line.  I truly believe this is the beginning of a defense that will get Browns fans barking again.
     
Big$:  My thoughts can be summed up in 2 words: Carl Nassib. Dude gets after it, I'm expecting more improvement from him over the next couple of weeks and then the big 9 and 1/2 sack game against the Bungles.

Q:  Vegas still isn't impressed. Browns were 9 point dogs last week and now 8 points against the Ravens? Do they cover? Could they win?

Big$:  Several times a year I sit in wonder at just how accurate the odds-makers out west are. The 8 point spread is about right especially if you're looking to lure the easily excitable Browns faithful into laying their mortgage on the Brown and Orange. With that said, anybody know a bookie????

K-Dubs, the Soldier: Take the points.  The Ravens defense forced 5 turnovers and registered 5 sacks in a 20-0 shutout of the hapless Bengals in the opener, and they will be taking on a rookie QB in Kizer.  No doubt, the offense will have some tough sledding on Sunday.  Baltimore’s offense, though, gained just 268 total yards, with only 111 yards in the air.  If the Browns could play the Steelers offense as strong as they did last week, I like their chances of bottling up a Ravens team that has Cleveland-reject Terrance West as its featured back.   

Q: Final question: Who is going to be missed more this season Terrelle Pryor or Kyrie Irving?

Big$:  Oh man, this rips me to the core. I can't imagine how beneficial TP would’ve been to Kizer's development, but he is outta site outta mind in "R word" football purgatory. Kyrie, on the other hand, will be in our face on the regular as a member of our closest conference rival. Therefore, the reluctant answer I must give is Uncle Drew. 


 

Baver's Buckeye Bag - Picking Through Oklahoma Debris and Army

Listen to Baver Friday Mornings at 7:40 am on CD1025 and follow @baverbuckeyebag


Colin: Ok, it's the question that's been asked a million times, a million different ways, but here goes: Oklahoma puts 10 guys on the line with one safety and we cannot complete a down field pass. This should be like shooting fish in a barrel. What the hell?

Baver: It’s several things… JT’s inaccuracy, JT not trusting his WRs, the WRs inability to get open, and the offensive game plan. There are HUGE problems with JT and the WRs, no doubt about it. And OSU’s all-time leading passer in several categories may soon find a seat on the bench. But the offense we saw Saturday night is still Urban’s…”same as it ever was…same as it ever was”. And the video on Eleven Warrior’s Ramzy Nasrallah’s Twitter Feed linked here >https://twitter.com/ramzy/status/906929593671712768 shows OU free safety Will Johnson knowing the precise rout Parris Campbell would run before Campbell even ran it. This is mind-boggling. But back to your comment about Oklahoma selling out to stop the run. Ohio State still ran the ball well, getting 101 yards off 16 carries between Dobbins and Weber. Why did they only have 16 combined carries? This is an Urban thing, and the extended 5 ½ year honeymoon officially ended for Urban this past Saturday.

Colin: Teams have adjusted to stop J.T. Barrett. The offensive numbers against Michigan, Clemson and Oklahoma are brutal. Let alone the fact Watson and Mayfield completely out played our QB. That is not the recipe for success. Is there any hope of a J.T. revival?

Baver: I was one of JT’s biggest supporters, and finally started to jump ship after re-watching the Indiana game. After watching the Oklahoma game twice, I have little hope for him. As mentioned before, it’s certainly not all JT’s fault, but his confidence is shot, reminding me a lot of Todd Boeckman’s downward spiral in 2008. If Urban sticks with JT, I will still root my ass off for him and hope I’m wrong.

Colin: Meanwhile, the defense hasn't exactly been kicking ass and taking names either. What do you see on that side of the ball?

Baver: The D-line is still fine, actually better than fine. The back-7 was horrendous Saturday. Losing Raekwon McMillian has hurt way more than I thought it would. Worley looked lost all night against OU, and preseason All-American Jerome Baker looked lost as well. I never saw this coming….not thinking a Greg Schiano defense would get shredded at any point this season. Damon Arnette making huge strides in the offseason? Not. JUCO transfer Kendall Sheffield the next great OSU corner? Far from it, so far. And the safeties appeared to be out of position much of the evening as Baker Mayfield carved up the entire back-7.

Colin: Does anything that happens against Army this weekend matter at all?

Baver: Who knows, maybe JT gets some confidence back, or maybe we get a look at Burrow or Haskins, possibly even in the first half. I loved how Jim Tressel bent over backwards to salute Navy when they came here, but actually playing these service academies is not good for your team. Gotta hope the Bucks avoid injuries facing Army’s blocking schemes, specifically cut blocks. And you have to spend all kinds of time stopping an offense you won’t see again during the season. Urban said they spent time in August preparing for Army, noting that you can’t play that kind of option attack with only one week of preparation. I do think however, that OSU covers the 30-pt spread in similar fashion to how they covered late against Indiana. I look for 4 or 5 second half Buckeye TDs after the Black Knights run out of gas. The call: 48-14 Ohio State.

Colin: What other games and lines will you be keeping an eye on this weekend?

Baver: Give me Tom Herman in the underdog roll every time….as the Longhorns visit USC in the Coliseum. Should be a good game, and I’ll gladly take Texas and the 16 pts there. USC made me pay last week, but I’ll try again. And I will stick with Oklahoma St again this week, laying 13 ½ pts at Pittsburgh. Seems like a lot of points on the road, but I’m still not convinced anyone outside of Alabama can slow down the Ok State offense. And I like Clemson -3 at Louisville, even though they are in a letdown spot after their win over Gus’ Auburn Tigers. Clemson is still loaded and I think will be too much for Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals.

Pink Turns to Blue. Grant Hart: 1961 - 2017 - by Jeremy Porter

Pink Turns To Blue
Grant Hart: 1961 – 2017

The first few times I heard Hüsker Dü I was a little underwhelmed. Their new album was "Zen Arcade" and it seemed really noisy to me. Not a lot of hooks. The guitar sounded funny. I liked the way the guitars sounded on "Tooth and Nail" by Dokken better. A couple months later, at the tail end of a long night of teenage debauchery, I was hanging with my best friend John Burke, who has turned me on to more music than anyone I've ever known. He asked me if I wanted to hear the new Hüsker Dü record, "New Day Rising," while I waited for my dad to pick me up. He put the record on and stepped out of the room to explain to his concerned grandmother why there was a strange, unfamiliar long-haired kid in the house at that hour. The next few minutes changed the way I heard music forever. I immediately connected with the confluence of melody and energy, structure and noise, and somewhere beneath the din – the lyrics. The cover looked like a photo from a family vacation. These guys looked like my friends, my neighbors, the guy who worked at the hardware store, and they sang about "getting drunk out on the beach or playing in a band." This wasn't Dokken. This was the new soundtrack to my life.     

Shortly thereafter, I revisited "Zen Arcade" with a vengeance, grasping not only to the hooks that I was now able to discern, but also to the absolute hardcore between them. I got it. It has become one of my desert island records.  It seemed like the blink of an eye before we had "Flip Your Wig" (released just 8 months after "New Day Rising"), and the holy trinity was complete. 

"Flip Your Wig" was Grant Hart's finest moment.  Every Everything, Green Eyes, Flexible Flyer, and Keep Hanging On are snapshots of beauty. I get a pit in my gut just thinking about them today. Even though his role and output often seemed just short of equal to those of bandmate Bob Mould, everyone knows that his part was every bit as important to what made that band so great. For every Chartered Trips there was a Pink Has Turned To Blue. For every Makes No Sense At All there was a Sorry Somehow. He brought a pop-rock, 60s feel to their records that was a welcome contrast to Bob's more power-pop-punk (before there was such a thing). He was the fun, smiling, goofy hippy to Bob's brooding artist persona. Together, and with bassist Greg Norton, they were a well-balanced juggernaut.  

After the split, things never really seemed great for Grant on the surface, especially against the inevitable comparisons to Bob Mould, who became one of the more respected alternative-rock guitarists and songwriters in the 90s and to this day. His band Nova Mob was supposed to play Detroit, but Grant got "sick" and openers The Magnolias played to an empty theater instead. He came through solo a couple times, and it was both incredible and heartbreaking to hear him sing and play those great songs but also see the visual evidence of his inner-battles. Still, he always had a smile and wit. 

I remember walking up to the Elbow Room in Ypsilanti to see him play. He was on the sidewalk talking to some fans about "the feud" with Bob and he pointed to me and my William Mitchell School of Law tee shirt. "Hey!" he stopped mid-sentence "Where did you get that shirt? That's in Saint Paul!" 

"My sister just graduated from there." I answered proudly, a little taken aback that he was talking to me, not even making the connection between the shirt and the guy who wrote If I Told You at first.   

"Aah. Always a good thing to have a lawyer in the family." He chuckled before resuming his take on the corporate-rock creation and perpetuation of the faux-Mould-Hart war.  

A couple years later, In March of 2010, I was beside myself to land an opening slot for him in Toledo. This was a big deal for me – recently going solo myself after being in bands for over 20 years, supporting one of my heroes. I said I'd do it for free and promote the living shit out of it, and I was a few days into that when I got an email from the promoter declaring "Grant Hart is a fuck!" after he reportedly demanded double the guarantee he had already contractually agreed to play the show a week earlier.  It never happened. 

The last few years of Grant's life saw some overdue redemption and respect. There was a Documentary DVD and accompanying soundtrack called "Every Everything: The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart" in 2013 that was an excellent and fitting tribute, and increased homage by the likes of Dave Grohl ("No Hüsker Dü, No Foo Fighters") were increasing too. His last album, "The Argument," received a plethora of praise that he hadn't experienced since the Hüsker days. He and Bob were talking again, and although a reunion (thankfully) never seemed likely, there were new projects around the old catalog in the works. It was exciting and optimistic, and really nice to finally see some harmony in that camp. 

Then on July 1st of this year there was a tribute show in Minneapolis where many faces from his past came out to honor and celebrate him and his songs. By all accounts it was a special night, but it took only hours for word to get out that he wasn't doing well.  

This morning hit hard right out of the gate. I remember when Johnny Cash died it seemed so expected that I was unphased, then a week later I read his obituary in Rolling Stone and it hit me like a pile of cinder blocks. When Joey Ramone died, I almost cried that night. When Joe Strummer died I was a little numb for a couple weeks, but every day since it has been harder and harder to stomach that loss. I can barely even listen to The Clash anymore. But Grant and Hüsker Dü have been with me literally almost every day since that late night in John Burke's room, listening to The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill, wondering "What the hell is this that I am hearing?". 

I'll admit to being a little stunned at the outpouring of sentiments on social media this morning. I guess I know a lot of people his music touched. More than I ever imagined. The stories and effect of his songs on people's lives are great to read, and I think as time passes, his legacy will grow beyond what he ever expected. Tonight I'll pull out my moldy, water-damaged copy of "Flip Your Wig" and turn it up.    

5 Stellar Grant Hart Moments:

1 - Every Everything / Green Eyes ("Flip Your Wig") – the definition of post-punk, pop-punk, whatever you want to call it. A band and a songwriter at their peak. 2 great songs on a record full of great songs. 
2 - Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely ("Candy Apple Grey") – Maybe the most "rock" Husker Du ever got. We were so into this when it came out. Great video too. Grant got the 2 singles off that album, deservedly so.    
3 - 2541 (single) – Grant beat Bob to the first solo-career release punch with this. The song is about the house he lived in, and also the address of the Hüsker Dü office on Nicollet across from Garage D'or records in Minneapolis. My first visit to the twin cities was in 1990, with my future wife, to visit friends and see Soul Asylum play. We were in Garage D'or and Grant walked in. 20 year old me was pretty excited to say the least. I bought a (second) copy of the 2541 single for him to sign, not losing sight for one second of the irony that we were across the street from the name-sake, and we chatted about his upcoming tour and the lack of a Detroit stop. The next morning Tommy Stinson ate breakfast at the Uptown Café in the booth next to us. I was in fan-boy heaven that weekend.         
4 - Pink Turns To Blue ("Zen Arcade") – C#m > A.  Falsetto chorus. Another gem of a pop song with a really sad but beautiful back-story. Grant's songs on "Zen Arcade" give the album so much depth and visualization, a great contrast to Bob's more ambiguous narrative. 
5 - Admiral of The Sea ("The Last Days of Pompeii" – Nova Mob) – A great song and video by Grant's post-Husker band Nova Mob. Not necessarily where I'd send a newbie, but an important early chapter in his diverse post-Hüsker Dü catalog.  

Jeremy Porter lives near Detroit and fronts the rock and roll band Jeremy Porter And The Tucos.     
www.thetucos.com
www.facebook.com/jeremyportermusic  
@jeremyportermi
www.rockandrollrestrooms.com

I took the liberty of adding a couple videos. - Colin G.

 

 

   
 

Watershed at the Final Independents' Day Festival Sunday, September 17th - by Colin Gawel

Watershed will be performing at the final Independents' Day Festival Sunday, September 17th at 5pm. FREE. Details and location here.

For some reason, it seems there is a constant undercurrent in Columbus suggesting we need one truly great music festival. Maybe I'm just lame, but to this lifelong resident, it feels like we have a music festival every other weekend and most seem pretty great to me. In fact, by September, I'm all festival'ed out. Except of course, for the final big one of 2017, the Independents' Day Festival. 

The folks at Indyfest say this 10th outing will be the final edition. While it will be sad to see this magical gathering disappear, I admire the decision to pull the plug sooner than later. In my opinion, one of the biggest bullshit lines in the world is, "If you aren't growing, you are dying." Whoever tells you that is probably trying to sell you something. How many businesses go bust by expanding too soon or too much? Way more than go bust by staying true to core principals and playing it safe. 

In its ten year run, the Independents' Day festival has been just right. It grew a little, but not too much. It kept 95% of it's vibe intact. And helped revitalize TWO different neighborhoods in Columbus. It doesn't need to get bigger or go on forever. Mission Accomplished. Game Over.

Or put another way, Independents' Day was like the BBC version of The Office. It had a beginning, a middle and an end. And it was flawless. No need to stretch it out like a sitcom covering the same story lines until people finally grow tired of it. 

I've been lucky enough to play the Indyfest twice. Once with the Lonely Bones on the Pearl Alley Stage and once with Watershed on Gay Street. The sky was so blue. Hope everybody can make it Franklinton the weekend of September 16/17. It's going to be special. Once again (click here for details)

May I Recommend a Book About Book Recommendations? - by Scott Goldberg

I am fortunate both in real life and on Facebook (for I know what is on Facebook is not real) to be friends with book readers.  Having never actually witnessed a friend reading, I know this mainly from requests on Facebook for book recommendations.

Responding to book recommendation requests has never been easy for me.  Does this person have the same tastes as me?  For instance, I recently read and enjoyed Lives in Ruins: Archeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble by Marilyn Johnson.  Now if I knew you, or more likely your kid, was considering a career in archeology I would say this is a must read.  Otherwise, this book is only for those curious about what a different career path might look like---spoiler alert, the grass is not always greener.  

Just as important  (ok, actually more important, especially on-line) is how I will be perceived by making this recommendation.  I want to come across as thoughtful and literate and hip and well it’s difficult when I am really not any of those things.  So I found a book that allows me to seem to be all of those things, because the author is.  And the whole book is about books the author has read.

I found this treasure meandering the shelves of the Lane Road Library.  I love libraries.  I love the ideas of borrowing and returning.  I love that it’s basically free.  I love that it provides access to just about anyone and caters to all sorts of tastes and interests.  I guess it’s sort of like the internet, but infinitely more pleasant.  Having said that, it doesn’t take long to meander all of Lane Road’s first floor book collection.  Probably 70% of the space is devoted to computers and DVDs and CDs---stuff that are not books.   And if you eliminate self-improvement, how-to, cook books and romance novels, you are left with about three shelves from which to brouse.

Anyways, there among the remaining books this spine caught my eye. Read from top to bottom: Hornby Ten Years In The Tub A Decade Soaking In Great Books. I’ve read most of Nick Hornby’s books, so this spine caught my eye.  If you like witty, concise writing often with pop culture references pick up High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.  It includes discussions of creating the perfect mix tape (remember those pre-Spotify as if I know what I am talking about having never once used Spotify, although I do get billed monthly for it for my daughter).   The book was later made into a movie starring John Cusack (although Jack Black steals it)which I enjoyed as well.

Ten Years in the Tub is a compilation of essays that ran in a magazine called The Believer which I never heard of but sounds if it might be passed out for free by folks either in free-flowing robes or in neat suits knocking at your door at inopportune times.  His mandate was to write only positive book reviews (although he often humorously complains about this limitation).  The book spans 10 years from 2003 to 2013. Each month ( a few months are combined others are skipped) Hornby lists the books he bought/acquired (he buys/gets a lot) and the books he has read.  Although there is often some overlap between the two lists, just as often they have nothing in common.  Warning—the dude reads a lot.  At any one time, I am reading one or two books and I would say I rarely read more than one book a month.   Hornby knocks out four and five books a month consistently.  And he has many of the same excuses I have for not reading more—kids, work, alcohol, kids, watching sports, alcohol and kids.  His essays sprinkle in pop culture, sports (much of it English soccer—he might call it football) and small personal events from his life.  The essays read part book review and part scenes from a really good sit-com.

Currently, I am half way through 2006 and I have compiled a list of about eight books I want to read.  At my pace that is about 8 months of reading or basically how long Trump has been our President which seems like a really long time.  I am hoping many of these recommendations will lead me to new authors and additional books by them.  To be honest, some of the most fun in reading Hornby’s essays is when you come across a book you have already read.  It sort of validates your own taste in books and who couldn’t use a little validation now and again.

So next time you are looking for a good book, get Hornby’s book and read an essay or two (they are short and addictive—insert potato chip metaphor).  Just don’t run over to Lane Road Library to grab it, I still have that copy, sucker.

 

I just want to briefly address my only other contribution to this fine endeavor? blogosphere? black hole? When last I wrote, the Indians had just lost the World Series and we had elected our new President.  My emotions were a little raw.

9 months or so later, the Indians are once again perched atop the AL Central and look better than last year.  If everyone gets healthy…and the starting pitching is consistent…they are primed to break my heart and crush my dreams again this Fall—hope springs eternal.  

I will say one controversial thing about the Indians.  I know this player is a fan and team favorite, but the Indians best lineup does not include Jason Kipnis.  To me eye, Jose Ramirez is a better second baseman.  With Ramirez at second, Chisenhall can play third, and then the outfield is Brantley in left, Zimmer/Jackson in center, and Jay Bruce in right.  That team is a beast.

Sorry I got off track, but last Fall I wrote that if I could change only the outcome of the World Series or the presidential election, I choose the World Series.  In my defense, I have waited my whole life for the Indians to win a World Series.  I have not waited my whole life for Hilary Clinton or any woman to be President.  Even so, looking back I can see my words were a little self-centered veering towards self-absorbed.  Which makes me think I am more like this President, that I can barely stomach, than I care to admit.  

When you don’t like someone, and if it isn’t clear I don’t like Trump, almost everything they say or do can get under your skin.  His trip to Texas in the aftermath of the flooding was a perfect example.  Does he emphasize the devastation, the human tragedy? No he focuses on the size of the crowd that came out to see him.  If he were my son (a teenager), I would smile and shake my head at his utter self-absorption.   But this guy (who acts like a child all the time) is our President.  It got me to thinking about what book I would recommend our President read—not that I believe it would change him or make a bit of difference.  The Diary of Anne Frank comes to mind as does To Kill a Mockingbird.  But the first book I would give our President is The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss.  Happy reading Mr. President. 

Scott Goldberg also wrote It's Been a Tough Month for this Indians Fan in 2016. As of this posting the Tribe have won 19 straight games.