“Hard Times Come Again No More”


My life is not poor.  I have economic stability, a good roof over my head, and support if I need it.  Stephen Foster wrote this song about poverty, and the fear and heartache it brings to people who’s only crime is to not have enough of anything.  But the feeling of the hard times he wrote about resonates with any troubles a body might be having.  And goodness knows, I’ve had my troubles this year.

This has been the hardest year I’ve ever known.  I know many of you have had hard times this year.  May all our hard times come again no more.

Happy New Year to you all.

Repost: “Night Moves”


It’s late for me to be posting, and I’ve got nothing new to add to this post from a long time ago.  But it’s the right kind of song for this kind of year.


Like Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Seger was also recently inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.  I have to admit, Seger is not the first guy I think of when I think of excellent songwriters.  He isn’t even the fiftieth guy I think of.  But he has written some classic rock songs, the best of which is arguably “Night Moves.”

My first exposure to this song actually came on Saturday Night Live.  I was watching it in reruns (late night on KTLA, only the awesome 70s episodes).  They had an irregular segment in which they showed a short film by a young filmmaker (Albert Brooks did a lot of these bits, and they were very awkwardly funny).  Gary Weis directed the film using “Night Moves,” and it was really a proto-music video.  It was also excellent, but I can’t seem to find it anywhere.  I can find lots of references to it, the date it aired (January 22, 1977), and that Garrett Morris appeared in it.  But no video.  I find this very frustrating, because the official music video that Seger himself released in the mid-90s was awful, so bad a good song could not overcome it.

“Night Moves” is a fantastic song, beautifully capturing the angst and restlessness of adolescence: “We were just young and restless and bored, living by the sword.”  The song is from the perspective of a man remembering a teenage love affair, even though “We weren’t in love, oh no, far from it.”  It’s probably the first sexual experience he ever had, and he’s nostalgic for the kind of passion he felt.  It’s also callous, in the way only teenagers are callous, “I used her, she used me, but neither one cared.  We were gettin’ our share.”  There were no consequences then, at least that’s how it felt.  Freedom, rebellion, innocence even.

It’s a pretty ordinary song, dominated by a nice acoustic guitar, until the final verse.  The band tapers off and the guitar slows down.  And Seger’s gruff voice comes out of the silence.  “I woke last night to the sound of thunder.  How far off I sat and wondered.  Started humming a song from 1962.  Ain’t it funny how the night moves, when you just don’t seem to have as much to lose?  Strange how the night moves, with autumn closing in.”  In that moment, in those lines, as Seger’s voice falls to almost a whisper, you hear all the regret and loss leftover from that summer love affair.  That maybe they were in love, after all.  That maybe it was better when the stakes weren’t so high.  Or that maybe the stakes were a lot higher than he likes to admit.

“Lord, I remember.  Lord, I remember.”

Repost: “A Long December”


It hasn’t just been a long December; it’s been a long year.  I posted this exactly one year ago today.  I had no idea what was waiting for me in 2013.  I really do hope this coming year will be better than the last, in so very many ways.  


Nobody does sad quite the same way as Counting Crows, and there aren’t many songs by them sadder than this one.  Even though it got hideously overplayed back in 1996, I’ve never grown so tired of it that I turn it off.  There is something compelling about the forlorn despair in Adam Duritz’ voice.  He’s what makes the Crows’ music so interesting.  They’re fine musicians, but Duritz’ songwriting and singing bring a depth to what would otherwise be pretty middle-of-the-road pop-rock.  Now I don’t wish pain on anyone, but Adam Duritz is one of those artists who is much better when he’s depressed.  (For the record, Duritz is pretty open about his struggles with Depression and other emotional/mental issues.  He’s had himself under more control in the last few years, which makes me happy for him but sad for the music.)

“A Long December” might be a mediocre break-up song in lesser hands.  The lyrics are solid, but not spectacular–at least on the surface.  “The smell of hospitals in winter, and the feeling that it’s all a lot of oysters and no pearls.  All at once you look across a crowded room to see the way that light attaches to a girl.”  I always have the distinct feeling I’m missing something with Duritz’ songs, that part of the story is being left out.  It’s one of the most intriguing things about his songwriting style: it’s all so intensely personal.  You just know there are inside jokes that casual listeners will never even notice, but the people who lived through those times with Duritz hear them instantly.  But in spite of the emotional specificity (or maybe because of it), there is room for the audience.  Everyone can identify with the resignation and despair here.  The winter is long, and it’s just beginning in December, the cold nights looming large, the shadows growing by the second.  “I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower, makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her.”

But there’s more to this song than heavy piano chords, a melancholy accordion, and a desperate voice.  There’s hope and redemption.  “A long December, and there’s reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last.”  Maybe he’ll figure it out.  Maybe she’ll forgive him and come back.  Maybe he’ll get to the ocean next year.  The winter nights might be dark and long, but the new year is about to begin, and there’s always a chance things will improve.

Happy New Year to everyone in the blogosphere.  Maybe this one will be better than the last.


“Shoot the Moon”


Still feeling a little blue.  I heard on the weather report that January 1st will be the New Moon, which seems auspicious to me.  I don’t know why.  A fresh start for the new year, a new cycle of waxing and waning to begin the calendar.

I love the moon.  A full moon is one of the most beautiful things in the world, but the moon is wonderful in any of its phases.  Even when it’s dark.  The light is cool and mysterious, so much gentler than the harsh fire of the afternoon sun.  There’s peace in watching the moon glow in the sky; it makes me content in way very little else can.



Post-Holiday Blues


I know today is Freaky Friday, but I’m not feeling very freaky right now.

Maybe I’m just tired, but I’ve been feeling a little melancholy the last couple of days.  I don’t want to do anything.  Yeah, I was pretty busy the whole week before Christmas, so my lack of motivation might be directly related to my natural tendency toward inertia (this is one body that likes to stay at rest).  And I’ve not slept great the last couple of nights.  But there’s also a sort of emotional pall that’s set in.

Maybe it wasn’t an emotional meltdown I was waiting for; maybe it was this.  I don’t feel depressed, really, or any sadder than I’ve felt since May 12th.  It’s a little like a haze where I just don’t feel much of anything.  I’m not worried; I know I’ll shake it off pretty soon.  Something will happen that gets me excited and happy.  But in the meantime, I’m just sort of floating along.

I’ve posted this one before, but it fits my mood right now.  I’m just feeling a little lost, I guess.  There’s been so much going on since the spring that having not much to do is kind of weird.  It’s giving me a little too much time to think.

“Boxing Day”


Imagine my surprise when I do a Google search for “songs about boxing day” (exactly how I typed it), and I actually find a song called “Boxing Day.”

I’m not a huge Blink 182 fan, but I sometimes listen to them if they’re on the radio.  This was released about a year ago, and it’s fairly typical of their style, but somewhat more muted, more mature.  The band members grew up quite a bit during their hiatus.  (Travis Barker’s maturity was hard-won, surviving a terrible plane crash in 2008.)

I guess this kind of sad little Pop song is perfect for the day after Christmas.  Even though the decorations are still up, everything is a little more muted now.  There’s only a few presents I have to give to friends under the tree still, and lots of leftovers for dinner.  I haven’t plugged in the lights, although that’s mostly cause I’m giving them a bit of a break after leaving them on for 24 hours.  (You gotta have the lights on all night on Christmas Eve; Santa likes that.)  It’s just kind of quiet now.

I hope y’all had a lovely holiday yesterday.  I know I did.

“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”


Things got a little crazy yesterday.  Today is equally nuts, and tomorrow and the big day itself also promise to be busy.  But there’s always time for a little music.

I’ve got nothing to say about this song; it’s just one I happen to like that seemed to fit today’s news.

Because today the remaining two members of Russian Punk band Pussy Riot were released from prison.  It’s only a couple of months early, but at least these young women will be able to be with their families for Christmas.  Putting them in prison at all was a travesty.

Also today, I saw this heartwarming story about a former member of Santana who has been homeless for years being reunited with Carlos Santana.  Apparently, Marcus Malone has some royalties coming to him, and Santana seemed genuinely pleased to see his old friend.  My hope is that seeing this story will remind people that there are still homeless people year round.  The problem doesn’t go away with just one reunion.

But it’s a nice reunion.  And the freeing of political prisoners is good.  There is still much to be done, but we can be glad that these two good things have happened.  It is Christmas after all.


Repost: “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”


I thought I’d post this a little earlier than Christmas Eve this year.  There are many ways to help the hungry in every community and every corner of the world.  But none are as easy as the links below.  


Bob Geldof did a good thing when he got all his friends and colleagues together to record this song.

Sadly, it’s still relevant (although the hairstyles aren’t, thank goodness).  There is still famine around the world.  So take a minute out of your busy Christmas, and help feed the world.  It won’t cost you a thing.

The Hunger Site

Free Rice