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Here’s to My Future. But First, Here’s to My Yesterday!

31 Dec

I have no idea where the time went, but as the calendar reminds us, December 31 means we’ve come to the end of another year.

Americans can’t seem to see eye-to-eye about much these days, but suffice it to say, 2018 was … a year. It was 12 months long. (Those are facts we can all agree on, right?) And as with any year, a lot of good stuff and bad stuff happened, locally and nationally. There’s no need to rehash it all; we all lived through it.

I’m excited for 2019, and all that the next 12 months will (hopefully) bring with it. But, as the Imagine Dragons lyric says, “No tomorrow without a yesterday.” So in that spirit, I’m going to use this last blog post of 2018 to take another look at some of my yesterdays. Specifically, some of my favorite highlights from the past 12 months. Continue reading

My Soundtrack for 2018 Brings Back a Lot of Memories

18 Dec

Every year has its own soundtrack. It’s the collection of songs and sounds that, when you hear them, they remind you of times gone by.

My soundtrack for 2018 does exactly that, recalling the times I spent lazing by the pool aboard a cruise ship, watching the Olympics, celebrating my birthday in New York City, enjoying live music, driving around in the summer with the volume up and my car windows down, and much more.

I like compiling this kind of “time capsule” playlist instead of writing a top-10 (or whatever number) list of the year’s “best” songs and albums because music tends to play such a large role in my life, and I often can remember certain events by what I was listening to at the time. Besides, taste is so subjective, so when looking back on the year gone by, I’d much rather call attention to more music than less. Because tracks wouldn’t have been added to this playlist if I didn’t like them, anyway. Continue reading

Let’s Not Forget These Early Days of 2018 (The Good Ones, Anyway)

29 Jun

It’s hard to believe, but it was just last week that James Corden shared his awesome “Carpool Karaoke” video with Paul McCartney with the world.

Less than a month and a half ago, we were all fighting about whether we heard “Laurel” or “Yanny.” (It’s Yanny. No question.)

Two and a half months ago, Desiree Linden won the Boston Marathon women’s race, by more than four minutes — even after stopping just over an hour into the race to wait while Shalane Flanagan went to the bathroom.

Less than three weeks before that, Brandon Victor Dixon’s performance blew us away in the live TV production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Black Panther, easily the best movie so far this year, came out just four months ago.

And a month before that, we were all cheering when the Minnesota Vikings staged an incredible comeback in the last minute of an NFL playoff game. (Unless you were a New Orleans Saints fan, that is.)

Yes, all of that happened this year. Continue reading

You’re Supposed to Be Singing

28 Jun

20-feet-from-stardom-posterWhen was the last time a movie made you want to stand up and cheer?

Like, legitimately want to stand up and cheer.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have to reset your clock after seeing 20 Feet from Stardom, an excellent new documentary about folks you’ve definitely heard, but likely have never heard of: backup singers like Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Táta Vega, Darlene Love, and Claudia Lennear.

These are people who’ve worked with the greatest legends in music — Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Bette Midler, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, Sting, Joe Cocker, Ray Charles, and so on — and yet never gained similar name recognition, even though the songs they’re featured on wouldn’t be half as good or half as memorable without their vocals. Continue reading

There Was Magic in the Night at Fenway

16 Aug

What do you say about a Bruce Springsteen show that starts with “Thunder Road,” the previous evening’s high point, performed simply and in classic style, with just piano and harmonica by Springsteen and “Professor” Roy Bittan?

What do you say about a Springsteen show that includes diverse but amazing audience requests like “Thundercrack,” “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?,” “Frankie,” “Quarter to Three,” and “Prove It All Night” (with the 1978 intro), and where a cover of Eddie Floyd’s “Knock on Wood” (a song the band has only performed once before — in 1976) is considered by Springsteen to be the weirdest one of them all?

What do you say about a Springsteen show that also includes an excellent, powerful “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” an awe inspiring “Land of Hope and Dreams,” and a transcendent “Backstreets?”

What do you say about a Springsteen show where he sings “Waiting on a Sunny Day,” and ironically, that’s when it starts raining? Then he does an acoustic “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” and it starts raining even harder?

What do you say about a Springsteen show where he asks for a hot dog and beer so many times that someone actually gives him one — at the start of “Working on the Highway” — and he chugs that entire beer in one sip … while still playing the intro to the song!

What do you say about a Springsteen show where even the usually stoic and serious Max Weinberg smiled a few times?

What do you say about a 30-song Springsteen show where only 12 of those numbers were repeated from the night before, one of which (the aforementioned “Thunder Road“) performed so differently that it kinda doesn’t even count as having been repeated?

What do you say about a Springsteen show that ends — with Ken Casey of the Dropkick Murphys joining the band for “American Land” — and then treats the audience to a fireworks show off the Green Monster as they’re leaving the stadium?

What do you say about a Springsteen show that’s even better than the one the night before?

Really, what can you say other than that you’re lucky to have been there. Damned lucky. Continue reading

Greetings from Fenway Park, MA

15 Aug

Bruce Springsteen wrote the song “Wrecking Ball” in 2009 to commemorate the tearing down of the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

It wasn’t too long ago that Fenway Park was threatened with a similar fate.

But here we are celebrating the 100th birthday of America’s Most Beloved Ballpark, with a wrecking ball nowhere in sight, and Springsteen is back to play his third and fourth shows at the stadium in less than a decade.

These are glory days, indeed. (Someone must not have told the Red Sox, but we’ll leave that to another blog post.)

Continue reading

He Took Care of His Own

27 Mar

Hard times … Baby, well, they come to us all.

Few people understand that statement as well as Bruce Springsteen does. And that theme permeated a good chunk of Springsteen’s show last night at the TD Garden here in Boston.

With a new album out, Wrecking Ball, that addresses the tough, unfair economic climate, and a set list that drew heavily from that album, it was clear that Springsteen came to town hoping to give voice to the frustrated and angry.

And he did, beginning the show with sound and fury: “We Take Care of Our Own,” “Wrecking Ball,” “Badlands,” and the Celtic-flavored “Death to My Hometown,” one after another. That’s what he called putting “a whoop-ass session on the recession.”

Later on, he performed “American Skin (41 Shots)” as a not-so-subtle reference to Trayvon Martin.

But it didn’t take long to pick up on the fact that Springsteen had more on his mind than current events. Continue reading