Category Archives: Marc’s Playlist – Music That Moves Me

Treasure Each And Every Moment With Dean M. Collins’ Beautiful “Borrowed Time”

Whenever I review music from a friend or family member, I preface the review with that declaration for full disclosure and transparency. I also don’t suffer fools lightly, and if I did not truly enjoy something, I’d probably skip writing about it. Luckily for me, I love Dean the person and I love Dean the musician. Well… I wish he would have used me on the album but perhaps he’ll take me on the road! Shotgun!!!

Dean and I went to Northwestern University together, so I have been listening to his music for a while… Enough said on that! You stop that right now!!! It has a definite retro ’80s sound, well… okay… I first heard it in the late ’80s… but I mean the new stuff, which means it’s immediately in my wheelhouse.

While the sound is reminiscent of bands like the BoDeans and that great midwestern rock, ironically Dean is from Kentucky. Clearly we know where his musical tastes veered. He’s also been compared to Jason Falkner of the amazing band, Jellyfish… so there’s that. And Gavin Lurssen mastered this one!!! They have always been one of my faves! And Jimmy Zavala (Jimmy Z) said he heard Crowded House and Buffalo Springfield. Horrible company to be in there, Dean. I mean, come on, what kind of singer/songwriter is Neil Finn???

What’s different (from then to now) is more in the lyrics, themes and ideas. Dean is a deeply contemplative singer-songwriter who uses his life to inform and infuse his music. Okay, yes, most singer-songwriters do that, but I have seen his life transform in front of my eyes and in his music. Many of his tunes are go tos when I need to get through something or gain some perspective.

There is also a bit of dream pop thrown in, too.  You especially hear it in the melancholy closer “Fade.” From the opening subtle, wailing and mourning guitar. The lyrics tell us where Dean has been…

“I’m falling, falling down to a place I’ve never been
No one knows the shape I’m in.”

But then the song starts to change. It slowly builds and there is a pulse of hope in the drum beat. Dean’s last lyrics fade into the air…
“I’m leaving. I’m leaving.
Going far from this place, I’ll fade to black.
Never coming back.”

For me, this is the crux of the album, and Dean as an artist. Even in the darkness he finds a beauty and light. Even in what’s a moody and somewhat sad song, there is optimism and hope. It doesn’t hit us on the head with the message, it just lets it flow out naturally. And it’s where we all want to be. We acknowledge the pains of the past, but do not let them define us. Not an easy task. For those of us who deeply struggle with this, it’s the centerpiece of mindfulness and present moment awareness. This album preaches that and Dean gives us something to aspire to.

It’s funny… or sad… but for many of us we want our artists suffering so that they create music to get us through the times when we are suffering. It makes us feel connected to others and “the other.” When an artist finds love and happiness there is the risk that, that edge will go away. To his credit, while there are definitely some straight on love songs, Dean’s happiness is infectious. This may be because I know him personally, but I feel the songs that celebrate love will affect anyone who hears them.

So Kenny Aronoff was supposed to play on one or two songs, but liked Dean and the music so much he’s on nine out of 12 tracks. Nathan Cooley is on tracks 2, 7 and 9. Shout outs to Thom Russo and Brad Wood for their individual mixes. I miss you, Russo!!! The full credits are at the end.

“Perfect” may be my favorite tune because of the blistering harmonica from Jimmy Zavala. Yeah he’s that good! So fine, I can see why I was not on the record. But I truly love this from start to finish. From the 1-2 opening punch of “Denial Changes Everything”

“All the effort in the world
Can’t change the someone who isn’t you
And all anger you can take – or make
I shed it like a second skin
I’ll walk away as I begin
I go all-out to find myself again.”

And then into “SunStare.”
“I stare at the sun sometimes
To burn out all thoughts of you
From my mind
I stare at the sun sometimes
To blow my past away…”

And here I am coming off a breakup. And you want to know why this album has been my go to for a while? Musical and lyrical cuts to the bone.  A shot to the heart… and then a gentle massaging it back to life.

And Dean’s best life lesson to me… “Don’t paint the red flags white.”

We are only here on earth with borrowed time. Let’s make the best of it… and let the bad times fade and the good times propel us into the present… where we enjoy… fully enjoy each and every moment.

 

Borrowed Time by Dean M. Collins
https://music.apple.com/us/album/borrowed-time/1462788329

Spotify
https://open.spotify.com/album/21KgpaNtio4mddHGqyDrHW?si=AcbT4xMHT-GTrGjJWnBjXw

YouTube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAjVdluOmgw&list=OLAK5uy_ngqMgOAwkjsrJisoPd44w1u-2v-2VkPrs

Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Borrowed-Time-Dean-M-Collins/dp/B07R4YV4DN

Google Play
https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Dean_M_Collins_Borrowed_Time?id=Bafn7wuhrczv6sqrra3wg5fkwya&hl=mk

 

FULL ALBUM CREDITS:
Dean M. Collins: Guitars, Words & Vox

Kenny Aronoff: Drums & Percussion

Nathan Cooley: Additional Drums 

Shane Hulsey: Guitars

Samm Darden: Bass

Chris Zeigler: Additional Bass

Rashawn Matthews: Hammond B3

Eric Sproull: Piano

Jimmy Zavala: Harmonica

John Scholvin: Additional Guitars

Smokin’ Brett Resnick: Pedal Steel

Backing Vocals: Isabella Pappas, Nathan Granner, Stephanie Rogers, Cheryl Wilson, Samotta Acklin

David Lockington: Cello

David Ellis: Banjo and Mandolin

Tiffany Watson Ray: Fiddle

Paul Tuvman: Piano

Ariana Pappas: Backing Vocals

Thom Russo: Mixes (1, 4, 5, 6, 8)

Brad Wood: Mixes (2, 3)

Ralph Cacciurri: Engineer and Mixes (7, 10, 12)

Fabrizio Grossi: Mix (9)

Jason Achilles: Mix (Track 11)

Gavin Lurssen: Mastering

Dave Jenkins: Drum Engineer

Produced by Dean M. Collins

 

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When The Blues Falls In Love – Unconditional By Jack Wargo

I’m baaaccckkk! Sorry for the long absence my friends… Chalk it up to life.

Unconditional – Jack Wargo

Jack Wargo is a true Bluesman. He has played and toured with Billy Preston and Solomon Burke. He has recorded with Ray Charles and The Jacksons. And he also lead the house band at BB King’s Blues Club at Universal CityWalk. Man, I miss that place.

I have seen Jack play live countless times, including the recent record release party for this great EP. And yes, I have even jammed with him… and I love the way he shoots me that look if I am overplaying and stepping on his solo. It’s a free music lesson for me, just live and on stage.

The guy is the shit… an amazing and gifted musician who just makes it look waaayyy too easy. And we all know it’s not. Years of learning and practicing and being out on the road is what makes those chops. That’s the way it used to be done! Jack is a true journeyman.I will admit that the title of this album put me off a bit. Unconditional. And that’s just because of where I was in life… I was dumped from an almost two year relationship, and the word “unconditional” came into sharp focus. Clearly I was not being loved unconditionally and this is the key to any good relationship. Unconditional says it all. Unconditional is what will make it last. So did I really want to hear what was probably going to be a love album?

I had just weened myself off the playlist I made called “Songs For A Breakup.” I was moving into my new playlist called “Songs Of Freedom.” So where would a love album fit into all of this?? I was also coming off my first Doheny Blues Festival, so the blues were in my ears. There were 12 bars in my heart and soul and veins. It was the blues that fit where I was… It was the blues that was getting me through. I wanted to hear a Blues record, darn it!

And then I put on “Unconditional”… jazz flute… soothing… Oh shit… dude’s in love… AND I know WHO he is in love with… another friend of mine. This record is for her.

“About The Love” is an instrumental that reminds me of this amazing Ric Flauding track called “Leslie” that… well… yes… I have made love to. This song will go on that special playlist. No words are needed. You can hear the love in each and every note.

“Be With You” brings Jack’s smooth and easy vocals into play. My ice is starting to melt. And so is the pain from my broken relationship. Darn you, Jack. I want to feel like this, too!

The horns of “Part Of Me” reminds me of some of Burt Bacharach’s best tunes. I love the sentiment, I love the vocal and backing vocals and I love the horn. This is my favorite track.

“Running Home To You” expresses a longing that many musicians probably feel on the road. You gotta call… you gotta keep that connection… and as soon as you can, you run home to home.

“True Love” is now battling for my favorite spot… I am hearing some smooth Doobie Brothers and Michael McDonald on this one. Such a great track. And I love Jack’s guitar on this song. Yup, it’s official… this closing track is my favorite now.

This is a damn fine record, made for love and from love. It may be just what we need right now. Heck, it may be what I need right now. I’m not in love anymore, but this album makes me want to go out and find my person… find my one… find the woman who will love me unconditionally… I mean, I loved her unconditionally… and I want that again. It is a powerful and potent thing. And I know when I do, when I find my next real, true, forever love “In Your Eyes” will be playing in the background… and so will this record. You can count on that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hearing A Song With New Ears

Have you ever had that moment in life when you suddenly start seeing patterns or when similar or maybe even identical things start happening, seemingly all of a sudden and out of nowhere?

Yes, this is awareness, or self-awareness, or being more present, but if something doesn’t have meaning for us, we are not going to notice it, even if we are highly conscious of what is around us.
(Denis Cherim)

Case in point: I made a conscious decision a few years back to diligently follow the English Premiere League, and picked Tottenham Hotspurs as my team (thanks, Eric and Julian). Up until then I had never heard of Tottenham and soccer was a passing interest. I would be obsessed during the World Cup and then lose interest. I played when I was a kid, though if you ask my parents, all I did was stand on the field and play with my cup. Those things were NOT comfortable! Apparently I spent the entire game as a defender, looking at the crowd and the sky… and… adjusting myself! And then only showing interest and going into action when the ball came to me. Doh.

I am so NOT an athlete.

Anyway… the moment I was fully on board with Spurs, amazing connections started happening.  I was in Davids Tea in The Village and when I heard the London accent of the woman behind the counter, I asked her which team she supports… Yes, I was starting to be hip to the soccer lingo. She, of course, said Tottenham and was FROM Tottenham!

A day or so later I am on the FREEWAY… so thousands of cars, literally… and I see a jeep with a (you got it) TOTTENHAM bumper sticker. Then I’m at a party, and the bartender has a London accent. So I ask the same question… He says, without a beat or shock from me, “Spurs!”

Now… were those things always there and I just was not paying attention to them? Yes, of course. It did not mean anything in those previous moments. But as soon as I did become aware… BOOM! There they all were. Their motto is also an important one for me, so there is that!This is known as the “Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, otherwise known as frequency illusion or recency illusion. This phenomenon occurs when the thing you’ve just noticed, experienced or been told about suddenly crops up constantly. It gives you the feeling that out of nowhere, pretty much everyone and their cousin are talking about the subject — or that it is swiftly surrounding you. And you’re not crazy; you are totally seeing it more. But the thing is, of course, that’s because you’re noticing it more.”

“A couple of things happen when the Baader-Meinhof (pronounced badder mainhoff) phenomenon kicks in. One, your brain seems to be excited by the fact that you’ve learned something new, and selective attention occurs.”
(Kate Kershner on Sceince.HowStuffWorks.com)

Awareness is an amazing thing. We all THINK we are aware, but how much of the time are we just moving through life, living in our own head and missing so much that is in front of us?

The Buddhist’s call it “Satori,”which means sudden enlightenment. Others may call it an “epiphany” or “awareness” or “self-awareness.” The hip term is “Mindfulness,”which of course has been around forever. The pointis that we need to be open to all possibilities, to take the lessons that are almost always presented to us, and may have actually been sitting in front of us this whole time, and actually see them and learn from them.

For me, it is the realization that there are no coincidences… that things come to us precisely when we need them to. And forgive the long path that it took to get to this point, but this absolutely has to do with music and songs.Venice, a band I know and love has an amazing tune called “Bad Timing Song.”  I have heard it many times, but it came on random play yesterday and literally stopped me in my tracks… the lyrics hit me in a way they had never had before.

YES, I was going through a breakup… and YES, clearly I need to hear this message… but wow… just wow!!! I really… and I mean REALLY heard the lyrics, as if for the first time.

They have always been there… I have sung along to them… but clearly, given what I am going through and where I am at, they took on a new, personal and POWERFUL meaning.

“How many times have I dreamt of this scene
You coming back and you’re crying for me
Saying my name and wondering what went wrong

But I’m different now
And whatever I felt is gone
No love or revenge
Just another bad timing song.”

What is perhaps even CRAZIER is that they JUST DROPPED a new album… and there is a song on there that is even closer to where I am at in life. I was floored. You MUST check out Jacaranda Street!!! I know I guffaw, but I cannot tell you how good these guys are and how much I love this band… and these two connections have made that love even stronger!!!

“Stepping On That Bridge”

Again… the guys went in my brain and heart… knew what I was thinking and feeling… and then wrote a song about me! LOL.

And you think we are not ALL CONNECTED???!!!

The whole song is me… but here are some of the highlighted lyrics…

Verse 1:
“I don’t do well with change
I don’t do well without change as well
I’m on the branch, I’m on the limb
Time for me to sink or swim.”

Verse 2:
“I don’t do well with her
I don’t do well without her as well
I’m on the lam, I’m on the brink
Time for me to swim or sink
Time for me to swim or sink.”

Chorus:
“Whoa though it goes against my nature
Whoa gotta take a leap of faith
Whoa though I don’t know where it leads me
I’m stepping on that bridge anyway.”

So here is the lesson… be open to everything. Literally tell yourself, “I am open to the opportunity of __________.” (Thanks, Wally!!!)

Walk through the world with all of your senses wide open, and everything you need, will come to you… because everything you need is already there… and everything you need is ALREADY INSIDE OF YOU!!!

Be open to it ALL. Return to yourself, my friends. Be open to change. Take that leap of faith. Step on that bridge. Magical and meaningful and significant and powerful new tunes will come to you… and you will hear “old songs” with new ears.

 

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A Song A Day – Week One Recap

Day 1 – A Song A Day Keeps The Doctor Away
First Day of A Song A Day Keeps The Doctor Away!

Come on, did you expect something OTHER than Bruce?

“Growin’ Up” – Bruce Springsteen

Favorite lyric: “When they said sit down I stood up.”

On its face, a history of youth and childhood, but it goes much deeper and is, of course, an anthem of rebelliousness and exploration. Not just one of my favorite Bruce songs, but one of my favorite songs of all time.

Here are two versions:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMyQjl59wkw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xY3q45EBt8 Day 2 – Two For Tuesday

“Rosalita” by Bruce Springsteen

No, this will not be a year of Bruce songs… And I did say more Bruce is coming… But this one is a celebration of joy, pure and simple… on the value of this song alone, but also every time I see it played live.

“It is proof of life,” to quote Bruce.

This is always in my Top 3 Bruce songs, though it may shift in placement depending on my mood and what I need. You’ll get my last of the three later on down the line, and a nice story to go along with it, which gives the song even more relevance. In the meantime, turn this one up and let Rock n’ Roll soothe your weary soul.

Favorite lyric:

“And your papa says he knows that I don’t have any money
Oh, your papa says he knows that I don’t have any money
Oh, so your daddy says he knows that I don’t have any money
Well, tell him this is his last chance to get his daughter in a fine romance
Because a record company, Rosie, just gave me a big advance.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYHGh6lmSbo

“Don’t Stop Me Now” – By Queen

This one goes out to my cousin, Lori. Always one of my favorite Queen songs and it’s gotten a lot of recent attention from Bohemian Rhapsodyand some commercial. But I love the way it is used in Shaun Of The Dead, one of my favorite movies! I miss Freddie.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgzGwKwLmgM

Favorite lyrics:
I’m a shooting star, leaping through the sky
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
I’m a racing car, passing by like Lady Godiva
I’m gonna go, go, go
There’s no stopping me

I’m burnin’ through the sky, yeah
Two hundred degrees
That’s why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I’m traveling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Day 3 – “This Gift” by Glen Hansard

Today I am going with this powerful and stunning song that has gotten me through many things with its amazing message of hope. This song has made me cry and has made me strong.

This is one of those perfect songs, and every word and lyric has powerful resonance, but if I had to pick my favorite part, it is:

“Don’t hang your head in sorrow
Don’t give up just before you win
Don’t wait around for tomorrow
Open up your arms and let it in.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpL6qq9ElwA

While the video quality on this second one is not as great, this version with his niece is also amazing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgQXuU8U8Vk

Day 4 – “Ghost Of A Chance” – By Rush

I will admit I am trying to plan a few days ahead to keep myself sane. But then something happens… like a song keeps coming up when my phone is in Shuffle mode. I mean that must be a sign, right? So I’m calling an audible… literally.

Neil Peartis one of my all-time favorite lyricists, and these are slightly skeptical, almost pessimistic, yet there is a small glimmer of hope… which pretty much describes where I am at right now in life. I think there is nothing wrong going through life with HEALTHY skepticism, as long as there is a stronger optimism to offset it. We all need hope. We don’t want to be pessimists, we want to be optimists, but we do need to look at things in a real and practical way. This song does that.

“I don’t believe in the stars or the planets
Or angels watching from above

(Actually, I do usually believe that, or used to… but not right now…)But I believe there’s a ghost of a chance
We can find someone to love
And make it last.”

Album Version:

Amazing Live Version:

Day 5 – “Waiting For My Real Life To Begin” by Colin Hay (and Thom Mooney)

Men At Workwas a pivotal band for me. One of my fondest memories was blasting the album Business As Usualin the cafeteria at Glen Rock High School as we prepared for a Nights Of Drama performance. They were one of our go to bands to pump us up and get us ready for the show. I will never forget the utter joy we all felt singing at the top of our lungs and dancing with reckless abandon… and if you have ever seen me dance, you know reckless abandon is one of my best moves.

So yes, I will be paying some MAW… but in the meantime, Colin Hay as a solo artist is astounding. The man can stand on stage with nothing but his voice and a guitar and absolutely mesmerize. His solo singer/songwriter renditions of Men At Work tunes are stunning… and songs like this are profound and beautiful.

I am a victim, as are many artists, of putting life on hold for an elusive dream. But real life is lived in the here and now. We must not kill the dream, but we must fully live real life now.

“And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart, let the light shine in
Don’t you understand
I already have a plan
I’m waiting for my real life to begin.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvukKx68_yMDay 6 – “Follow The Light” By Travis

I know… I know… these songs are supposed to inspire… but sometimes sitting with a little sadness will bring us joy and light… and yes, INSPIRE!!! And I can only be where I am in the here and now…

But speaking of light! LOL… This one does a bit of both.

This amazing song by the stunning Scottish band Travis says it all and says so much… and yes, it also came on in my Shuffle mode… Granted, I am hitting hard a 139-song playlist I created whose name I will keep private for now… though it may become obvious to some…

The good news for all of you is that I also created another playlist as my remedy to this one, and it is filled with shiny, happy people songs… Why yes, that song WILL be on the list.

I’m not sure how Travis went into my brain, grabbed these lyrics and went back in time to record this in 1999, but wow!

“Me I’m on the longest road
Where everything’s overload
But I’ve got my heart and soul
So don’t throw me overboard
Cause it’s alright
Just follow the light
And don’t be afraid of the dark.”

And yes, there will be a certain song (or two) of theirs from 1999 that will be played soon. Can you guess which one it is?

Enjoy your weekend my friends.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLKYfJNaxrk

Day 7 – “Directions” by Nahko And Medicine For The People

Seems like a perfect Sunday song! An example of how something simple can be so unbelievably powerful. And seeing this live is even more the case.

The song, and the band for that matter, is a tribute to tradition, a tribute to family and the realization that our ancestors were not only wise, but will guide us if we ask for it… pray for it. When they are here, and sadly, even when they are not.

30 words repeated… and that is it! POWERFUL.

And the exclamation of “Hoka!” which I believe means TO FLY! Wow.

And so as I look out in every direction, I also pray and ask for guidance. From G-d and also from my family who came before me…

“Grandfather I’m calling on you
Need your guidance now
Grandmother I’m calling on you
Need your guidance now.”

“HOKA!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLIgI3vBHwA

 

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A Song A Day Keeps The Doctor Away – Day 1

One year ago today I embarked on an adventure of sorts. In an attempt to stop the vitriol on Facebook, including that which came about because of my own political posts and rants, I decided I would present the positive in the form of one uplifting and inspiring quote a day. Of course, honoring the classic rock radio format of Two For Tuesday, I provided TWO quotes on Tuesdays.

The response was overwhelming, and while publicly people expressed their connections to the quotes, privately people reached out to me to tell me how much the quotes meant in much deeper terms. I was blown away… sometimes brought to tears with people’s amazingly open and powerful revelations.

Words… words… words…The right words can save a soul and save a life.

The right words can start (or end) a romance.

Choose your words carefully, for they are truly mightier than the sword.

They say (yes the famous and ubiquitous “they”): “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

I say: “A word is worth a million pictures.”All I need to do is mention the word “dog”and our brains go to our own beloved pets, an amazing time and place, or perhaps a bad experience we had. Either way, each and every one of us suddenly has a slide show or movie playing on our minds… a different film for each of us, all because of ONE WORD!

Power.

I often question my own self-value and worth and whether or not the sharing of words has any significance, whether they are my own or someone else’s. They do. Words have immense power. Which is why, not to get political here, we cannot and must not ever dismiss them.

We are taught that there are three expressions of ideas… thoughts, words and actions. They all matter greatly. None must be taken lightly. We will all have good and bad thoughts, but the key is how we speak them and put them into action… or not. Sometimes we must push thoughts aside, for our own safety and comfort, as well as for the norms of society and behavior. But to realize how connected we are to not only words and ideas, but to each other is a powerful thing.

We ARE all the same in the simplest terms. We want to love and be loved. We want to be safe and know that expressing our truth will be respected and not punished.

Sometimes we don’t realize the power in a simple act, but when it is done with good intentions it can be felt across the globe. This is why we must ALWAYS act with kindness and do the right thing. It may seem like nothing, but that is only because we might not be able to see the positive impacts with our own eyes. When we act with KINDNESS and ALWAYS DO THE RIGHT THING, the universe will literally change.
A song has that power. What is amazing about a piece of music, is that it changes with us. A song that once lifted and inspired us, can suddenly become one of heartbreak and loss, a bitter reminder of a time that was. And a song that once was the soundtrack to a breakup, can just as suddenly become a song of celebration and freedom.

People hear different things in the same song, and yet we are bonded by a singular tune. It may not mean the same to me as it does to the person next to me, but there we are, dancing in a darkened room together while our favorite band is on stage. And then again, the song may mean almost exactly the same.

Music brings us together. And a song… or songs… create the very soundtrack to our lives.

As I deal with a breakup, I created a 138-song playlist to get me through. I just need to be careful that is not keeping me in sadness, though we all need that period of time to mourn, and sometimes sitting with sadness is a good thing, as long as we truly learn the lessons we need to learn in order to get stronger and move on. Though I have vowed to turn to happy songs after my period of mourning.

I’ll try not to throw out too many of them as we begin this journey, but if I am posting a heartbreak tune, you’ll know why. I will be posting a song every day on FB and for my own sanity, I will do a weekly recap here… Maybe every Monday I’ll post that day’s tune and then what was played over the past week.So with all of that said… Welcome to the year of…

A Song A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Come on, did you expect something OTHER than Bruce?

“Growin’ Up” – Bruce Springsteen

Favorite lyric: “When they said sit down I stood up.” 

On its face, a history of youth and childhood, but it goes much deeper and is, of course, an anthem of rebelliousness and exploration. Not just one of my favorite Bruce songs, but one of my favorite songs of all time.

Here are two versions: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMyQjl59wkw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xY3q45EBt8

 

Come back every Monday to get a recap of the songs from the previous week! And may your life be filled with music!

 

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Under The Radar And Speeding – Jonny Polonsky’s Unreleashed

There are many good and bad things about about the internet. One one hand, it has completely changed the world… On the other hand… it has completely changed the world. Many worlds… It has changed the way we communicate… or don’t. It has changed the way we talk to each other… or don’t. And it has changed the way we get and listen to music. And we do.

The internet is an embarrassment of riches, though those riches do not always make it to the artists who deserve them. The fact that I can listen to anything I want, whenever I want is an amazing thing. But the fact that there is so much music out there, can also make it hard to find things. Not that I was ever a musician… well, okay, I play a pretty mean harmonica, actually… but I have not made a record of me solo doing that…

But I do miss the days of the mix tape… the days when artists pounded the pavement and handed their tapes to anyone who would listen. This is how Jonny Polonsky made his way through the Chicago music scene. And like his guitar playing, he went balls to the wall. If you have never seen him live, do it. He plays with a passion and fury that is filled with joy. He is just one of of those guys who truly leaves a pint of blood… and sweat on the stage. Amazing! I had the pleasure of seeing him at the Hotel Cafe last year and the show kicked ass. He is also one of those bastards that plays a gazillion instruments! And plays them all well… Jerk! 😉

In January of 2018 he released a new record, Fresh Flesh, which was reviewed here. This eighth solo release is great and I highly recommend seeking it out. Actually, you should seek out all his stuff . And the fact that he can now publish a 21-track demos and rarities album is remarkable… remarkable because Unreleashed: Demos And Rarities has songs that other artists would love to have as their main tracks.

I love Jonny’s quote on the impetus for doing this record:
“About six months ago, the thought occurred to me that I should release a greatest hits record.
Which is, of course, ridiculous because I don’t have any hits. But the idea quickly morphed into
a compilation record of all the best songs from the last 20 years that I never put on a record.
That idea sounded exciting to me.”

The opening track, “Everywhere All The Time” sets the tone and has become one of my favorite songs of his. It is so listenable on its own, but then there is also a whole other deeper element

“That song was actually written and recorded around 2007, but I feel like it really describes the chaotic, divisive, mean spiritedness that permeates so much of our daily lives right now. ‘You’re everywhere all the time, but nobody sees you there.’ People talk a lot about being one human family and loving and accepting one another, despite our superficial differences in beliefs or appearances. But we still have a long way to go. I personally feel hopeful and optimistic about humanity, but I had to vent my frustration and pain about this all-too-frequently cruel and insane world.”

Many of the tracks are Power Pop at its best, and if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know the special place Power Pop holds in my musical heart. Jonny is often compared to, or at least placed in the same esteemed group as, Pete Yorn, Ryan Adams and Frank Black. Clearly Frank has had a major influence, as he was not only Jonny’s idol, but also wound up becoming a fan, helping to set him up with a record deal AND producing that amazing debut album, Hi My Name Is Jonny! According to AllMusic, Black (the lead singer of the Alt Rock band the Pixies) has “produced prolific amounts of quirky, intelligent rock music.” That is a good description of Jonny’s music… a mix of Power Pop, Post Punk and Alternative Rock. Or for me… wheelhouse, wheelhouse, wheelhouse.

Enjoy a little ’90s flashback here.

Some of my favorite tracks are the aforementioned opener, and the killer “The Same Song,” which I need to write a movie for! According to Jonny, ‘The Same Song’ is something I had kicking around for years, but only ended up finishing when I first moved to LA. I had met Lyle Workman when he was playing in Frank Black’s band,
and Lyle co-produced the track.”

On a side note, Lyle seems to be on fire these days, composing music for film and TV, including a lot of work for Judd Apatow’s shows and projects like HBO’s “Crashing.” He has also played on some of my favorite records like Jellyfish’s Spilt Milk, Todd Rundgren’s Nearly Human and 2nd Wind and Beck’s Midnight Vultures.

I also dig “Amazed” and “See Your Around,” and I especially love the lyric “After the fight comes new beginnings.” And that’s the thing about Jonny… you can listen to the music and enjoy it as is, and this album is a true joy from start to finish… or you can delve deeper and get into the lyrics which range from fun and quirky to deeply moving and insightful.

Jonny Polonsky may be flying under the radar for some of you, but the music is speeding at the sound of rock. Give it a listen. Get to a show. And with all the music that is out there, make sure great artists like Jonny don’t pass you by.

 

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Why Music Matters

I have always understood that part of the importance of art is to bring order to chaos. Whatever the canvas may be, whether it is a literal piece of cloth stretched over a frame or a sheet of music, an artist can take the noise and cacophony that is going on around us and make it clearer and more musical. Perhaps even more harmonious.

We live in a chaotic world right now. We are more divided, more stressed and more confused. Conversations have given way to cat calls. Consent has given way to conflict. People do not listen to each other any more. They do not hear anything other than their own position. And hearing… listening is essential. 

Music, Sweet Music
We need to listen to and really hear music. It will set us free. We need to find chords in discord, notes in the no and the not… a melody in the mayhem. Music literally soothes the soul, takes us to a different place, moves us. It puts our issues into perspective.

When people connect to a song or a specific piece of music, it can literally change the world. I think about the songs “We Are The World,” “Imagine,” though religious believers would take an issue with a few of the lyrics… and “You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen. It is powerful to note how many parents and kids wait backstage after each performance, not for a photo or autograph, but to share their stories of being lost. These people LITERALLY find themselves in the music and musical… they find themselves in the song.

It starts with:
“Have you ever felt like nobody was there?
Have you ever felt forgotten in the middle of nowhere?
Have you ever felt like you could disappear?
Like you could fall, and no one would hear?”

And then it moves us to this:
“Even when the dark comes crashing through
When you need a friend to carry you
And when you’re broken on the ground
You will be found

So let the sun come streaming in
‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again
Lift your head and look around
You will be found, You will be found, You will be found, You will be found, You will be found.”

We need to be found… we all need to be found… and most importantly, we need to heard and we need to listen. This is what music means…. this is why music matters.

“Let the trumpet herald in the night
Let the band pick up the fight
Let the conductor guide the way
Let the music play.

Let the chorus sing as one
Let us all sing songs unsung
Let the melody light our way
Let the music play.”
– MG“Without music, life would be a mistake”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
― Plato

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
― Aldous Huxley

“Where words fail, music speaks.” 
― Hans Christian Andersen

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”
― Victor Hugo

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
― Aldous Huxley

 

 

Think about how a piece of music can bring you to tears, how it can take you back to a specific time in your life. or how it can help you escape…

Ponder the song that gets you through a tough workout or tough time in your life, or inspires you to kick ass and take the world by storm. You may not love Eminem, but if you Lose Yourself in his anthem, it is hard to not feel inspired.

The scenes of our lives are so often played to music… We all have a unique soundtrack that is our lives… And while there will always be songs, albums and concerts we share, that bond us and keep us together… like the song  a married couple dances to for the first time… a tune that a graduating high school class sings in unison and in harmony… Each of us has their own song. We may be in a band, but each song means something different and specific to us.

We are all an individual and specific piece of music, a concert, or a series of songs. It is part of our DNA, part of our genetic makeup. Have you ever been doing something and a song (seemingly randomly) pops into your head? Or you almost unconsciously start singing a tune you have not heard in years?

Music gets into our blood and our bones… It enters our brains, our hearts and our souls.

Keith Richards says: “Music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words. It speaks in emotions, and if it’s in the bones, it’s in the bones.”

So live your life truly and openly. Celebrate exactly who you are… celebrate all that makes you different… for this is your truth and what makes you so special and unique. You were created for a very specific reason. You were created to sing.

Jack Kerouac said: “The only truth is music.” 

This is why music matters and more than you can know… So dance, compose and sing, always sing… be loud and fearless, blissful and joyous… sing… sing… sing!

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Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me