I am writing this assuming you are sane. I am writing this assuming you have compassion. I am writing this assuming you have basic respect. I am writing this not knowing if you are a Democrat, a Republican, or otherwise. But I am writing this assuming you are one of the majority of this country who are normal people, who do not believe your voice is being silenced just because there are not facts to support you. I am writing this assuming you believe facts, even when they don’t match up with how you WISH things were.
Like most of you, I’m furious. Like most of you, I have no faith that the system will handle things correctly–that it will instead once again inspect itself, find no errors and then crash again. Like most of you, I have been having trouble sleeping because the news cycle has infected my brain to the point that I lay there just thinking, occasionally twitching, and trying not to either scream or cry. And like most of you, I’m unsure if that’s even a metaphor at this point.
Boy it’s really a bummer that after two paragraphs, I could genuinely be talking about ANYTHING from the past four years, isn’t it?
Of course what is on my mind is the act of outright treason and terrorism we saw committed in the Senate Chamber on 1/6/21, as MAGA extremists stormed the building, brought a halt to proceedings, destroyed, defaced, defecated upon, and when all else failed STOLE property; who at one point held an armed standoff with security in the chamber; who endangered the lives of not only every sitting politician there but also every staffer, every worker, every janitor, and every other citizen both of sound or unsound mind; whose actions eventually resulted in the deaths of five people including a police officer (Blue Lives Matter, huh?), culminating in making a mockery of our government, our country, our national identity, and all the while showing their true colors–not red nor blue…just white…hooded-sheet white. (Very long sentence, just there…)
It’ll be in history books in ten years, if we still have a country then. Because that was an open act of war. We’re in the second civil war. It just doesn’t look how we imagined it would. It’s a little quieter, a LOT stupider, and fronted by a failed TV host rather than a general. But don’t make the mistake of thinking it isn’t a war. You just aren’t likely to be asked to pick up a gun…and if you are, you shouldn’t fucking do it. You might think I’m being over dramatic, but I’m not. This is what it’s like to be a citizen in a country at war with itself. You just haven’t been forced onto one side or the other yet. No one’s coming for you…yet. But we’re very, very far down that road. And Biden’s inauguration won’t stop it. I don’t know what will.
One of the great horrors of what happened on Wednesday is that so many people think it was just a show, or that it was localized so it doesn’t affect them. I’m not even talking about the motherfuckers (with all due apologies to good, decent people who actually fuck their mothers) who are lying about it actually being perpetrated by “Antifa” (which stands for Anti-Fascist, let’s not forget). I’m talking about basic, sane citizens. “It’s awful what happened at the capitol but at least it was contained and it’s over now.” No. It’s going to happen again. There are, of course, widespread rumors that there is a plan for it to happen again on inauguration day. But if not then…then sometime, somewhere, it’ll happen again. And it might not be a government building, or it might be a LOCAL government building…and more people will die.
And that’s another thing…
Armed terrorists–because that’s what they are–forced their way into a building and held it captive, with those inside having to shelter in place and hide, fearing for their lives. That happened. PEOPLE were under threat from domestic terrorists (aka–white assholes). Yes, they were politicians. Yes, many of them are soulless. Yes, there are many I don’t like–some I outright loathe… But those politicians are human beings, nevertheless. Even the ones who have lost touch with their humanity. Even the ones who STARTED this–who probably would’ve been put on a pedestal if they’d been found…and if someone hadn’t stolen the pedestal.
But there were people there with zip-ties, roaming the chamber and hallways. You…you know why violent people carry those right? You’ve seen movies? You’ve known someone who’s been raped or kidnapped or robbed or beaten?
Because I have.
You KNOW what that was. You KNOW the intent. Don’t lie about it.
You also KNOW that the only disappointment any of the terrorists from the images we’ve all seen have is that they didn’t get the chance to go what they think was “far enough.” You know that. You need to admit it to yourself. If they had been able to beat, lynch, rape, or behead Nancy Pelosi, they would’ve done it and proudly livestreamed it. YOU KNOW THAT. You fucking know it.
Nevertheless, five human beings–some of them ones with whom I staunchly disagree–died on Wednesday/Thursday as a result of what happened. More were “supposed” to in the minds of those whose names we now know, several of whom have still not been arrested. There can be no doubt of that. These monsters wanted blood. And we all tweeted about it and made fun of it because one guy (on mushrooms?) was dressed like a bull. And another guy accidentally shocked himself in the balls until he died (Google it). And another woman was trampled to death even though she was literally carrying a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag. (No, really.) We heard it and we laughed because it seemed just far enough away and just insane enough to be comical. People died. We laughed. Shame on us. Although I do understand that for some of us, laughter is a defense mechanism… I know I was trying desperately to find anything to laugh about and largely failing.
I’ve been ashamed to be an American for a long time. At least since the George W. Bush years, as is well-documented on this very blog. But now I see that there aren’t Americans left–there’s just different piles of selfish bastards. So I feel better about that. After all, I’m not ashamed that I’m not a dinosaur. You can’t mourn what no longer exists…what you’ve never seen…
I don’t have a paragraph coming where I turn this post around, if that’s what you’re waiting for. There is no “but…” coming. America is dead. We are Weekend at Bernie’s-ing the next administration, but ultimately we’re just schlepping around a corpse made of our own failure for a dumb joke. There’s not an upside. There’s not a “but here’s how we turn it around.” There’s not a sequel…which…for some reason there WAS for Weekend at Bernie’s…which…sucks…
Basically… While I think deep down, human beings are essentially good… Something happens when we organize. We organize, we lose our humanity, and we bring about hell. Then we get what we fucking deserve.
It’s not over. This wasn’t a one-time thing. It’s going to happen again–probably this month–and it’s going to get worse. And we all ALLOWED it to get this way. We let go of our humanity–especially those of us who didn’t see the warning signs under Dubya and kept voting for the Republicans for the next 20 years…and we got Donald Trump. We got what we fucking deserved.
If I WERE to turn this thing around it’d be a paragraph roundabout here saying, “So hold on to your humanity and what’s good about yourself and make a difference in your own circle blahblahblahFART…” But it hasn’t worked so far, has it? You’re a good person, right? And so am I. And yet…here we are… We’re still going to be good because that’s who we ARE…and we’re still going to see these same fucking headlines, having been able to prevent NONE of them. (But seriously STOP VOTING FOR REPUBLICANS.)
And by the way, there’s still a pandemic most people seem to be ignoring. And there’s that whole “racism” thing… It’s a mess all around…
So…I don’t have answers. I have anger and fear and hopelessness…and acceptance that it’s just this bad and there’s nothing I can do to change it. Even if we all started responding to one another with kindness today, we’d all be suspicious of it and wonder what the secret agenda might be–even if we all KNEW the agenda was to make the world a nicer place!
We are–and I cannot stress this enough–fucked.
I’ll still be kind and so will you…and it won’t change a goddamned thing. But we’ll do it. You can find hope in that if you want to…and I’ll see you at the next headline.
Anyway, I’m nearly done producing two new solo albums about girls I used to like and other bullshit like that, so look for those soon.
We all know what kind of year it’s been. The sane among us have been wearing masks and trying to keep away from others as much as we can. I’ve personally pretty much only left the house somewhere between five and ten times since March. Unless you count starting the car and driving it around the block so the battery won’t die every few days “leaving the house.”
As rough as it’s been on many of us, it’s also resulted in a BIG year for music. Nobody’s touring, so a lot of folks decided to record instead. A lot of cool music came out this year, and I had fun narrowing it down to my ten favorites. As usual I have no idea what metrics I used for this list. There are some things that came out this year that seemed like no-brainers that didn’t make it on the list at all and some that don’t seem like they’d make my list that were locks from moment one. It’s a gut instinct more than anything else. So here’s what my gut told me. I’ll do the full list right up front for those who don’t want to read any further, but there’ll be plenty of “further” if that’s your thing, of course. 🙂
Derek’s Top Ten of 2020:
Taylor Swift – Folklore/Evermore (Tie)
Rufus Wainwright – Unfollow the Rules
Jason Isbell – Reunions
Alanis Morissette – Such Pretty Forks in the Road
Bruce Springsteen – Letter to You
Drive-By Truckers – The New OK
Michael Manring – Small Moments
The Mountain Goats – Songs for Pierre Chuvin
Pearl Jam – Gigaton
The Lees of Memory – Moon Shot
…and yet I’m going to talk about them in reverse order, starting with The Lees of Memory – “Moon Shot.”
I’m new to this band. My brother mentioned them to me on an episode of my podcast and I decided to check them out and really dug their sound. They’re a rock band, but with a kinda Beatles vibe to their song structure and chord constructions. This album has a very “up” feeling to it, and it’s a lot of fun. I wasn’t really even expecting it to make the list, but I just kept coming back to it and kept digging it, so it snuck in at #10.
In at #9 is something a little more predictable for one of my lists…
I’m a huge Pearl Jam fan, and it’s unfair how long we had to wait for a new album after “Lightning Bolt.” “Gigaton” seemed to take forever to come out. And then, as I’m on record about in several places, the first single came and…I hated it. “Dance of the Clairvoyants” deeply disappointed me and I wasn’t just put off by it…I was angry. It was a Talking Heads song. It had a drum machine in it. (I’m STILL damn skippy that it’s a drum machine, despite most people saying otherwise.) It wasn’t a ROCK song. I was baffled. And then they put out “Super Blood Wolf Moon” and ridiculous title aside, it felt a lot more like home. And when the album came out, I even thought the song I didn’t like worked in the context of the rest of the album. So it made the list.
I’m not going to lie to you. This won’t ever be my favorite Pearl Jam album. If the last thing you liked was “Vitalogy” or even “Backspacer” this one might not be the one that brings you back. But mostly, for me, it’s just nice to have a new Pearl Jam album again, and there’s plenty to dig into on this one.
Which brings us to a pretty hard left turn from there, with The Mountain Goats’ first of two releases this year, “Songs for Pierre Chuvin.” If there was any doubt that The Mountain Goats are less of a band than they are just a guy (John Darnielle) then this album goes some way in clearing that up. Recorded in isolation on an old boom-box and converted to digital, what we have here is less of an album and more of a demo tape. This is the kind of thing I used to record at home to give to my band to learn the songs. Just a guy and a guitar. That’s sort of my favorite thing in the world.
At the time I read about who Pierre Chuvin is, but I’ve retained none of it. You can Google that for yourself. I just liked the album. And actually it’s less that I liked the album than it is that I liked what it represents. It was the first thing this year that I bumped into that was produced with isolation/quarantine in mind. And I thought it captured where we were (or are…or SHOULD be…) really well and it connected with me on that level pretty deeply. I haven’t listened to it too much. If you asked me to sing one of the songs now, I probably couldn’t. But the TONE of the album was so perfect for 2020, it just had to make my list.
The Mountain Goats, of course, also put out an album called “Getting into Knives” within the last couple of months as well. It’s good too. But “Chuvin” was the lock for the list. “Knives” is more of a traditional Mountain Goats album, if that’s more your thing. And that IS my thing…but this thing is MORE my thing. Thing.
And speaking of isolation…
Michael Manring also released an album perfect for isolation. He’s a bass player–and one of THE bass players, to me. One of my primary influences, even though I know I will never play like him. When I first heard his album “Thonk” in the mid-90s it completely changed the way I viewed the instrument and I have been a fan ever since. With “Small Moments,” Manring presents a series of bass solos. Just a guy alone with his bass. And each track is unique and engaging–there’s no fatigue that settles in. It’s a great listen every time–and I’ve listened to it a lot.
My only complaint about “Small Moments” is that it has thusfar been available ONLY as a download. I NEED a physical copy of this, but it might not ever come. On release-day, I directly asked Michael if there would be a CD copy coming. (Note – I do not personally know Michael Manring. He’s just very good at replying to fans on his Facebook page.) At the time he said he hoped/thought so, but that at the time it wasn’t possible to make it happen because of things being shut down for COVID. (This was back when the country was actually TRYING to flatten the curve.) But so far, it’s still only a download. Maybe someday. I hope so…
I’m also still waiting for my physical copy of #6 – Drive-By Truckers – “The New OK.” It hasn’t shipped yet, even though I’ve had my preorder in for months. They sent out an e-mail saying there was a problem with shipping and they’re working to get them out. They did it right. But this also isn’t the first time that’s happened to me with this band, and the last couple times they *didn’t* have a pandemic to blame. (What did indie bands blame shit on before pandemics?) Nevertheless, I like this album a lot. I did get my download copy.
DBT has been one of my favorite bands since 2004. I’ve got all their albums, rare stuff, autographed copies, etc etc… They released an album in January called “The Unravelling” that’s pretty great too. (Although, bafflingly the title-track of “The Unravelling” isn’t on that album, but IS on “The New OK. Whatever.) “The New OK” came a few months later as a follow-up, and more or less a capstone on a three album cycle that started with “American Band” (the strongest of the three). The last few albums have been focused tightly on addressing the times we live in, particularly zeroing in on the problems created by Donald Trump. In recent years the band has labeled themselves “The Dance Band of the Resistance.”
Of the two albums that came out this year, this one’s way more fun. All the rock stuff seemed to end up here. And there’s a fun cover of the RAMONES’ “The KKK Took My Baby Away” that I enjoyed a lot. (I used to cover that song myself in a band called Uncle Dick, which longtime blog-readers will remember also included my brother Dave.) In uncertain times, it’s just good to still have DBT here, doing stuff, keeping us honest and angry.
But if it’s honesty you want, Bruce Springsteen’s “Letter to You” comes in at #5 and is about as honest as it gets.
I’ve been a Boss fan for a long time, and I’m not sure I’ve ever heard him bare (bear?–which-ever is correct) his soul like this before. I’ve read that some of these songs were written (but not used) in the earliest parts of his career. And some were written very recently. Maybe that’s why this album feels so deep and rich, and why it seems like a man giving you a window into the full depth of his experience.
I don’t even know what to say about it. All I know is the first time I listened to it I wrote a one-word review, and that word was “Wow.” No exclamation point. No caps. Just a simple statement. Wow. If you’ve ever liked Springsteen, you need to hear this album. It feels like it’s ALL been leading to here for him.
And I can say much the same for #4…
I’ve loved Alanis for a long time. So have you. She’s one of those artists people just love. Although maybe you only loved “Jagged Little Pill” while I kept collecting stuff. That’s okay. But it might be about time you checked in on her and found out how she’s doing now. And she seems to be doing great.
If the only other album of Morissette’s that you’ve heard is “Jagged Little Pill” this will seem like a jarring transition. There’s no pensively asking about movie-theatre blowjobs on this one. No screaming. Nothing ironic. Just a woman who is at a place in her life where she’s learned some stuff and she’s willing to share it with us. But that’s not to say the album is devoid of passion or fire. There’s plenty here. It’s just in a different form.
The standout track is of course the lead single “Ablaze.” A song written for Alanis’ children, it’s a look into love and protection that you don’t get out of many singers. You’ve probably seen her performance of the song on Jimmy Fallon by now. But if you haven’t, look it up. She did the song remotely (as is the custom these days) and performed holding her daughter in her arms, with her daughter talking to her, asking her questions, squirming, and so on the whole time. It’s adorable. She’s made an “official” video for the song since then…but I don’t care what she says, the Fallon performance is the official version to me. Just the core strength it must’ve taken to sing at full voice with a 4-year-old balanced on her hip? Give her the Oscar.
If this album were JUST that song, it’d still be on my list. But it’s much more. She goes deep on this one, and you walk away feeling like you know her better. It’s great.
Of course, if you’re looking for songs that are maybe borderline TOO self-revelatory, there are few artists who do that as well as Jason Isbell. It’s no surprise to anyone to find “Reunions” on my top ten list. Of course it was going to be here. Some of you *might* be surprised it isn’t at #1, but you definitely expected it to be here, assuming you knew it was out. I adore Isbell. And he keeps giving me new reasons to.
I must admit I didn’t warm to this album right away. I think isolation had something to do with that, because now it feels like an old friend. But on my first listen I thought, “It’s fine…but just fine.” It’s funny how your opinion can change. I think what started turning me around on it was that Isbell released a download only version of the album that’s just he and his wife Amanda Shires playing/singing the songs from the album on their own. (Isbell has been releasing AWESOME stuff during this time of no-touring, including some great archival stuff. Google his Bandcamp page.) I listened to that a few times in a row, then walked away from the album a while and when I circled back to it, those songs were part of my life.
There’s not a sleeper on it. Maybe I was just in a mood on the first listen. Probably. I do that. A lot.
An album that I fell in love with IMMEDIATELY is in at #2 with the new one from Rufus Wainwright – “Unfollow the Rules.”
If we’ve spent any time together talking about music since 2008, there’s a good chance I’ve tried to evangelize to you about Rufus Wainwright. I’ve introduced a LOT of people to his music, and it’s always a pleasure to do so. (I’ve rarely had anyone tell me he’s not their cup of tea. He seems to speak to everyone.) So when I heard he was putting out his first real album since 2012 I was very excited. (Wainwright spent the intervening 8 years writing and producing largely operatic music, which is an ongoing passion for him. “Rules” is his return to popular music.)
“Unfollow the Rules” is exactly the piano and vocal driven, not pop-enough-to-be-pop, not-rock-enough-to-be-rock, not-folk-enough-to-be-folk, not-anything-enough-to-be-anything-other-than-RUFUS type of music I’ve always loved from him. This album shows off his voice particularly beautifully. The title track sweeps from the lowest low of his range–so low he’s almost bottoming out–to the very peak of his high-range, with such grace and passion that you can’t help buy stop whatever you’re doing and just purely LISTEN.
The album was delayed in release, of course. When the country still cared that their actions might kill people, it got literally STUCK in a warehouse with Rufus unable to release it on time. And it was one of the few occasions where I was sad to see it happen, but where EVERY MOMENT was worth the wait and just made it better. In the meantime (and pretty much ever since) Rufus has been treating his fans to wonderful performances from his Instagram page, both of new songs and old. When in times of enforced quarantine, Rufus has been providing (for free) videos of him playing “Quarantunes.” He sits at his piano or with a guitar and plays songs from his back-catalogue, or sometimes a cover, and it’s always wonderful. And of course he’s done some streaming gigs as well that have been great.
In a time where everything sucks, Rufus Wainwright is a gift.
Which brings us to #1–it’s a tie between two “sister albums” that were produced and released during the pandemic and seemed to both come like bolts out of a blue sky… I’m speaking of course of Taylor Swift’s two most recent releases: “Folklore” and “Evermore.”
I know. I was surprised too. I didn’t own any Taylor Swift before I picked up “Folklore” on a whim, and now it’s at #1 on my list, alongside its follow up from a few months later in “Evermore.” And yeah, sure…it’s cheating to have a tie at first place…but in this case I think it’s pretty legitimate. These are companion pieces. They flow directly into one another. I know that in the future, when I listen to one, I will immediately listen to the other. They’re very literally tied. So…shut up.
“Folklore” presents a very different Taylor Swift than what you’re probably expecting when you hear her name. (And “Evermore” amplifies it.) The last time I checked in on Taylor, I streamed “1989” and decided I preferred the Ryan Adams version. (Sidebar: I have not listened to the new Ryan Adams album that is streaming. I am uncertain if I am still a fan based on recent allegations, but if it seems he’s done the work and is on the right path, I may reconsider.) But on these two albums, gone is the catchy but saccharine tone of “Shake it Off” or the pitchy, weird, just plain “ugh” vibe of “Bad Blood.”
These albums come from someone who grew up with her audience. She’s not writing pop songs for teenagers anymore–or at least not right now. She’s writing songs for the people who were there when she sang her first pop-country single, who’ve realized that pop-country is bullshit, and want something real. So she gave them something real. (She says “fuck” and everything!) If her 2008 fan is still listening, they’ve actually experienced heartbreak by now, and they needed songs that sounded like Taylor has too. These do that. But they also don’t take any shit. Kanye would get his ass kicked if he interrupted THIS Taylor. (And I would then mail her all of my money in a box.)
My one criticism is that I could’ve done without Bon Iver guesting on it. I don’t like the guy’s voice and I’ve just never gotten into that band. But the songs he sings on are still GOOD songs. I just could’ve done without his parts. But if that’s all I’ve got to critique about an artist I wouldn’t have given the time of day even a year ago, then this is a MASSIVE win. I picked it up because I’d heard people talking about it being very different and I had a few bucks, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I’d probably bought worse this year alone right? Sure…but what I *didn’t* know was that I also wasn’t going to buy better.
Honorable Mentions: (I’ll be brief.)
Of course not everything I liked makes the tope ten. So here are a few more I liked that I would’ve felt bad not mentioning (bearing in mind I already touched on the other releases by DBT and the Mountain Goats above):
Bob Dylan – “Rough and Rowdy Ways” – I had it at #9 and #10 at different times, and I kinda feel bad that it’s not in the top ten…but as much as I like it, I also know I’m not going to listen to it too much. It’s wonderful to have a new Dylan album, and it’s a GOOD Dylan album…but I’m reaching for “Blood on the Tracks,” y’know?
…And You Will Know US By the Trail of Dead – “X: The Godless Void” – The “Dead’s” 10th album and it’s a good one. It feels like the era of the band I fell in love with in the first place, and honestly if I’d had this in the rotation just *slightly* more often and had been on a ToD kick, it’d probably be on the list. I expect to look back on this one and wonder what I was THINKING putting it in the honorable mentions.
Bob Mould – “Blue Hearts” – It’s a Bob Mould album. It’s loud and you can’t really hear the vocals very well, and it’s just about perfect.
Laura Marling – “Song for Our Daughter” – Marling is maybe a lesser known name, but I expect her to be a household one soon. As you might’ve guessed the music on this album is written with her daughter in mind and it’s just lovely.
Guided By Voices – Three fucking albums… – Look…all three albums GBV released this year are great and I like them. But it’s getting exhausting. This is the SECOND year IN A ROW that they’ve put out three albums. They seem to think they’re the ONLY band–as do most of their fans. And that’s cool. I love that in concept. And the music IS great. But I need a minute.
Childish Gambino – “3.15.20” – A digital only release that a lot of folks seem to have overlooked. I got into Mr. Gambino because I recently became a fan of his work as Donald Glover. I dug Donald as an actor, so decided to check out his pseudonym, and it turns out I dug it a lot.
Spinning Coin – “Hyacinth” – Picked up this album on a whim because someone I know who works at a record store likes it and she’s generally got good taste. It’s got very Johnny Marr sounding guitars, so that’s a definite win to me.
John Petrucci – “Terminal Velocity” – It’s a solo album from the guitarist in Dream Theater. That’s what it sounds like. (And I like it.)
Max Richter – “Voices” – Richter is a new age, ambient artist. That’s usually music I put on in the background while I’m reading and isn’t a genre that’s very likely to find its way to my top ten. Which isn’t a knock…he writes beautiful stuff. And “Voices” is beautiful. HE has spoken word parts that speak (very left-leaningly) to the times we’re in and give real depth to his melodies on this one. But I will admit, I prefer his instrumental stuff.
Neil Young – “Homegrown” and “The Times” – Neither album is eligible for the tope ten or they’d definitely be there. “Homegrown” is a release of an album he meant to make in the 70s (seriously) and just never put out. It’s finally out in the form it was always meant to be in, and I love it…but I can’t justify putting a 1975 performance on best of 2020 list. And “The Times” is Neil playing solo versions of some of his old songs during quarantine. Which is neat…but again, I couldn’t justify putting it on the top ten, no matter how much I like “Ohio.”
Elvis Costello – “Hey Clockface” – I love Elvis Costello. I have EVERYTHING–and that’s a hell of a lot of stuff…but I absolutely don’t understand this album. I don’t even want to say I don’t LIKE it, because that would imply that I knew what he was going for. I need to spend more time with it, try to understand it, and see if it grows on me. I hope it does.
There’s plenty more I could write, but for god’s sake why? Most of you stopped reading at the end of the list. 🙂
If you stuck it out to the end, thanks. Kudos. Talk to you again soon.
It’s coming to the end of the year. Not that it matters much with THIS year. But the calendar is going to be thrown out soon, anyway. Or it’ll just refresh when you click into it on January 1, since it’s on your fucking computer now and none of you keeps a paper calendar, you bunch of shits…but I digress (and apologize for coming out of the gate so hot by calling you a “bunch of shits” in the first paragraph).
Anyway…it’s almost time for me to post my top ten albums of 2020. I’m also readying a podcast episode that’ll be the same thing, so I’m not going to blog them before I put out that episode…but I will take a moment to acknowledge the big-ass pile of new stuff I’ve been listening to this year, nevertheless. I’ll do an actual “best of” post on the same day the podcast goes up, but the below contains the “also-rans” as well. Per usual. You’ve read the blog before, probably…you know how this works…you bunch of shits…
Here’s all the stuff I bought this year that was new and I’m assigning a letter-grade to each album. The letter-grade is NOT a guarantee that it will be on or off the top ten, of course. It is a grade based on what I EXPECTED based on the artist. Everything is graded on a curve. And so on. Let’s just get to it, huh?
In no particular order, here’s what I picked up this year–and I’m sure I’m missing a couple/few…and YES, some bands released multiple albums because everybody’s bored and can’t tour:
…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead – X:The Goddess Void – A-
Drive-By Truckers – The Unravelling – B
Guided By Voices – Surrender Your Poppy Field – B
Childish Gambino – 3.15.20 – A
Jason Isbell – Reunions – A-
Taylor Swift – Folklore – A+
Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts V – VI – C
Laura Marling – Song for Our Daughter – A
Lamb of God – Lamb of God – B-
Rufus Wainwright – Unfollow the Rules – A+
Guided By Voices – Mirrored Aztec – A-
Michael Manring – Small Moments – A+
HAIM – Women in Music Pt III – C+/B-
Willie Nelson – First Rose of Spring – C+
Alanis Morissette – Such Pretty Forks in the Road – B+
Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways – B+
My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall II – C…maybe?
Drive-By Truckers – The New OK – B+/A-
Bruce Springsteen – Letter to You – A+
Bob Mould – Blue Hearts – A
The Lees of Memory – Moon Shot – A
Elvis Costello – Hey Clockface – C? (I’m not sure I even understand it.)
Mountain Goats – Songs for Pierre Chuvin – A
Max Richter – Voices – B
John Petrucci – Terminal Velocity – B+
Dream Theater – Distant Memories: Live in London – A–but ineligible because it’s a live album.
Robert Plant – Digging Deep: Subterranea – A- but ineligible because it’s a compilation
Pearl Jam – Gigaton – B-
Mountain Goats – Getting Into Knives – B-
Neil Young – Homegrown – A+ but ineligible because it’s an archival release.
Neil Young – The Times – A+ but ineligible because it’s mostly new acoustic versions of old songs.
Fantastic Negrito – Have You Lost Your Mind Yet? – C+
Jayhawks – XOXO – C+
Anti-Flag – 2020 Vision – C+
Spinning Coin – Hyacinth – B+
Potomac Accord – Let Me Get Lost – A
Taylor Swift – Evermore – TBA – Too new.
Guided By Voices – Styles We PAid For – TBA – Too new.
…and Ryan Adams has something out in streaming form right now that doesn’t come out in physical form until March…and also he still might be a sex-offender. So I’m withholding judgement. I’m pretty deeply conflicted about it. Part of me wants to say “If it’s good I’ll text every minor I know about it, just like Ryan would.” A bigger part of me wants to say, “I’ve had to overcome some demons too, and none of them were heroin, so I don’t know his struggle and maybe it’s amazing and addresses some of those demons and I’ll be all about it…” So…I’m waiting to buy it until it’s actually on SHELVES, and I’ll catch up with you in March when/if I’ve heard it…because God doesn’t want you to listen to streams. And also because I’m still not 100% sure I want to hear it and I’ve got to wrestle with that a while.
2020 also led to me correcting some blind spots and FINALLY becoming a fan of Tom Petty, Baroness, and Weezer. And there are singles out there by Aimee Mann, Michael Penn, and Demi Lovato that are worth your time.
There are also some I’ve missed that are on my “if I bump into it, I’ll buy it” list. And they’re In This Moment, Fiona Apple (I’m the only person my age who hasn’t heard it), Paul Weller, Margo Price (which I can’t BELIEVE I haven’t bought!), and Angel Olsen.
And I’m sure there’s more out there that I’m supposed to love, but that I won’t know about until next year or the year after that or the year after that or ten years from now or whatever…
But that’s the whole field that’s presently under consideration…you’ve got about a week to wait to see if you can guess who gets the top spot and who isn’t listed at all. And a week to text me or whatever to tell me what I’ve left off!
Blog ya’ soon…
I’m DEEP into my yearly Peter Jackson/Tolkien Universe watch-thru. I started with the Hobbit movies and I’m presently watching Appendix #2 of the Fellowship of the Ring Blue Ray set. This is my happy place.
I had four on Tuesday alone. Starting when the election results started coming out. Too much “red” was showing up too early on the maps and I started getting scared. The 2000 Bush/Gore fiasco taught me to be very afraid when I saw Florida turn red and that’s not a lesson I’ve ever been able to forget.
Jesus…that was 20 years ago. I’m the same age now that I remember my DAD being when his friends threw him a surprise “over the hill” party in our house’s basement. Some of the party favors are still down there, I think.
I had FOUR panic attacks on Tuesday alone. Each time a state I “trusted” turned red, it set one off…and I knew I needed to stop watching, so I went to bed. And lying in bed, right in that stage where you don’t know if you’re awake or not, I had another one. And it was BAD. VERY bad. So bad I was clutching my chest, and I had the phone in my hand with 9-1-1 dialed, just waiting to hit “send” because I thought I was having a heart attack. I had the active thought, “All I have to do is press send and help will come.” And that phrase “help will come” registered with my higher brain and slowed my pulse…and I knew my heart was fine. It was just a VERY bad panic attack.
That is what Donald Trump does to people.
Well…that and grabbing their pussies. #NeverForget
I’ve calmed quite a bit since then. I was almost happy today, in fact. I have my team at work to thank for that. (I’m a manager of a small team, and they’re good folks.) In the time of COVID, we’ve all been working from home, but I’ve made it a point to have a weekly “meeting” via Google Meetings, where we’re all on a webcam, talking. Sometimes we have serious work stuff to talk about…but I’m sure to always dedicate 10 or more minutes to just bullshitting. We’re all (by the grace of God or something) like-minded politically, at least for now. So today we spent some time with our “election stories” and there were tears and there was anger and there was laughing. It was good to feel less alone. I didn’t realize I’d felt alone. We usually talk for 20-30 minutes. Today we went 50–30 of it was just enjoying talking to each other. I needed that. I thanked them for it multiple times…and told them I was taking off work on Monday because I need some fucking sleep.
Today, the election results look better. And if they don’t look better to you because you’re a Trumpeter… Get the fuck off my page, excommunicate yourself from my life, and wallow sad and alone in your hate. You have no place here. No have no place in society. You have no place in America. America is RUINED because of YOU and you are not going to be tolerated any more. Fuck off. Die alone. I mean it. You do not EXIST to me anymore.
But…again…today the results look better. But they didn’t yesterday. And I feel no guarantee that they will tomorrow… I wrote about how I feel on my Facebook page. And maybe it serves me best to simply post it here too…here’s what I wrote:
I’m sure we’ve all been watching the numbers coming in. Personally I’ve had a laptop in my house that has ONLY had the electoral map on it for four days. And while it presently looks like I might be able to breathe one of the DEEPEST sighs of relief I’ve ever breathed–and by the way I’ve had multiple panic attacks since the election results started coming in on Tuesday…I must say, I was hoping to write a smug little victory post DAYS ago that I presently feel no desire to write. It was going to include things like “it’s going to feel good to call someone ‘President’ again, because I haven’t said that word in 4 years.” And it will, assuming this holds in the forthcoming challenges and whatnot… But…
If this is a victory, it is a pyrrhic one. There are some realities to face…
206,347,000 people are registered to vote in the USA. 143,300,000 voted in this election–which is a pretty high percentage compared to other elections. (It’s about 69%. Heh. Nice.) 73,600,000 voted for Biden–the most voters EVER recorded for one candidate…but hang on. 69,700,000 voted for Trump–I do believe that’s the SECOND PLACE (first to lose) most votes ever in the popular vote. 63,047,000 didn’t vote for either–and most of them didn’t vote at ALL.
A lot can be said about those numbers, but climbing on my soapbox, the important thing to notice is that for nearly 50% of voters in this election, racism, sexism, bigotry, corruption, hypocrisy, hate, and fraud were ONCE AGAIN not deal breakers, at the very least. Babies in cages didn’t sway them–because “Prolife” ends at delivery–neither did…well you know the list. Although there’s no way to know the actual percentage, it is very depressingly clear that for many those were actually viable reasons TO vote for Donald Trump. That’s a lot of you. Yes…sadly, I mean a lot of YOU. I want to be able to convince myself that I can limit that to just my casual Facebook acquaintances rather than believe it of some of those who I’ve called family and friends…but I can’t do that. I learned years ago that the lies one tells oneself are the most damning. I know why a lot of you felt you couldn’t vote for Biden…but I just can’t do the mental gymnastics required to figure out why you WOULD vote for Trump–you must be gold medalists.
On top of that, there’s the 63+ million who didn’t vote… Look, I know that for most of them they just said, “sure?” when asked if they wanted to register at their DMV when they were 16 and probably now view standing in line once every four years as an inconvenience that wouldn’t really make a difference…but this year, in THIS election, they had WEEKS to vote in most states. On their own time, some of them not even having to leave the house. And racism, sexism, bigotry, corruption, hypocrisy, hate, and fraud were not big enough motivators for them to even care enough to do THAT. Not even motivation enough to throw their vote away in the main race then vote on their local issues where they might make more of a difference. 31% of eligible voters simply didn’t care about who won, who lost, and who suffered for it. Again.
Also…this result is going to be fought and fought hard. I don’t think we’re actually going to know the results FOR SURE until someone is standing up at the swearing in ceremony. To me, even if this is a “win,” it feels fragile. It feels temporary. It’ll probably hold…but it doesn’t feel like it will. Like duct-tape on a broken bumper.
So… Game point…nobody wins.
TL:DR – You’ve got a couple years before another major election. Start giving a damn. And maybe give a damn about someone other than yourself. I’m tired of feeling alone amidst the 35.67% “majority” that sees it that way.
I’m happy with the result. I really am. But I’m very disturbed by the way we got there. I don’t see any way NOT to be. And you can Google “pyrrhic” yourself. I’m not defining it for you.
…and that’s pretty much how I feel. It’s not good. None of it is good.
But even though it’s not good… Tonight, Joe Biden addressed the nation and my immediate reaction was, “Oh…I’d forgotten how it sounds when a President is speaking.”
I’m not joking when I say I haven’t used that word in 4 years. I really haven’t, unless I’m speaking about a PAST president like Obama, Clinton, or–God help me–even BUSH. (And longtime readers of the blog may recall what kind of trouble talking about Bush used to get me into back when I was still miserably in ministry.) Tonight I felt like I HEARD one. And I hope that sticks. It should. It might. It could.
There’s a lot to be worried about.
In 2016 after Tr*mp the Worthless won the election I was having a conversation with a friend and I jokingly said, “Well look at it this way, we’re both white, middle class men… WE’LL be fine… It’s just our friends and loved ones who will suffer.” And neither of us laughed…because we knew I’d accidentally said something true.
Well…I’m very, very, bone-achingly tired of watching the people I care about suffer. I’ve got friends who are brown-skinned who’ve been told to “go home” in the past four years–they were born in a Missouri suburb…they WERE home… I have gay friends who’ve heard “fa**ot” more in the last 4 years than in the previous 30 of their lives. I have a bisexual friend who got the shit kicked out of him for the first time in his life because he was flirting with the “wrong” person. I have a Black friend who served time in jail because she made a clerical error on a tax form–a simple mistake. I have a Jewish friend who opted to shave his curls and wear a bald haircut because “God cannot protect me, but a haircut can.” I have a Muslim friend who stopped covering her head because “you have no idea how hard it is to get spit out of an hijab.”
That’s just within the last FOUR YEARS–most within the last TWO. I don’t think any of the above people I referenced are under the age of 35, but they’ve all described those experiences to me as having happened to them for the FIRST TIME in their lives under the reign of Tr*mp. Under the Pr*ud B*ys. Under this bullshit we’ve all been living in… And that isn’t even accounting for what most of my Black friends are going through on a daily basis–which frankly isn’t going to change under Biden either, but maybe the active racists will feel less empowered. Christ, we can at least hope for THAT, right?
ALL of these problems are systemic. They were all RIGHT THERE…but the perpetrators might not have done it under Obama. And God (if any) willing they won’t under Joe. But under Tr*mp? They’ve felt empowered. They’ve felt free. They’ve felt “right.”
I hope every one of them burns in Hell.
And I hope Donald Tr*mp lives into his 100s…but from now until the day he dies, I hope he never produces a solid shit again. And I hope that when he’s in the triple digits, in a hospital bed with none of his children or 17 ex-wives gathered near him, it suddenly all dawns on him. He realizes the person he’s been. The person he IS. That he’s unloved and alone… He finally feels regret and remorse and thinks, “WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?” And with his last ounce of strength, he just barely whispers out the words, “God…please forgi…” and he doesn’t get the words all the way out before the EKG reads a flatline.
THAT is what I want for Donald Fucking Tr*mp. And I’m not sorry.
Because I’m tired of seeing only the GOOD people suffer. And I’m tired of jerking awake in a cold sweat, and dialing 9-1-1, wondering if I should hit “send” or not because of HIM. Fuck him. He doesn’t deserve my fear.
Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller fame) was talking on his podcast about the last full conversation he had with The Amazing Randi, who recently passed away. Randi was one of Penn’s mentors–a father figure. When Randi was still lucid, Penn went to visit him and took him out on his own in his wheelchair…and they talked about Donald Tr*mp, of all things. They KNEW they were saying goodbye…and that’s one of the last two conversations they ever had. (For the record, Penn and Randi’s final conversation was 20 seconds long–Randi woke up briefly, saw Penn, and they both said “I love you.” But Penn seems to count the former as their “final” real conversation.) Through much emotion and thinly held back tears, on his podcast, Penn said, “What business did (Tr*mp) have in that conversation?”
Do you have an answer? Because I sure as fuck don’t. Donald Tr*mp didn’t deserve to be in Penn Jillette’s last conversation with James Randi. He doesn’t deserve to be ANYONE’S last thought. He deserves to be forgotten. But he won’t be…because we live from tragedy to tragedy and we never get over the true evils.
In my team meeting today–which again was GOOD for my soul–I said, “We’ve all got PTSD.” And nobody laughed. Because it wasn’t a joke. I can imagine myself in a therapist’s office describing the last four years…and I’M a white, middle class male! I’m lucky! I’m privileged! …but I’ll never get over it. And I’ll flinch every time I hear his fucking name.
Wanna know how bad it is? Okay…here you go…
Memo to President George W. Bush: Dear Sir. Mr. President. Please forgive me. I am sorry for every word I said about you. Don’t get me wrong…I think you laid the groundwork for what led us to this point…but you yourself? You were a harmless idiot, and I was wrong to hate you. I forgive you for your missteps after 9/11 and I hope you can forgive me for mine. God bless you and keep you, Mr. President.
THAT’S how bad it is now. I’m sorry that I hated George W. Bush.
But… Could it get good? Could it even get GREAT?
If the numbers hold–and I’m a pessimist, so I have my doubts–but IF they hold… We’ll have the guy who marched to the podium right next to America’s first Black President and speaking of Obamacare said, “This is a big fucking deal!” (confidence) running the show. We’ll have the guy who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and when he realized it was happening, his first action was to shake his head in disbelief and quietly mouth “no” because he didn’t think he deserved it at the helm (humility–also trustworthiness). We’ll have the guy who when Bill Clinton was in St. Louis on his way to the White House, my Dad had the honor of driving around town for a little while sitting in the FRONT seat of the nation’s highest office (that’s just neat). And folks, anybody who’s okay by my Dad deserves your trust–he rarely misjudges anybody.
It…could…be…good. Maybe great.
But we have a long way to go. Joe will HAVE to address the racial divide. He will HAVE to address the poor. He will HAVE to address the pandemic. He will HAVE to address the political divide. He will HAVE to address the just plain fact that except for America’s bigots, we’re all scared and exhausted.
And friends…for the first time in four years…I have FAITH. I have faith that he will. Assuming it holds… We elected a good man. In the weeks leading up to the election, a dead-inside pissant Tr*mp advisor (Mercedes Schlapp–you’ll notice her name is parenthetical and her description is NOT) compared Biden to “Mr. Rogers” thinking it was a derogatory thing to say…but folks…we (probably?) elected someone who is COMPARABLE TO MR. ROGERS. GOOD FOR US! I think we’ll be okay. I think Joe will get us there, or at least get us READY…
And maybe if he doesn’t quite get us there… Let’s not forget who our Vice-President will be. The first WOMAN to hold that office (bye-bye, glass ceiling!). And as a bonus, she is also Indian American and Black. Joe Biden has the privilege of having been the VP to the first Black President and the President alongside the first Black, female VP. Tell me that’s not fucking amazing… When Kamala runs in either 2028 or 2024 depending on Joe’s health and decisions, I’ll be glad to vote for her.
And I’m going to live the rest of my life fucking THRILLED that I never have to vote against a Tr*mp again. Unless one of his feckless kids gets a wild hair up their ass…but even if they do, Donny made it because people liked his TV show. Nobody actually knows what his kids even DO, including Don. I bet they’re not even actually in the will. They shouldn’t have a chance…but I don’t want to jinx it.
This has been a long post…it needed to be, I think… I hope to God (if any) that the numbers hold, that someone talks sense into Tr*mp (ha!) and he quietly concedes, and that we can all go back to when America wasn’t great but at least wasn’t infested. Wouldn’t it be nice to have just ONE conversation where he doesn’t come up? One conversation where you know that if that was the last time you talked to that loved one, at least nobody said the word “Tr*mp?” Wouldn’t it be nice to have just one DAY where your first thought upon waking up wasn’t “aww, fuck, has he tweeted yet?” Don’t you WANT that?
Folks…I NEED that. And it’s looking like we’ll have it in January…holy shit doesn’t that feel good?
Until then, wear your fucking masks. Stay the fuck home. And try to be good to each other.
I’ll blog again soon. I promise.
———— Current Listening: Bruce Springsteen: “Letters to You” — His best album in AGES. Listen to my podcast for more on that.
She almost cut it up with a pair of scissors and threw it away instead of letting me keep it. Yet I’ve still got it in 2020. Although in fairness, she died in 1994 and was therefore unable to continue that fight. But I digress (already!).
It wasn’t fair, of course. I don’t have a lot of memories of Mom that I’d call “fair.” I already had a “Damn Yankees” shirt in my collection, and I hadn’t even SEEN them! The Damn Yankees shirt was a gift from my brother. “Well it’s in the NAME of the band” she said, “so that’s different.” Although the back of THAT shirt included the phrase “Shit-Kicking Rock ‘N Roll” and she ruled that I just had to wear an over-shirt on top of it if I wore it outside the house. But “ass?” She wanted to take scissors to it.
The previous Van Halen tour was the “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” tour. The name of that abbreviates to “FUCK.” They called it the “FUCK N’ Live” tour and my brother had at least one, maybe more shirts that said exactly that (though in fairness he was 8 years older and had a job). When I bought the “Kicking Ass” shirt, one of my motivations was “I have a shirt that says “damn” and “shit” on it already, and Dave has a shirt that says “fuck” on it… “Ass” is the least offensive of all those words… But no… Mom was–as was her gimmick–irrationally furious about it.
Let’s just take a moment to examine those words… Fuck = Sex. Ass = A Butt. Shit = What comes out of a butt–and we don’t like the smell and try to get rid of it as quick as we can–we generally consider it to be the most worthless of all things. Damn = Eternity in Hell. If anyone can tell me why my mother thought a butt was worse than shit, sex, or eternity in Hell, I’m all ears. In fact, if anyone can tell me why eternity in Hell isn’t the worst of the profanities, I’ll fuck the shit out of your ass for the favor. (Seriously…think about it… Why are you so offended right now???) Mom… Mom was not a fan of exegesis.
Dad, for his part, expressed some dissatisfaction with it when I bought it, but let it happen nonetheless–I think mostly because I had a friend with me so he didn’t want to make a big thing of it at the show…and also, Dad is a rational person and probably thought, “Hell…he definitely says WORSE at school by now and he can just wear a shirt over it…” I think he KNEW there was a fight with Mom coming, but even if he wouldn’t have said it at the time, I think he thought it was winnable.
So that’s how I almost lost that shirt. The way I kept it was that I took it with me to bed that night and also Dad and Dave stuck up for me. I don’t know what most of that fight was like…I just went to bed confident it would solve itself. I think it was even DAD who told me what the verdict was instead of Mom… The rule was that I could wear it around the house (which I didn’t) but that I couldn’t wear it outside the house–not even to practice with my band (which I did).
And that’s how Eddie Van Halen drove a wedge between my mother and me, from which we never really recovered before she died.
Okay…maybe it wasn’t THAT serious…but it’s one of the first things that screamed to mind today. Because today, we lost Eddie Van Halen. He died. Cancer took another god from us. Cancer is a real son of a bitch.
My mother also once called my brother a son of a bitch. He replied, “I’m glad you’ve got the right opinion of yourself” and promptly locked the door to his bedroom and I listened to a solid half-hour of her pounding on his door, trying to get in…but again, I digress…
I guess Van Halen just takes me back to my teenage years. That band meant EVERYTHING to me then. I was evangelistic about Van Halen, deep into my teen years. I vaguely believe that the cheerleaders at my high school only performed to “Aftershock” because I got one of them into the band in my Sophomore/Junior year. I *know* that there are people who were sad today specifically because I forced them to listen to something from the Van Hagar era–my personal era of choice. I think of Van Halen and I think of a time in my life where everything was urgent, every girl was “the one,” every experience was new, and every moment was miserable, except for the ones where Eddie was playing. They were the band I grew up with. Their songs were some of the most fun I’ve ever had.
In more recent years, I haven’t talked about Van Halen that much. I don’t know when their most recent mention on this blog might be…and I doubt that it was positive… Let’s face it…in recent years, the band did a lot of stuff I didn’t like–some of which I downright opposed…
But that doesn’t diminish what they MEANT in my life. Even if “meant” is a past-tense word.
…and even then… As recently as March of 2020, I was listening to them, anticipating what was supposed to be a Summer Sammy Hagar concert in St. Louis. Of course, COVID-19 delayed that along with everything else anyone might’ve been looking forward to (please wear a goddamn mask)… But as recently as six months ago I was thinking about Van Halen, smiling to myself about old memories of shows and experiences gone by, remembering when my friend Paul and I lit candles to listen to the “Balance” album together for the first time, and feeling great about being a fan. Van Halen hasn’t always been my FAVORITE band (unlike The Who) but they’ve always been important. They’ve always mattered…
And today we lost their most important member.
I know people will want to argue that… I know people invest deeply in Roth or Hagar (or Cherone?) or argue for a chemistry between specific lineups or are just loyal to the two brothers…but if Eddie Van Halen hadn’t been one of the best in the world at the thing he did, there would be no need to talk about ANY of that. Van Halen without EDDIE Van Halen is just a bar-band, hoping a record exec is somehow in the bar and likes “their” version of a Seger song. The band was named for HIM. Not for Alex. Alex is a great drummer–don’t get me wrong–but you can throw a rock in any city and hit a bar with a great drummer in it. But the guy who redefined the electric guitar for the LAST time? There’s only one. He was special. And–THANK GOD–he started a band with his name in it and got the attention. And everything changed.
Eddie Van Halen was my generation’s Hendrix. No hyperbole. He changed the guitar forever. In 1978, everyone heard “Eruption” for the first time. Everyone thought, “I didn’t know the guitar could do THAT” for the first time since Hendrix died. And no one ever said it again.
Name the person after Eddie who redefined the electric guitar. Who’ve you got? Tom Morello? He just did shit Hendrix was doing with more pedals–and he did it very well–but it wasn’t NEW. Joe Bonamassa? Nope…he plays really well, but every 2nd year student knows the Pentatonic Scale–he’s just got better amps than most of us. Dan Auerbach? He’s trying to sound like guys in the 70s and that’s all he seems to know how to do. Jack White? Go fuck yourself–being able to build a Diddly-Bo doesn’t make him special. John Petrucci? Phenominal player…who has Alex Lifeson to thank for his chord structure, and who never would’ve thought to tap a single fret without Eddie laying the groundwork. John Mayer? I’m sleepy…wake me up after his solo so I can shit on his awful lyrics…
…am I missing any? Well fuck them too.
Eddie Van Halen was the LAST person who will ever redefine the electric guitar in its current form. The guys who are great who came after him stole every tapped-note from him, and they KNOW it. Whatever the electric guitar becomes next–if anything–will happen because someone completely stripped it down and rebuilt the whole fucking thing into something new. Eddie defined it in its final form. I will accept no argument–and if you look deep inside yourself, you KNOW there is none to be made. I’m right. I’m fucking RIGHT.
There are a dozen stories about what Van Halen meant/means to me that I could tell here. All of them have different impact. Some of them meant more to me than others. Some are happy. Some are sad.
Those are MY stories. And for now I’ll hold on to them…
What’s important is that you KNOW you’ve got your own story that revolves around their music. You KNOW what happened in your heart and your memory when you heard Eddie died today. Even if that thought was only, “He was a real asshole, I won’t miss him…” you knew the NAME and why it was important. (And you’re a dick, by the way.) Eddie Van Halen’s legacy is indelible. There isn’t a grown-up on this Earth who didn’t know his name. There isn’t a grown-up on this Earth who doesn’t know exactly WHY they know his name.
Some of us just have the shirt to go with the story.