Def Leppard

Read the tattoo. It says, “badass.” Rock has the challenge of sustaining the allure of an ephemerally utopian, nay, self-correcting lifestyle for a handful of qualified misfits who heroically “rock till they drop“. Most people take this fantasy for the umbrella in the drink that it is. They play out the role of misunderstood music genius vicariously via videos and loud speakers. It’s no different than living out other valiant dreams through movies and books. And then there’s real life. Spin the wheel and it usually lands on either hard, boring, or stupid. So arm chair rockers with “too much time on their hands” pacify their losses by curating a headbangers canon that, like most theology, is deeply concerned with posers. Time to pay the bills:

Right now, an old man in a business suit that his wife picked out for him is sitting in a boardroom figuring out what you should look like. Don’t be a number. Don’t be a statistic! Here’s the memo: You are You. You are a self appointed warrior for freedom of expression! Get off at the next exit and try Your Way free for a month. You’ll enjoy a deluge into diplomatic immunity from The Man and read real testimonials from thousands of subscribers who, just like you, have found their own way. Take Billy Bob who writes from San Quentin, CA, “Why, I don’t even pay taxes anymore.” Now that’s living on the edge. Your Way: it’ll have you feeling like yourself in no time.

I caught a ride with one of my parents’ friends from Oregon to Colorado one summer to visit family. I was thirteen and the friend was in his late twenties or early thirties. Like my parents, he fashioned himself an arbiter of good musical taste. At one point, he launched into an oral dissertation about how Foreigner was serious rock and REO Speedwagon was bubblegum. He discounted hair metal as kids stuff that was all right, for what it was, but noted that when a man settles down and has real responsibilities, artists like April Wine were a more sensible choice, as far as that stuff went. His sage advice was lost on me but not his passion. It was an another lesson in how deeply people feel about their music choices and how little this reflects the depth to which to the music itself makes them feel.

Def Leppard’s disposition as a poser band, as deemed by the metal clergy of the day, was due to a combination of things. They were good enough to contend, insofar as bands “battle” for rank with swords of screaming vocals and “axes” that go noodly-noodly-noodly, but not so over the top great as to defeat a champion in vogue. They kept their subject material on the pavement side of the guard rails by avoiding any depth into religion and politics. “Armageddon It” has as much to do with Armageddon, for example, as “Innagadadavida” does with the Garden of Eden. And they managed an appearance on American Bandstand. Dick Clark. And badass. Don’t even go in the same sentence. Long haired, black t-shirt kids (of the proto-Beavis and Butt-Head variety) weren’t tuning in for a dose of Van Halen from the same station that the squares danced to.

Neither Foreigner, April Wine, or REO Speedwagon are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, yet. Def Leppard is a 2019 inductee. This can mean only one thing: the Hall of Fame is an enigma. Speaking to the peculiar order of inductees, The Talking Heads beat AC/DC, the Sex Pistols beat R.E.M., and Leonard Cohen beat Metallica. All of these artists have made contributions to commercial music history worth, at the very least, understanding in context. But if I were reading the whole list of inductees out of context, I’d be hard pressed to derive its intent. King Missile cites only Def Leppard, The Rolling Stones, and Guns N’ Roses as artistic evidence for the genre’s durability in “Rock-n-Roll Will Never Die“. If I were a member of Def Leppard, I’d take more pride in an art-alt-avant-whatever rock peer substantiating my claim to history, however sarcastic (as good rock should be), than some fame project dreamt up by stoner fogies (in a boardroom, most likely).

Def Leppard wasn’t trying to solve world hunger and there’s no evidence that they were trying to solve anything, for that matter. Rather, their repertoire navigates the figuratively weary neon of “dim lights, thick smoke and loud, loud music” pervading one’s grey matter in the Days of Our Lives. For some, getting “High’N’Dry” on Saturday night is what the hokey pokey is all about. (Add pleated white pants to the combination of reasons they caught flak.) Starting out as a country ballad, not unlike the Everly Brothers’ “Love Hurts” which was rockified by Nazareth, “Love Bites” took five guys to write and utterly nails the mental dodgeball that plays out when love is new. Now, give me a rainy afternoon with flat, room temperature beer from the night before and the echo of sloppy affections for a lover who is now nowhere to be seen, and there’s no other song I’d rather have for company than “Bringing on the Heartache“. No “Foolin’“!

It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” opens AC/DC’s second album, T.N.T. They followed that road as far as it goes and Def Leppard was not in hot pursuit with merely good intentions. They went the distance. Some might look for filet mignon on the drive through menu and peel away hungry. The boys from Sheffield never advertised anything they didn’t deliver and there’s no substitute for french fries dipped in a milkshake.

Patsy Cline

If Patsy Cline doesn’t give you goosebumps, you may want to get your goose gland examined. And if stereotypes are your thing, consider how many real people look like mannequins. Now please pardon the following promotion.

Does the intended glamour of your friend’s attire make you want to shout above its clamor? When their hair looks like Bride of Frankenstein, does your compliment sound like Alan Greenspan at a press conference? Don’t you wish you could just tell it Like It Is? Well no more beating around the bush! A two bit, 20 mg word on the tongue is worth a fifty dollar one in your throat. Like It Is will have you saying things like “it’s the economy, stupid” faster than you can keep up with. And when you’ve just realized what you said and need an apology quick, try S.O.Sorry. It’s like a back button for your mouth.

I never had to wonder what my grandma was thinking. She and grandpa were Okies who had migrated to Oregon to be apple farmers . I’ve learned that you don’t need a passport to be a foreigner and that these tourists, of sorts, say the darndest things. Perhaps this is why I developed a fondness for my grandma years after being around her as a kid. There’s a lot of guesswork that goes into every day and it keeps me on my toes. But there are times when I just wish I didn’t have to think so dang hard. I trust we all embrace this sentiment on occasion. Grandma’s parting words were usually, “Come back again when you can’t stay so long.” I can’t even say this these days without really putting my recipient out. She meant it and it didn’t need interpretin’ neither. Her remarks about my hair, lack of cleanliness, body order, work ethic, and appetite still make the mental rounds. In a similar fashion, part of Country music’s charm is the candid nature of its artists.

I wasn’t into country and, as far as that goes, seriously thought Elvis was a conspiracy at one point. Then the “Devil Went Down to Georgia” to see “Elvira” and I found “friends in low places“. And I learned that I didn’t have to embrace everything in a genre but could cherry pick my way through it. I do the same with many – perhaps most – other genres. People ask what I listen to and the answer is always “a whole bunch of different things”. There are over 1500 artists on my phone, alone, limited as it is to 32GB, with songs sung in at least ten languages that I can name off the top of my head. When the whole new grass and alt-country craze came around, I was in whole hog for a spell. My wife and I had a joking agreement that all bets were off should Lucinda Williams come knocking the door down. Truth be told, though, a heap of that stuff was just plain doo-doo (as can be the case in any wave of any genre) and my default disassociation kept me from becoming Countrier Than Thou. Eventually, I also concluded that fifty-thousand Elvis fans can’t be all wrong.

My grandparents liked country music, no surprise, but were quick to indict the ones that were “too lazy to shave”. Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, and Conway Twitty were more their speed. Hee Haw was a staple. They also liked Cher for her Native American heritage and Ray Charles for his gifted soul. They were colorful characters with a relatively balanced perspective on culture, for their generation, except for one thing. Did they love each other? Sure they’d had seven kids, but I’d seen cowboys express more sweet nothings to their horses than these two leathernecks had in all the time I’d known them. Overwhelmed with curiosity one day, I asked how they met. My grandpa had just come back from duty in WWII. He and some friends were at a movie theater. Sitting a row in front of them was my grandma and some of her friends. My grandpa started pestering my grandma to get her attention. After several bouts of her turning around to tell him to cut it out, I reckon he deemed her a keeper, or the other way around, but they agreed to settle this thing after the show and the rest his history. I had so much to learn about love.

Then one New Year’s Eve, I was at my grandparents’ house because my parents went off to a party. Things were pretty normal. We watched Dick Clark in Times Square, my grandparents wondered aloud what the world was coming to with respect to the entertainment, and then the ten big seconds ticked down. When we finally got down to 1, my hooray was muted in astonishment at my grandparents kissing each other on the lips. They did not embrace but just closed their eyes and stuck their puckered lips forward until they met for a “magic moment“. I probably stared and they surely didn’t care. It felt like the world paused for a moment. All hope was not lost. Deep down under calloused hands, they held on to each other with a passion that only love could sustain.

Black and white photos of my grandma, from her theater going days, bore a resemblance to Patsy Cline – not a striking one, but flattering all the same. While she certainly had her “Stupid Cupid” days, I knew from that year on, that when “Crazy” (written by yet another guitar picker too lazy to shave) wafted its sweet perfume into the air, these stoic hillbillies were sharing something very special to them. For some reason, this just makes me “Fall to Pieces” for the power of love.

Air Supply

Once upon a time, men were manly. I was scared. And now a word from our sponsor:

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99% of my male peers and elders were hicks, thugs, and/or jocks – real men. As rendered so poignantly by Jello Biafra in “Night of the Living Rednecks” which describes a scene that, no surprise to me, took place an hour outside of where I grew up (when I was growing up there), a man could employ all three of these occupations at the same time. However, plagued with OCD since age eight (and formally diagnosed at twenty-one and still taking meds for it to this day), the 1% balance was serendipitous cause for skepticism that these were my only options.

“Crybaby”, “sissy”, and “mama’s boy” are my safe to print aliases from the formative years. It was “Life During Wartime” and the rest are classified. The line “I got three passports, a couple of visas, / you don’t even know my real name” found me day dreaming of being under cover, or in witness protection, or simply invisible. “Grade 9” by the Barenaked Ladies has an unheard of five writers credited and it shows in relevance with lines like “I went out for the football team to prove that I’m a man / I guess I shouldn’t tell them that I like Duran Duran”. It is something like Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” but instead of the worn out hippie retort “if you can remember it, you weren’t there” it’s “if you were there, you wish you couldn’t remember it”.

Pre-internet word of mouth was surprisingly effective and just about as factual. The polls were closed on Air Supply before they even got to the chorus. They weren’t hunks, far-out, scary, or outrageous in any way. For the masculine majority, this kind of music had the kind of descriptions found on bathroom walls and was just another tool in the box to get the women they treated like lumber into the bed around which everything else at their disposal seemed to rotate.

As anomalous as Air Supply was in their tenderhearted approach to relationships, they tied up an even more elusive loose end. Money matters are often referred to as a primary cause for divorce. If finances are a couple’s currency, then this is a logical deduction. But what about this love conquering all business? Now, maybe the Air Supply video production crew was just cheap but, in “Even the Nights are Better”, Russell and Hitchcock find romantic reparations while walking around a budget friendly amusement park that comes to life when love rolls up on bicycles. In “Making Love Out of Nothing At All”, the couple in the video lives a life of humble accommodations that do not contribute to their falling out or detract from their reconciliation. Likewise, the off stage vignettes in “The One That You Love” illuminate life’s simple pleasures – “Bitchin’ Camero” not required.

In an abyss of social solitude – and in all seriousness, there is help; there is always someone to talk you down from the ledge no matter how ridiculous things may be – I needed someone to laugh with who didn’t expect me to know how to throw a football or crush a beer can on my forehead. When your get kicked in the groin in the locker room, you first gasp, as if drowning, for the breath that will keep you from passing out and then the piercing pain followed by nausea makes you with you had. I knew Air Supply was still a world away, but if I had to take a slow boat to China, I was going to get there. There have been a few interesting stops along the way.

Alanis Morissette

“We need to talk.” But first a public service announcement from the Department of Unrequited Matrimonial Promises:

On the other side of town, a thousand miles from Lookout Point, Forever ends, punching the nose with sour salutations. Never Again piles up, shoulders slumped, collecting its thoughts and dragging them to the curb.

It was the mid-90s. If you were old enough to have seen grunge bands live and the scene hadn’t left you in a coma, you were well aware that “extreme” was the new normal. Musical styles were swirling together across the globe and served in a cone by the likes of Peter Gabriel and David Byrne. While I hadn’t stumbled upon a didgeridoo and pipa duo, such a thing would have merited much interest and little surprise. PC culture meant your were into computers but not into Mac. It was okay to sing like Yosemite Sam as the new Parental Advisory labels were a boost to sales. The “love children” of the Hair generation could never out do their parents. The baby boomers had promoted sex from morally taboo to physically fatal. They took every drug imaginable and, go figure, there’s been a drug crisis every decade since (70s, 80s, 90s, you get the idea). In spite (or as a result) of this, they were exploding the economy. The only thing the Gen X could hope for was to keep up. To summarize this rant, bungee jumping — something I wish we could expunge from the record — sounded like good clean fun.

It was in this age of “whatever” (toward the establishment) that the NYT outdid itself by playing vocabulary police for Alanis Morissette’s use of “ironic”. What next, excessive nah nah nah violations? They should leave sophomoric to the, uh, sophomores? When poetic license has expired, drive like it’s stolen. If I had a knife for every time I pondered the “irony” of “ten thousand spoons”, I’d have a matching set of flatware, ironically lacking forks. And they say we didn’t have anything to be angry about in the 90s. As if!

Word on the street was that Morissette was the Canadian Debbie Gibson (not Jane Austen). I can’t tell you anything about Debbie Gibson but the impression was that she was equal parts good, clean, and fun. Can’t say much about Hannah Montana, either, outside of hearing a mom and daughter singing one of her songs together, complete with hand movements, in a record store one day. I suspect they’re not singing Miley Cyrus hits together — at least not in the record store. Kids grow up so fast we need slo mo to tell the days apart. Mademoiselle Morissette wasn’t quite drinking age (in the U.S.) when Jagged Little Pill was recorded, and already she was a woman scorned.

Every time “You Oughta Know” came on the radio, it felt like my Ex, from a recent breakup, had snuck up behind me with a few more parting words of wisdom. By proxy, Morrissette’s acerbic commentary, invasive as it could be and seemingly only arriving in moments of emotional vulnerability, served as much needed penance and was far less messy than the tears, sweat, and occasional blood – my blood, to be clear, with a scar to show for it – of face to face “conversation” that was best left behind. In a round about way, Beck’s “Loser” would eventually come by to lick my wounds, then “Mr. Jones” would tell me fairy tales, and I’d be back on my 500 mile walk to happiness. When I hear “You Oughta Know” now, I cringe for the entirety of my 20s and shudder to think how this situation plays out now with social media and smart phones. At the time, the only options I had to contend with were snail mail, land lines, and doorsteps – a Masada compared to today’s usual means.

Having “already won me over, in spite of me”, Morissette’s work after Jagged Little Pill is what drew me in for a closer look. Following up a major success is ridiculously hard. I think Pink Floyd said it best in an interview when asked why the albums Wish You Were Here and Animals took an artistic turn, to which one of them replied, “you try following up Dark Side of the Moon!” For about a day and half in the 90s, it felt like the whole peacenik thing, fueled by gourmet ice cream, microbrew beer, and earth tone music, might actually take root. In retrospect, that day dream was just reality playing hookey. For what it was worth, though, in her Eve-like role in the video for “Thank U”, a grounded Morissette rivaled the otherwise incomparable queen of down to earth, Natalie Merchant.

Around the block, now, so many times that “I’ve forgotten what lap I’m on*”, Morissette still manages to catch me off guard with songs like “Hands Clean” and “Everything” that conjure appreciation and compassion with a brutal honesty that doesn’t get tired. As I try to remember my stupid phone and what it was like to be young, dumb, etc. once, I hope it never does.

* Phrase taken from friend and colleague, Amy Li, who is in large part to thank for me committing to do this blog.

George Michael

Forget about Wham! Can we just, for one harmonious moment, forget all about Wham! and leave them to fossilize in the bargain bin at Best Buy? The answer is coming up, but first a word from our sponsor, Dave’s Discount Discs:

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A few months ago, I picked up my first hard copy (compact disc) of “Make It Big” at Best Buy where it had been “put in the back with the discount rack like another can of beans” (the quote is toward the end at 2:44). At $4, it felt more like I was buying fair trade, responsibly sourced, organic frijoles at Whole Foods. Reagan’s trickle down economy in the 80s gushed LP prices up to around $9. Three and half decades later, the pièce de résistance of 1984 is finally at a price I could’ve afforded then. Talk about a trickle. Talk about no more trips to Tower Records. Talk about no more M in MTV. Talk about how funny it is that “we don’t talk anymore” and just text emojis, initialisms, and excessive punctuation instead. And let’s talk a little more about George Michael.

Today, you can hear A-ha’s “Take On Me” and AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” back to back without a commercial break on the same oldies station. This would’ve gone over like an EMP thirty years ago. Virulent nuances of the Hard Rock fan base and New Wave cult forbade crossover to Pop. That sacrilege was the fire of Country artists. With time and distance on our side, you could floss a flea’s teeth with the difference between “Everything She Wants” and, say, “Mad World“, yet the latter is perceived to be serious as a mule while the former is just seen as a cash cow.  Maybe Tears for Fears should’ve chosen a more upbeat album title than “The Hurting”.  I don’t know about you but, when I need pull through some emotional pit, I’m going to reach for something fizzy over castor oil (a la A Spoon Full of Sugar and all that).

Careless Whisper” is a whopping 6:30 on the album and 5:04 for the radio version. In radio minutes, this is enough breathy recklessness to break-up, make-up, start seeing other people, and still stay friends. To put this in context, The Beatles’ “Let It Be” is 3:50 (for the radio and 4:03 on the album), Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” is 8:02, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is 5:55, Prince’s “Purple Rain” is 4:05 (for the radio and 8:41 on the album), Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow” is 4:54, and Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” is 3:39. Has anyone released a song since this one? No need to. Just wondering.

“Careless Whisper” is also the last song on the album, almost as if the whole album is a crescendo from the “greasy kid stuff” of Jitterbug homage to what would be the Number 1 Billboard Year-End Hot 100 single of 1985. No sooner did the whole world then know about Wham!, than did our memory cling to George Michael who brands the landmark hit alone, as if to shush the duo’s loud and comical sound effect for a name, leaving (probably not so) poor Andrew Ridgeley to audition for Lisa Simpson’s Second Best Band (assuming she went international).

Fast forward a couple years and… Bam! “I Want Your Sex”. Now we’re talking! Man, did Mr. Michael ever catch heat for this one. I like to think it’s just because he had the fortitude to blurt out what so many romantics had struggled to convey with more care. So were all those flowery literature studies in school a waste of time? Not if we don’t want our courtships to read like flash cards. But having been on both the giving and receiving end of ambiguously suggested intentions, there comes a time for clarity. One will end up with the coveted kiss or spilled milk. Either way, where the relationship stands will not lack certainty. My advice for those who have yet to navigate this map: error on the side of subtle. You’ll spend most of your relationship wondering what on earth the other is thinking anyway, and confidence for this detail will only yield a false sense of security. That’s twenty-four years of marriage talking.

Having heard George Michael everywhere from school dances to grocery store PA systems, college radio (with sincerity) to my own playlists, he has flavored many a memory worth keeping. As for raising the beauty bar for his generation impossibly high, I can’t blame him for what his parents gave him. His work is nothing if not epic. Five hundred years from now, he may not be sitting at the right hand of Beethoven, but the canonized could well be dancing to “Faith” in the Court of the Crimson Cool.

Sheryl Crow

It was easy to dismiss Sheryl Crow. Too easy, as I would ultimately discover. But first a word from our sponsor, Beckett Bites, now in new Salt of the Earth as well as original Dust in the Wind flavors:

A lawyer and a surfer are waiting at a bus stop. After a few minutes, the surfer looks at the lawyer who, up until now, had been trying to muster powers of invisibility. The surfer says, “Dude, you are decked out, man.” The lawyer forces a polite thank you. The surfer asks, “What are you dressed up like that for?” The lawyer scrounges for patience and then reluctantly reveals that he’s a lawyer. “That sounds, like, complicated,” remarks the surfer. The lawyers concedes that it is. “Why do you do it?” asks the surfer. “Do what?” asks the lawyer. “Why do you wear this complicated suit to do a decked out job?” clarified the surfer. “To get ahead,” the lawyer asserted. “Whoa, like, ahead of what?” the surfer inquired.

That which annoys us most in others is that which we dislike most about ourselves. You’ve probably heard this before though I’m strapped for its official wording. It’s pop psychology speak for Freud’s Projection Theory. One has to divine this carefully. For example, I don’t hate someone because they’re beautiful out of disdain for my own good looks. This is just envy. But when a musician hears a Nobel Prize in his lyrics while barely raising an eyebrow (from patient friends who love him anyway) and another singer songwriter shows up “out of nowhere” and wins a Grammy for a song about peeling labels from beer bottles out of boredom, then annoyed I was at the futility of trying to squeeze a pint of Jack Kerouac from a shot of William Butler Yeats.

The music sustaining Crow’s muse about having fun did it’s best not to detract from the theme. A toe tapping shuffle is counterbalanced nicely by sliding guitar chords that are instantly recognizable and indicative of a barroom. Had this been recorded in someone’s garage and distributed by a label no one’s heard of, “All I Wanna Do” could easily have scored big on college radio and found Crow in the coveted position of opening for veteran bands who live in a van six months out of the year.

When Tuesday Night Music club hit the air waves, I was five young adult years past my country trash upbringing, where folks lived in homes that looked like shacks between jobs that felt like shackles, and en route to a pad that looked like a palace where I’d do a job I loved so much it didn’t feel like work. Since leaving home, I had been a sergeant in the Army, manager at health food store, ran two marathons, competed in a short triathlon, traveled to South Korea twice as well as a handful of U.S. states, and had met my fiance at a Flamenco dance class. Having recently failed at my first attempt to do an office job for no other reason than sitting at a desk for eight hours left me in tears by day’s end, I had joined the miscellaneous ranks of legal messengers.

My co-workers were the most motley of crews to date. Some of the conversations we had still bounce around in memory for their uniqueness of topic and commentary. I avoided one fellow messenger, however. She was everything I didn’t want to be in ten years, reminded me of all I had left behind, and probably used the messenger money for the beer and cigarettes that food stamps didn’t cover. These qualities, while not alluring, were not the deterrent. Rather, my concern was the blandness of her affairs. Granted, she had stiff competition from the others who ranged from hobo to honor roll, but an occasional embellishment in her unsolicited answer to “how’s it going” would’ve done wonders for her social complexion. And then one day, my dreaded coworker informed me that she had seen Sheryl Crow in concert the night before. That’s a lot of messenger money down the drain, I thought. After the concert, she hung out backstage with Ms. Crow, talking and drinking wine. How did we go from brutal honesty to flight of fantasy? Sheryl, she imparted, was really down to earth — just a regular person, like you and me. Whatever she took the night before, she had yet to come down from it, or so it seemed.

I wanted so much to believe her. There was no reason not to, given her track record, but it was pretty unbelievable. For my co-worker’s sake, I hoped she wouldn’t need therapy. Moreover, for reasons I didn’t yet understand, I wanted Sheryl Crow to be that cool.

In Amadeus, Salieri, for whom Mozart is his arch nemesis, meets his descent from grandiosity to mediocrity with madness. He falls short of musical genius and, rather than embrace his position, slashes his wrists, gets rescued, and is then relegated to an insane asylum. In my own movie, where wealth fell short of excessive, power and influence drew shy of colossal, and love waned from epic to everyday, I had to answer a few questions before reality checked me in to Salieri’s ward.

Am I strong enough to be my wife’s man?
If it makes me happy, can it be that bad?
Why am I stranger in my own life?
Am I getting ahead of myself?

While the life of my youth that I left behind is never any farther away than the back of my eyelids, my modest “Home” feels like one, replete with “My Favorite Mistakes“. Work is hard which is why they pay me to do it. And Sheryl Crow is rendering her unsolicited answer to “how’s it going” with extraordinary consolation and compassion for regular people like me. Takes one to know one.

Michael Bolton

I don’t know who’s Corn Flakes Mr. Bolton soaked on the way to the radio station, but the poor guy was guilty before I even had a chance to form my own opinion. I was 20 once and my audio palette oh so couture. When my girlfriend at the time pointed out his “How Can We Be Lovers” video with a bug eyed stare that concluded with a little stream of drool from the puff of her bottom lip, I watched patiently and tried to cite the rhetoric spoon fed to me by in the know magazines. She wasn’t buying it and musical values were not going to get in the way of pretending we were married.

Secretly, I pined to be half as cool as Bolton was in that video, to storm around the screen in masculine desperation, crying out with honest and distinctive timbre, whilst a curly mane whisks plentifully around my shoulders. The vanity of my prescribed dissent was substantiated by liner notes from the pirate flag I held so high: if everybody else likes it so much, it’s probably bad for you.

How disorienting it became, then, for it to be cool to mock Bolton. From SNL to Office Space, in a decade when cool took on so many flavors it made Baskin-Robbins look vanilla, the predominate mixer in the uncool elixir was Michael Bolton. He had company — lots of it — but when engaging new tribe members from influences unknown, he was a tried and true centerpiece for mutual disapproval.

I can’t explain the physics or whether it’s possible to dig a hole so deep that one comes out the other side or if it’s just coming full circle, but Michael Bolton, out enduring seasons of fashion spinsters, ultimately became so uncool as to be cool. And it is with sincerity and respect that I play out Bob Slydell’s enthusiasm, with a special spot for that first time I saw him on TV and its verve that outlasted the girlfriends I hoped it would preserve. Enjoy.


If my name were Elmer J. Fudd, I would be a millionaire and own a mansion and a yacht. As it is, my name is Zack “Danger” Preston, taxpayer. I own a bicycle and a belly button.

Why do this?

  • It’s tough to enough to get it all right these days. Music should be as syrupy, salty, crunchy, zesty, milk toast, sugar coated, and cheesy as you want it to be. They (meaning “The Boss”) say(s) you gotta stay hungry but don’t tell Weird Al Yankovic.
  • My day job is that of Design, Utilization, and Development Engineer at an outstanding company. If we are to sing like nobody’s listening, dance like nobody’s watching, and drive like you’re the only person on the road, then I shall write like nobody’s reading.