The Data

Nate Silver wrote the definitive story on Donald Trump and nobody knows it.

That’s right, America’s favorite statistician, the diviner of data, the man who makes sense out of chaos, analyzed the polls and found out that while Trump had the highest rating, his unfavorables were through the roof. In other words, only a small percentage of GOP voters favored him, uneducated on the issues to boot, and when the field consolidated, Trump would be history.

But unlike during the last election cycle, Nate Silver is no longer on the front page of the “New York Times,” and therefore his insights have no traction. In other words, the bloviating press that loves a horse race is going on about the success of Donald Trump when the truth is contrary to the hubbub.

It’s kind of like making a hit record that only plays on your local college radio station.

The old days of the internet are through. The ones wherein greatness surfaced and we were all the better for it. Today, you’ve got to attach your track to the coattails of an entity with a large audience, otherwise you’re just pissing in the wind.

How did we get here, how did it come to this?

The cacophony, the sheer plethora of information.

Furthermore, the Silver situation proves that the stuff with ink, that gets most attention, may not be the best. Which is why, in the music business, we’ve got story after story about the flavor of the moment that does not resonate with you when you check it out.

So what do we know…

He with the greatest audience wins, irrelevant of veracity or quality.

The “New York Times” survives, Nate Silver is marginalized. If you’re going it alone, be prepared to enter the wilderness, and possibly stay there. Because concomitant with the footprint of the powerhouses is the inability to compete with them. Bing proved this, Google was good enough. If you’re not reinventing the wheel, stay out of the fracas.

Meanwhile, our nation is going to look different in the years to come. Truth will out. Because a younger generation has grown up on facts, and they refuse to live in denial. It’s baby boomers who are blowhards, who believe if they just yell loud enough what they say will come true. But when numbers can be marshaled that contradict common wisdom, watch out.

This is the same battle over transparency that the Berklee report stirred up. If you think the labels are gonna get away with voodoo royalty reports in the future, you’re probably still using a flip-phone. As the oldsters retire, the young ‘uns bring in new models.

So what we’ve learned is you’re better off playing with the big boys than going it alone. Forget all the hogwash about independence, being able to make your record and release it yourself. To crickets in most instances. Macklemore may have been on an indie LABEL, but it was promoted by the major’s MACHINE! If you’re playing for all the marbles, don’t play by yourself.

And just because a record is number one, that doesn’t mean much. The latest statistics tell us that streaming services are a hotbed of catalog. The truth is that at least half the audience would rather listen to the certified oldies than forage for new stuff. Which is why the legends do such incredible live business. The industry doesn’t like this emphasis on catalog, it gets excited about the new, labels invest heavily in the new. Did you read the dearly departed Dave Goldberg’s report to the Sony brass? He said to cut costs on new and focus on old. But his story got buried, pardon the pun.

And know that the reason so much of the Top Forty, what is in the news, doesn’t spread, is because it’s just not good enough. It appeals to a very small hard core. And the truth is the most money in music is made when something appeals to everybody. So, our industry would be healthier if we got consensus and put a push behind that which got the most favorable response. And that will happen, when the millennials take over.

So what we’ve learned is it’s not you. You’re right, the media industrial complex is frequently hyping crap, and that which doesn’t fit its paradigm, however great, is lost in the tsunami of information.

Nate Silver turned chaos into comprehension. Read his report and you’ll see that Trump is a marginal player who can’t win. But few know this.

We’re waiting for the music business to turn chaos into comprehension. The problem is it’s run by old farts inured to the old ways. Obfuscating so they can line their own pockets. Imagine if we researched more records and then pushed those with the most favorable ratings. Would the chart look the same?

Of course not.

Nate Silver – “Donald Trump Is The Nickelback Of GOP Candidates”

Dave Goldberg – “Re: Music strategy-confidential”

Rhinofy-Summer Rain

All summer long, we spent dancin’ in the sand
And the jukebox kept on playin’
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

That’s your image of SoCal, I know. Beach bunnies and surfboards. Endless summer sunsets.

But the truth is that’s not the way it’s been this summer.

What has happened down here is the wind have changed
Clouds roll in from the north and it started to rain

Actually, from the south. A tropical storm. And it’s been debated whether there will be any drought impact. You see it has to rain in the mountains to make a difference, as snow in the Sierras, and they did get some hail there, but next year’s predicted El Nino? They’re wondering if it’s going to be a southern affair.

And the truth is Randy Newman’s “Good Old Boys” was not a raging success. Got a ton of hype, back when there were fewer albums and it made more of a difference, but this was before his hits, before “Short People” and “I Love L.A.,” and the only people who bought “Good Old Boys” were fans, and there weren’t many of them.

And then something strange happened. “Louisiana 1927″ became the soundtrack to Katrina. As if Randy Newman predicted it. I’m sure he got a chuckle out of that, despite the tragedy.

But the truth is whenever it rains in L.A., which is rare, I sing Randy’s song. Now it’s everybody’s song. But I was there first!

The next time you see L.A. rain clouds
Don’t complain, it rains for you and me

That’s from “Mamunia,” the opening cut on the second side of “Band On The Run.”

People forget that McCartney was in kind of a lull. His debut was a smash, albeit not as big as a Beatles record and ultimately competing with “Let It Be,” but what came after…

“Ram” wasn’t as good, but compared to what’s issued today…

And then the execrable “Wild Life.” Nobody bought it, nobody listened to it.

And then “Red Rose Speedway.” With its sappy, syrupy “My Love,” which was so overplayed as to make you puke. However, “Red Rose Speedway”‘s opening cut, “Big Barn Bed,” may be forgotten today but it contains Paul’s essence, just listen to the vocal!

Still, the album didn’t sell so well.

And then came “Band On The Run.”

Expectations were low. “Helen Wheels” was stripped in, to ensure some sales.

But then “Rolling Stone” declared it to be one of the albums of the year and I laid my money down and the opening track blew me away.

That’s right, once upon a time “Band On The Run,” the track, was unknown, just like “Hotel California” three years later. These were not the songs the label led with, so you only knew them if you purchased the albums… You’ve got no idea what it was like to drop the needle on “Hotel California” and hear it for the very first time, same deal with “Band On The Run.” You had no frame of reference. You were hanging out there alone. And when it was done you found yourself in a cocoon of excellence desirous of telling everybody you knew.

Anyway, it was back when we still played albums, so I knew “Mamunia” by heart, and I sing the above lyrics when it rains in L.A. too. Sometimes before “Louisiana 1927,” sometimes after.

But this summer I’m singing Johnny Rivers’s “Summer Rain.”

Summer rain taps at my window
West wind soft as a sweet dream
My love warm as the sunshine
Sittin’ here by me, she’s here by me

“Summer Rain” was a hit in the winter. Kind of like “Summer Breeze” was a hit over Thanksgiving. People forget this stuff, but not me, not me.

And “Summer Rain” reminded me of all the good times during July and August, camp and trips and…

Listening to “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Which I did for a week that summer, when my parents were in Europe and I stayed at Michael Meltzer’s house before we left for Philmont, it was the only record I had.

She stepped out of a rainbow
Golden hair shinin’ like moon glow
Warm lips soft as a soul
Sittin’ here by me, she’s here by me

That’s what’s been lost in the transition to now, the optimism of the sixties. That’s right, the decade of turmoil was inundated with hope. We believed things would only get better. With the music and our significant other by our side.

We sailed into the sunset
Drifted home, caught by a gulf stream
Never gave a thought for tomorrow
Just let tomorrow be, now, let tomorrow be

Ain’t that a joke. People tell you to live in the moment. Not anymore, if you’re not moving forward today you’re going backward. And you don’t want to be left behind. But back then, our public education and our middle class values were all we needed to get along, we were caught up in the now, knowing tomorrow was full of possibilities, when we eventually got there.

She wants to live in the Rockies
She says that’s where we’ll find peace
Settle down, raise up a family
To call our own, yeah, we’ll have a home

This was back before airline deregulation. You might have lived in the Rockies, if not, you hadn’t been there.

And we all wanted peace. Today, everybody’s a warmonger.

And the song portends the seventies, when we all settled down, looked in as opposed to out, forgot about the Great Society and just tried to survive.

The snow drifts by my window
North wind blowin’ like thunder
Our love’s burnin’ like fire
And she’s here by me, yeah, she’s here with me
Let tomorrow be

If it rains in the summer, we’ve already broken the July record, does that mean it will snow in the winter?

Doubtful. All bets are off. Climate change has us wonderin’.

But this great big world keeps turnin’. And there’s something new around each and every corner. But what gets us through is our music and loved ones.

While we watch the summer rain slide down our windows and contemplate…

How did it come to this?

Rhinofy-Summer Rain


What kind of crazy fucked-up world do we live in where a Broadway musical exudes more creativity, honesty, intrigue and interest than any record on the chart?

One in which “The Book Of Mormon” takes chances and your only artistic hope is to pursue your dreams and cast money worries aside.

Nothing will prepare you for “Hamilton.” Because you’ve never seen anything like it before. That’s what we’re searching for in art, the new and unique, as opposed to the old, tired formula. Whilst the Top Forty is populated by young faces fronting for old men, “Hamilton” features the work of an educated thirtysomething who is doing nothing so much as pursuing his own dream.

Inspiration… It can come from anywhere. Lin-Manuel Miranda was on vacation, reading a randomly-purchased biography of one of America’s founding fathers, when the bolt hit. The thrill of making money is when your bank account soars. The thrill of artistic inspiration is when the light bulb goes on, when the door opens to a golden highway that you can’t wait to go down. Making money is an end. Artistic inspiration is just the beginning.

And there was a long tortured road, from Vassar to Off Broadway to West 46th Street.

But Lin-Manuel Miranda did not start there. First he went to school, Wesleyan, in Connecticut. The alma mater of Amanda Palmer if you’re scoring at home. For all the hogwash about preparing yourself for a career, about studying practical information and getting your money’s worth in college, the truth is the world is run by and turned topsy-turvy by those who go to the elite institutions where there’s little practical knowledge imparted and it’s all about expanding your brain and sensibility, empowering you to see the world in a different way. That’s what’s wrong with standards, they eviscerate creativity. How can we set our children free?

How can we set society free?

Anyway, “Hamilton” is more fun than any amusement park thrill ride. You strap in and you’re taken on a journey heretofore unknown, an ancient tale that is told through modern means.

That’s right, Alexander Hamilton’s story is told through rap.

Well, not exclusively. There’s R&B. And the King of England employs melody. But the truth is hip-hop dominates. Because hip-hop is the language of the streets. And “Hamilton” is a street story.

As they all are.

You can go to Harvard, Wesleyan too, but they won’t tell you how the world really works. You have to take your sensibility into the blender of life. Where relationships are everything, where how you come across is key. Which is why so many elite institution graduates are broke, or nearly so, because they never figured out how to integrate who they are with what is going on.

Hamilton is an immigrant. Take that Donald Trump, take that Tea Party. Some of our greatest thinkers, movers and shakers, were not born within the confines of the fifty states.

And he’s arrogant and talks too much. Aaron Burr tells him to smile and talk less. Before he shoots him. For talking too much shit.

And Hamilton has big desires. That’s the essence of the American Dream, the dream itself. That your name can be in lights. Few have the talent or education to achieve this, but Hamilton does.

And he’s willing to put his life on the line. He’s not a pussy, he’ll fight the war, the Revolutionary War that is.

And he’ll also fight Jefferson and Madison over financial matters as Secretary of the Treasury. Where the ultimate compromise is made behind closed doors, just as it’s done today. If you think you know how it was done I’m laughing, only those inside the room do. The key is to be inside the room, Burr’s desire, which he rarely achieves.

And Jefferson…almost steals the show. A dandy back from France, where he skipped the war, he’s a character out of “In Living Color,” a cross between a comedian and an orator. These juxtapositions have you scratching your head. Like when the players decide to go downtown to check out the women. We see the past as set in amber, a different class of people acting differently. But the truth is they’re flesh and blood and driven by hormones and make poor choices just like us, which is part of what makes “Hamilton” so fascinating.

And like a rap war, Hamilton keeps egging Burr. Which ultimately costs him his life.

And there are babes, everything but rims.

If you never understood hip-hop culture, if you thought you hated rap, “Hamilton” is gonna turn all your preconceptions upside down. You’ll finally understand how the words are so important, how they tell a story. You’ll get the beat, the truth of the streets.

And you’ll learn so much!

Those who dismiss history are bound to repeat it. Those who pore over it learn lessons. And this applies in the world of tech as well as offline. Some truths are immutable, if not self-evident.

You watch “Hamilton” with your jaw open. At the edge of your seat. Thrilled. You’re waiting for them to stumble. For one of the numbers to be substandard, for the story to flatten out. But the play rides on like a classic album, with no filler.

And it’s real people on stage. Not Hollywood automatons. The women are all not Gwyneth thin and the guys are all not Clooney handsome. They’re more like us. Hell, you’re gonna be bitten by the theatre bug, you’re gonna want to find a way on stage.

Influences. It’s why everybody in the sixties picked up a guitar after seeing the Beatles on “Ed Sullivan.” We’re looking for a direction home, but we’ve got few inspirational leaders.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is one.

Like all great art, “Hamilton” has to be experienced to be understood, you have to see it to get it.

So if you’re in New York City…

If you can rustle up a ticket.


E-Mail Of The Day

Re: Tanglewood

Bob……. wow.. I love this..

I grew up in Stockbridge Mass.

My 89 year old mom still lives in the house I grew up in and she still goes to Tanglewood. My twin brother is a doctor in Stockbridge.. 3 miles from Tanglewood.

I went there as a small kid with my parents and brother and sister to hear the Boston Symphony play all those classical hits.. But I wasn’t into it..  but it had a deep  influence on me. It gets better.

When Rock N Roll came into OUR lives in the 60’s.. I saw MILES DAVIS (Four Is More) in his prime open up for SANTANA (first 2 records) with Michael Shrieve still playing drums at Tanglewood. I saw THE WHO perform TOMMY .. Maybe the first time in America… with JETHRO TULL and IT”S A BEAUTIFUL DAY opening up for them . Me and my twin brother at 13? or so.. were in the second row.. we were stoned and Keith Moon freaked out because he saw us and realized we were twins.. lol he probably saw 4 of us because he was stoned.. I saw the JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, SLY STONE who showed up 3 hours late, Iron Butterfly  etc etc.. but it gets better..

In 1975 I was in the student orchestra at Tanglewood.. It took me 4 years of auditioning, but I finally got in.. I got to perform Sibelius 5th Symphony on that big shed stage with Leonard Bernstein conducting  us.. my jewish mom cried the entire concert seeing her boy on that stage with Lenny.. :) I worked with conductors Arthur Fiedler and Sieji Ozawa also.. amazing..

So Tanglewood is like family to me.. It’s my roots for classical, jazz and rock n roll.

Thanks for writing about Tanglewood.. I wish everyone could have the experience you and I have had going to Tanglewood.. Nothing like it.. Fire Flys and mosquitoes.. :) wine, picnic’s on the lawn and people saying “shhhhhhhush” when some one talks to loud.. ha ha


Kenny Aronoff