I’m In Love With My Tires

Did you catch the reference? Yup, to one of Queen’s album tracks that we know by heart from their greatest album, “A Night At The Opera.” “I’m In Love With My Car”…my favorite lyric is “string back gloves in my automolove”…how’d Roger Taylor come up with this stuff?

And I can’t get the song out of my head, because I’m truly in love with my tires.

Not my car. I’d love to replace it, but it’s paid for. It only does one thing well, drive. It’s got no tech, it’s noisy, but it’s turbocharged and four wheel drive and except for having to push the clutch in and out in traffic jams it’s heaven in Los Angeles, where the roads are twisty and turny and you’re constantly going up in the mountains and down in the canyons to meet the people in Billy Joel’s song.

But the problem with four wheel drive cars is the tires don’t last. After 20,000 miles you’re taking your life in your hands. And the tires the car came with were an abomination, I will never buy Bridgestones again, they drowned out the radio, never mind lost tread and needed to be replaced at 12,000 miles.

And the Pirellis I shod my machine with after were much better.

But these Michelins are it!

They’re so quiet, and so smooth, and the handling is incredible, and like I said, that’s all my car’s good for.

And getting them was such an ordeal. The discount for the previous set that wore out, the dealer ordering the wrong model, aligning the car and leaving the apparatus attached. But as soon as I got behind the wheel it was heaven, it was nirvana, I know, it sounds stupid, but it’s the little things in life that keep you satisfied.

And I’m cruising along thinking about my father, who switched to the French tires back in the sixties, testifying all the while. He bought the branded model, but most people knew them as the Sears tires that had no problem scaling railroad tracks, an iconic commercial when we all still watched them, before everybody had a clicker, never mind cable or Netflix.

And they’re more expensive.

But they’re worth it.

And there you have the story of life, you get what you pay for. And despite good being good enough, there’s such satisfaction in excellence, like someone cared enough to get it right in a world where so many are cutting corners.

And there’s so little we can control. Obstacles are around every corner. To be able to get just one little thing right makes me smile.

Pilot Sport A/S 3

Execution

1. Ideas are a dime a dozen, execution is everything.

2. We do not live in a pitch economy, almost no one is buying ideas, they’re buying companies, they’re buying something active that is generating capital.

3. We’re all Missourians today, that’s right, we all live in the SHOW ME state. We want to see evidence of your success, of the implementation of your idea, we don’t just want to hear you talk about it.

4. Ideas are in the air. Many people are working on similar breakthroughs at the same time. While you believe your idea is unique, there’s a good chance someone else is aware of it and is trying to achieve the same goal and is working while you sleep.

5. Talk is cheap. That’s why it’s so hard to get someone of power to converse, never mind go to a meal. A professional can tell in just a few sentences whether you’re real. Furthermore, if you create something real these same professionals will be breathing down your neck.

6. Success is hard work and very few want to do the heavy lifting. Because it’s boring, because it’s challenging, because no one is paying attention, because it might not pay off in the long run anyway.

7. Too many people want others to do the work. They revel in their seats as they pontificate about the great things that can be achieved with their ideas. Why don’t they just make the effort themselves? Because they don’t have the desire. That’s the secret of life, we all follow our desires, our passions, and a mediocre idea with incredible follow-through by someone who cares about it trumps a great idea with lame execution every day of the week.

8. In the tech economy everyone believes it’s about the idea. But so many of the successful companies were not innovators so much as combiners of previous technologies with a bit of vision and great execution. Google didn’t invent search and Facebook didn’t invent social networking and Apple didn’t invent the portable music player. In each case someone else had the initial idea. But Google took someone else’s idea and employed algorithms to deliver the search results you always wanted but had previously been unable to find. Facebook regulated the marketplace, they created a social home that worked on all media, and found a way to eat Google’s lunch by figuring out advertising on mobile. That’s right, Facebook survives on advertising, they didn’t invent that model, they just refined it. And Apple bought SoundJam to build iTunes and threw FireWire into the pot to create the iPod. So don’t keep thinking about coming up with something out of thin air, but utilizing the already extant
blocks to build something new and desirable, in some cases just a better mousetrap. Yes, there is a first mover advantage, but only if the first mover has a great product that he keeps improving, staying ahead of the pack.

9. It’s easier to tell someone what to do than to do it yourself.

10. If you want something done right, do it yourself, because rarely does anybody care about it as much as you do.

11. What looks like a bad idea to some is a winner in the hands of another.

12. Opportunities are abundant, but most people are afraid to do the work.

13. If someone is telling you what you could do, you’re probably best off ignoring them, because you know better what you should do, and will put in the effort to make it a success.

14. What separates winners from losers is whether they’re willing to get their hands dirty. Behind every overnight success is a ton of unseen work.

15. It’s easy to judge, it’s much harder to do. But don’t think your efforts are sans judgments, because someone always has to buy to make you successful, whether it be an intermediary or the public. So if your product/service/music has no traction, there’s judgment right there, it’s not commercial. Too many people blame someone else for their failures when they should really be blaming themselves.

16. Don’t waste people’s time with unimportant details, what is important to you may not be important to them. An expert knows what has potential. Your pet project is irrelevant to them if they can’t make money with it. Respect others’ time and knowledge.

17. Many people don’t follow through because they don’t want to, not because they’re incompetent. While you’re busy lamenting you didn’t get a return phone call or e-mail, frequently that person is not tanning at the beach but expending effort on what will help him out and make him happy. Want to motivate someone? Think about delivering what they want.

Raphael Ravenscroft

He died.

Maybe you weren’t alive in 1978 when “Baker Street” filled the airwaves.

Gerry Rafferty was one half of Stealers Wheel which had minor chart impact with “Stuck In The Middle With You” and then came this.

Winding your way down on Baker Street

Some songs take you away. They pour out of the stereo and the rest of the world stops, time is made for the magic elixir that comes out of the speakers. You had to buy “City to City” just to hear this.

And “Baker Street” was magical in so many ways. The almost Broadway-esque opening notes, the intimacy of Rafferty’s vocal, the poignancy of the lyrics, and Raphael Ravenscroft’s sax playing.

Ravenscroft said it was out of tune, that he was paid in the neighborhood of fifty bucks to do it. But it made him a star, because people just needed to get closer to that sound.

You used to think that it was so easy
You used to say that it was so easy
But you’re trying, you’re trying now

That’s what Gerry Rafferty was doing. His moment of success was years behind him. That’s right, he had a mild hit, its longevity was unknown, this was long before “Stuck In The Middle With You”‘s revival in “Reservoir Dogs,” he could only soldier on.

And that’s what’s so frustrating about life, the trying. You keep reaching for the brass ring and it eludes your grasp. Life is ultimately about loneliness, the pursuit of the individual struggle and the failure thereof. Even if you win, it doesn’t last.

But most people never get the big victory.

Another year and then you’d be happy
Just one more year and then you’d be happy
But you’re crying, you’re crying now

I’ve been there, you’ve been there. Wondering whether you should give up. Lying alone on the living room floor, listening to your favorite tunes drunk on Carolans deep into the night, it’s the only thing that gets you high, that keeps you going, the music.

Not everybody is a hero. Not everybody is a legend. Not everybody is forever. Raphael Ravenscroft scored some major credits, he worked with Pink Floyd and Marvin Gaye, America and Robert Plant and Bonnie Tyler too, not that you’d know that if you didn’t go to Wikipedia. He was a journeyman. Whose time ran out.

Word is he had a stroke. He never recovered. Another musician gone before his time.

But his song lives on. It’s a part of rock and roll history. You may not know his name, but you know his tune.

Way down the street there’s a light in his place
He opens the door, he’s got that look on his face
And he asks you where you’ve been
You tell him who you’ve seen
And you talk about anything

Friendship. That’s all that matters in this life. If you have just one person who will listen to you, who’ll wrestle the concepts with you, you’ve won.

No one else is listening, no one else cares. But for this space of time, you feel connected, you feel vibrant, you feel alive.

He’s got this dream about buying some land
He’s gonna give up the booze and the one night stands
And then he’ll settle down
In some quiet little town
And forget about everything

Gerry Rafferty could not give up the booze. It killed him.

I don’t know what caused Raphael Ravenscroft’s downfall.

But I do know that at some point you surrender. You realize you want to steer, you want to be in control, but you’re not. What do they say, life is for the living?

That’s your goal.

Stop bitching that you’re being screwed by the system.

And know that great art triumphs. There’s never been a song like “Baker Street” before or since. It’s different, it’s iconic, it’s everything we’re looking for. And when it was cut Raphael Ravenscroft had no idea it would be a hit, his ticket to immortality.

Because that’s the way it always is. Life is not for the planners. It’s made for the risk-takers, the ones who are up for a lark.

You can’t do it their way, they don’t know how they did it anyway.

You’ve got to do it your way.

Our rock and roll history is made up of a plethora of people. Some who were here forever, some who lit up the stage only momentarily. But when one goes down, we all feel it.

I’m feeling it tonight.

You Keep Me Hangin’ On

Let me get over you
THE WAY YOU’VE GOTTEN OVER ME!

The weather changed. Traditionally summer comes late to SoCal and lasts late, September is the hottest month of the year. But this year October was just as blistering. It was like living in vacationland, everybody in shorts on hot nights, parading down the avenues…and that’s right, usually nobody walks in L.A!

But then it suddenly cooled. Which is quite a surprise. I thought we were living through that “Twilight Zone,” the one where the Earth is moving closer and closer to the sun. We’ve got no water, we’re dying from the heat, do we all have to get in our cars and drive to the North Pole?

But I’ve retired the fan. I don’t have to immediately open the windows in my house. The sun is at a different angle. Night falls early. And every song on the radio sounds good.

Maybe because this is the time of year I moved to L.A. It’s hard to fathom if you live anywhere else, it never really gets cold, the seasons do change, but you can wear a light jacket through Christmas, even though the locals don down.

And the auto a/c is not a necessity. And the sun doesn’t forbid an open roof. So I’m driving down the street, pushing the satellite buttons, smiling all the while.

And yesterday I heard “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.”

For a long time the original was forgotten. The long, slowed-down Vanilla Fudge epic was the rendition of record. But it’s funny how the sands of time move. The Fudge have been forgotten, the Supremes live on.

And my favorite Supremes song is “Come See About Me.”

And I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for “Reflections.”

And I’ll never forget being introduced to the group via “Where Did Our Love Go,” which hit the airwaves about the same time as the Shangri-Las “Remember (Walking In The Sand).” I thought they were competing girl groups. Little did I know…

Set me free why don’t you baby
Get out my life why don’t you baby
‘Cause you don’t really love me
You just keep me hangin’ on

At age 11 it was a jail metaphor. Sure, I’d just had my first summer camp relationship, but that was all about tingly feelings, I had to get older to know torture. And it’s always the same, they always come back, however briefly. It takes all of their gumption to decide to go, they’ve made up their mind long before they tell you, and then they come back, what’s up with that?

Why do you keep a’ comin’ around
Playin’ with my heart
Why don’t you get out of my life
And let me make a new start

The track starts off with the chorus, always an appealing construct, but then the change to the first verse is purely magical. It’s like we’ve gone from mindless to sincere, declaration to meaning. It’s like Diana Ross is stopping the show to ask us, why does he keep engaging in this behavior?

You say although we broke up
You still gonna be just friends
But how can we still be friends
When seein’ you only breaks my heart again

I don’t understand this friends business.

I’m gonna set you straight, when someone says the breakup was mutual, they’re lying. Sure, it might have been bad, but someone always wants out first, someone pushes the button, pulls the ripcord. And why is it always this person, the one with the power, who says they want to be friends?

You know my life story, we’ve exchanged bodily fluids, now you’re gonna make like that didn’t happen? You can’t take back so much, once the rocket blasts into space it falls back to earth, there ain’t nothing you can do about it, the relationship is toast, let me try to get it out of my mind, forget it, so I can move on.

You claim you still care for me
But your heart and soul needs to be free
Now that you’ve got your freedom
You wanna still hold on to me
You don’t want me for yourself
So let me find somebody else

That’s what they always say, they need to be free. If this is true, why do they keep coming back to the ball and chain? If we’re so bad, and they tell us so, why do they still want us? And when you’re young, you’re susceptible to this message, you’re confused, you think there’s something wrong with you when the truth is your partner is weak. They say they don’t want to hurt you, but really they don’t want to hurt themselves.

Perspective is so funny. I just heard Richard Harris sing “MacArthur Park” on 60s on 6 and I was reveling in it, and I positively hated the track back when.

And then there’s stuff like “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” that I thought was a trifle, but turns out to be laden with meaning, it’s just that I was a couple of years and a couple of changes behind it.

And that’s a great record. Not only one that gives us insight into our lives, but continues to do so as we evolve. The track is static, but as our angle of vision changes, new elements are revealed.

But songs are different from people. Songs stay, people don’t. Songs are dependable, people are not. When you find someone you can count on, hold on, then again, do you really want to be free?

That’s the world we live in, one made up of those who want to stick and those who don’t.

But the truth is we all want to be glued together. It’s just tough.

So we listen to records to get us through.

You Keep Me Hangin’ On – Spotify

You Keep Me Hangin’ On – YouTube