Broken Together

What if perfection doesn’t exist? What if what you’re looking for can’t be found?

They tell us we can be anything we want to be, even President.

Then not only do we not want to be CEO of the country, but we just can’t grab the brass ring, as we get older we can’t even see it, and then we’re not sure what we want anyway.

But society keeps telling us we can win.

When the truth is nobody can. Triumph at the Super Bowl and the good feeling soon fades. All victories are evanescent. As we get older we realize the only thing we can count on, the only thing that rewards us, is our relationships.

But they’re so hard to keep. Never mind find. You’re looking for a picture in your mind, someone who understands you, who gets you, who won’t challenge you, but just accept you. And you throw your lot in with someone who gives you hope, and then those are hopes dashed.

That’s the essence of divorce. Someone wants out because their dreams have gone unfulfilled. You’re just not successful enough for them, there’s someone better-looking, there’s got to be something better on the outside. And then the bond is broken and…

The searchers keep on searching and those left behind lick their wounds and build up their courage to play once again.

And then when your body is lumpy, your ass falls, your skin starts to wrinkle, you find someone new. But it’s so different. You’ve got so much baggage. And if you’re lucky you realize this is what life is all about, not only compromise and understanding, but hewing the path, being broken together.

What do you think about when you look at me

Am I not who you expected me to be? Do you see my imperfections? Do you weigh my pluses and minuses? I’m already riddled with self-doubt, I envy the confident, I can barely accept myself.

I know we’re not the fairy tale you dreamed we’d be

Disappointment… When the flash of new love disappears. When your hold over them has evaporated. Do you measure up? Are you a keeper? Or are they just figuring out how to let you loose.

You wore the veil, you walked the aisle, you took my hand
And we dove into a mystery

I got married. My ex said she tricked me into it. But once I put that ring on my finger, stood up in front of friends and family, I knew I would never pull the trigger on a divorce, because that’s just not my style, I honor my commitments, to the point where sometimes I can’t get out of my own way.

And after the party fades into memory, you end up with the car accidents, the money troubles and the disappointments, when your life stops resembling the fantasy and you delve deeper into the darkness.

How I wish we could go back to simpler times

That’s what the serial monogamists desire, that hit of first love, they know how to begin and end, it’s the middle that gives them trouble, the heebie-jeebies, this is when they jump.

Before all our scars and all our secrets were in the light

Sharing, it’s the essence of a relationship, but no matter how connected we might be we’re afraid of judgment, of freaking our partner out. How much can we complain? Is this gonna be a deal-breaker?

Now on this hallowed ground, we’ve drawn the battle lines
Will we make it through the night

It always happens at night. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a serious fight in the morning. But lying in bed, one desirous of falling asleep, the other unable to keep their mind from racing, the past is rehashed and analyzed to the point where there’s no agreement, but an eventual exhaustion, hours later, when you hug and hope that tomorrow will be better.

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete

This is the starting the point, this is what most fail to realize, that being a pair is nearly impossible, that it’s a struggle to stay together. You were sold a bill of goods, there’s no such thing as soulmates, and those who say they are are either lying or one step away from divorce, one party dominating while the other accepts the undue burden. Relationships are never equal, nor are breakups, but unless you stand your ground, even while oscillating, you’re never going to know true love. Relationships are about the dividend, not about beauty, status or riches, rather the knowledge there’s going to be someone home at night, someone there for you, when you’re at loose ends. This is all you can hope for, along with some skin on skin. It’s not about becoming one, but just being together.

You can bring your shattered dreams and I’ll bring mine

Line ’em up. If you’re over thirty you’ve got ’em. Hopes and dreams that did not come to fruition. You didn’t make the pros, you didn’t get into the right college, you didn’t make partner, you got dumped, you struggled, even lied, just to make it through. No one told you life was gonna be this tough. How come in school they care about your every move, but when you grow up no one cares about you at all? You carry all this crap with you in life. And it’s not about casting it aside, but throwing it into a pile with someone new, picking through the detritus and building a life, being broken together.

That’s the name of the song, “Broken Together.” It’s by Christian rock band Casting Crowns, whose name I knew but whose music I was unfamiliar with. I became enraptured by the first few piano notes when it started to play in the Discover Weekly playlist. In an era where everything is fake, not only the music, but the people, where image is everything although truly nothing, a piano cuts to the bone, announces an honesty and truth we so desire but too often avoid. The vocal was good, but the lyrics were a surprise, they contained such wisdom, and with the ensuing changes and the heartfelt emotion I was touched.

We all want to be touched. Metaphorically and physically.

How it must have been so lonely by my side

That’s what they don’t tell you about relationships, about the time you’re alone together. You’ve got the commitment, but sometimes that’s the only thing you possess.

We were building kingdoms and chasing dreams and left love behind

You think you’re just living your life. But then intimacy dries up. And the other person becomes a cipher. Is there a way back from this?


As long as you’re willing to be broken together.

It’s the only way you’ll last forever, if you’re broken together.

Broken Together – Spotify

Broken Together – YouTube

Adele Sets Sales Record?

This is not a victory for the rank and file.

The artists railing against streaming applaud Adele’s success after keeping “25” from Spotify, et al…they just don’t know it’s the last gasp of a dying paradigm and the birth of a new one. That’s right, you won’t see albums released in the fourth quarter for sales impact anymore, but we will see the most popular acts dominate the chart.

Hope. That’s what people want. And if Adele can play by the old rules and win, by golly, so can I! But this is untrue. Not only is Adele a phenomenon, she and her superstar brethren are hoovering up all the profits in music. It’s no different from Apple winning in mobile handsets, she’s an iPhone and you’re HTC or Microsoft or Sony or one of the manufacturers who’ve left the business.

How did it come to this?

First and foremost, mindshare. It’s nearly impossible to get in today’s cluttered, cacophonous society. Used to be you got on radio and then MTV and you reached everybody. Now, except for Adele herself, no one can do this. Quick, sing a 1D song! You can’t, but they just won big on the AMAs. And you can pooh-pooh that awards show, or you can just admit that music has changed. It’s not that you’re old, it’s just that the biggest acts are niche and if you’re not one of them, god help you in making a living.

Even radio… There’s pop and everything else. Quick, what’s number one on the Active Rock chart? You probably can’t even name one of the tracks in the top ten!

And the popular squeezes out the less popular and you end up holding the bag, and there’s nothing in it, only shattered dreams.

Same deal in touring, where the real money is. You can’t get a good seat at the arena to see the star and you can’t get anybody to come see the barely known in the club. Hell, the clubs themselves have given up, the record companies pulled their support and their financials caved. Furthermore, most people are drive-by fans, they’re not so passionate that they want to underpay to see you in a small venue coming up, they’d rather wait until you make it and pay through the yin-yang for a good ticket on StubHub. Hell, Sam Smith played arenas, after one hit. You can criticize this career move, say it’s too much too soon, but the truth is there was demand.

The people want stars.

And the corporations do too. There’s endless sponsorship money for household names. And none if you’re unrecognizable.

You think Adele holding her album back from streaming services is a victory for you, but the truth is it’s only for her. And I’ll argue all the hype about her potentially breaking sales records is more important than the sales themselves. They give her the imprimatur of importance. And people love a horse race. For a while anyway. Come on, what was the name of that horse which just won the Triple Crown?

That’s how fast it all moves. And to have staying power is incredibly difficult. Do I think “25” will have staying power? Probably. Maybe, just like Taylor Swift, when Adele goes on the road there will be continued press.

But there may not be.

This is where we’re now at. People love statistics more than the underlying art. And it’s not only in music… We want to know how much money “Star Wars” is gonna make, and if your flick doesn’t break six digits it’s irrelevant.

Or is it?

The key is to have self-respect and do it your way. Know that you cannot win at their game. You’re a pawn, if you’re on the board at all. A true artist doesn’t complain, he or she creates. But why should we expect any different where accumulating friends and likes on social media is the main game?

And if Adele breaks the sales record… Quick, how many copies did “Sgt. Pepper” sell? And “Back In Black”? Nobody knows, not even the bands themselves, who were accounted to poorly. But that music has maintained a hold on the public consciousness, unlike “No Strings Attached.”

Have some perspective people. We’re witnessing the Super Bowl of Music. And there’s only room for one act. And it may be a fun movie to watch, but you’re not on the field.

And what’s worse, in music today, all the acts that should be retired are still playing. Not only are they on the road, their music is up front and center online, which is testimony to their greatness.

So when you sit at home and see Adele’s sales success as a victory for the little guy, a poke in the eye to streaming services, you’re delusional.

Yes, she made all that money. It’s just funny that she left all that cash on the table the last time around.

As for doing it her way, we all know the rich and powerful write their own rules, that they live in a rarefied air that we don’t have access to.

So put your music on streaming services, which not only dominate today, but will kill sales like the aforementioned iPhone killed the BlackBerry.

And know that the big wheel of progress keeps turning. All those acts that stayed off of iTunes are on there now. And it will be true of Spotify and the rest. This is a moment in time. One which will be noted endlessly in the future, how Adele set a sales record in a dying era.

But she’s not an athlete, this is not about numbers, but music.

Never forget that.

The Doobie Brothers Documentary On Qello

Tech is evanescent.

Music, when done right, is forever.

Steve Jobs famously said he was creating tools, to enable the creations of others.

Musicians are at the end of the line, they are the creators.

Social media is about providing a service. You’re beholden to your customers, you follow them.

Musicians walk into the wilderness and hope people come along. But they’re never sure they’re going to.

I started the evening by setting up my Chromecast. I was stunned at its utility. That’s what today’s tech evidences, the wow factor. Which we used to have in music. I’d listen to Frank Zappa and wonder how he came up with this stuff. I remember looking at Al Kooper’s cover for “I Stand Alone” and marveling at the images and wondering who the person was behind all this, I wanted a further peek into his mind.

The Doobie Brothers flew private in the seventies. Their manager figured it was cheaper. You didn’t have to buy everybody a ticket and you could scrimp on hotel rooms. Furthermore, you could smoke and drink and bring anybody on board you wanted to. It was a party. Sure, people wanted to make money. But if that was your main concern would you really build a band of five or six? You’d be thinking about the split from day one. And although bands of the sixties are still bitching about getting screwed on songwriting royalties, the truth is everybody was ignorant, there was no source of information, you just got inspired, had the music in you, saw the Beatles on TV and started to play.

Some stopped.

And some continued. And those who continued sacrificed everything else. They drove uninsured VW bugs which sometimes ran and sometimes didn’t. And although they dreamed of the big time, they weren’t sure how to get there.  They just wrote and played and hung out. And when you hung out you met new people. And new combos were formed. Because, like all great music, you know it when you hear it…when Michael Hossack sits in as second drummer, when Skunk Baxter wails when he’s not doing his thing with Steely Dan. It’s all about serendipity and chances and when it works…

Well, it doesn’t work the same way anymore.

The Beatles got rich and got laid. And those two elements drove the musicians who came after.

Keith Moon destroyed hotel rooms. Led Zeppelin amped up all the debauchery. But there was always a manager with a wad of hundreds, there was always enough money coming in to keep on going. Because your fans were bonded to you.

Not that the Doobies started off successfully.

They played a biker bar in the hills above Santa Cruz. I know that’s a legend, but in this doc you actually see it. There were places like that in the seventies, where you went to get drunk and rowdy and sway to the music while no one was watching. There was no documentation because your phone didn’t have a camera, and you didn’t have a phone at all. You just kept your eyes and ears open and went along for the ride.

And that’s what is stunning about the early part of this documentary, the footage. For those of us who grew up in the church of rock and roll to see the band outside a hotel, Tom Johnston strumming on an acoustic guitar, is like getting a glimpse of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Sure, by time we hit the eighties there were video cameras, there was more documentation. But before that filming was expensive and cumbersome and rarely done, so so much of what happened fell through the cracks. Which is where most people wanted it. Because in the seventies you smoked dope but you didn’t go on record about it, unlike Ted Templeman in this doc.

That’s another highlight. Mr. Bizarre comes out from the shadows to testify. He was just learning his craft watching Lenny Waronker on the first album. But then he got the gig behind the board on the second and “Toulouse Street” sold two plus million. Never mind being ubiquitous on the radio. Listen to the music indeed. No music today has as much impact as that of the seventies. Because there were only radio stations, which we all listened to. If you made it, everybody knew about it, like tech today.

But tech hadn’t been invented. If you were a renegade, if you wanted to live life differently, you were a musician. Or a manager or a record clerk or…

And there was no preparatory program. You just had to decide to play. Bruce Cohn never managed another band, did not go to music business college, had no uncle in Hollywood. He just rode herd over what was.

Which went through so many twists and turns that the band eventually became something different and Pat Simmons quit.

But that was after Tom Johnston got sick and Michael McDonald helped reinvent the band’s sound and…

Sure Tom had an ulcer… But he also lived and partied hard. On the road. Up all night, sleep all day. Only you don’t sleep that much. And eventually, like Tiran Porter, you do coke just to get by.

Tour, make an album, tour, make an album, year after year.

What was the motivation?

You start to lose track. You’re famous and you enjoy it. You’re making money and want it. And then you’re afraid it’s all gonna end. And people have expectations. And then you wake up one day and you just can’t do it anymore, you’ve had no life, you’ve sacrificed your days and well being to the demon rock and roll.

Sure, you can be a devoted listener. But to be a player is to be on an endless treadmill with no safety net wherein if you stop running, it all comes to a halt, you fall off and no one cares about you anymore.

I was planning to write about Major Lazer’s “Lean On,” I don’t think it gets the ink it deserves.

But looking up its place on the Spotify chart I was stunned how Justin Bieber dominated listening. The times are changing. Radio plays one track, usually way after the fact, but fans embrace it all right now and then move on, Bieber has supplanted the Weeknd.

But none of them work alone. There’s a clear division between writers and performers, between those in front of the mics and those behind. It’s a factory, it’s big business.

And it was business back then, but we were inventing it on the fly.

But then MTV suddenly reached everyone and you could make more money than ever before and the concept of “rock star” changed. Now you had to be beautiful, more money was spent and more money was made, if you hit. You wanted to be famous for who you were as opposed to the music you made.

And then the internet came along and blew it all to hell, jetted us all back to the Stone Age, to the pre-Beatles era where singles ruled and there was less money involved and music was a second-class citizen.

Meanwhile, everybody who was there before can’t fathom the change, and those who weren’t feel their chance was stolen, not having read “Outliers,” not knowing that timing is everything. You can be great in the wrong era and not succeed.

But you can play forever. That’s what Michael McDonald says, there’s no age limit on playing. Which is why there’s a live band at every baby boomer reunion. Everybody brings out their Gibson or Fender, plugs it in and sings the songs of yore. Whereas their children hire a deejay and shoot pictures to post on social media, believing everybody is a star.

We knew who the stars were back then. We were just happy to bask in their glow.

And I credit the techies, I marvel at their inventions. But despite having more money than everybody they don’t know how to spend it, don’t know how to be cool, they call themselves “rock stars” but couldn’t be further from the appellation.

A rock star follows his muse, even if it does not take him to the pot of gold.

A rock star believes in feelings, taking them in and then remixing them and sending them out as art.

A rock star plays for today, because he knows there may not be another tomorrow. That the gig goes into the ether and all that remains are the hazy memories.

A rock star touches people.

We may never get back to the garden.

But some of us were there once.

And we’ve never forgotten it.

Jimmy Iovine On Women

“Jimmy Iovine: ‘Women Find It Very Difficult At Times To Find Music'”

Wherein Jimmy Iovine has his Al Campanis moment.

Tim Cook comes out and advocates for gender equality but his lieutenant sets back the cause of women to the Stone Age.

Where’s Gloria Steinem when you need her? Or Naomi Klein, never mind Naomi Wolf.

Or how about Sheryl Sandberg, are you gonna take a stand on this? Are you gonna push back? Or are you just gonna stay quiet, a member of the tech elite, protecting your brethren while they act and behave heinously.

Sure, someone can make a mistake.

But we don’t tolerate these kinds of mistakes elsewhere. And this demonstrates roots, core beliefs, this wasn’t a slip of the tongue, this is who Jimmy Iovine is. A member of a boys club who doesn’t give a hoot about keeping women down. Hell, his best buddy Dr. Dre…check out his “relationships” with women. He apologized for his transgressions, but decades too late.

This is what happens when people live in the bubble too long, when they’re not in touch with the street, when they’ve got no idea how people really think or behave. Thank god the younger generation is so much better informed and more advanced. I credit MTV for making America less racist, sexist and homophobic. Once you see people like yourself on television, once you realize the denigrated are as good as you are, once you see intelligent women lighting up the screen, your beliefs are changed.

But mainstream media is so behind the times. Why didn’t one of the CBS hosts call Jimmy out? Thank god the traditional media is being eviscerated by the online sphere. Beautiful nitwits paying fealty to the rich and powerful is passe, just like the aged people watching network shenanigans.

So now you know who Jimmy is. The same guy who ranted about file-traders during the early part of this century and the same guy who came out against freemium, because it’s not good for HIM! What about the customers, what about the listeners, what about those who keep musicians alive?

No, Jimmy’s just as self-centered as the rest of the rich in our society. Hell, at least Bernie Sanders is a man of the people, even if he’s got no chance. Bernie would never say such a thing, because those subjected to scrutiny learn what they say counts, and do their best not to commit faux pas.

But Jimmy Iovine thinks he’s better than us, knows more than us, even though Eric Schmidt, a technology majordomo, says machines will predict music better than people. Just like Amazon’s computers predict books you want to read better than people.

Not that people are superfluous. It’s just that machines don’t make dumb mistakes. And can aid us when we let them serve us.

Apple Music is challenged. Spotify is the frontrunner. And the more I see Iovine make proclamations about what’s going on, the less I have confidence in Apple’s success.

Your move Tim Cook.

“Jimmy Iovine, Mary J. Blige talk Apple Music’s new ad”