MusiCares-2-Wasted Time


At the end of the event Larry Solters introduced me to three chubby women in the neighborhood of forty.  They were not dressed in finery, they were not beneficiaries of Georgette Klinger pampering.  Rather these females were the proprietors of

Based on Austin, they’d come to L.A. just for this show.

I didn’t see a ring on the finger of the main proprietor, a sixth grade teacher with pictures of herself and Don Henley on the bulletin board in her room.  She was married to the man, and his music.  I asked her what she thought of the show, did he play what she needed to hear.  She proceeded to rattle off the name of three songs I’D never heard of.  One of which she said Don had NEVER performed in concert.

I’d like to tell you this is the future of music.  But that would be wrong.  This is the PRESENT!

Does Jessica Simpson have fans like this?  Who will be dedicated for DECADES?  Hell, most of the performers on this show didn’t have fans.

Shawn Colvin.  Her debut is my favorite record of the nineties.  But she’s morphed into some sly mama from the alienated artist she used to be.  She’s gone under the knife to such an extent that she looks YOUNGER than she did when she debuted.  But her voice was in fine form.  Yet the essence of the number she was singing, "The End Of The Innocence", was missing.  It’s all about the piano.  Bruce Hornsby’s piano.  Without this element, the number is an endless dirge.  Couldn’t they get SOMEBODY to tickle the ivories?

Keb’ Mo’?  God, why not bring back the progenitor, Taj Mahal.

Seal?  He was the one act that everyone universally agreed was awful.  Thank god he’s got that model.

Michael McDonald killed "The Heart Of The Matter".  All the subtlety and heartache in the number was eviscerated.

It’s great to see Sam Moore, but "The Long Run" was already a secondary number, and this rendition was fun, but nothing you’d want to hear again.

The Dixie Chicks nailed "Desperado".  The only failing being since THEY did it, Don wouldn’t.

But really, the star of the pre-game festivities was John Mayer.  Who ripped off some gut-wrenching runs on his Fender.  He wailed.  It was like the sixties, well, at least the SEVENTIES, again.  Why isn’t THIS guy on the radio?  Why do we have to endure such pap as "Daughters" on the radio, why does the guy have to be a celebrity instead of a MUSICIAN?  Worst case of imaging in recent memory.

And then there was Bernie Taupin.  He looked a bit worse for wear, but this was a star.  My heart rate elevated a bit.

And then, finally, Don took the stage.  In a suit, with a tie.

I’d like to tell you what he said was riveting, but he was being too nice.  Until…

Don’s so fucking dry that at first it wasn’t clear he was telling a joke.  Saying that Stephen Foster died with thirty eight cents in his pocket, and he was signed to…Columbia.  Don went label group by label group, even calling Jimmy Iovine out by name.  I mean how come Jimmy’s so rich and so many artists are so POOR?

But then Don was done, he was ready to play.

Oftentimes the honoree doesn’t perform.  Thank god Don did last night.  Because he made the evening.

I’d like to tell you the crowd was enthusiastic, that they were on their feet.  About as much as I can tell you is people didn’t leave, they didn’t mill around, they sat and watched.

Which must have been hard for Don, you like a little feedback.

But he had to wow them, he had to win them over, after all, he’s got a record to sell.

And fuck everybody else.  Great music, rock music, doesn’t need the crowd to make it work.  It needs the musician, the artist, and the listener.

I am that listener.  Last night Don Henley ELATED ME!


One of the great pastimes of fandom is figuring out what the act is going to play.  As Don was strapping on his Telecaster, I told Felice to get ready for "The Boys Of Summer".  And then we heard the drummer play that percussion figure.

Nobody on the road
Nobody on the beach

Can’t you just see it?  That black and white video with the convertible running up PCH?  This is one of the few songs where the video matched, ENHANCED, the number.

The reason Don Henley is so fucking great is because the three necessary elements are covered.  There’s a great tune, he’s got a phenomenal voice, and he’s SAYING SOMETHING, the lyrics MEAN something!

He was the only artist without the lyrics on the TelePrompter.  There was no TV screen for Don to cheat from, nor me.  But I knew every word.

Yesterday I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac.  A little voice inside my head said I can never forget what happened back then.  When music was the most important medium in the world, when you had to listen to the record to know what was going on with not only the world, but yourself.

"Boys Of Summer" was a genius in his element.

But then came "Wasted Time".


Lisa gave me shit half an hour before, for e-mailing during the lame performances.  I’d like to say they were offensive, sacrilegious, but they were just lame.

Maybe some of this material is just uncoverable.

Or maybe they just couldn’t do it justice.  Maybe you needed the writer to impart the full emotion.

You never thought you’d be alone
This far down the line
And I know what’s been on your mind
You’re afraid it’s all been wasted time

Relationships, they’re the only story that matters.

Get together with your old buddies, and they don’t want to talk about the money they’ve made, the places they’ve been, oh maybe they cover that territory at first, but then the conversation always goes deeper, to love.

You play your whole life, and you still never know if you get it right.  You just can’t get it perfect, it’s like golf.  What’s the key, no arguing?  Or great sex?  Or finishing each other’s sentences?  And how old do you have to get before you realize it’s not important how good they look to the outside world, but how you feel in bed lying next to them?

After every breakup I play "Wasted Time".  There’s never been another song written on the same topic, never mind a better one.

Maybe that’s because it’s our generation’s story.  Of feeling we deserve the best.  And finding out that maybe we’ve passed up something good, or are never going to get what we desire.

You don’t want to die alone.  You don’t want to BE alone.  Without someone to share it with, it’s really not worth much, it doesn’t feel good.

And in a good relationship, you’re your best self.  You’re more than you’ve ever been before.

But in a bad one…

And the hours go by like minutes
And the shadows come to stay
So you take a little something to
Make them go away
And I could have done so many things, baby
If I could only stop my mind
From wondering what I left behind
And from worrying ’bout this wasted time

At what age can you no longer endure breakups, at what age is the pain too much to bear, to the point where you decide to fly solo.

For all the world-beaters in the news, there are baby boomers locked in apartments, licking their wounds.  Worrying not only about how come love never worked out for them, but life.

But what we’re truly hoping for is that this journey…it wasn’t wasted time.

So you can get on with your search, baby
And I can get on with mine
And maybe someday we will find
That it wasn’t really wasted time

Although happily married, Don sang "Wasted Time" like someone in the wake of a disconnection.  He was a torch singer of years gone by, but singing a much more modern song.

And when he was done, he got a standing ovation.  The audience may have been sitting, but deep inside they were feeling it, Don reached them.


He didn’t sing ARE YOU WITH ME SO FAR??

We were with our artists back then.  We were all in it together.  Figuring it out.

The idealism of the sixties gave way to the disillusionment of the seventies.  And then, as the baby boomers started moving up the economic food chain, they rewarded themselves with drugs, with cocaine.  They started living life in the fast lane.

That’s when you know you’ve made it, when a line from your song becomes common currency.

I mean they’re rocking, and when Don sang:

He said, call the doctor, I think I’m gonna crash
The doctor say he’s coming but you gotta pay in cash

I was singing along at the top of my lungs, it was like watching your favorite movie, I was removed from everyday life, I was in the moment, I was in ECSTASY!


On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air

When I was in the first year of law school, I lived to play my records.  As soon as I got an apartment, I purchased the stereo of my dreams.  And two or three times a week I’d go to Westwood to buy albums.  It was there, just before Christmas ’76, right before finals, that I purchased "Hotel California".

They were only playing "New Kid In Town" on the radio, there was no P2P back then, no leaked numbers.  When I dropped the needle on the title cut, the FIRST cut, I was positively STUNNED!

It was not at a party, I was all alone in my ground floor apartment on the day of release.

I’d purchased the debut because of "Take It Easy".  I’d stayed with the band.  That’s what you did back then.  They were not superstars, really not until "One Of These Nights", from over a year before.

I was into Joe Walsh from the very first James Gang album.  I was primed for "Hotel California".

I didn’t expect it to be this good, I didn’t expect it to be a quantum LEAP from what had come before.

I’m here in the Hotel California.  And I’m not leaving.  It’s not about the weather, but the FREEDOM!  Nobody cares what school I went to, or even if I WENT to school.  Everybody’s so into his own trip that I can travel unnoticed.  It’s a bizarre land of possibilities.  What came before is irrelevant.  You can write your own scenario.


Don Henley is one of the most hated stars in music.

Now they don’t hate people with no success, they’re irrelevant.  It’s only when you move up the ladder that people seem to care.

Does Don deserve the contempt?

Interesting question.  He’s notoriously sullen.  And a perfectionist.  And evidence of his thin skin is everywhere.

But what does that have to do with his music?

There’s a reason the Eagles own the best selling album of all time.  If you don’t like it, if you think Don Henley must die, WHO CARES?

I don’t agree with everything Don says.  Why doesn’t he stop defending Wal-Mart’s green initiatives and say that’s the only place where he can reach his customers?  Comment on the sad state of the music business as opposed to shining up the community killers from Arkansas?

But at least Don went on record.  Almost nobody else will go on record.  They’re afraid of alienating someone.

If this were a reasonable fear, wouldn’t Don’s career be OVER by now?  Do you really think everyone who listens to his music is a Democrat?

No, this is a great melting pot of a country.  Fraught with contradictions.  No one has the answers, but artists try to define the issues.

Don isn’t on "Oprah" with relationship solutions.  He’s singing in ""Wasted Time" that he’s FLUMMOXED!

He’s not saying to stop doing cocaine, just pointing out a bad story.  Make your own decision.

We’re the boys of summer.  We’re the ones on the beach.  It’s our life.  But oftentimes it’s too scary to take the reins, too depressing to play and ultimately find out we lose.

The record business used to be one of winners.  Now it’s comprised of losers looking for a way to survive.

I don’t know how it plays out.  I don’t know the future model.

But I do know this, artistry, music, will survive.  It’s got nothing to do with stealing songs and everything to do with inspiration.  Needing to express oneself, in an unfettered, uncalculated fashion.  That’s why rap eclipsed rock, it was more HONEST!

But now mainstream rap has become dishonest too.  The public has tuned out.  People don’t want to be sold, they too want to be inspired, by artists, by MUSIC, they can believe in.

That’s what Woodstock provided.  When done right, even Bonnaroo and Coachella.  Music doesn’t live at awards shows, but at the turnstile, where the public shows up, for another hit.

Just about everybody at the MusiCares dinner last night has seen it all.  They’d rather hang with their buds than be inspired by music.  Their game is different.

But for the fans, the music is the ONLY thing.  That gets them through boring jobs and failed relationships.  They COUNT on music, oftentimes it’s their only ray of hope.

We are letting these people down.  We’re not about what’s in the grooves so much as the penumbra, the marketing, the ringtone, the endorsement, the money.  Whereas when you get the music right, money rains down forevermore.

The Eagles preceded MTV.  The business landscape back then was quaint compared to today.  Imagine Best Buy in the seventies, never mind massive TV exposure.  The Eagles would have sold 30 million in TWO YEARS!

But I don’t need to be a fantabulist.  All I know is great music survives.

I don’t know what the Grammy organization is really for.  A charity for indigent, down on their luck musicians, is a good thing.  But if you knew Neil Portnow’s salary, you’d blanch, you’d wonder if this is truly an altruistic organization.

But I’ll say one thing, needing to honor SOMEBODY to raise dough, and Don Henley needing to keep up his profile having a new Eagles album in the works, I was privileged to experience artistic excellence, up close and personal, only a couple of dozen feet from the stage.

There’s nothing like the power of live music.  You feel it in your head and heart, as well as your genitalia.  It stimulates you, it makes you feel alive.

I felt fully alive listening to Don Henley run through four of his hits.  I marveled at his ability to sing them.  I got in touch with how much his work affected me.  I got the complete package.  And for that, I am grateful.

One Response to MusiCares-2-Wasted Time »»


    comment_type != "trackback" && $comment->comment_type != "pingback" && !ereg("", $comment->comment_content) && !ereg("", $comment->comment_content)) { ?>
  1. Trackback by brooklynvegan | 2007/02/12 at 07:58:12

    Does that make me crazy? — more Grammys, Kidz Bop

    Are the Grammys so screwed up that they’re not even worth talking about? Fuk it… The Dixie Chicks won five top awards Not suprisingly, the headlines look like this today:US makes nice to Dixie Chicks Defiant Dixie Chicks fly high…

comment_type == "trackback" || $comment->comment_type == "pingback" || ereg("", $comment->comment_content) || ereg("", $comment->comment_content)) { ?>

Trackbacks & Pingbacks »»

  1. Trackback by brooklynvegan | 2007/02/12 at 07:58:12

    Does that make me crazy? — more Grammys, Kidz Bop

    Are the Grammys so screwed up that they’re not even worth talking about? Fuk it… The Dixie Chicks won five top awards Not suprisingly, the headlines look like this today:US makes nice to Dixie Chicks Defiant Dixie Chicks fly high…

This is a read-only blog. E-mail comments directly to Bob.