"Secret Love"
Stevie Nicks

I smile every time this comes on my iPod.

Once upon a time, radio was the filter, before it became completely corporatized, littered with twenty two minutes of commercials per hour and we all stopped listening.

I know, I know, that’s not completely true, the little girls listen to Top Forty and the oldsters revere the obscurities on the NonComm stations, but what about someone positively mainstream, a rocker who once was…where is she supposed to be played?


So, Stevie Nicks’s best album in decades, maybe her best ever…went unheard.

Used to be artists spent months and hundreds of thousands of dollars perfecting a sound, knowing listeners were waiting with eager anticipation. Now…no one cares.

And that positively sucks.

Which is why he (or she!) who invents the filter will own the future, will make all the money.

It can’t be done with algorithms, otherwise Pandora wouldn’t suck. It depends completely on humans, picking certified winners for the time-challenged.

If you ever liked Stevie Nicks, you can’t hate this. You can’t shake your head and say it’s dreck. You may not love it, but you can’t dismiss it. And what more can you ask for?

Ignore the naysayers, who hate Fleetwood Mac because they were too successful. The hipsters who can’t like what everyone else does. That’s the fringe. The middle, and I don’t mean that disparagingly, the middle contains most people, would absolutely LOVE "Secret Love". But it came out and made barely a ripple and was forgotten.

It needs to be brought back.

First and foremost, there’s the sound. Like a dark night in the middle of the summer, and suddenly a door opens and you go inside.

And what’s up with that buzz saw guitar that keeps coming back, adding edge…I LOVE IT!

And the changes.

And the background vocals.

I am not asking forever from you
I’m just asking to be held for a while
In a timeless search for love that might work

You get older and you forsake your dreams. You’re not looking for perfection, you’re just looking for something, in a mental wilderness where there are people all around you, but very little connection.

This music is not made for the immature, it’s made for you. With the rough edges, with the love handles, with the wisdom of years.

Madonna misfired with "MDNA", she wanted to be forever young.

Stevie Nicks aged. Not gracefully, none of us ever do. And she delivered something positively adult, and for that she’s penalized?

The media only focuses on that with smooth skin, that which is brand new. But "Secret Love" is so in the pocket, so right, that it could become a cultural staple.

If people only heard it.

"What D’Ya Got"
John Batdorf

What if you admitted your age, what if you wrote from your heart, said what you wanted instead of what people expected?

Then you’d have John Batdorf’s album "Old Man Dreamin’", which is better than just about every new album by much more famous has-beens.

My girl worries that the worst is comin’
How can we live on next to nothin’
She’s busy stretchin’ out every dollar
So no more gourmet coffee or bottled water

Listen to hip-hop and everybody’s a winner. Pop is all about flaunting it. But life’s much more complicated than that. While mainstream acts are pretending like everything’s okay, as they pull on the strings of the zeppelin carrying away the upper class, the rest of us are left behind.

Can we afford Starbucks?

Is tap water good enough?

When you haven’t got enough, everything’s up for grabs.

My kids focus too much on pleasure
They think dad’s sittin’ on a buried treasure
Well I got a message that might surprise them
When their old man can’t subsidize them

Whew! I remember my dad ranting and raving that money didn’t grow on trees, that he was not rich… But that’s nothing compared to today’s generation. My brethren borrowed against their houses not denying themselves but most especially their children. But now they can’t do that anymore. Kids are having a rude awakening, especially when they’re released from the education system.

What d’ya got when the checks all bounce
What d’ya got kid that really counts
What d’ya got when the banks announce you’re a liability
What d’ya got when you’re overdrawn
What d’ya got when your credit’s gone
What d’ya got that keeps hangin’ on
You got me
Ain’t that enough
You got me

After the bank takes back your house, when you keep putting duct tape on your beater to keep it running, all that’s left is each other. And that is enough.

Get some perspective… Possessions are overrated.

Now John Batdorf was never a star. Which is why media completely ignored this album. Unjustly. This is the music baby boomers need and want to hear. Honest, from the heart, made by people, not machines. Songs about the human condition when you’re no longer a teenager, when you owe too much and feel cut adrift, alone.

All those losers who say there’s no good music anymore are wrong. You just haven’t heard it!

Neil Diamond

He’s playing the Greek, this August. I’m gonna go, because he’s still got it, and if you’re too proud to say you like Neil Diamond I feel sorry for you, worried about what everybody else thinks and denying yourself great artistry and pleasure.

This is from the second Rick Rubin record, which debuted at number one, that no one heard. If you loved the Johnny Cash "American Recordings", check this out, it’s just as good, if not better.

You’ve got me waiting out in the back
Under a stack
Stuck in a bin
You been keeping me in
High on a shelf all by myself
Feeling like I’m doing my time
Under that sign
That reads forgotten

Not everybody lacks a sense of humor, a sense of self. No matter how big a star you are, you’re just a few years from being forgotten. Time marches on, your hits fade and you’re lost in the rearview mirror. Instead of pretending this isn’t so, Neil Diamond sang about it.

And you want to hear this same track with the complete Neil Diamond production, you know, like "Holly Holy" and "Brother Love". But that ain’t gonna happen. Because even if he polished it up, spent all that money, the media still wouldn’t care.

This is insider music. This is truly hip. It’s not for everybody. But if you like real instruments, rough edges instead of perfection, you’ll get hooked and play it again and again, wanting more of this truth.

Elton John

This is why old acts don’t make new albums. Even when they nail it, no one pays attention, no one cares. The label tried, they put Justin Timberlake in the video for "This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore" at the tail end of the MTV era, but the people watching then just didn’t care.

And although good, that’s not the best song on the album.

Are you an Elton devotee? Do you know every lick of "Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player" as well as "Captain Fantastic"? Did you love more than the hits, do you know his entire oeuvre? Then you’ll be THRILLED by "Birds".

Sure, it’d be better on vinyl, pumped to the max by a tube amp. Because Elton’s music was always warm, and digital does an injustice to that sound, it just can’t communicate it.

But close your eyes and return to that dorm room of yore, when you’d spend the afternoon listening to albums, this would fit right in.

Elton moved on to Broadway. He made a couple more albums, but they got even less traction than this. He keeps saying he’s giving up, but he just cut a new one at the Village Recorder.

And I haven’t heard it.

But on "Songs From The West Coast", he recaptured his original sound. It was a thrill to hear it.

This is minor.

But minor Elton was always better than just about everything else on the radio.

I want more.

I can’t believe I’m the only one.

Comments are closed