Thursday Playlist

Thursday Playlist – Spotify

“Eagles Fly”
Sammy Hagar

I discovered this during the Napster era. It was never a hit, but it could be one of Sammy’s best productions ever, featuring an uncredited lead by Eddie Van Halen as well as credited bass work by that famous axe-swinger. And isn’t it funny, neither Sam nor Dave could reach the same commercial heights without the elusive Eddie. Sure, Dave had some initial solo success right after “1984,” but that dissipated quite quickly, seems the public knows where the magic lies.

“Eagles Fly” is an anthem. It’s a revelation in an era where we have none. Where beats dominate and melody is anathema. And one thing’s for sure, Sam can sing. I’m including this cut because I heard a live take on No Shoes Radio wherein Sammy claims to be 65, not denying his age, and he wails and loses not a step.

Used to be our airwaves were laden with anthems. Remember “Paradise City”? That’s what’s getting everybody out to see GNR at the stadium. But rock is in the rearview mirror and too many purveyors can neither sing as well as Sammy nor play as well as Eddie.

This is a one listen get, assuming you like this kind of music. Check it out.

“Spring Is Here”
Wendy Waldman

It most certainly is, in Southern California, I know the technical date was ten days ago but when I walked out the front door today and it was warm and sunny and I contemplated when I’d start wearing shorts I knew spring had finally sprung.

Funny how you live long enough and your favorites fade in the rearview mirror. Wendy Waldman is going to college to study composition, expanding her boundaries, and I applaud that, especially when so many aged boomers are relaxing and retiring. But what is weird is this excellent cut, which goes through my brain every year at this time and more is gonna be lost to the sands of time. It’s the instrumentation and feel, the hope.

Hope, it’s a funny thing. I feel best when I have it.

“Monday, Monday”
The Mamas & the Papas

I heard Papa John Phillips on Howard Stern today. Which is quite weird, since he’s been dead for quite a while. I never knew he slept with Jane Fonda but it turned out Papa John had a book and had written about it and this whole segment was sex-oriented, funny how Howard’s changed, but I was continuing to listen because the hype was that Steven Tyler, who was in the studio with Joe Perry too, eventually suggests to Papa John they write a song together and the folkie begs off. I never got to that point, but as they were playing a game I couldn’t stop thinking back to when, when the Mamas & the Papas were gigantic.

“California Dreamin'” was the initial hit. A west coast counterpart to the east coast “Sound Of Silence,” which shared the airwaves at the same time.

And then came “Monday, Monday,” cementing the act’s place in the firmament. This was long before we heard “Creeque Alley” and realized how many dues they’d all paid, except for Michelle, who is still alive and kicking, who suddenly had every girl in my high school imitating her look.

Now at this point, my favorite Mamas & Papas cut is “Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon),” even though it didn’t make the top ten, I heard it, I knew it, but didn’t come to love it until I bought a greatest hits album in the eighties and listened to it over and over again. And to be true, I’ve got to add “Words Of Love” in here too, which had a rollicking summer circus feel in contrast to the winter weather when it was a hit, remember when an act’s next hit didn’t sound exactly like the one had come before? And while I’m running through the catalog, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention “I Saw Her Again” too. It’s the exuberance, the intro like an Association song, that hooks you. You walked down the street and sang this in your head and just felt happy, back before society became coarse and the street ruled. Come on, you’ve got no idea what it was like to have a crush in the sixties and be able to sing this song in your head.

And “California Dreamin'” may be forever, some of the other songs may be remembered, but the genius of Papa John…is being lost to the sands of time.

“The Way It Is”
Bruce Hornsby & the Range

This riff goes through my head on a regular basis, and I’m not sure why, but just this morning, standing at the sink, getting ready to put in my contacts, that descending piano lick…

This was a gigantic hit on KNX-FM, L.A.’s soft rock station, back in the summer of ’86, I’d let the radio play and write articles on my Mac Plus in preparation for the first issue of “The Lefsetz Letter.”

“A Long Time, A Long Way To Go”
Todd Rundgren

From “The Ballad of…”, before he remade “Hello It’s Me” and came out from behind the console to be a star. “The Ballad of…” is his best album, most people do their best work in obscurity, when no one is looking, no one is paying attention. Then again, if you had a record deal at all back then you got some attention, but this was released on Ampex/Bearsville, which meant it was almost like it never came out at all, this was before Albert Grossman moved his label to Warner Brothers, I bought “The Ballad of…” as a cut-out, back when music was scarce and you followed your favorites, especially if they got no significant traction, I was a huge Nazz fan.

Every track on “The Ballad of…” is a winner, and none of them are the same, they evidence exquisite craftsmanship in the writing and the production, and if there were any justice at all, and there isn’t, Todd would have been inducted into the R&RHOF long ago, proving that honors and awards are worthless.

“Love Is The Answer”

But it’s really a Todd Rundgren song, absent the jazz fusion/rock sound of the band. Actually, “Love Is The Answer” is on “Oops! Wrong Planet,” which is the most Rundgrenesque of Utopia’s records, i.e. more straight ahead rock. But the winner is this, the closing track, which was a hit in a schmaltzy version by England Dan & John Ford Coley, but this is the one you’ve got to know…

And when you feel afraid, love one another

It’s no sign of weakness to say you’re scared, to ask for help.

When you’ve lost your way, love one another

The older you get the more you realize, you’ve got no idea where you’re going, you’re in a backwater, you need help, there’s no harm in asking for directions.

When you’re all alone, love one another

The scourge of humanity, loneliness. If only someone were there, we wouldn’t be lost in the detritus of our own thoughts.

When you’re far from home, love one another

It’s a conundrum. The best things happen when you’re on the road, but the pitfalls counterbalance the peaks and oftentimes you’re at loose ends.

When you’re down and out, love one another

People are afraid to look like losers. When they need help most they won’t ask for it.

All your hope’s run out, love one another

Did you see that scary Princeton study on the death rate of middle-aged whites? They’re killing themselves in droves, they’ve lost all hope, there’s no economic opportunity, it’s scary.

When you need a friend, love one another

You can’t make it alone, you need friends. Someone to listen to you, someone to call when you’re down and out.

When you’re near the end, love…

It’s coming, you just may not know it yet. You’re gonna die, sooner rather than later. And the closer you come to the conclusion the more stuff that you thought mattered doesn’t. Assets especially. It’s the intangible that counts. Your friends, your connections, your conversations.

We got to love one another

We most certainly do.

But in today’s game we’re fearful that if we’re not on guard, we’re gonna end up with the short end of the stick. Everybody’s huddled, protecting what they’ve got, focusing on points of division as opposed to connection. And to tell you the truth, I was a bit O.D.’ed on all the love talk way back when from not only Todd, but John Lennon. But having achieved their goals, they knew there had to be something more.

We’ve got to love one another.

We’ve got to love the planet.

We’ve got to think long term as opposed to short, know we’re just custodians of the Earth and we must protect it for future generations.

And I contemplate all this when I listen to such majestic music as “Love Is The Answer,” from back when you could be wimpy and hard-edged and still be the same person.

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