More Than A Feeling




“I looked out this morning and the sun was gone”

Fall didn’t arrive in L.A. until Saturday. It was endless summer, not that anybody was at the beach. That’s what foreigners don’t understand, it may always be warm in Southern California, but the residents observe the seasons, to the point that they wear puffy coats in fifty degree weather.

It’s been weird watching the temperature. I do it every day, it’s in the “Times,” I see whether fall has arrived in Vermont, how cold it is at my sister’s place in Minneapolis, whether it’s going to snow in Colorado.

It’s still in the sixties in northern Vermont. Used to be colder at this point. The end of October and November were hell. Too warm to snow, and the cold rain was miserable. But climate change has changed everything, the leaves even turn later.

And snow arrived late in the Rockies, but Alta got two feet over the weekend, and most of Colorado got nearly a foot. And more is coming. We’re not going to see the green grass again until spring.

But I was in suspended animation in SoCal, wearing my shorts and Polo shirts. Until…

As for the light, it’s positively scary. I left my house for dinner last night at 6:30 and it was nearly dark. And when I wake up in the morning, it is dark. I can sometimes see light in the distance, but something’s changed. And when something changes, you get reflective. You remember what was happening at the same time years ago.

Today I thought of the fall of ’76, when “More Than a Feeling” was all over the radio.

The seventies get a bad rap. The people alive during the sixties, the hipsters…many believe music died in 1968, certainly didn’t survive 1970.

You see the seventies were when music really blew up. When the mainstream realized how much money there was in it. When it became corporatized, but hands were still off, because the business was throwing off so much MONEY!

No one was complaining about the price of concert tickets. Successful acts weren’t bitching about distribution, being ripped-off, music drove the culture and getting a ticket at all was a minor miracle, you had to be there, inside.

And when you were not at the gig, you listened.

To the music on the radio. News? Talk? No one did. That was for old farts. Stations all had an individual outlook, they were not uniform, and they weren’t jive. The jocks were your friends. You even knew who the program director was, there were stories about them in the press, because they were stars, how did they gain such success? And the female jocks, like the Burner, Mary Turner, were bigger, had more mindshare, than the supposedly iconic stars of today. Believe me, as many people who adore Gaga and Beyonce, Mary Turner had more reach, not that she compared to the women in Fleetwood Mac, or Heart, or…

The musicians were gods. We all played instruments at home, but it was clear who was a professional and who was an amateur.

And you listened to radio for the new stuff. And if you liked it enough, or heard two tracks from the same record, you bought the album and played it until you knew it by heart.

We knew our music so much better back then. Because there was less of it, everything wasn’t at our fingertips, and what we bought, we listened to, constantly.

1976… The Bicentennial, which was a muted affair in the wake of the resignation of Nixon two years before. But also, a slew of classic records.

Like Aerosmith’s “Rocks.” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ debut. And Rod Stewart covered Cat Stevens’ “First Cut is the Deepest” and was all over the airwaves, his credibility intact. And Steve Miller came back with “Fly Like an Eagle.” Bob Seger finally broke into the big time with “Night Moves.” Lynyrd Skynyrd asked us to give them back their bullets. Boz Scaggs went from nowhere to somewhere with “Silk Degrees.” At the end of the year the Eagles released “Hotel California.”

And Boston released its debut album. Which the cognoscenti pooh-poohed as corporate rock. They needed an explanation, a way to kick the band’s music to the curb, because it was just too good, it made hard rock palatable, there were melodies, changes, anathema to the tastemakers who were losing control.

But I can’t say I loved “More Than a Feeling.” I’ve NEVER loved “More Than a Feeling.” But I do remember hearing it on the radio, it was indelible, and ultimately all over L.A.’s multiple rock stations.

And I still can’t remember what made me buy the album. But it wasn’t “More Than a Feeling.” But what I do remember is playing “Foreplay/Long Time” ad infinitum on my new stereo.


Last night Richard asked me what my go-to Spotify playlist was.

And I told him I didn’t have one. That I’d graze the new music genre playlists now and again, but it was overwhelming. And occasionally I’d listen to playlists I’d created for my radio show, but really I picked and chose what I wanted to listen to. Statistically most people do this, but Richard didn’t believe me.

I told Richard I had certain go-to tracks, like “Foreplay/Long Time,” and he looked at me and laughed.

You can’t admit you like Boston.

But this afternoon, with the sun out, going through my e-mail after dropping off Felice’s rental car, I was in a sunny mood and I needed sunny music to accompany me on my mental ride.

And that’s when I put on “More Than a Feeling.”

“I lost myself in a familiar song

I closed my eyes and slipped away”

I was right back in the fall of ’76. I was in my 2002, on the San Diego Freeway, the music was blasting and nothing else mattered.

“It’s more than a feeling

When I hear that old song they used to play”

That’s what youngsters don’t understand. That music was social media, videogames and streaming television all wrapped up into one, it was EVERYTHING! And when we hear those old songs, we’re taken back to our youth, when we were still optimistic, when our entire lives were in front of us as opposed to being behind us.

“So many people have come and gone

Their faces fade as the years go by”

Actually, they don’t fade, I can see them clear as day, but people are dropping like flies. It’s very weird. I haven’t quite felt lucky that I’m still alive, but I’m sure that’s coming down the pike, with the attrition.

And most were not prepared, it was relatively sudden. They had no time for a victory lap, for long term reflection, to sit at home, drive on the freeway with these classic tunes blasting.

And we all look bad. We hate looking at ourselves in the mirror. And then there are those who get plastic surgery, as if we can’t tell.

“And I begin dreaming

‘Til I see Marianne walk away

I see my Marianne walking away”

In the back of your mind…you thought you’d reconnect, you’d see them again, maybe even get back together. But while you weren’t paying attention, that dream died. And it was just a dream. The funny thing about people is they change, not only in looks. When you’re with them they’re one thing, and then the subsequent influences and vagaries of life turn them into someone else. There’s still some common ground, but a lot less than was in your memory. As for how they look, they’re always frozen in time in your mind, they never age, and then you encounter them and just like you, they’re older, they’re different.

And then there are those mistakes you made, the faux pas. You’ve winced for decades, wanting to take your actions back, apologize, even though you never have. You realize you might as well shed the cloak, absolve yourself, because those people are gone, it’s now your life only, you’d better be wide awake as the days go by, because the calendar may run out of pages.

“When I’m tired and thinking cold

I hide in my music, forget the day”

There was no lyric sheet, I was never sure whether it was “goes” or “cold.” Now you can just look it up online, not that it’s always perfectly right.

But if we got depressed, if we felt down, we always had our records. One for each mood. We’d drop the needle and they’d take us away. It was aural heroin. We needed nothing more than the music. And although many owned headphones, it was really about buying the biggest, most powerful stereo system you could afford, and blasting it, forcing out all the bad thoughts. That’s what you needed, shelter, food and music. You owned a car, and then a stereo, it was one of your most expensive purchases. You dreamed about it, scoped it out at the multiple stereo shops, and when you got home and set it up, turned it on and heard the music emanate from the speakers, you were ELATED!

“And dream of a girl I used to know

I closed my eyes and she slipped away

She slipped away”

It’s all slipping away. And the worst thing is you’ve lived so long you have a hard time remembering. Were you actually at that show or not?

But you never forget the music, those records.


So I’m sitting in front of my Mac, something that didn’t even exist back then, home computers were not a thing. And I’m looking out on a perfectly clear day with “More Than a Feeling” blasting and I’m mesmerized, in a trance, and I can’t believe how damn great the track is.

It’s like a lost art, a lost formula, no one can do this anymore, write an anthem.

After grunge, rock went down the rabbit hole. It’s noisy and edgy, made for a select few, not everybody.

Sure, maybe the hair bands took it too far at the end of the eighties, but that does not mean what came before wasn’t good, won’t sustain.

I looked at Spotify, “More Than a Feeling” had 602,878,327 streams.

The Weeknd has five tracks over a billion, one two billion, one three billion, but the rest of the songs have streams in the neighborhood of “More Than a Feeling,” if not less.

Not that anything else by Boston hits those heights.

It’s funny that the number two most streamed track is “Peace of Mind,” with 156,110,123, I wouldn’t have predicted that. “Foreplay/Long Time” has 95,995,662.

Fleetwood Mac has two tracks with just a few more streams than “More Than a Feeling,” “The Chain” at 756,375,597, and “Go Your Own Way” with 698,380,929. And then there’s “Dreams,” boosted by that viral TikTok video, with a bit over a billion, 1,080,992,932.

Stunningly, “More Than a Feeling” has more streams on Spotify than any Eagles track other than “Hotel California,” with 1,160,429,874.

The biggest Steve Miller cut, “The Joker,” only has 368,939,215.

Aerosmith has two cuts that exceed “More Than a Feeling,” but neither is from what most people consider their classic era, starting with “Get Your Wings” and going through “Rocks.” “Dream On,” from the first LP, has 667,316,905, and the soundtrack cut “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” written by Diane Warren, not the Toxic Twins, has 770,411,220.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers have nothing close, except for Tom’s solo effort, “Free Fallin’,” with 513,318,964.

Rod Stewart blew all his credibility with those standards albums he did with Clive Davis, and now, years later, most people don’t want to listen to the classic stuff, “Maggie May” has a mere 263,431,618 streams. Rod the Mod only has four tracks in nine figures, another whose first three digits begin with 207, and two others with 156 and 132.

Frampton does not come alive on Spotify, nothing on his classic double album even hits nine figures, only two hit eight.

Bob Seger is nowhere close, with only two nine figure cuts, one that begins with a 2 and another that begins with a 1.

“Sweet Home Alabama” is bigger than “More Than a Feeling,” with 997,936,625 streams, “Gimme Back My Bullets” has 18 and a half million.

So what we’ve learned here is “More Than a Feeling” is gigantic, has a huge place in the firmament, it’s never died and is still being kept alive.

But you can’t get an insider to testify about the group. No one ever lobbies for the band to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, everybody’s too cool to admit how great that debut was.

What came after did not reach those heights. Primarily because of the war with CBS, which wanted new product when Tom Scholz wanted more time.

But that debut…

The opening cut was “More Than a Feeling.” Talk about an album opener…

Scholz created the Rockman so other acts could have what he had, could get that sound.

Scholz created the whole thing alone, he adored the James Gang, he was influenced, he was a fan.

And then he rang the bell, broke the bank. Everybody else was worried about trends, most not making it to the top, or making excuses why they failed in the marketplace and then this nobody, a college graduate, from MIT no less, comes along and wins the sweepstakes!

I still recall as I wander on, it’s as clear as the sun in the summer sky how great “More Than a Feeling” and Boston are. It may be a long time gone, but it’s not forgotten, not by me, not by almost anybody, it won’t die.

This music is part of me, part of my DNA, it’s ridden shotgun in my life longer than almost every human being. And in retrospect it’s the apotheosis, this height was never reached again.

People tried to imitate Boston, but that truly was corporate rock and then disco came along and then the entire music business crapped out.

It was resuscitated by MTV, but before that no one cared how Tom Scholz looked, or Brad Delp, we made the pictures in our minds.

And now this music is like the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Much music from the twenty first century has already forgotten. And none of it reaches as many as “More Than a Feeling” once did.

The music just took you away and put a smile on your face.


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