Things Move Too Fast

“Finding Neverland” is already old news. You know Michael Jackson’s handlers are aged boomers because they didn’t know you don’t fight back, you ignore it, and then people forget it.

In today’s “New York Times Magazine” there’s a letter from a fourteen year old complaining that the paper’s list of “The Top 25 Songs That Matter Right Now” contained songs she and her friends had never heard of, never mind listened to. Another writer said that too many had not hit the radio. And others championed the inclusion of Bruce Springsteen.

That’s the world we live in, one of chaos. Where the aged are addicted to the old and even youngsters are not comprehensive in their knowledge and experience.

The only way you can triumph is by having a continuing narrative. You can talk about albums all you want, but they don’t fit the modern paradigm, oftentimes they’re instantly forgotten. Kinda like Steve Perry’s comeback. He should have dropped single after single and maybe one of them would have been great and connected. Instead, he released a compendium of tunes that seemingly no one has listened to, and most people don’t even know he put out. Furthermore, if you’re in the marketplace on a regular basis you get feedback and figure out what works.

And Netflix succeeds not because of any individual show, but the tsunami of product, there’s always something new coming down the pike. Furthermore, almost everybody has a subscription so people can follow a suggestion, check something out and be part of the community, we all want to be part of the community.

Used to be in the pre-internet era there were self-anointed judges, who criticized your taste. You’re not listening to or watching the right stuff. Now, no one cares. The judges are on their own island stuck in the twentieth century. We’re all just trying to keep up, and oftentimes we don’t even find the great stuff for years. Who cares that someone is denigrating our consumption, no one else is aware of the criticism! Kinda like Twitter. Someone spews hate and then you check their number of followers, which is almost always low. And it being Twitter, most followers never see the tweet anyway, so you can ignore it.

But social media triumphs because we all have access and it’s free.

Meanwhile, the commentariat, the privileged, the wealthy, keep telling us to put our phones down and disconnect…they don’t realize, this is the ONLY way we connect, that in real life everybody’s pursuing their own dream in their silo and the only place everybody is in the town square is online. Ever try to schedule dinner or a playdate today? It’s an exercise in frustration, everybody’s BOOKED UP! But you can reach them in iMessage.

That’s the beauty of text, people respond.

They burned out e-mail, people get too much, they should ban cc.

Now one of the reasons politics dominates today is because of the continuous narrative. Trump writes a new story every day. And the oldsters can’t understand that time moves on. Yes, Trump was tweeting up a storm last Sunday, but that was LAST SUNDAY! Might as well have been 1962. It’s the cumulative effect that creates the lasting image. Just look at the right, over decades they’ve labeled Democrats as tax and spend, to the point even Democrats believe it!

As for Republicans glomming on and supporting Trump in his message… Independence was something the boomers were into that their children, the millennials, have rejected. The rewards come from being a member of the group, you don’t want to be isolated, outside. And on the internet, there are even groups for that! No one is alienated alone anymore, they can find their brethren online.

So we all have our interests and predilections. Oldsters are on Facebook, youngsters wouldn’t be caught dead there. Therefore, what happens on Snapchat and Instagram goes unseen on Facebook. And Zuckerberg wants to make Facebook even more private, adding to the lack of cohesiveness in society.

And everywhere you go, no one talks about music, there’s too much of it, we’re all listening to different stuff.

And since movies are about superheroes and you have to go to the theatre and pay to see them, many choose not to. Meanwhile, the industry and media keep trumpeting the success of said pictures that most people have never seen and don’t care about.

And a flick lasts a few weeks in the theatres and is gone. Every week there’s a new number one. Quick, name the hit movies of October and November! How about January? You can’t! Unless you’re a student of the game.

Kind of like baseball. Which used to start the first week of April and end the first week of October. Now it goes from March to November, satiating those who care, but for those who don’t… You mean I’m supposed to care in April, May, June and July? Wake me up in August, assuming I’m interested.

Baseball is not only no longer the national pastime, it’s certifiably NICHE!

While youngsters watch video game competitions on Twitch.

And some kids are on traveling soccer squads.

And every day there’s something new, that we’re supposed to pay attention to. How? We wouldn’t have a life of our own. And we’re addicted to the internet just trying to catch up. We foreswear connection every once in a while, but it only lasts twenty four hours and then we’re back in.

Steve Jobs’s presentations used to be mandatory viewing. Monday’s dog and pony show is for insiders only. Tim Cook is too boring and they haven’t introduced something exciting since…Steve Jobs was alive. Proving you can lose the plot. And smartphones are a commodity and we don’t need the latest one and…

Teenagers don’t get driver’s licenses and soon none of us will own cars.

But oldsters refuse to accept this. Oldsters always refuse to accept the present.

But the real story is the lack of traction of almost ANYTHING!

Theranos was last week’s story. “Finding Neverland” the week’s before.

And if you don’t get in early…

I can’t watch “Billions” or “Game of Thrones” because I’ve missed the previous seasons and I don’t have the time to catch up. I don’t have the time to live my life. And as big as “Game of Thrones” is, most people have never seen it. And have never heard Drake. And think Ariana Grande is something you order at Starbucks.

The internet made it almost frictionless to reach people, but they stopped paying attention, because they’re overwhelmed.

And those in the business of attention refuse to admit the game has changed. The studios make fewer movies of a single stripe. The labels put out hip-hop records only. Only TV is experimenting, but it took the AT&T merger to get HBO on today’s page. Why should I pay more than I am for Netflix for so little product?

It does come down to money.

But even more it comes down to time.

Money gets you through the door, isn’t that the essence of the college admission scandal?

But after you graduate, when you’re in the world, what do you want to do?

Oh, you’ve got choices, you might know.

But chances are the only person going there is you, along with a few friends.

Stars are not what they used to be, they don’t have the same ubiquity and their images have been tarnished for being revealed.

This is the world we live in. If you have any success, any following at all, be grateful. But know that growing that success bigger is an incredibly long haul, because you’re competing for attention with so many projects that you won’t even get a look, never mind be rejected.

And chances are if you’re trying to reach everybody, you’re too bland when everybody can drill down to exactly what they want.

This is where we are, and we are never going back. The internet allows things to be bigger than ever, but when it comes to entertainment, nothing has become that big. Will it stay that way? For a while anyway. But when someone tells you you’re a dodo for not knowing this or that, laugh in their face, and when you regain your composure, easily mention a bunch of stuff that they don’t know, and can’t even criticize because they’ve never experienced it.

We’re living in the Tower of Babel.

But we refuse to admit it.

We don’t know the same records, movies and TV shows, and we don’t even know the same slang!

It’s scary folks.

Gotta Get Up

Have you been watching “Russian Doll”? If so you can give me your explanation of the ending, I’m still trying to figure it out.

And if you haven’t, it’s just a matter of time until you do, you see “Russian Doll” is this year’s “Stranger Things,” something that has built momentum sans media by early adopters who’ve brought along the curious, it’s all about the buzz I tell you. And I’m giving nothing away to say there’s a “Groundhog Day” construct, as in the main character, Nadia, keeps repeating the same day, after dying. And Natasha Lyonne as Nadia makes this whole series works, she’s so damn fine, proving once again that one person can carry a whole show, can make a difference, and the way she’s so independent, saying what she feels, is so ingratiating.

And when Nadia is reborn in the bathroom, the music that is played is Nilsson’s “Gotta Get Up.”

Nilsson was a songwriter who had worked in a bank and had sung the theme to “Midnight Cowboy” that he didn’t write and now had a huge hit with a Badfinger song that most people thought he did write. In between, he’d written the music to the children’s film “The Point,” the point being he had not been a star, but now he became one.

I got “Nilsson Schmilsson” as a premium, for subscribing to or renewing some magazine, maybe “Rolling Stone” when they still did this. It came all battered, which bugged me, I wanted my albums pristine, and the opening cut was “Gotta Get Up.”

Gotta get up, gotta get out, gotta get home before the morning comes

“Gotta Get Up” is a tear with a whole story, you’re carried away, it’s infectious. It’s not what you expected in 1972, when progressive music was breaking through and if it was more pop, it was more ignored.

And eventually, that summer “Coconut” infected the airwaves, a song kinda like “Baby Shark” that you could not get out of your mind. People would start singing it spontaneously for no reason whatsoever…”put the lime in the coconut.” DOCTOR! “Now let me get this straight…” It seemed a novelty song, but it was composed by a serious songwriter.

But it was the tracks that were not hits that truly got under your skin, that you were infected by.

“Gotta Get Up” was followed by “Driving Along,” which was upbeat and groovy, kinda like driving in your car with the windows down listening to the radio. It seemed like it was the next afternoon and the same guy who had to get up had done what he had to do, and was cruising.

But the piece-de-resistance was the third cut, “Early In The Morning.” This is the kind of track that made albums an art form. Never to be heard on the radio this music meant more to you than the hits. It sounded like early in the morning, with a bluesy feel, just Nilsson with some kind of keyboard. And I’ll tell you, oftentimes early in the morning I’ve got nothin’ but the blues too. I mean when I wake up too early. And the vocal gymnastics and the reference to himself creates a mood… A professional at his peak, with nothing but his talent on view, WHEW!

And “The Moonbeam Song” could have been straight off of “The Point.” Dreamy and childlike. Sounding completely different from what came before. It was soothing.

And the closer of the first side, “Down,” was pure bluesy rock, your body moved while you listened, this guy who seemed wimpy was nothing like that.

“Let The Good Times Roll” was a left field cover made completely Nilsson’s own.

“Jump Into The Fire” was heavy, it sounded like someone who got too close to the flame, it too rocked.

“I’ll Never Leave You,” the closing cut, seemed misplaced, kind of like “Good Night” on the White Album.

“Nilsson Schmilsson” sounded like nothing else. And since it had two big radio hits, people bought the album and listened to it. It’d be like hearing a big rap hit on the radio and finding the album contained Shostakovich.

But our tastes were broader back then.

Oh, for a moment there it seemed like kids were listening to everything, but hip-hop has now dominated.

And “Son of Schmilsson”, the follow-up, employed the same formula, but was not quite as good as what came before, but it contained the indelible “You’re Breakin’ My Heart,” which got ink, but no airplay, because of the profanity. Seen as huggable, Nilsson was not.

But, “Son of Schmilsson” did contain the near masterpiece “Spaceman,” which would have fit perfectly on “Nilsson Schmilsson.”

And then Harry met John Lennon, partied too hard, blew out his voice, and lost the plot and died before his time.

Now you cannot talk about this period of Nilsson’s work without crediting producer Richard Perry. Who was famous for slickness in an era that was rougher, but it succeeded, especially with Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain,” with its bass then guitar and piano intro that worked so well on the radio, you heard those bubbling notes and you got ready for the story.

And the Doors came back, and maybe Led Zeppelin never left.

But Harry Nilsson’s work was positively buried until someone plucked it for use in “Russian Doll,” where it not only fits so beautifully, but embeds itself into your brain to the point where it becomes a personal hit, you want more.

But there is none, if you were a fan.

But if you were not…

Gotta Get Up

The Motley Crue Movie

It’s stupid, but you can’t turn it off.

There’s a backlash against this flick. From people who weren’t there the first time and wouldn’t be there if this era ever came back, even though it can’t.

You see the Sunset Strip was populated by castoffs, those not wanted, those who didn’t fit in, not Ivy League graduates. It was a different era, your parents didn’t bribe colleges to get you in, they expected you to leave the house after high school and stay gone. What you did…

Was your business.

It’s hard to describe the power of rock and roll. It’s something you feel, oftentimes in your genitalia. It’s a power, it’s a strength. With the guitars blazing and the singer screaming and the beat pounding so loud you can feel it in you bones you feel like…

The rest of the world doesn’t matter, that you can conquer all. For that very moment you feel content and happy, in a world where that’s oftentimes not the case.

That’s right, the critics don’t have a sense of humor. Of course it didn’t go down the way it does in the flick. But that’s one of the reasons you became a rock star, for the girls, for the sex. You can either be rich or famous, take your pick, otherwise you’re gonna have a hard time getting laid.

And the women attracted to wealth and fame are willing.

That’s what we can’t discuss. Not women wrongly accusing abusers, but women who want to partake.


Originally it was famous people, they even wrote a book about them, Frank Zappa even concocted a band of them, Pamela Des Barres built a whole career on her behavior.

And then it was a zillion girls in every burg the band came through. They lined up. They wanted to touch the fame, when there was no Instagram and no influencers and very few people were famous and your chances of meeting someone…

Furthermore, you got a story, which you could treasure or laugh about for the rest of your life.

Of course this doesn’t excuse the abusive behavior, notoriously of the English bands, but that was then and this was now, before smartphone cameras, when there was no proof and everything was underground.

That was part of the appeal. If you were on TV, you were bigger than life. And it wasn’t only rock stars, it was also those who surrounded them. The original MTV VJs, most notably Martha Quinn… You just wanted to get closer.

We knew the label presidents. And the A&R guys. And Tom Zutaut is portrayed as goofy, but the truth is the A&R guys were the links to the labels, and without one, you just couldn’t make it.

And Doc McGhee looks like your father. But the truth is he dealt dope to fuel his business.

There was a whole economy built around rock and roll. And if it worked…you were as rich as anybody in America, with much more freedom. You existed outside the system, yet owned it. That’s why everybody wants to be a “rock star.”

Now if you weren’t around back then, and most people who’ll view this movie weren’t, you’ll peer in on a past age that was not so exciting to live through but looks positively glorious from this distance. We had to leave the house, there was nothing to do and no way to meet people at home. So we’d go out to hear bands, even crappy bands, to be part of the scene, to interact.

And we all interacted. The educated and the dropouts. We were all there together, hooked by the music. There was no VIP unless you truly were one, you couldn’t buy your way in. So you’d peer behind the rope and see rock stars and executives and say to yourself…I’m gonna be there one day.

There was that desire. And it’s so hard to make it, and so hard to stay in it.

You practiced. You formed bands. The bands broke up and you formed new bands. You laughed, you fought, you got drunk and did drugs. And got laid.

The women would buy you meals, support you, they wanted in just that bad. Judge ’em all you want, but that’s the way it was, ask any band that started out living in one room eating ramen.

And when you made it, you were certifiably BIG! Everybody in the demo knew you, because everybody was watching MTV, even those not in the demo. You were royalty.

And Tommy Lee married Heather Locklear and then Pamela Anderson. They wanted to be closer to the sound, to the scene. And Valerie Bertinelli married Eddie Van Halen. And oftentimes the famous women pursued the men.

And nobody was talking, still nobody is talking, it’s the code of the road.

Jeff Bezos has a rendezvous with Patrick Whitesell’s wife… Metallica went on an endless tour and the band members came home and all got divorced. This was not traditional business. It was every night another arena, an endless grind, of endless boredom, no wonder the musicians did drugs and trashed hotel rooms to cope.

But the critics were never there. They’re like the uptight neighbors pooh-poohing the music. And the car salesmen. The BMW salesman wouldn’t give Steve Lukather the time of day, until he came back with cash.

Believe me, Wall Street didn’t revere the rockers like they do the techies, they were outcasts.

And then the whole thing flipped. The executives thought they were the stars, Napster killed sales and the internet flattened the scene, so there was no mystery and nobody was that big.

Which is why the younger generation is going to be intrigued by this flick, they not only want to know how it was, they envy it and want to re-enact it.

That’s right “The Dirt” will be influential. Never underestimate the power of rock.

And it plays more like “Wayne’s World” than drama. None of the characters are believable, the language is hokey, but the story remains.

And it’s on Netflix. Remember when “Eddie and the Cruisers” failed in theatres and then soared on HBO? Same deal here. It’s just a click away, just a click away.

Hell, I watched it, the hype got to me.

But you can’t get me out to the theatre, no way. And when those movies hit the flat screen it’s too late, the culture is on to something else, and it’s impossible to stay current, never mind catch up.

So if you’re an insider, it’s a must-see, just to see how the truth in your mind was depicted, the old days.

And if you’re a newbie… Sure, rappers shoot each other, get in trouble with the law, but rockers were more about getting drunk and getting laid and the truth is it can never be the way it was because of the aforementioned cameras, everyone’s got one in their smartphone.

And #MeToo. Rock is politically incorrect. Almost all of it. Could Jimi Hendrix even record a song called “Foxey Lady”?

I doubt it.

And my favorite Aerosmith song is “Lord of the Thighs.”

Nope, we’ve got to nix that one too.

But it didn’t used to be that way.

And “The Dirt” gets it right.


Grass Roots

Today it’s from the bottom up, not the top down.

This is a complete one-eighty from the twentieth century. Used to be you aligned yourself with corporations which seeded media outlets for you to get traction. But this was back in a limited world with few slots, when entertainment was scarce, before Spotify, before Napster.

Now, that paradigm does not work.

Bernie Sanders raised $5.9 million on his first day of fundraising. Beto O’Rourke $6.1 million. All from individuals. If you’re taking money from the corporation, you’re gonna lose, just like Hillary.

The media missed Trump.

And it’s missing what’s going on in the music business. Conventional wisdom is it’s the same as it ever was, hit acts played on the radio are the most important. But just like in the MTV era, the faster you make it, the quicker you lose it. But the real winners are not those hungering for playlists or radio spins or even a record deal, but those forging relationships with fans.

It’s fan passion you want, not corporate indifference, where you’re a cog in the wheel.

Corporations are not to be trusted, fat cats either, on either the right or left of the political spectrum. And conventional wisdom amongst music acolytes is today’s hit acts haven’t earned it, they’ve been propped up by the machine, there’s nothing there. They’re losers, just like Hillary, endorsed by the press, irrelevant to them.

If you’ve got something genuine, you’ve got to start outside the system. Otherwise you’re going to be compromised by the system. You’ve got to use the new tech tools to establish a fan base and grow it. And the truth is your fans grow it, and radio is the icing on the cake, but there’s a good chance radio isn’t even gonna help you anymore, because your fans want to own you, although they can appreciate your broader success by saying they were there first.

That’s the litmus test, whether you have fans. Other than your significant other, family and friends. Are those not connected closed? If so, they’ll give you their time and money and work 24/7 as a marketing machine.

People don’t personally know Bernie or Beto, but they’re donating anyway.

Hillary went to corporate donors, who don’t give the money away for free, she was inherently compromised.

You can’t be compromised in the twenty first century.

Don’t look at the acts that have the biggest grosses, but those who sell out. You feel a rush seeing your favorite act up close in a small venue that supersedes seeing the superstar in an arena or stadium. You remember this event for your entire life.

In other words, you’re a star in your own world. Every act is a silo. There is no competition, other than with yourself. Is your fanbase growing, are your grosses growing? Do your fans want new music irrelevant of if it’s too soon for radio?

And there are so many ways to monetize. But you’ve got to do it yourself. The personal touch is everything. You want to meet and greet your audience, be available online. Sure, eventually you might get too busy and too big to do this, but that means you’re on your way.

Everything great starts from outside. But historically, you had to sell out to go big. Today, no one’s that big, no one’s ubiquitous. And just by aligning yourself with a major/corporation you’re compromising yourself. Because their goals are not aligned with yours. They’re about money, they’re about short term, they’re about what’s expedient. You’re willing to wait for money, delayed gratification is the way all the tech companies were built…have success, then charge. And you’re in it for the long haul. You’re fans first, not stockholders first.

And passionate fans will support you. And, once again, being around a long time pays dividends in today’s cacophonous world. People don’t want fly by night, they want to invest for years!