Re-Scott Borchetta/Aaron Lewis

Scott speaks as if that song is a unique point of view. Chris Janson tried to put out a song debasing COVID last year and Warner Bros stopped it. It would’ve made money… it was also a bad take.

Jeremy Gold

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Amplifying ignorance and the first amendment don’t go hand in hand. Discourse doesn’t fix the world, kindness does, The truth does, science does. Not putting negative false poison into the ecosphere does. Scott is correct, he can make whatever choice he wants, he is simply making the wrong one here.

Joe Greenwald

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What a mealy-mouthed excuse for his money-grubbing pandering. I’m sure he could find things to agree on with the guys from Skrewdriver, too. Thanks for holding his feet to fire!

Jeremy Shatan

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Cool hill to die on, Scott.

Michael Witthaus

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This is a screamingly cynical response that’ll convince no one but other monied boomers. good on you for calling it out.

Good shabbos bob

Israel Heller

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Mic drop.

Michael Patterson

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Fuck that. He’s defending his client who’s lamenting taking down confederate monuments. He’s complicit in perpetuating the spread of racism under the guise of free speech. Disgusting and harmful.

America needs to double down on teaching students about our horrifying history so that we don’t perpetuate the racism our country was founded on.

Eric Rippin

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Interesting that he talks about shaking hands.  Who are the people that this track is speaking to?  The folks who refuse to compromise.  “Love it or leave it” doesn’t allow room for discussion or change.  Scott’s not stupid, he sees opportunity. Money. Rifling off a list of different acts, only one of whom is decrying the removal of traitor statues, as somehow representative of the diverse set of mindsets at play is disingenuous at best.  Remind me, why did Lady A change their name?

Dave Conklin

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Ewww, gross.

Lee Vandeveer

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Scott Borchetta,

This is FAR from being a mere “political disagreement”, nor is it a first amendment issue.  This is a matter of what’s more important to you:  Your ethics or your wallet.

This man is literally defending slavers, traitors, racists, and war criminals…. Saying that we should continue to memorialize and honor them…. And you are defending it with some lame, flimsy “but muh freedumb of speech!” horseshit.

At least be man enough to admit that you don’t really care what kind of nonsense he is spewing, at long as it continues to swell your bank account.

I’d almost respect that, just for the honesty.  But that shit you just said was just spineless drivel. Man-up and take a stand for what you know to be right, or at least remain silent and stop trying to justify your self-serving choices with bullshit.

Mike Froedge
Atlanta, GA

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Remind your pal Scott that unless he’s somehow become a state actor the First Amendment doesn’t apply.

Kevin Casini

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Does this song make me want to boo boo cry for Aaron Lewis?   No.  But clearly there is more than once definition of what it means to be patriotic and he’s welcome to sing that song.   I would argue that maybe my science following bleeding heart lib POV is more patriotic.

Maybe next time he will try to write a song that could reach everybody.  I’m willing to listen.

Tim Redman

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I always love it when somebody says they believe in the first amendment and then go on to demonstrate that they don’t understand what it says.

Sam Smith

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Hi Bob,  in other words,  “anything for a buck $”.

Alan Segal

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How easy would it be for him to kindly direct the artist to another marketing/distribution entity if the artist’s messaging is not in alignment with the other artists on the roster, whose opinions are the only ones that matter?  I suppose he has an opinion too, but he also needs to make Q3.

Steven Okin

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Maybe his statement about not sharing Lewis’ political views helps Borchetta sleep at night, but he’s promoting an artist who is whining about the removal of statues that most intelligent people view as racist. Promoting this drivel suggests not an open mind but a lack of principles.

Patrick Donahue

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…….the parallel universe is alive……and unwell……….

Tommy Allen

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Hi Bob,
Greetings from Santa Monica.
What an asshole (hint: not you).
Gotta love label GUYS speaking like they’re THE artist (or ‘AN’ artist).
Let’s ask him how he feels about the ‘everyone should have a loud voice’ tact after the next homegrown Republican terrorist attack (or the one after that) based on mis and disinformation, and see if he changes his tune.
Spoiler alert: he won’t, because he doesn’t actually stand for anything other than making money.

Rick Sorkin

Ps- he should keep Sheryl crow’s name out of his mouth.

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Not that I had any doubt whatsoever that you would share Scott’s words with us, but I have to thank you for doing so.

Thank you.

R. Lowenstein

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From a very blue girl…..except for the statue line and knowing Aaron’s political beliefs, the song could be sung be any American. Across the country, red and blue, we have all felt most of his lyrics these past years.

When an artist can inspire patriotism and thought from both sides, that’s beauty and should always have a voice.

I applaud and more than appreciate executives that make those calls, even when it goes against their own personal beliefs….. we can’t really cancel culture because it already is, but we can find common ground, work together with an intention to create a multi-cultural society that embraces, teaches and rewards all beliefs without judgements or cancelling anyone.

Dawn Soler

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Spider-man said it best: with great power comes great responsibility, Scott.

Aaron Harris

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Guys like Scott Borchetta are the reason the music business is so lame and unappealing.

Rob Warden

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Scott Borchetta, what a joke you are, hiding behind the First Amendment.  1A doesn’t mean you have to release this dreck; Lewis can always find his own platform (and he’s got one, Fox).

Keep on writing Bob, we need you.

Carl Nelson

Ellicott City, MD

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Bob….

Please pass my email back to Borchetta…

Hey Scott-Fuck you. You’re a sleazy Pig! Love and kisses-John Green

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“My job has always been about identifying unique talent with a unique voice and a unique point of view.”

Roster of has beens & people who sing like Fox News broadcast? Not sure what’s unique about that. One could argue that his pandering style of artists squander/squash any uniqueness out there. We’re living in a time where ideology trumps artistry.

Migjen Bakalli

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“It would be too easy to just dismiss this missive…”

So instead I’ll write 14 paragraphs.

Fuck him.

Gary Mendel

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Scott is a wimp!

Kurt Lambeth

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Borchetta and Lefsetz. Both brilliant men. That being said. Game, set, match. Scott Borchetta.

George Marshall, Jr.

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It doesn’t work if we’re so divided that we can’t reach across the aisle, have a conversation or an argument, and ultimately, shake hands.  If we can’t do that, and this moment is so divisive, we may never get our country back.

Has Scott been out of the country for the last 4 1/2 years?

Greg Stroh

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“It doesn’t work if we’re so divided that we can’t reach across the aisle, have a conversation or an argument, and ultimately, shake hands.  If we can’t do that, and this moment is so divisive, we may never get our country back. “

He’s right.  It doesn’t work.

The question is, What evidence is there the Trump GOP wants to bend even a little?

How does that work?

Dennis Pelowski

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What a laugher this response was.  Aaron’s message is speaking to millions lol. Most as you rightfully point don’t know who the fuck Aaron Lewis is or care. And the spin that he’s inspiring conversation ? You could say the same thing about Tucker Carlson. Doesn’t make it a good thing . Thank god for someone like Olivia rodrigo with way more influence helping advocate for the vaccine. Maybe Aaron can go on the deplorable tour and play to all the hospitals of unvaccinated people on ventilators.

Jarred Arfa

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Bob, May I just say one thing about why the two sides don’t get together? It’s actually simple to understand.. In the Old Days, life was more Local gov’t first when it came to gov’t being in our lives. Communities got things done as things came along that needed to be done. Voluntary association. You front door could be unlocked all day long.. It was Jimmy Stewart paying back the government money he took when he was down and out in Miracle of 34th Street. (I think that was the movie) Government was limited, and Communities accepted that it was their responsibility to protect, and all the Community would help those who needed it.                                     

Now, everything starts with a gigantic federal government. Overreaching into everyone’s lives, un-Constitutional in my modest opinion, with taxes and regulations and the bureaucracy forced upon the working class for things unheard of a few decades ago. Our money is centrally controlled and is being devalued by this insatiable gigantic money pit, government.

So one side is fighting to keep what they earn. The private sector. While the other side is fighting to take, by force of a majority, the wealth the private sector creates.. The private sector doesn’t think the government should have it, and the methods used to take it, and what it’s being taken for are unethical and immoral.

The Democrat is seen looting and destroying property, and the Democrat government does nothing about it. The media does not act neutral, but takes sides, always against the private sector. So the private sector will NEVER accept the Socialism the Democrat demands.. Period, Rich Case

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Aaron’s song represents how well the right wing claimed, staked and re-marketed modern patriotism for profit. MAGA isn’t a movement as much as it is a Q cult wanting to feel a part of something after the failure of the American Dream for everyone else that is not rich and famous. Aaron’s song is hooky, terrible and perfectly timed for the tailwinds of our current media climate to push streams and manufactured relevance. Yes, he is saying what a lot of polarized people whose over stimulated limbic regions of the brain via algorithms, Murdoch, Koch backed media and Facebook panic-porn are reacting to.

When money started to pollute our political waters for media attention, clicks and influence, Aaron Lewis and Big Machine are guilty of monotzing co-opted “Americana Culture” via using those that fought and died for this country. You can make the argument that those who died fought to preserve “freedom” for all Americans  which you can directly translate to “everyone’s right to vote”. Aaron Lewis and Big Machine are just tapping into the MAGA market and you have every right to call this out for what this is, a bad song that resonates with the fearful, the angry, the lost..

Brian Sirgutz

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Scott Borchetta adopts the Facebook rationale of the First Amendment. It’s like “Hey, we’re just a record label putting out music”.

We, as members of the GP, need to realize labels are in it to make money. It’s the same thing that drives entities like Fox News.

Welcome to the ugly side of Capitalism y’all.

Yeah they have a diverse roster, but it’s mainly white acts. And of course they’re based in Tennessee, a state that, outside of Nashville and Memphis, is Trump country.

It’s no news that labels are mostly white-owned. Their executives live in gated communities, far away from the scourge of white supremacists and drug dealers (mostly). Their kids go to private schools.These guys could give a shit about their “product’ . It could be the viles gangsta rap or the swill from Aaron Lewis – as long as it sells.

As Sam Cooke sang, “A Change is Gonna Come”.

Lets see what happens with Mickey Guyton.

Tom Cartwright

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Well, Scott Borchetta’s ignorance (and duplicity) is apparent from the get – doesn’t he realize that the first amendment prevents the GOVERNMENT from stifling our speech? We, as private citizens, can make any decision we want in regard to others’ speech. If we want to do good in the world, which sometimes conflicts with making money, then we can choose to not do business (and therefore to not spread ignorance and hate) with someone who we think makes the world a worse place. Neo-Nazis or Donald Trump for instance have the right to say what they want in this country, but I’m sure as hell not going to help them, no matter how much money it might make me.

David Zevin

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Scott Borchetta…what a f**&in load of waffle. There is no division in your country, because division requires two equally authentic sides. There is no authenticity in fact there is no credibility, even worse there is no morality, in a side that seeks to disenfranchise an entire race of people for its own benefit. We are facing a new version of slavery. You can have artists sing and wail about the issues but until they get off their buses and their jets and bring the message of equality to the streets, they fail to mean anything.

John Brower

Toronto

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” It doesn’t work if we’re so divided that we can’t reach across the aisle, have a conversation or an argument, and ultimately, shake hands.”

Here’s his fallacy. That argument might have worked in the olden days. But it doesn’t work anymore when massive numbers on one side of the aisle believe that vaccines contain 5G radiation enhanced werewolf venom and other such idiocy. You can’t shake hands with crazy people.

Jim Carroll

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1 – I’m not American, & have no connection to the U.S. , so why do I know what the 1st amendment says and what it protects, but yet Borchetta seems to have no clue? He thinks the 1st amendment has any relevance to whether he can or should be involved in what an artist sings or writes? or is he perhaps blowing smoke & obfuscating hoping that the uneducated fall for it?

2 – Borchetta wants to present this as a ‘ good people on both sides’ argument? As if your country & democracy ISN’T on the verge of collapse? Shameful

regards

Steve Cole
Elmvale, Ontario

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Go Scott! Bob you have no clue!

Mark Mason

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He’s a bright, intelligent, and successful guy (being all about the benjamins, perhaps he’ll re-release and promote Earl Johnson’s “…Woodpile” song because it’ll speak to millions of people) – but, I won’t “ultimately, shake hands” with racists and/or nationalists and/or dominionists and/or Big Lie proponents who want to cancel (kill, destroy, remove, diminish) so many of the people I love, and a whole lot more I’ve never met. These people aren’t just yelling “FIRE” in a crowded theatre, they’re setting the fire.

It’s that simple.

Hugo Burnham

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Mr. Borchetta:

Reading your recent response, I am unconvinced about your cognizance of the real difference between Aaron Lewis and Morgan Wallen.

Both may have much in common with each other culturally, but there is a world of difference in terms of the context in which each artist interacts with his lyrical and musical message towards his audience and towards the the broad music consumer populace in general.

Regardless of BMLG’s diverse roster, Lewis’s narrow demographic targeting does not bode optimistically towards a pathway of positively measurable future artist development,

Thank you, Phil Klausner

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There is nothing unique about Aaron Lewis.  He is, to a certain extent, a hypocrite.  Lewis, perhaps with the exception of Bill Maher, is the BIGGEST pot smoker I’ve ever heard of or seen.  How would that resonate with all those right-wing Christian conservatives?

This wreaks of opportunism.  You wonder why Taylor Swift might have chosen to part ways with Big Machine?  I concur with your assessment of Geffen.  He stood for something and still does.  Sure, he wanted to “make it,” and boy did he, but there was a bridge too far, at least with the Geto Boys.  The irony is Geffen’s position of not wanting to profit from that music which he felt “glamorizes and possibly endorses violence, racism, and misosgyny” in the case of the Geto Boys, is exactly what Lewis and by extension Scott Borchetta are doing.  Do January 6th, George Floyd, and a money culture that allowed Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, and Donald Trump go unfettered for so long, ring a bell?

All the flag waving, reveling, and dispersions cast on Springsteen in that song indicate how little Aaron Lewis understands about the principles that underlie our flag.  I’m reminded of that quote from Andy Shepherd/Michael Douglas in the Rob Reiner film, “The American President”, “You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest.”  You think Aaron Lewis gets that?

Tom Lewis

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I have heard a lot of people call you ” a douche” over the years- did so a few times myself- but  until your cracks on Aaron Lewis never had I witnessed you act like “IL DUCE”. And saying that because you don’t like Lewis’s views he should be dropped and the label that put out his music should be shamed is full on fascism.

I took a listen to the song and although Lewis’s views are not views I share or agree with I would fight for his right to have them- and for America to stay a country where freedom of speech is important enough to remain the first Amendment to our Constitution- regardless of what self important so called “experts” on any business have to say about it.

SHAME ON YOU for trying to cancel Aaron Lewis and humiliate Scott Borchetta when it is you who has acted more shamefully than either of them. Cancel culture is supposed to be a young man’s game Bob but here you are doing it yourself?

It’s a much better look to kiss ass than kick it when you are kicking the wrong asses for the wrong reasons. Attacking someone over their right to have opinions- even shitty ones- is way worse than having shitty opinions Bob.

You’ve made a living  espousing your opinion thru the written word and most of the people I know think you are full of it-and yourself. But now you think that artists with messages you do not agree with should be cancelled? Thanks for proving me right- you are full of IT.

Chris Long

Los Angeles

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Imagine writing a song so passé as to require a record label head to come to your rescue, and that this was its only means of salvation. And as far as cultural pulse is concerned, wasn’t this particular Bro privy to the sale of Swifts masters??? This is the guy we’re debating here? Cool you signed her, and profited to be sure, but not exactly a shining record of having the artists best interest in mind I don’t think…

Anywaysssss… however you wanna spin it… that track reeks of thin blue lines, punisher stickers, fuzzy Viking helmets and old world patriarchal jizz-lobbing. As does its defense. Pandering to a certain aging, completely un-self-aware demographic, is not the “original point of view” this kat is trying to sling. As if any of these MF’s give a shit about a fucking statue anyways.

The real white secret at play here is that the “squeaky wheel gets the grease”, so if you go on TV and keep pissing in the wind about what you want, some asshole sporting a high and tight and oakleys (millions, apparently) out there will think its true and will spend their inflating dollars in its defense.

Mediocre.

The point is this song can be distilled down to whining about what once was – which has demonstrably NOT FUCKING WORKED FOR ANYONE INVOLVED EXCEPT FUCKING WHITE MALES, which contrary to popular belief is not what makes this country run.

Even the titles soggy; YOU KNOW YOURE NOT THE ONLY ONE CAUSE THATS WHY THEY LET YOU ON FOX IN THE FIRST PLACE.

This “red white and blue” he has such a boner for is a culture of cruelty fueled by misogyny, and built on Asian manufacturing, MidEast oil, LatinX labor and African culture / suffering to name a few… and that’s to say nothing of the near Thanos level snapping and decimation of Native populations, who at least knew how to value and honor the hand that fed them; the land, and for their part tried to work with and believed what the white man said, simply because he said it… to their ultimate demise, cause the “white man” lies.

You say “Unique voices” but these lyrics sound pretty “retired cop dad” to me… rehashed cishet white republican talking points, which if they really mattered or were relevant to the GLOBAL CULTURE – which need I remind everyone we are a part of – then Lefsetz’s initial diatribe would have been about how the track is original and explosive, ‘cause so many ppl would be listening and talking about it already, and actually generating WORTHWHILE conversation. Pissing back and forth about this of all songs is so fucking far from that as to be a profane insult to the

ones and zeros it’s written with.

“Be loud and be heard”!? Ugly.

This world’s had a enough of that for millennia.

How about be wise? Empathetic? Realistic? Pragmatic even? Shit I’d take Patriotic if it was expressed in the way it was intended, not the way it’s paraded today… You can’t be a global leader by only considering yourself.

Sorry bros, canned myopia is on exactly NO ONES wishlist.

THIS IS THE MAID SPEAKING BY THE WAY.

Paul MacLachlan

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“Firstly, I believe in the First Amendment.  My job has never been to tell my artists what to sing and write about.  My job has always been about identifying unique talent with a unique voice and a unique point of view.”

Anyone who even knows of Scott knows he only cares about one thing, and it’s not the First Amendment… unless the jargon happens to coincide with whatever current flavor is lining his pockets. And you don’t need to work with every major in Nashville, including his, to know that. But I did. And speaking of his fabled “job” to identify talent (lol)

“Sheryl Crow singing “Woman In The White House” to Aaron Lewis singing “Am I The Only One” to Ray Wylie Hubbard to Tim McGraw to Thomas Rhett to Glen Campbell to Nikki Sixx/Rob Zombie/John5 (L.A. Rats) to Brantley Gilbert to Justin Moore to Florida Georgia Line to Brett Young to Lady A to Ayron Jones to Callista Clark and many more…

Go pull up BMLG’s roster and you’ll see more of the same… giant artists and bands in whom he invested exactly zero dollars to break. Someone else did all the dirty work, all the heavy-lifting and trench-crawling, invested the capital and the time. Sure, you may find outliers, but this is Scott’s entire business model. His MO. Let someone else take all the risk. Most of the newer artists Scott actually did take a chance on have long since gone the way of Dot records.

“I think that’s the foundation for the idea of our country.  It doesn’t work if we’re so divided that we can’t reach across the aisle, have a conversation or an argument, and ultimately, shake hands.  If we can’t do that, and this moment is so divisive, we may never get our country back”

Horseshit. We’re not talking about having a conversation about healthcare, police reform, or increasing minimum wage. Lewis, with “don’t tread on me” scrawled across his neck, is equating the removal of a racist figurine to our flag burning on the ground and disrespecting our troops. Come on, man. Horseshit.

As for the rest of his message, Scott is out of touch. I mean, the dude even double-spaces after every period. Tell me you’re not current without telling me you’re not current.

Chris Alaways

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The Aaron Lewis track is a 100% turd.  Anyone that tells you otherwise is a fucking bleeding-heart, MAGA-hat wearing, insurrectionist dope or just a lover of shitty music (which, let’s be real, is one in the same).

There was one and ONLY one reason to release the Aaron Lewis song – to cash in on the dummies that like bro-country and sing the National Anthem at a Wal-Mart in the middle of Texas.  Nothing sells anymore so now what?  Well, let’s get some streaming revenue going for the dummies and the curious because a streaming cent is a streaming cent regardless of what side of the isle you’re on.

I heard the Aaron Lewis track a week ago and this blind patriotism/nationalism makes me ill.  I don’t want to hear songs about it.  I don’t want to read about it.  People that are a part of it are blind sheeple.

Where are the musicians that want to put songs out that are going to offer a kick in the groin to the modern GOP belief system?  Well, they don’t exist.  Everyone is too scared to lose out on advertising/sponsorship dollars and too afraid of rocking the fan boat so they just stay dead center and act like nothing is going on. Sheryl Crow isn’t moving units and isn’t moving me to think about politics in a strong way regardless of whether or not I’m on board with her message (which I am).

There is a monetary motive here.  That’s it.  Don’t get all grass roots with me about creating conversation and getting to the heart of the matter.  How about get Aaron Lewis in the studio on a mic and talk with him about how to make his vocal phrasing a little less bull in a China shop approach?

Such a turd of a song.  Really, really bad.

David Moorhead

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Scott’s right Bob.

Aaron Lewis and Morgen Wallen have every right via the First Amendment to spew their hateful bullshit and disinformation, just as the Ghetto Boys did to sell their filthy language ridden records and as long as it sells no label in their right mind is going to drop an artist no matter how offensive their music may be to some.

But the Ghetto Boys weren’t actively endangering their fellow countrymen by justifying white supremacy or amplifying anti-vaccination paranoia which is absolutely, irrefutably, scientifically untrue. Why the hell do geniuses like Lewis and Wallen think they never got the chicken pox, mumps, measles, rubella or polio I wonder?

This isn’t the false equivalence, both sides crap that people with an right wing agenda would have everyone believe, it’s simply that conservatives all seem determined to conflate their unearned overconfidence for expertise and we sane, empathetic people who actually value participating in society pay the price.

What is the value in having a “conversation” with people who won’t even acknowledge a shared set of empirical facts and data? Especially since the science shows that presenting conservatives or conspiracy theorists with the facts which disprove their paranoid ideas only make them double down and refuse to budge?

It’s the same dynamic at play with all of the outrage over Critical Race Theory, which is really just the college level, intensive study of and acknowledgement that this country was started by slaveowners and the reverberations of that throughout our history and up to the present day. It’s not even being taught in grade school anywhere, though it should be, yet Trump’s drooling cultists are protesting it everywhere as if their very lives depended upon no one ever calling them a racist.

White rage? What white rage?

This is also why “red” states and the petulantly unvaccinated are holding the country back from fully beating COVID. One side are unrepentantly selfish, sociopathic, racist morons while the rest of us are just people who actually care about others.

The real “wake up call” is the fact that it’s soon effectively only going to be the unvaccinated who continue to die, but conservatives will still keep denying that too, no doubt. Till their own dying, last labored breaths through a ventilator.

Martin Ferrini

Lou Hayter’s Time Out Of Mind

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3ernlYx

YouTube: https://bit.ly/3ih1Fzv

1

“Gaucho” was hobbled by the three years since “Aja” and the $9.98 price point, a dollar more than all that came before, back when record price used to be a thing and labels were eager to make more money, damn the fans, or the acts. Tom Petty protested this same $8.98 price point successfully, then again Steely Dan were never salt of the earth, they never hit the road, they seemed to exist outside the sphere of their fans, but it was fans who bought “Gaucho” and if you played it enough you came to love it. “Hey Nineteen” was a mild hit but the rest of the album never connected with the mainstream, you needed to be somewhat cynical, lazing on a late afternoon contemplating the universe and then “Gaucho” would reach you better than any other album. And who else starts off an album with such a slow song as “Babylon Sisters”? There was no pandering involved, Steely Dan went on its own adventure and succeeded, you’ll have a hard time naming the other albums of the era, and “Gaucho” sounds as fresh today as it did back then.

The truth is “Aja” was a surprise, a hard turn, left or right I’m not sure, but it was definitely different, it was jazz-influenced in an era when rock was becoming corporatized, all tracks sounding alike, but not “Aja.” 

And there was anticipation, because there was always eagerness for a new Steely Dan album, but in truth the act hadn’t had anything resembling a hit since 1974, with “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.”

I’m partial to “Katy Lied,” even though no one ever talks about that album anymore. Just listen to the vocal on “Bad Sneakers.” And “Daddy Don’t Live in that New York City No More.” As well as “Your Gold Teeth II.”

And I know every lick of “The Royal Scam” because I drove cross-country and listened to it and only it and five other brand new cassettes…you get in a groove and you like hearing the same music over and over, it’s like being in a trance. Ever drive eight or ten hours at a stretch, especially on flat, straight highway, you become hypnotized, but I had to keep my pedal to the metal because this was before all cars had cruise control, although my car didn’t even have power steering, but if I could resurrect my 2002 I’d still be driving it, if it hadn’t been wrecked by an unlicensed and uninsured drunk driver on St. Patrick’s Day with 186,000 miles on the odometer back when no American car could even break six digits. And my favorite from “The Royal Scam” was “Don’t Take Me Alive,” because of Larry Carlton’s stinging guitar and the changes and those lyrics, the words:

“I’m a bookkeeper’s son

I don’t want to shoot no one”

But whereas “The Royal Scam” was personal, “Aja” could be played at cocktail parties, and was. Even “Bosch” would have liked it. You see all the people who didn’t even buy albums, the Top 40 acolytes who couldn’t tell Denny Dias from Skunk Baxter, bought “Aja,” in truth it worked in absolutely every environment. Steely Dan succeeded giving the public what people said they didn’t want, but it turned out they did, want it that is. And there was that misheard lyric in “Deacon Blues,” everybody thinking Donald was asking to be sued if he played it “wrong,” but he said LONG, and it made all the difference.

“I cried when I wrote this song

Sue me if I play too long

This brother is free

I’ll be what I want to be”

That’s the rock ethos, even though Fagen and the dearly departed Becker wouldn’t want to be categorized, be members of any group but their own. Art is personal, if you’re thinking about the audience you wreck it, it’s when you dig down deep and bare your soul that others can relate. The key is to be free to do it the way you want to, irrelevant of others’ reaction, their feedback, and Steely Dan was, and did.

But now it was three years later. In truth the record business was in the doldrums, disco and corporate rock both crashed, based on hatred from the audience, both had devolved into lowest common denominator pablum, but not Steely Dan.

In truth one of the best cuts on “Gaucho” was “Third World Man,” the final song on the second side, something so slow that radio would never play it, but if you did at home… Play it now, it feels like magic hour, when the sun is setting over the horizon and everything is in relief, when life and its penumbra seem so much more important.

And the second side opened with another slow number, the title song, “Gaucho,” a story told at a slow pace with exquisite instrumentation that was alien to in-your-face rock.

And then came “Time Out of Mind.”

2

“So you better be ready for love

On this glory day

This is your chance to believe

What I’ve got to say”

You could be so good-looking, or so rich or famous that you’re batting off admirers, but for the rest of us… In order for it to work we’ve got to feel good about ourselves, we’ve got to psyche ourselves up and get in the mood, believe we’re irresistible, that no one can elude our personality, our magic. I’m not talking about being oppressive, I’m not talking about rape, most men are too afraid to ask women for a date, they’re wallflowers, but it’s the loner sans groupthink who has a chance of resonating, assuming he’s confident and doesn’t break down, that he evidences his real personality. And the truth is most people don’t have much of one, a personality that is, they’re so busy trying to fit in, so busy doing what’s expected, that they don’t have the unique edges that appeal to women.

“Tonight when I chase the dragon

The water may change to cherry wine

And the sliver will turn to gold

Time out of mind

Time out of mind”

CHASE THE DRAGON? Back in 1980 we had no idea what Donald was talking about. It took a while to come out, assuming you read the rock press, which was still prominent and monolithic. He was singing about smoking heroin. Which has one re-evaluating the whole song, is this an addict trying to get someone on his page, telling them if they just get high everything will be all right even though it’s a road to ruin? And one thing about addicts, they always want company, people to support them, be in the same boat, a separate society, feeling superior, even though they’re anything but.

And after “Gaucho”? Crickets. And then the band decided to go back on the road when they were famous for not working live, sans new music, and their fans came out, they did very good business. And then there were two new albums, twenty plus years since “Gaucho,” and although those may ultimately have limited mindshare, the end result of decades of touring, being in the public eye, is that all those earlier albums came back alive. “Countdown to Ecstasy,” which barely sold, was seen as their best, not that I agree, and tunes from “Gaucho” are part of the firmament, like “Time Out of Mind.”

And now comes Lou Hayter’s version of “Time Out of Mind.”

Interesting last name, since the truth is Steely Dan has so many haters, dyed-in-the-wool rockers, especially the punks and skinny tie set of the late seventies and early eighties. This same crew hates prog rock, but that sound never really had the same reach as Steely Dan, and there were many prog acts, but only one Steely Dan.

And the truth is a cover is a cheap shot. An easy way to get recognition in an era where it’s almost impossible to do so. So at first I dismissed Lou Hayter’s “Time Out of Mind.” But today it started to resonate. Maybe because the underpinnings, the song itself, are so good, maybe because of the fuzzy guitar solo, maybe because of the rhythm, but suddenly it worked, it was more than a cover, something new, attractive, engaging.

Not that I knew who Lou Hayter was. She doesn’t even have her own Wikipedia page. But if you do some research you’ll see she’s been at it for over a decade and she’s a multi-hyphenate, a DJ, a model… The truth is that’s the way of the modern day, unless you hit out of the box if you want to stay in the game you’ve got to broaden your horizons, you’ve got to do more than music.

But Hayter is on Instagram, which is the new Wikipedia, the new album cover, that’s where you display your image, establish an identity. It’s like the sixties all over again, it’s all based on image.

Meanwhile, the internet tells me Steely Dan is Lou Hayter’s favorite band. And she wasn’t even born when “Gaucho” came out. Funny what penetrates, it’s usually not the hits, the younger generation is searching, for something great, the roots, the progenitor, they understand today but it’s so different from yesterday. Today the faders are always pushed up, everybody’s fighting for attention, the concept of the music being so damn good that people are drawn to it, that you don’t have to sell it, go on the road to flog it, is revolutionary.

So if you can let your prejudices go, if you can be open, if you don’t focus on the track but let it play as you go about your business, you might find yourself bobbing your head, digging Lou Hayter’s take on “Time Out of Mind.

P.S. If you’re adventurous, if you want more, there are two additional mixes, the Reflex Revision and the Generalisation Dub, but you definitely want to be hooked on the original before you expand your horizons.

Scott Borchetta Responds

Bob,

It would be too easy to just dismiss this missive…

But, you and I haven’t had a good go in awhile… so, let’s go…

Firstly, I believe in the First Amendment.  My job has never been to tell my artists what to sing and write about.  My job has always been about identifying unique talent with a unique voice and a unique point of view.

At the Big Machine Label Group we represent artists as diverse as Sheryl Crow singing “Woman In The White House” to Aaron Lewis singing “Am I The Only One” to Ray Wylie Hubbard to Tim McGraw to Thomas Rhett to Glen Campbell to Nikki Sixx/Rob Zombie/John5 (L.A. Rats) to Brantley Gilbert to Justin Moore to Florida Georgia Line to Brett Young to Lady A to Ayron Jones to Callista Clark and many more…

Aaron Lewis and I have political disagreements.  But there are also things we agree on.  I think that’s the foundation for the idea of our country.  It doesn’t work if we’re so divided that we can’t reach across the aisle, have a conversation or an argument, and ultimately, shake hands.  If we can’t do that, and this moment is so divisive, we may never get our country back.

To just ‘cancel’ (drop) Aaron is ridiculous and I’m disappointed that you would even suggest such a thing. Comparing Aaron Lewis to the Ghetto Boys?  That’s a reach and a half…

You don’t have to agree or acknowledge, but Aaron’s message is speaking to millions of people.

Let it be a wake up call to reps and dems alike – be loud and be heard!

It woke you up.  It inspired you to make a statement.  It worked.  And it’s working.  It’s inspiring conversation.

You have no basis to attack the sales or streaming numbers as your context is not accurate.  Our world is a building world, streaming world, terrestrial radio world, satellite radio world, social/Insta/TikTok world… it’s everything you can imagine and all verticals must be managed.

This is just the beginning of this story.

Example – Nelly/FGL’s “Lil Bit” came out in the Fall of 2020… it’s now on a collision course with 9m US streams per week, it’s well past platinum, it’s Top 15 at Top 40 radio and breaking at Country radio.  There is not always a set path for a hit record.  And this isn’t new.  Your aforementioned Geffen Records spent a full year breaking GNR’s “Welcome To The Jungle”.  If you had looked at first week GNR sales numbers and tried to project what that song and that band would have meant to the future of not just rock radio but its impact on culture, you would’ve missed it by a RnR Hall of Fame career.

Stop when it comes to criticizing first week sales and streams.  You’re only setting yourself up for failure and you’re not representing the full story or picture.

Ironically and culturally, Aaron Lewis and Morgan Wallen have a helluva lot more in common with each other than either of them have with you.  You’re talking out both sides…

But that’s why we read you.

You inspire conversation.

For that, I thank you.

Best to Felice,

Scott

Seventeen Going Under

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3rbSynA

YouTube: https://bit.ly/36LMIzP

Listen to “Seventeen Going Under” twice and you’ll listen to it ad infinitum. In fact, it sounds like forty years ago, the Alarm mostly, but the truth is the human condition never changes, being a teenager is the same, and although we’re happier as we get older we’re all still seventeen at heart, ask all the boomers getting plastic surgery trying to look young.

It’s not like it’s a hit. “Seventeen Going Under” has got 724,926 streams on Spotify and only 341,529 YouTube views in the week it’s been out. Then again, everything happens slowly these days, you can be unknown, bubbling under for over a year and then WHEW!, suddenly your track catches fire. Not that I expect U.S. radio to play “Seventeen Going Under,” there’s nowhere for it. It certainly isn’t hip-hop or pop, it’s rock, and even Miley Cyrus could not get traction with the retro sound. And I’ll give Olivia Rodrigo’s lyrics kudos, but musically most of her album is uninteresting, then again on one level “Seventeen Going Under” is a rap track as in there are essentially no changes! You’re waiting for the chorus, the break, and it never comes, but boy is there ENERGY!

That’s the essence of the metal/Active Rock sound, THE ANGER! But as that audience and its music have become less accepted it’s driven headlong into the oblivion of noise, if you’re not a fan there’s no way you’ll cotton to the sound, you’ll want to take it right off, but not “Seventeen Going Under.”

Then again, there are people who now hate rock in principle.

Then again, Sam Fender is not a teenager, at least not anymore, he’s 27, old enough to have some perspective, and you can hear it.

So I’m angry. I’m much happier than I was at 17, then again I still feel like I don’t fit in, am not part of the mainstream, and somewhere deep inside I want to be, or really I want the rest of the population to change and be more like me, but that’ll never happen.

“So I spent my teens enraged

Spiraling in silence”

Imagine being a teenager today, the parents can’t stay out of your business. Telling you what you can learn, telling if you have sex there will be no abortions, abhorring everything you do, TikTok, influencing, telling you to get off of the damn phone when the truth is that’s where your community is, your friends, the like-minded people.

“And I armed myself with a grin

‘Cause I was always the f—–g joker

Amongst the white noise and boys’ boys”

People cover up their true feelings, even though in truth we all want to be understood and this is the key to human connection, and relationships and sex, but people, especially guys, feel if they’re honest and open they’ll be ostracized.

“Locker room talkin’ lads’ lads

Drenched in cheap drink and snide fags

A mirrored picture of my old man”

The music business is a boys club. The Fortune 500 is a boys club. Sure, inroads have been made, but I’m talking less about numbers here than attitude, the in-jokes, the laughing, the sexual innuendoes, if you don’t participate you’ve got no future in the corporation, you’re immediately off the track, far from the mainstream. They say America is about individualism but if you’re an individual be prepared for heat, assuming anybody cares at all. And god forbid you’re a nerd, you’re bullied online and the truth is online bullying far exceeds real life bullying, it can be hard for anybody to take, did you see Valerie Bertinelli broke down in the face of it?

“Valerie Bertinelli tearfully hit back at an Instagram troll who said she needs to lose weight: ‘Not f—–g helpful'”: https://bit.ly/3wJLWyb

But really it’s not about “Seventeen Going Under”‘s lyrics, it’s about its SOUND! It’s loud but not offensive, you’re drawn to it, you want to immerse yourself in it, you want it to consume your moving body as you forget about the injustices of this world, knowing, thank god, that someone feels the way you do.

And there are no brand names in the song. No featured artists. “Seventeen Going Under” doesn’t sound mannered, overworked, overdone.

But that sound, that ENERGY!

You’ll catch it the first time through, when the song fills out, when the vocal becomes even more intense, but if you listen to it again you’ll feel a bubble forming around your body, you’ll start to get that feeling of happiness, when you relax and smile and don’t worry about what anybody else thinks.

Maybe this will get some traction in the U.K., where they embrace more genres of music. But, once again, the start is so slow.

But for those who are too young to have lived through it, THIS IS THE SOUND!

P.S. Play this on the big rig, the speakers with some bass, you want to feel the room SHAKE!