Avenged Sevenfold's self-titled effort released in 2007 was the last studio release to feature Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan on all the songs.

Dec. 28: Remembering Dennis Wilson, Lemmy and The Rev

I think we all can agree that the year 2016 has seen way too many of our heroes pass away. Actors, actresses, musicians, authors, time claims us all. But 2016 seems to have claimed more than its fair share, including the recent passing of George Michael and Carrie Fisher.

Today is Dec. 28, and so far I haven’t seen any notices of new deaths to add to the list … Something for us to be grateful for!

But over the years, this day has seen many notable (and sad) deaths. With this posting, I’d like to focus on the lingering losses of Dennis Wilson (singer, songwriter, drummer and more for The Beach Boys), Lemmy Kilmister (singer, songwriter, bass player and frontman for Motorhead) and Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan (singer, songwriter, drummer and inspiration for Avenged Sevenfold).

Three very different musicians from very different eras, but so key and moving in their own ways.

Continue reading “Dec. 28: Remembering Dennis Wilson, Lemmy and The Rev”

I show off some of my "Pet Sounds" swag after seeing Brian Wilson perform the classic album on Oct. 2, 2016, in Minneapolis.

Remembering to be thankful: Holidays and counting our blessings

I don’t know how it’s been for the rest of you, but 2016 has been one of the most challenging and nerve-wracking years of my life.

And here we are, it’s late in December, the year is almost over. Why wait until New Year’s Eve to look back? I’m going to use that day to look forward.

So, for this entry, I want to look back at the year and count the blessings. To talk about being unemployed or to talk about the major music deaths won’t accomplish anything.

Sometimes it’s understandable to dwell on the things mounting against you. Politics, health, loss, bills, etc. Life’s pressures can build up and become too much at times. I certainly understand and appreciate that. I’ve been there (many times), even recently.

I don’t want to sound like one of those folks who always tells you what’s best for you, but I’ll say this: I’ve learned that dwelling in the darkness does you no good. Sometimes counting your blessings helps turn things around, at least mentally.

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Pink Floyd's "Have a Cigar" was released as a single in some markets in 1975.

Great car songs: Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar”

Ever get a song going through your head, and get swept up by it? You get so caught up with it that you have to track it down and listen to it a few times just to find some peace?

This morning, I woke up with the intro of Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar” running through my head. What a groove, it’s almost funky. All props to “Money” from the classic album “The Dark Side of the Moon,” but I’ll take this highlight from the “Wish You Were Here” album any day. It is a great, great song for playing loudly while you’re driving solo.

Listen to the guitar. Isn’t that bass fantastic? What about the synthesizer’s textures? It sounds so alienating and cold, but still beguiling. And considering the lyrical content, that’s about the most perfect instrumental vibe for which you could hope.

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The sleeve cover to John Lennon's "Watching the Wheels" single.

Losing John Lennon, but keeping the music: Reflecting on some Lennon favorites

For a lot of music fans, Dec. 8 can be a dark day.

In 1980, it was the day that John Lennon was shot and killed. His loss is still felt today. What music did we lose out on? Would a reunion of The Beatles been in the cards? What humanitarian acts would he have undertaken? What about painting, drawing, other art?

What would he have done with his sons, Julian and Sean? What would he have thought of the rise of rap / hip-hop music? What would he have thought of music by his contemporaries that came out in the 1980s, ’90s, 2000s, etc.?

Last year, I wrote about Lennon’s death for the St. Cloud Times. I reflected on his loss and legacy. I talked about how John was gone, but that his music remains with us.

This year, I thought I’d look at my favorite Lennon solo works, as well as my favorites of his work with The Beatles. This vein will undoubtedly be more enjoyable in terms of revisiting the music, rather than rehashing the sad, tragic death.

Continue reading “Losing John Lennon, but keeping the music: Reflecting on some Lennon favorites”

The cover to Childish Gambino's 2016 album "Awaken, My Love!"

Some thoughts on “Awaken, My Love!” by Childish Gambino

My first introduction to Donald Glover was through the comedy TV show “Community.” When I learned he also was a musician, and had albums released under the name “Childish Gambino,” I admit that I didn’t take it seriously.

It’s not that I doubted his talent. It’s just … I liked him as a comedian, I liked him in that role on the TV show, I didn’t really NEED him in any other fashion.

How short-sighted, right? Why can’t people be multifaceted? I’m quite OK with others (like David Bowie, Gerard Way, Prince, etc.) stretching out and being multimedia artists with toes in other arts. I can’t explain why I was so close-minded, but I was.

I was wrong.

And I sincerely apologize.

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The album cover to The Kinks' 1993 album "Phobia."

Now hear this: Giving The Kinks’ “Phobia” a 1st listen

When it comes to The Kinks, I consider myself a pretty decent fan. I love the 1960s and 1970s records quite a bit. I’ve used “The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society” to convert more than one friend into a fan of the band, too.

I'll admit, I got very excited when the official Twitter account of The Kinks followed me. It's exciting to have that connection to a band you love and enjoy.
I’ll admit, I got very excited when the official Twitter account of The Kinks followed me. It’s exciting to have that connection to a band you love and enjoy.

But I’ll admit that when it comes to the late 1980s and early 1990s materials by the band, I’m largely in the dark.

A part of it is that the albums can be pretty hard to find in a lot of smaller markets. Until the last couple years, the majority of my listening came from physical media (CDs, vinyl records, cassettes).

But as digital media has become more widespread and inclusive, we have the ability to listen to more music that had been previously difficult (or cost prohibitive) to track down. What a blessing! My subscription to Spotify has been put to good use over the last year, especially.

Continue reading “Now hear this: Giving The Kinks’ “Phobia” a 1st listen”