Since I’m On the Topic of Rush…

I’m not a current events kind of guy, but when the pop culture gods align a press release with a “Why It Matters” piece who am I to refuse?

Rush has a new label deal and a couple of new albums on the way, one a live album from the recent “Time Machine” tour (photos and setlist linked below).  Beauty way to go, eh?  Read more here:  Rush Signs With Roadrunner


Related “Why It Matters” Pieces:

- “Time Machine” tour photos and set list:

- Seeing “Moving Pictures” live, 1981:

42. Changes Aren’t Permanent (But Change Is)

Ninth grade was a very strange time.  I was a member of The Guys In Black Tee Shirts Who Jam, but I wasn’t hardcore enough for Prevo, or prevocational school.  I played Advanced Dungeons and Dragons thanks to my thirty year old yard work boss and most recent father figure, not to mention the AD&D weekends at Winthrop College with my older sister’s crowd.    Continue reading

More Answers To Google Searches

Googlers are to Why It Matters as Sunday drivers are to garage sales.   Both are cruising along hoping to find an Eames chair or a lightly used Hitachi magic wand or whatever.  They think they catch a glimpse from the street, so they park and approach.  Inevitably they are disappointed when they see the pile of crap they mistook for treasure, load up, and move on.

Here are some more treasures that Googlers have searched for in my boxes of detritus: 

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“Why It Matters” Meets Under the Gum Tree

I’m delighted to announce that one of my “Why It Matters” pieces has been published in the premier edition of Under the Gum Tree, a literary magazine dedicated to creative non-fiction. 

It’s a great magazine and is available as a free download.  Don’t forget to tell them James sent you:

And for you fellow writers out there, why not consider submitting work to them for future issues?

Deep Cuts: Stop Time and Turn Up the Radio Songs

I have 33,000 songs in my pocket.  I can go for three months, twenty-four hours per day and not listen to the same song twice; well, at least not the same version.  Or if I choose to I can listen to the same song repeatedly.  It’s a world of abundance –  not just abundance, but abundance of my choosing.

But when I was a kid being away from my turntable meant being at the mercy of the FM DJ.  My chosen station (when I could get a signal) was WROQ out of Charlotte, but I would follow the jam around the dial.  If I was lucky enough to hit “A Day In the Life,” “Kashmir,” “Lola,”  “Maybe I’m Amazed,” or Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up” I was locked in.  Volume up, world tuned out, I wasn’t budging until the last note.

These weren’t necessarily my favorite songs; rather, they were the “something special is happening on the radio” songs.  They were kind of like that one Christmas ornament I always loved because I only saw it once per year.  In the modern age of abundance of my choosing I could create a playlist and play them to death, but I think I’ll keep them in their Christmas box and pull them out rarely.

Aside from the aforementioned, here are ten songs that stopped time and turned up the radio:

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40. To Learn How To Love And Forget How To Hate

During the summer after eighth grade we spent a week at Disney World in Florida.  My father bought some sort of package deal that included a campsite, park tickets, and three meals per day at any restaurant on the Disney property.  I wasn’t too keen on living in a pop-up camper for seven days, but three squares made the deal palatable.  For the first time ever I could order what I wanted without fear of repercussion.  No more worrying about whether I would exceed some sort of arbitrary and unspoken spending limit, thus angering my father and leaving me sputtering apologies and promising to pay the difference — whatever it may be — out of my own pocket. Continue reading

Warrant’s Lead Singer Dies

I lived within walking distance of the famous Sunset Strip at the tail end of the Hair Metal Eighties.  This should have been a huge thrill for me, but I wasn’t a hair metal guy.  The Whisky A Go-Go was hallowed ground in my book — home of The Doors, X, and proto-hair metal gods Van Halen.  But the current group of spandexed and Aqua Netted party boys? Couldn’t care less.

Roy Orbison died around that time.  He was enjoying a second career with the Traveling Wilburys, which moved his death from a small notice just above the word jumble in the Los Angeles Times to the A section of the paper.  We had a run at the record store on Roy Orbison, with three days of this conversation:

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39. That Sleepwalk Should Be Over By Now

My first bicycle was a sixth birthday present: A blue Montgomery Ward knockoff of a Schwinn Stingray; sissy bar and ape hanger handlebars; a black banana seat with a white racing stripe.  I wasn’t a quick learner so I spent the first few weeks running next to my ride, up and down my neighbor Swede’s driveway, imagining the boss wheelies I would eventually pop.  Eventually I tamed the beast and learned the secret of childhood:  Two wheels expand the neighborhood.

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