Listening to "A Bit of Previous," I get the sense the core members of Belle and Sebastian, now in their late-40s and early-50s, are at a similar juncture in their lives – perhaps, like me, asking themselves where the hell the last 20 years went – as the prevailing theme on the album is aging, and in the hands of Belle and Sebastian, it sounds incredibly dull.
My initial response was to sit up in my hotel bed and guzzle water, hoping a little hydration would work the razor blades out of my throat. No luck. Soon enough, my nose started running. Then the sneezing. And coughing. Here we go. Clearly this was not from talking loudly in crowded rooms and noisy bars, nor a temporary reaction to a new environment, but something worse – hopefully not THAT something.
Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek and Gerry Beckley were punching bags from the start, dismissed as watered-down ripoffs of Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stllls, Nash & Young and associated Laurel Canyon luminaries, and while America did ride certain stylistic coattails to ’70s radio success, "History: America’s Greatest Hits" – which is being reissued on vinyl for Record Store Day April 23 – is one of my favorite best-ofs in our library, an album I’ve loved since high school and I'm not ashamed to admit it.
I recently reread "On the Road" and "The Dharma Bums" to see what was there for me in my 40s, partly inspired by a comment my friend Marcus made last summer: how Kerouac’s writing, as a guidebook for life, is great when you’re between the ages of 18 and 22, but not so much after that. I didn’t dust off my Kerouac to counter Marcus and prove him wrong, but I didn’t want him to be right either.
It’s safe to say I’ll never be described as “unrelentingly social” in real life, but right now I’m taking every waltz in my dreams. The pandemic is barely there, but people are everywhere, often in bizarre combinations of friends, family members and minor characters from different chapters of my life, and we’re all having a great time.
Have you noticed a shift in your dream world? Apparently, it’s a thing. There’s mounting evidence that suggests the pandemic has rewired our brains – maybe permanently – and it’s affecting our subconscious, too. People are dreaming more, and our dreams are noticeably weirder.
Andrew introduced me to Interpol sometime near the end of 2002, a few months after we took over my brother’s rental home on Collinwood Avenue in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood. I don’t remember the exact date "Turn on the Bright Lights" entered the house, but listening to it now, it’s synonymous with the uncompromising glare of winter on Collinwood. The combination of little money, low job prospects and a lack of direction created a crippling, quiet intensity within me, a pent-up urgency on the constant verge of implosion. And the house was cold. So f**king cold.
Even when you’re happy, winter is like a boat without an oar that drifts you farther away from joy, and during the long first season back in the Lake Erie snowbelt, I lost sight of the simple pleasures that brighten the dark days.
All is quiet on New Year’s Day.
Except for Bono, of course.
On Dec. 10, 2020, exactly four months from the date my family and I left Boise for our new life in Ohio, my father landed in the hospital.
One of the main reasons for moving closer to our parents was making up for lost time before we started spending time in hospitals, yet here we were, only four months into it – and 15 days before Christmas – doing just that.
Every day I express my gratitude to the cosmos in my own silent way, but when we get to the end of Thanksgiving day, I’m just glad it’s over.
The saving grace of Thanksgiving, the warm quilt of redemption, is my annual viewing of John Hughes’ 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles.' The movie will never make one of those all-time-films lists, but it’s fair to call it a holiday classic, and the warmth I feel watching the movie reminds me of the warmth I felt growing up in a mostly-functional Midwestern family and the warmth I feel now in my own household. But removed from the context of the movie, the soundtrack, as a standalone listening experience, makes absolutely no sense, and like Thanksgiving, it kind of sucks.