“Breaking the Habit” by Linkin Park (2004)

17 10 2017

This is a powerful song about hitting rock bottom.  Reportedly, Linkin Park’s singer, Chester Bennington, had difficulty singing this song live because it would choke him up.  He struggled with addiction, and clearly his own song resonated with him.

“Memories consume like opening the wounds
I’m picking me apart again
You all assume
I’m safe here in my room
Unless I try to start again
I don’t want to be the one the battles always choose
‘Cause inside I realize that I’m the one confused”

Addiction is no joke, as you know by my earlier posts.  I’ve struggled with alcohol since I was in my 20’s (picked up the habit while serving in the military).  It goes up and down, and right now it’s going down.

Eventually you’ll ask yourself why your dad drank alcohol.  I’m not sure I can describe it in a blog post.  There is a genetic component, and my father drank pretty heavily (which was more common back in his day).  For me, drinking makes me feel like a human.  It lets me enjoy the moment and the present company, rather than worrying about the future, or things said or done in the past.  It quiets my mind.  I don’t think about all the misery in the world, or in my life.  It’s an escape.  Not an escape from my problems, but from myself and my own overwrought perspective of life and the world.

And where do you get help?  Only rich people can afford residential rehab programs.  This is the problem in our society.  Help is not as available or affordable as it should be.  So it’s all up to you.  To do alone.

Please be careful with alcohol.  At first it can seem relatively harmless.  Partying at college, joking about the hangover the next day.  But over time you can want it more and more, and it will start messing with your health.  And as you get older, it gets harder and harder to deal with the hangovers, because they get worse and worse.

I’m working on it.  But please know that I don’t drink to escape my life, or to escape what is my joy at being your father.  I drink to escape my head and my heart, neither of which will shut the hell up on their own.

There is another component to addiction that researchers have recently found:  Addicts often feel that they lack or have lost some connection to society, or to humanity.  We are pack animals, and not fitting in to the clan could mean your very survival in our earlier evolution.  It makes a lot of sense, and it explains why so many successful people fall victim to drugs and/or alcohol.  Think of Janis Joplin and Amy Winehouse, to name only two. They were surrounded by vultures and ass-kissers.  Who can you really trust?

I wish I had made and maintained closer friendships.  Real connections.  I think that would have helped me.  So that’s my advice.  Be careful of the sauce, and try to surround yourself by people who really like you, want the best for you, and will tell you the damned truth.  It certainly can’t hurt.

As a sad footnote, Chester Bennington–who had struggled with addiction but then recovered–recently committed suicide, sadly adding to the poignancy of this track.  I’ve been listening to it a lot lately. To help break bad habits.

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For the Record

17 10 2017

I’m going to switch gears a bit. I’ve been thinking about posterity. There are a million things I wish I learned about my parents, but I didn’t get the chance. More specifically, by the time I realized I had questions, it was too late.

So there are some things I want to tell you about your old man. In addition to any black pearls of wisdom. In case one day you have questions.





“To Feel This Way” by The Call (1997)

1 09 2017

The Call was one of my favorite bands back in the day. Michael Been, the singer/bassist/songwriter, and his bandmates made some great, provocative music.

This song is one of my favorites, and it really resonates with me. At first, it seems like a guy singing about loss, maybe the loss of love, and how he “never should have allowed himself to feel this way.”

But it’s bigger than that. I think he’s talking about how hard it is to live in this mad world when you “feel” too much. When you have too much empathy. Things can weigh on you, love and loss is amplified.

“The stranger he lives quietly
And braves the heat and cold
Through s deep dark haunted passageway
That leads him to his soul

Let no one be mistaken
Death makes memories of us all
It’s the purpose that confounds me
I should never have allowed myself
To feel this way.”

I’m not sure if a person is born with empathy, or if it’s nurtured. But some people have it, and some don’t. I know people who have absolutely no interest in anything outside their own lives. I envy them. How nice to not constantly feel the need to hang your head at all the misery in the world.

I know you have empathy. It’s a wonderful, human thing to have. In fact, some psychologists believe that empathy is the last major evolutionary step our species developed.

But it has a down side. You have to find a way to deal with it, otherwise, you’ll find yourself being dragged down by things. I’d recommend finding friends who share your empathy, if only for the camaraderie. And listening to music. Lots of music.





“Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream (1967)

5 02 2017

Cream was a supergroup consisting of Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce. All three are considered masters of their game.

Jack Bruce, the bassist, sings this song, and he’s one of my favorite bassists. Thought that you should know that, as a bassist in your own right.

But there’s another reason I’m posting this song for you. Bear with me.

There’s a lot of hate and division in the U.S. right now, and I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse.

When I was a young man, I spent a summer in Israel. Israelis and Palestinians have been at each others’ throats for a long time. Well, mostly with the Israelis at the Palestinians’ throats.

While there, I spent two months on a kibbutz, which is a kind of collective, often a farming operation. I was a volunteer member of Kibbutz Rosh Haniqra, which mostly produced bananas. That’s right, your dad was a banana farmer in the Holy Land.

At this kibbutz, I jammed with a couple musicians. The bassist: me, with only limited Hebrew skills. The drummer: a Palestinian, who spoke Arabic and decent Hebrew, but no English. The guitarist: An Israeli Jew who spoke Hebrew, decent Arabic and English.

So we had no language in common, really. Except music.

After much linguistic confusion, we settled on this song, and the drummer counted us off.

For the first time, it wasn’t too bad. We kind of clicked. Even if sloppy and unrehearsed, you can still tell when you’re in sync with the other musicians.

And the three of us–who have no common language–knew it. Even though we couldn’t really speak to each other, we were smiling, and we were digging it.

This song always reminds me of that tiny little blues/peace summit.





“The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” by Marianne Faithfull (1979)

8 01 2017

This amazing song was written by Shel Silverstein (The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends). It’s a lament about the sad plight of a housewife trapped in a life that wasn’t enough for her.

Until recently, there weren’t many options for women. Getting married and raising a family was one of the main options. But think about all that wasted potential talent! We could have had six different cures for cancer and world peace by now, if we didn’t insist for so long that women should be “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen” (yes, I’ve heard that many times).

Marianne Faithfull nails it with her husky, world-weary voice and plaintive delivery.

Things have really changed now, and women can pursue just about any job as a man.

But there is a holdover from the patriarchal, sexist past: there is still a ton of pressure on women to marry and produce children. There’s also a lingering perception that a woman is somehow not complete without experiencing motherhood.

Bullshit. Just because you have a uterus doesn’t mean you have to use it. Here’s a list of some women who didn’t have kids:

Jane Austen
Charlotte Bronte
Julia Child
Emily Dickinson
Harper Lee
Amelia Earhart
Georgia O’Keefe
Dorothy Parker

And on and on….

If you truly want to have children, that’s terrific. Many people do. But I’m telling you this because few others would. Your grandmother would tell you. You are the captain of your body in this area, too.

There is enormous pressure on us to do what we’ve been raised/conditioned by society to do. Often we’re not even aware of it, we just flow with it, like caught in a river current. Always check to see if your bearings aren’t effected by the current.

I just remembered that your middle name means “flow of the river.” We’ll have to find the Hindi word for “against” as a prefix to fix that.





“When the Rainbow Comes” by World Party (1990)

4 01 2017

This is the second World Party song I’ve posted, the other is “Ship of Fools,” so I won’t rehash my love for Karl Wallinger’s music.

This is another medicinal song. A sober song about hope. Or the struggle to find it. This song was released in a time I needed hope, so I know this song well.

It starts with an ideal:

“Build a new house down by the sea
Get to the place we were meant to be
You’ll know it when you smile.”

Of course most of us can’t do that. So if you can’t live by the sea, then what?

“Slippin’ and slidin’ around in your head
It’s be-bop-a-lula and baby you’re dead
So come on, make a bright new day.”

It’s never that easy, but just singing it out loud makes it seem just slightly more possible to make that bright new day.

“I need a prayer here
I need a blessing
Cast your eye back as you run
Turn around, boy!
See the rainbow come!”

I do believe there is something to the “power of positive thinking.” It’s just not that easy for some folks.

What’s easier is the power of positive singing. If things seem a tad dark, crank it up, belt it out. It might help.





“She Works Hard for the Money” by Donna Summer (1983)

4 12 2016

Some call Donna Summer the “Queen of Disco,” which I thought was unfair. She was a cut above and really stood out, bringing soulfulness and tenacity to the dance beats.

Summer wrote these lyrics after meeting the restroom attendant in a fancy restaurant. The attendant, a young, exhausted-looking woman, was a single mother working multiple jobs to support her kids and herself. It’s an anthem of respect:

“I met her there in the corner stand
And she wonders where she is and
It’s strange to her
Some people seem to have everything”

Your grandmother was a single mother for a few years when I was very young. I don’t know how she held it all together. I don’t know how any single mother holds it all together. I don’t think I could do it.

So please know that your old man thinks single mothers are the fiercest of the fierce in our society. I have mad respect for them. And nothing but contempt for deadbeat fathers.