“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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“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.





“One Day” by Matisyahu (2009)

14 11 2016

My last post about the election was pretty apocalyptic. Apologies. Must be the funk I’m in.

That doesn’t discount the battle ahead, though. We will have to fight to keep what we have.

I’ve worked with a lot of tough people. Organizers, activists, musicians, writers. We have a lot going for us.

Hope is both required and justified.

This is a great song about hope. For us all. We need more anthems like this.

“All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day”





“Life During Wartime” by Talking Heads (1979)

14 11 2016

These “United States” of America have just elected Donald Trump.

I am so, so sorry, sweetheart. Rational people did their best to stop him. But he said what people wanted to hear, and he stoked division and fear.

He has no respect for women, or minorities, or the press, or the courts, or our taxation system, or anything but his own interests as far as anyone can tell.

And with both houses of Congress plus his own conservative appointment to the Supreme Court, this nation is doomed. And we’ll take the rest of the world down with us.

So, we fight. What else can we do?

Here’s one lesson: Young people HAVE to get to the polls and vote. I know you’re too young to vote now, but when you can vote, please do. And talk about it with your friends, encourage them to vote, too.

If young voters–who overwhelmingly favored Democrats–turned out for the election, we wouldn’t have Donald Trump as president. We wouldn’t have had George W. Bush, either. And Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton, would probably have been the Democratic nominee, easily beating Trump. There were other factors, of course, but one thing you can do is vote and get involved. Or you end up with our own Il Duce.

This song came out when I was about your age. I remember listening to its ominous words about changing hairstyles “so many times now, I don’t know what I look like.” It’s about fighting in the resistance. Perhaps it was foreshadowing.

And you can dance to it!

“Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
Somebody see you up there”





“California” by Delta Spirit (2012)

30 10 2016

This is such a fantastic song. And Delta Spirit is one helluva good band.

Boy loses girl, boy’s heart is broken. But boy wishes girl happiness, even though he hurts like hell. Because he likes her, and he wants the best for her:

“All of the feelings that I know you’ve never felt
And all of the simple words you never said
I want you to keep them like a secret to yourself
They’re not for me”

That’s righteous. Evolved.

Unnnnfortunately, it’s also pretty rare. Especially among boys.

We boys are never really taught how to deal with our emotions. In fact, the opposite: “Walk it off,” “Big Boys Don’t Cry.” So without being able to deal with hurt, or rejection, we turn to our ready-to-fire default emotion, anger.

You will encounter this, if you haven’t already:

BOY: Do you want to dance/a drink/to go steady?

GIRL: No, but thank you very much

BOY: Stuck up B*TCH! I wouldn’t dance/drink/go steady with a slut like you anyway!

It’s just a shitty encounter all the way around. That you didn’t ask for. And there’s really nothing you can do to prevent it. No matter how nice and gracious you are (which, by the way, you shouldn’t even have to be), it’ll happen.

Well, it’s never on you. It’s “us.” Do the best you can to shake off any hate that comes as a result of our deficiencies.

Maybe songs like this can plant the seeds in some hearts and minds.





“I Am Not My Hair” by india.arie (with Pink) (2005)

14 08 2016

You are 13 years old, and about to start high school. I’m skeerd.

Have you read “The Lord of the Flies” yet?

We’ve watched “Heathers” together, so I know you’re at least somewhat prepared.

What I want you to know, on the deepest possible level, for your entire life, is what the great Persian poet Rumi wrote 700-ish years ago:

I am not this hair
I am not this skin
I am the soul that lives within


Brilliant. And so true.

But you wouldn’t know it in our society, would you? When you’re constantly reminded that you don’t measure up to some bullshit metric pulled out of the arses of snake oil salesmen? When you are reduced to the lowest common denominator, your appearance, detectable by only one of many senses?

So, yeah, what Rumi said. Memorize it and take it with you through life.

I like it so much, I’m going to use it in a song. An anthem, actually. Fair warning, I might post it here.

India Arie beat me to the punch. But it’s in the public domain, and I don’t think Rumi would mind. And I think Ms Arie would agree that the world could always hear more of his poetry.