hankrules2011

Book reviews, health, hockey, publishing, music

Posts Tagged ‘music’

A New Music Blog Post Today!

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 1, 2018

Hi! I wrote a blog post on Scott’s Music Shak today. It’s about buying online music from independent dealers vs. Big Box sites like Amazon, eBay, and the like. I think I make some good points, but I’m biased. If you get a chance, go read it. And please, feel free to leave a comment. I’m not getting enough comments from people, and can’t figure out why. They’re emailing me, just not commenting on my blogs. And by the way, I implemented a new promotion today which you’ll see if you visit my site. If you sign up for my email list, found at the bottom of any page, you’ll receive semi-regular email newsletters containing a discount code for 10% off your first purchase over the next week. I intend to do this regularly. Newsletter subscribers will also be the first to hear about sales, new items, new collectibles, new blog posts, and more. So, please consider signing up for the email list and joining in that way. Thanks! Without further ado, I leave you with “The Benefits of Buying Music from an Independent Online Dealer vs. Big Online Stores.” Cheers!

Scott's Music Shak

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Scott’s Music Shak: My New Music/Audio Shop & Website

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 30, 2018

Hi all! It wasn’t too long ago that I wrote about my newish music selling business (Feb. 21), letting you in on some of the stuff I’ve been doing for the past six months, and providing links to my then-seven online shops. Well, I’ve made some changes. I’ve closed down two of the shops (on Bonanza and e-Record Fair) and I’ve created my own new music and audio website! I’m very excited about it. It’s called Scott’s Music Shak and it’s now open for business! If you don’t want to click the link I’ve supplied in this sentence, the URL is: https://scottsmusicshak.com/. It’s mainly a shop, and features a number of “Collections,” where most music lovers should be able to find something that interests them. I’ve only put in some initial inventory, but I’m going to be adding more on a near-daily basis. The Collections are “Vinyl,” “CDs,” “Cassettes,” “Accessories & Components,” “Rare & Collector’s Items,” and “Under $10.” I also display some Featured items at the top of the homepage, while I have a live Instagram feed at the bottom of the homepage. The Collections are toward the bottom of the home page, while a link to my entire Catalog is in the menu at the top of the homepage. At this point, I have 63 items in my Catalog, but I’m going to adding hundreds. It’s very time consuming to do so, so I can only add so many per day.

In addition to my catalog, there’s an “About” section, a section on the Goldmine Grading Standard, my Terms, and a “Blog/News” section, where I posted something today (“Are You Truly An Audiophile?“), as a matter of fact. Indeed, I’d be grateful to anyone who headed over there to check my Blog/News section out and possibly leave any comments, should they wish to. I’d also be grateful to anyone who wanted to suggest things I should add or delete or change or create (if possible), etc. I’ve done most that I can, but I could always potentially do a few other things. Finally, I’d love a couple of sales, if anyone feels extra supportive or inspired. I’m still learning how these transactions work. On my other shops that I’ve had (and I still have a few, though I’ll probably be closing or changing 1-3 others), the platform/website I’ve used has always handled the transactions automatically, sending me emails and texts when a new sale came in. This system is a little different and I have to be more proactive in how I go about things, so there’s a bit of a learning curve. I guess you could say I need and would appreciate some practice. LOL!

 

Scott's Music Shak

 

Anyway, I just wanted to announce the opening of my new website. I’m pretty excited about Scott’s Music Shak, and I have high hopes for it. I’ve done fairly well in a couple of my shops and I’d like to transfer my success to this website. Please come visit and feel free to leave comments or email me or do anything you want there! Cheers!

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Subtle Changes To My Blog

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 2, 2018

Hi All,

I haven’t written a new blog post since the last one, but I’ve been working on updating my blog. I was nosing around some of my PAGES (as opposed to Posts) and was horrified at how out of date some of the information was. For instance, my beloved wife of five years was still listed as my “girlfriend!” Geez. That’s bad. So, I spent some time updating some of my sections, and I thought I would key in any of you who might be interesting in seeing or reading over the changes.

First of all, I changed the About section at the top (upper left) section of the page. While I retained some of the older material, I both updated it (from one cat to two) and added some newer relevant material (entrepreneur, audiophile, etc.). So, if you want an updated bio to find out where I’m at these days, there you have it.

I also added some books to my Favorite Books section. Two new novels, one new work of nonfiction, five new science fiction novels, and one I call a “Straggler,” that doesn’t fit anywhere else. I don’t have links for all of these books to Goodreads or Amazon, and maybe I should, and I really don’t think I have the time to do so, but it’s a good idea I just thought of, but in the meantime, there are some good books listed there that might appeal to a lot of people, so feel free to check them out.

One of the biggest changes I made was to my Find Me Here section. First of all, some of the websites and social media sites were outdated to the point of no longer existing, so I had to make some edits. Secondly, I had sites listed followed by hyperlinks. So 2013. I thought why not make the site words themselves the hyperlinks? That’s only the obvious thing to do. So that’s what I did! Check that page out, please!!! You’ll notice two Instagrams and two Twitters. That’s because I have an individual account for each and a music business site for each. They’re both listed separately to make it easy to know which you’d be accessing. I have 13 links/sites listed there at the moment, and while there are more I may add in the near future, I thought that was a good place to start. And I need followers on my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter music business pages, so please feel free to drop by and follow me in those places. Also, feel free to make recommendations or requests, because I’m totally open to all.

Next, I briefly updated my Penguins Fan Page, although not by much. It essentially takes you to my website, to my Pens fan page there, but it also admits that it’s not up to date, and that I want and need to update it, and I plan to as soon as I find the time. Not too much there, and I won’t blame you if you don’t feel like visiting that page, although I’d be grateful if you would, obviously.

Finally, as far as my PAGES went, I made substantial changes to the My Sports Teams page. I made a lot of additions, with links to all of the teams I follow. I added an MLB team, three NCAA football “teams of interest,” two NCAA men’s basketball teams, a second women’s basketball team, a second women’s softball team, a second women’s volleyball team, and two NFL “teams of interest” as well. All in all, there are 25 teams listed for 10 sports, ranging from high school to college to the pros. If you enjoy sports at all, by all means, check that page out and feel free to leave comments!

Okay. Those are the changes I made to my PAGES at the top of my blog. But I didn’t stop there. I made more changes to the lists and widgets on either side of my main blog wall. On the left, I changed my Twitter feed from @scottholstad to @scottsmusicshak. So too, I changed the Instagram feed from @scottholstad to @scottsmusicshak also.

On the right side of my blog, I deleted some obsolete blogs in the Blogroll, added a couple of Bookstores, and made some significant changes to the Music section, where I deleted over a half dozen groups, such as Hungry Lucy and Unto Ashes, while adding over a dozen new groups, such as KMFDM, Rammstein, Pet Shop Boys, Within Temptation, Flora Purim, Neal Schon and others, AND I added a number of audio companies, largely audiophile-quality companies for those interested in such things, such as Bryston, Klipsch, Pro-Ject, Krell, Rega, and others. If you’re willing to spend the money, you can find anything from affordable entry level audiophile-quality turntables from Pro-Ject for $500 to Bryston amps for $6,500 to a Rega RP-10 turntable for $7,000 all the way to the new McIntosh XRT2.1K loudspeaker system for a small, little $130,000/pair. Yeah, you read that right. But hey, if you’re a REAL audiophile, you find ways to feed your obsession, right? Heh. Finally, I added a new section called Boutique Computers, listing some of my favorite custom designed and built computers and the companies that make them beneath the heading. It’s a long story and the subject for a blog post some time, but suffice it to say that after experiencing some unexpected tech disasters in the spring of 2017, I decided to go high end with the idea of very high end for a very long time with the goal of expandability, so I had a “boutique” computer custom built for me, realized I had been short sighted and that it wasn’t sufficiently expandable, returned it, had another with 34 drive bays started being built by the same company, but work on it got bogged down, I grew impatient with what I viewed as their ineptitude, so I cancelled our contract, and I went elsewhere. I ended up with a Xidax X-8 Glacier, the specs of which are pretty awesome. I could have gone even more awesome, and maxed out some rigs to see how much it would cost to go uber awesome. The Falcon Northwest Mach V maxed out at $24,000 while the Digital Storm Aventum was just about $30,000! For a tricked out PC. One that would still be tricked out five years from now. But the Xidax I got cost a great deal less and will still be a quality computer five years from now and has enough storage capacity to last me at least 10 years or more, and that’s what I was looking for after a quality processor and quality GPUs. Anyway, like I said, a story for a different blog post….

And I guess that’s about it. For now. Next, I’m going to have to write another “real” blog post, eh? I’ll try to do so sooner than it took me last time. By the way, in my last post, I mentioned that I have seven online shops at the moment, although I’m trying to close two of them. I’m also considering opening my own e-commerce-based website, my own shop, and shutting down all but one of these shops (because this one, on an audiophile site, gives me lots of sales), but that would be a major commitment, both in time and money, and I’d lose the global audience that’s built into some of these sites for the uncertainty of people not ever knowing about or ever finding my own new site. So, it’s a bit of a gamble. But I wouldn’t have to pay all of these fees for transactions, I wouldn’t get banned from listing items because I’ve allegedly listed “too many” of a certain type — when I’ve never listed ANY of that type before! — I’d have complete control over my inventory and pricing, my marketing and promotion, and my social media sites could all point to my website instead of my Facebook site — which has not translated into sales at all — and ideally, if I could get people to jump to a “landing page” on my site and enter their email for a discount or a promotion of some sort, I’d be able to send out email newsletters on a semi-regular basis, maybe weekly or bi-weekly, offering both tips and promotions, which is what you’re supposed to be doing to get sales, according to all the data. So, if anyone reading this has any opinion on this gamble, I’d love to hear it. I think longterm, the good outweighs the bad, but upfront, it would be a massive timesuck, a hell of a commitment, and I’d have to work very hard to get people to notice this site. But it couldn’t be any worse than several shops I have right now, so I don’t see what I have to lose in that regard. I really only have 2-3 sites where I’m selling anything, really only two, and I’d be glad to dump the rest in exchange for full control over my own inventory, pricing, shipping, listings, promotions, everything. Lemme know your thoughts and thanks!

Okay, have a great weekend everyone. Cheers!

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Selling Music Online…

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 21, 2018

Audiophiles

McIntosh XRT2.1K Loudspeaker System: $130,000

 

Hi! Sorry it’s been so long. Obviously, per my recent posts, my life has changed a lot, and I have a lot less time and energy to blog. It’s not that I don’t want to; it’s just that between extremely poor health and other projects, it’s fallen down my list of priorities, unfortunately.

I thought I’d update you on one of my recent projects though. Among other things, I’ve turned my passion for music into a … business (?) … and I have opened a number of online shops where I’m selling new and used vinyl LPs, CDs, and cassettes, as well as audio components and accessories such as turntable mats, turntable cartridges, preamps, and speakers, among others. In addition, on a couple of my sites, I’m also selling a few “vintage” books and planning to add more. Furthermore, I have a couple of social media accounts at Instagram & Twitter where I post pictures and links to articles, posts, sales, & the like, so all of this keeps me very busy. I currently have seven – 7!!! – online shops, plus Instagram & Twitter, so thank goodness I can do all of this on my own schedule, eh?

 

Vinyl LPs

 

Seven shops are too many & I’m in the process of shutting one European one down right now. I then plan to shut another one down after that, leaving me with five. I may even trim it to four later, but for the time being, I have to get it down to five. I’m contemplating creating an e-commerce-based website for all of it, but that would be such a major time suck, PLUS I’d be on my own competing against the big boys and the littler ones, that I don’t know how feasible or wise that is.

I have been doing fairly well recently on one site that’s more audiophile-oriented: Discogs. I’m getting several sales a week there now, although at first it was hard to get going with no feedback. Now I have some, and I have orders out in the mail that should generate more when they arrive, ideally, so that’s been paying off. eBay has allowed me to sell some albums, as well as a few components & accessories. The site is really strange, though, because as soon as you’ve had a successful sale in an area, they WON’T let you list another related item for THREE MONTHS to penalize you (?) I guess, although they’re also penalizing themselves too, financially. How stupid is that??? So, when I went to list some preamps recently, because I had sold one, the site wouldn’t let me. More bizarrely, when I went to list a set of Klipsch speakers, the site said I was past my limit, although I’d never listed and obviously had never sold speakers there before! WTH? So, eBay isn’t making me happy these days, although I just sold an LP from there yesterday. Thus, I’m actually using more than one account with them.

 

Scott's Music Shak & Shop

 

My main site, although NOT my main selling site, is a Facebook Page: Scott’s Music Shak & Shop. I’m trying to get it known as a music and audio resource, a place people can come to for good content, photos, videos, polls, and yes, a Shop. While the Shop has not taken off, for whatever reason, some of the articles have gotten quite a few hits, or “reaches.” Some of the things I’ve posted about, whether writing them myself or sharing other posts, have included how to clean your vinyl, the top 30 goth albums of all time, how to rip your vinyl to your computer, Jeff Beck’s only Top 10 album, the Goldmine Grading Standard (the most hits of any post to date), cork turntable mats, the top “smooth jazz” albums of the ‘80s, what a preamp is & why it’s important, what a DAC is, etc. Possibly for budding audiophiles & the like then, as well as most music fans.

Meanwhile, what kind of music am I selling? Both new & used, as I said. On Discogs, the majority of my inventory is industrial, followed by goth, hard rock, electro, alternative rock, blues, classic rock, EBM, techo, experimental, funk, indie, pop, synth-pop, jazz fusion, & so on. In my inventory, I list over 40 different genres. I also have a variety of rare & hard to find items, such as an Australian promo copy of Nitzer Ebb’s Showtime, a very scarce (especially in the U.S.) Russian copy of The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night with the text in English and Russian, mostly Russian, with the labels virtually entirely in Russian, and an incredibly rare unreleased Czech promo copy of Iron Maiden’s Killer LP. I’ve only found one other dealer in the world selling this one, & it’s very valuable. I also do custom searches for people for specific titles or groups. I’m doing one now for a customer in Italy who’s a Linkin Park fan. I’ve found him a couple of Russian titles he doesn’t own & a couple of Australian titles, one quite rare, he doesn’t own, so that’s good. Meanwhile, I’m searching for some Japanese titles for him that are proving difficult to find.

 

 

If you know anything about online selling, you know that it can be slow going. I’ve done a lot of research, read books, even signed up for a class, and I know the stats, the standard thoughts & beliefs, etc., so I’m thinking long term strategy, but sometimes it’s hard to be patient. The good news is, I’ve only been doing this for three months, and all the research I’ve done on Etsy, for instance, has indicated that it’s common to go six, nine, or even 12+ months before you get your first sale. Well, I just opened my shop there about a month ago, & I’ve had two sales there now & hope to have more as I learn more online marketing strategies. And at my more “established” (a whole additional month – wow!!!) shops, I’ve been getting more sales, particularly at Discogs, over the past month, so things are trending upwards. This is good & necessary, because I sank a lot of money into acquiring a lot of cleaning, packing, & shipping supplies, as well as some inventory to supplement my existing inventory. I’m determined to provide the best shopping experience possible, and that means I pack better than anyone, I use the best, thickest, most protective outer sleeves on my vinyl, I ship within 24 hours, I communicate well & respond to any communications quickly & effectively. And I offer additional services, such as the accessories & components & custom searches (the searches are free) for anything & everything. I can’t get anything, but I can get many-to-most things for customers. So far, my feedback has been 100% positive & my only frustration has been that not everyone who has bought from me has left me feedback, which hurts me & my reputation as a seller, & I know it’s not because they were dissatisfied, because if they had been, they would have contacted me about it, but they didn’t, so obviously, they were okay-to-pleased with their purchases. So, that doesn’t make me happy, but there’s nothing I can do about it. In any event, I really enjoy doing this & I’m doing this not only to earn a few dollars (and that’s ALL I’m earning – a few…), but because I really love it. I love making other people happy with music & being able to act as a resource for others when possible.

Naturally, I’d love it if any of my blog readers were to visit any of my shops. I’d love it if any of you liked or followed me at the sites that allow that, & of course, I’d be grateful for any sales too! But by no means feel obligated. I doubt any of you will, but I had to put that in there. However, if you do visit my shops, you may notice some crossover in some of them, i.e., some postings of the same item in a couple of the shops. Most of the time, that’s because I intend to be shutting down one of those shops in the near future and am trying to get all of the inventory at those shops listed elsewhere before I do. But you should encounter original items at each shop too, especially at Discogs, Facebook, & eBay, to a lesser extent. So, please visit. Also, please follow me on Instagram & Twitter. Let me know you’re coming from my blog to ensure I follow you back, and I’m thinking of the best way to give out a promotion to my blog readers on purchases you may make. How about this: I’ll refund my blog readers 15% off any item they purchase UNDER $100!! In order to get that refund, you’ll have to email me to let me know what you purchased when, & provide this blog post’s URL, as well as the item’s URL, title, cost, etc. You’ll also have to provide me with your PayPal email address, because I only take PayPal everywhere except Facebook, which only allows me to take Stripe. I’ve never refunded anyone on Stripe, but I’m sure I can learn how, & I now know how on PayPal, so send all of this info to me at scottsmusicshak AT gmail DOT com after you’ve made your purchase, and I’ll refund you, ideally, within 48 hours. Sound good? Sound like a deal? Cool. I am now going to post links to my shop & my social media accounts. Once again, I’d be grateful to anyone who visits any of them. All of them have some to many original items, so overlook any cross-posted ones you may see. And feel free to offer suggestions too! I’m all ears. Thanks everyone. Cheers!

 

 

ACTIVE Online Shops

  1. Facebook Page: Scott’s Music Shak & Shop 
  2. Discogs
  3. Etsy: Scott’s Shak 
  4. eBid: Scott’s Shak
  5. eBay

Current Shops I Intend To Close

  1. e-Record Fair 
  2. Bonanza: scottsshak’s booth  

Social Media

  1. Instagram: scottsmusicshak
  2. Twitter: Scott’s Music Shak  @scottsmusicshak

 

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A Review of The New Analog: Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital World

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 1, 2018

The New Analog: Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital WorldThe New Analog: Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital World by Damon Krukowski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is more than just a simple “back to vinyl” sermon, refreshingly. It’s a highly scientific and socio-psychological look at the history of recorded music, the transition from analog to digital, and what that means to people and society.

Damon Krukowski writes as a musician, music fan, and techno nerd, yet mixes this all together quite skillfully. He writes about context, signal, and noise in ways that will make sense to most readers.

Krukowski writes that people hear in stereo sound. That having two ears allows us to make the small, even tiny, mental distinctions providing much-needed context for the world around us. He tells one story, among others, of a person falling over while riding a bicycle wearing earbuds because, while they were focused on the sounds that were being delivered in their ears, they weren’t able to integrate and HEAR other sounds in the world around them. Krukowski asserts that our stereo hearing is incredibly accurate for providing context for what we actually hear (and need to hear, for the most part) while our brains separate signal from noise.

And what’s the distinction? The author explains that signal is the foregrounded sound we’re supposed to concentrate on, ie., music in this case, while noise is the allegedly “unnecessary” sounds that interfere with our being able to focus on signal. The role of technology in separating signal from noise provides the allegedly purer sound that one obtains through digital transmission, eliminating noise entirely. But the question is, is music without (analog) noise what we really want to hear? Krukowski makes the case that it is not.

Krukowski’s “The New Analog: Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital World” skillfully examines the science, physiology, and effects of the changes from analog sound to digital sound, not only over time, but now in the rapidly changing musical media world in which we live. By putting our audio experience of recorded music into a bigger context of how people interact with the world, he offers a more intricate view than many who bemoan the emergence of digital music as it’s experienced through devices like head phones, iPods, and even smartphones. He argues that the digital delivery of music replacing analog, tactile music has largely been responsible for the loss of community represented by now many distant-memory record stores where people could hang out, chill, and talk with others about music and other similar interests, while shopping for tangible, artistic items of value that one can hold and play and hear signal WITH noise. He then calls for the re-introduction of the noisy environment once surrounding all music, that would lessen the near-total isolation with which people now experience music.

The only reason I am giving this book 4 stars instead of 5 is that he sometimes gets caught up in going seriously too far into hard technology that one might need an engineering degree to fully appreciate, and the middle has an extended section that drags a bit as a result. However, he ultimately delivers a very thoughtful analysis at how rapid technological change leads to unanticipated social consequences that aren’t always good. A very interesting and decent book and recommended for all audiophiles, vinyl (and CD) enthusiasts, and music lovers in general.

View all my reviews

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Favorite Songs by Decade

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 18, 2016

My Favorite Songs by Decade

Recently, Gretchen and I were listening to our favorite DJ, Richard Blade, on our favorite radio station, First Wave, on SiriusXM as he interviewed The Cure’s Robert Smith, one of my favorite singers from one of my favorite bands. Gretchen can’t stand him. Richard asked him an interesting question and I was surprised by Robert’s answer. The question was for him to name his top 30 songs from the 1980s. A tough question to answer. Since The Cure started out as post-punk in the late 1970s, before quickly transitioning to goth (which they’re still known as by most fans), and later simply as an alternative band, one of the biggest in the world, I was expecting mostly songs by alternative bands, as well as a few goth bands. I was surprised by the answer because that was not at all the case. It was a diverse mixture of songs from all genres and I thought that was very interesting. And it got both of us thinking about what our lists would look like. So we decided to make our own lists.

When I sat down to make my list of my favorite ‘80s songs, I knew it would be very long and I’d have to make some hard cuts. That’s exactly what happened. I initially chose close to 100 songs. Then I started cutting. The first 20 were pretty easy, but after that, it got surprisingly hard. Each song had merit. Each song deserved to be on the list. But I had to keep cutting. Finally I got down to 50 and had to stop. I couldn’t go any further. There was simply no way I could cut any from my list of 50 and have any integrity that the list would be a complete list of my top songs from that decade. So I was finished. When Gretchen did hers, she was much more brutal and ended up with 30. When we shared them with each other, to no one’s surprise, they were very different. There was almost no crossover. While I had a lot of new wave, goth, and industrial, she had almost none of that. It was interesting.

So interesting, we wondered what a list of the 1990s would look like. That decade is one of her favorites, while it’s one of my least favorites. Or so I thought. I didn’t think I could come up with enough songs, but Gretchen challenged me to do so, so I sat down and started thinking. And to my shock, I was able to come up with a few songs. I really don’t think much good music was made during that decade. At all. Gretchen loves the music from that decade, but I think it’s a lost decade. Nonetheless, I was able to compile a shortish list and when I was done, I counted how many songs I had and to my surprise, I had exactly 40. Since I didn’t really want to cut any of them, I decided to keep them all and left my list at 40. When Gretchen did her list, it was 30 again. And again, our lists were very different. While Gretchen’s was mostly grunge, pop alternative, and alternative, mine was mostly industrial, alternative, electronica, world, and metal.

This brought us to the gigantic decade: the 1970s! Since we both grew up in that decade, it would be a gigantic challenge because there would be so many songs to choose from. When I sat down to work on mine, little did I know it would take me three days. I also decided to cut as I went, instead of writing down all of the songs and then cutting after I had written them all down. So as I was writing, I cut well over 125 songs as I went along. When I was finished, I had a list of 128 songs! I have gone over and over that list to see what else I can cut, but I cannot bring myself to cut a single one. After all, I’ve already cut 125 as I was compiling the list. Many classics I love didn’t make the list. But the list is long. I wanted it to be no longer than 75 songs. However, that proved to be impossible. There are too many good bands, too many good songs. I simply can’t cut, so to my shame, I’m leaving my list at 128 songs. And Gretchen? She wants to make her list, again, 30 songs, but she hasn’t done hers yet. I am begging her to do at least 50 because 30 won’t be a fair representative of that decade, but she seems determined. And my list? It’s comprised of classic rock, disco, soul, metal, new wave, arena rock, and a couple of punk songs. A big variety of music.

Gretchen will probably want to do a list from the year 2000-. While I like some music from that decade, it’s mostly some “new” rock and I’m tired even of that, so I doubt I’ll do any more lists. I think these three are enough for me. I’m going to post all three in this blog post, in order of decade, from oldest to most recent. I’m sure no one will agree with many or most of my choices, but that’s the beauty of lists, subjectivity, and free will. Anyone can make a list of their own and they can all differ as much as they want. Whatever the case, I hope you enjoy seeing my eclectic lists. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into these, for no good reason other than the fun of it. Cheers!

 

Scott’s Top ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s Songs

Top ‘70s Songs

1. AC/DC — Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

2. AC/DC — Highway to Hell

3. The B-52’s — Rock Lobster

4. Billy Squire — The Stroke

5. Black Sabbath — Paranoid

6. Black Sabbath — Iron Man

7. Boston — More Than a Feeling

8. Boston — Foreplay/Long Time

9. Boston – Don’t Look Back

10. The Cars — Good Times Roll

11. The Cars — My Best Friend’s Girl

12. Cheap Trick — Dream Police

13. Chic — Le Freak

14. Chicago — 25 Or 6 To 4

15. Chic Corea & Return to Forever – You’re Everything

16. Christopher Cross — Ride Like the Wind

17. Chuck Mangione — Feels So Good

18. The Commodores — Brick House

19. The Commodores — Sail On

20. David Bowie — Changes

21. David Bowie — Ziggy Stardust

22. David Bowie — Suffragette City

23. Deep Purple — Smoke On the Water

24. Deep Purple — Space Truckin’

25. The Eagles — Hotel California

26. The Eagles — The Long Run

27. Earth, Wind & Fire — September

28. Earth, Wind & Fire – Let’s Groove

29. ELO — Mr. Blue Sky

30. Elton John — Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

31. Elton John — Island Girl

32. Fleetwood Mac — The Chain

33. Foreigner — Cold As Ice

34. Foreigner — Hot Blooded

35. Gary Numan — Cars

36. Gary Numan — Down in the Park

37. Heart — Barracuda

38. Heart — Magic Man

39. Heart — Crazy On You

40. James Taylor – You’ve Got a Friend

41. Jeff Beck — Led Boots

42. Jeff Beck — Blue Wind

43. Jeff Beck — People Get Ready

44. Jefferson Starship — Miracles

45. Jefferson Starship — Jane

46. Jethro Tull — Aqualung

47. Jethro Tull — Cross-Eyed Mary

48. Jethro Tull — My God

49. Jethro Tull — Locomotive Breath

50. Jethro Tull — Thick As a Brick

51. Jethro Tull — Bungle In The Jungle

52. Jethro Tull — Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of A New Day

53. John Lennon — Imagine

54. Journey — On a Saturday Night

55. Journey — Hustler

56. Journey — Feeling That Way

57. Journey — Wheel in the Sky

58. Joy Division — Isolation

59. Kansas — Dust In the Wind

60. Kansas — Carry On Wayward Son

61. KC & The Sunshine Band – That’s the Way (I Like It)

62. KC & The Sunshine Band — Get Down Tonight

63. KISS — Rock and Roll All Nite

64. KISS — Detroit Rock City

65. The Knack — My Sharona

66. Kool & the Gang — Celebration

67. Kool & the Gang — Get Down On It

68. Led Zeppelin — Good Times Bad Times

69. Led Zeppelin — Communication Breakdown

70. Led Zeppelin — Stairway to Heaven

71. Led Zeppelin — Rock and Roll

72. Little River Band — Cool Change

73. Lynyrd Skynyrd — Gimme Three Steps

74. Lynyrd Skynyrd — Call Me the Breeze

75. Lynyrd Skynyrd — Free Bird

76. Michael Jackson — Off the Wall

77. Molly Hatchet – Flirtin’ With Disaster

78. Mott the Hoople — Sweet Jane

79. Mott the Hoople — All the Young Dudes

80. Pat Benatar — Heartbreaker

81. Pat Benetar — Hit Me With Your Best Shot

82. Paul McCartney & Wings — Silly Love Songs

83. Paul McCartney & Wings — Live And Let Die

84. Paul McCartney & Wings — With a Little Luck

85. Paul McCartney & Wings — Band On The Run

86. Paul McCartney & Wings — Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey

87. Paul McCartney & Wings — The Long And Winding Road

88. Paul McCartney & Wings — Listen to What the Man Said

89. Peter Frampton — All I Want to Be (Is by Your Side)

90. Peter Frampton — I Wanna Go to the Sun

91. Peter Frampton — Do You Feel Like We Do

92. Pink Floyd — One of These Days

93. Pink Floyd — The Great Gig In the Sky

94. Pink Floyd — Brain Damage

95. Pink Floyd — Welcome to the Machine

96. Pink Floyd — Have a Cigar

97. Pink Floyd — Wish You Were Here

98. Pink Floyd — Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)

99. Pink Floyd — Comfortably Numb

100. Pink Floyd — Run Like Hell

101. Queen — Bohemian Rhapsody

102. Queen – You’re My Best Friend

103. Queen – I’m In Love With My Car

104. Queen — Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)

105. Queen — We Will Rock You

106. Queen — We Are the Champions

107. Queen — Sheer Heart Attack

108. Queen — Get Down, Make Love

109. Rainbow — Man On the Silver Mountain

110. Ramones — Blitzkreig Bop

110. REO Speedwagon – Ridin’ the Storm Out

111. The Rolling Stones — Shattered

112. Rush — The Trees

113. Rush — Closer to the Heart

114. Rush — La Villa Strangiato

115. Sex Pistols — God Save the Queen

116. Styx — Renegade

117. Styx — Come Sail Away

118. Styx — Suite Madame Blue

119. Styx — Miss America

120. Supertramp — The Logical Song

121. Supertramp — Take the Long Way Home

122. Tom Petty — Refugee

123. Tom Petty – Don’t Do Me Like That

124. Van Halen – Runnin’ With the Devil

125. Van Halen — Eruption

126. Van Halen — And the Cradle Will Rock…

127. ZZ Top — Tube Snake Boogie

128. ZZ Top — Cheap Sunglasses

 

Top ‘80s Songs

1. Asia — Time Again

2. Bauhaus — Stigmata Martyr

3. Bauhaus — Telegram Sam

4. Bronski Beat — Why?

5. The Cars — Magic

6. The Church — Reptile

7. The Cult — Phoenix

8. The Cure — Pornography

9. The Cure — Fascination Street

10. David Bowie — Cat People

11. Duran Duran — A View to a Kill

12. Echo & the Bunneymen — Bedbugs and Ballyhoo

13. The Fixx — Are We Ourselves?

14. Front 242 — Welcome to Paradise

15. Front 242 — Headhunter, Vol. 1.0

16. INXS — New Sensation

17. KMFDM — Virus

18. Dead Can Dance — Black Sun

19. Love and Rockets — Ball of Confusion

20. Love and Rockets — No New Tale To Tell

21. Madonna — Into the Groove

22. Michael Jackson — Beat It

23. Ministry — Stigmata

24. Ministry — So What

25. Moev — Wanting

26. Nine Inch Nails — Head Like a Hole

27. Nine Inch Nails — Terrible Lie

28. Nitzer Ebb — Control I’m Here

29. Peter Murphy — All Night Long

30. Peter Murphy — Cuts You Up

31. Prince – Let’s Go Crazy

32. Queen — Another One Bites The Dust

33. REM — Feeling Gravitys Pull

34. REM — The One I Love

35. REM — Orange Crush

36. Red Hot Chili Peppers — Higher Ground

37. Rush — Tom Sawyer

38. Simple Minds — All the Things She Said

39. Simple Minds — Sanctify Yourself

40. Sinead O’Connor — Jerusalem

41. Sinead O’Connor — I Want Your (Hands On Me)

42. Sisters Of Mercy — Dominion/Mother Russia

43. Sisters Of Mercy — Lucretia My Reflection

44. Skinny Puppy — Tin Omen

45. The Smiths — Bigmouth Strikes Again

46. Tears for Fears — Shout

47. Thomas Dolby — Hyperactive

48. Tones On Tail — Go!

49. U2 — Bullet the Blue Sky

50. Van Halen – Panama

 

Top ‘90s Songs

1. AC/DC — Back In Black

2. Arrested Development — Tennessee

3. Bigod 20 — The Bog

4. The Chemical Brothers — Block Rockin’ Beats

5. Dead Can Dance — Yulunga (Spirit Dance)

6. Dead Can Dance — The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove

7. Dead Can Dance — Carnival Is Over

8. Death In Vegas — Dirt

9. Deee-Lite — Groove Is In The Heart

10. Deftones — My Own Summer (Shove It)

11. Depeche Mode — Enjoy the Silence

12. Depeche Mode — Policy of Truth

13. Depeche Mode — Barrel Of A Gun

14. Faith & the Muse — The Trauma Coil

15. Faith No More — Epic

16. Jane’s Addiction — Been Caught Stealing

17. Jesus Jones — Right Here Right Now

18. Lisa Gerrard — Sanvean: I Am Your Shadow

19. Manufacture — As The End Draws Near

20. Manufacture — A Measured Response

21. Marilyn Manson — The Beautiful People

22. Marilyn Manson — Rock Is Dead

23. My Dying Bride — Your Shameful Heaven

24. My Dying Bride — Turn Loose The Swans

25. My Dying Bride — She Is The Dark

26. My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult — A Daisy Chain 4 Satan

27. Nine Inch Nails — Broken

28. Nine Inch Nails — Hurt

29. Nitzer Ebb — Lighting Man

30. Rage Against The Machine — Killing In The Name

31. Rage Against The Machine — Wake Up

32. Rammstein — Sehnsucht

33. Red Hot Chili Peppers — Under The Bridge

34. Revolting Cocks — Stainless Steel Providers

35. Skinny Puppy — Tormentor

36. Sonic Youth — Kool Thing

37. Tool — Stinkfist

38. Type O Negative — Black No. 1

39. Type O Negative — Love You To Death

40. Type O Negative — Burnt Flowers Fallen

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A Review of Man on the Run

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 3, 2016

Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970sMan on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s by Tom Doyle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Man on the Run is an interesting biography of Paul McCartney and his family during the 1970s, as well as his band, Wings (one of my favorite bands of that decade). It is a long, thorough look at the good, bad, and ugly and pulls no punches, even while it clearly sympathizes with McCartney.
The book begins with the messy breakup of the Beatles, centering around the very public feud between Paul and John, which was part of the impetus for Paul’s decision to legally file to dissolve the Beatles. However, the legal ramifications showed that there were financial problems for the group and led to even more, thus sending Paul into a spiral of depression that led to he and his wife, Linda, to move to a farm in Scotland, out of the spotlight. During this period, he also lost a great deal of his confidence he had had in his abilities as a musician, as well as his own identity. Thankfully, Linda helped him through this crisis. Without her devoted love, who knows what would have happened to Paul?

The McCartney family became hippies and lived the hippy lifestyle, but Paul missed being in a band and missed touring, something he had tried to talk the Beatles into doing again and which they had refused to do. So he decided to start his own band – Wings. I didn’t know this, but there were actually three incarnations of Wings, three different bands over the years, all with Paul and Linda in them. And they were all comprised largely of studio musicians, mostly unknown. In my opinion, it’s frankly amazing Wings achieved the success and prominence they did with such an unassuming group of musicians. They obviously did this only with Paul’s leadership and drive.

However, first Paul put out a couple of solo albums, although one was credited to both he and his wife. They were all largely critical failures. The first Wings group met, practiced, and put out Wild Life in 1971. I don’t actually recall how it initially did, but ultimately it reached number 11 in the UK and number 10 in the US. Indeed, Paul’s first “hit” was a political song called “Give Ireland Back to the Irish,” a song that was banned by the BBC. A 1972 non-hit was actually “Mary Had a Little Lamb, literally, which left both his band and the critics confused. Not Paul’s best decision. In 1973, Red Rose Speedway was released. It ultimately hit number 5 in the UK and number 1 in the US. In late 1973, the band got its first big break with Band on the Run, which immediately hit number 1 in both the UK and the US (the previous two albums achieved high chart status over time, not immediately). Band on the Run turned Wings into instant stars. 1973-4 hits include “Jet,” “Let Me Roll It, “ “My Love,” a major song that hit number one in the US, “Helen Wheels,” “Junior’s Farm,” “Band on the Run,” a huge hit that got to number three in the UK and number one in the US, and “Live and Let Die,” a theme song to a new James Bond movie and one that hit number two in the US.

And on it continued. After starting its career playing impromptu college student union tours for something like 50 pounds, Wings were now doing international stadium tours. And Paul could finally gloat over John, who had been taunting Paul publicly for years, basically calling him a giant failure while John, of course, was a musical genius. Not anymore. While John turned out the occasional hit, Paul McCartney and Wings were international stars selling out stadiums with superstar hit albums, something John couldn’t say. Paul could, temporarily, put his demons behind him.

However, there was a problem. Pot. He and Linda loved their pot. They smoked a lot of it. And they got it shipped to whatever country they were visiting on their tours. And in one country, Finland?, they were caught and it made international headlines. Of course, it was hugely embarrassing, but the couple actually embraced the moment and came out in favor of pot use and said they were in favor of legalizing it. Later in his career, Paul would be arrested in Japan for possession and it could have been a very serious situation. You should read the book to find out what happened.

Meanwhile, there were band personnel changes. Paul was a cheapskate and while he raked in millions, he paid his band members practically nothing at all. Finally, these session musicians would get fed up and state that they could make more doing session work back in New York or London, so they’d leave. Paul never really got the hint. It’s a shame. Still, he continued to put out good albums and tour with his new musicians.

In 1975, Venus and Mars was released and would ultimately hit number one in both the UK and US. 1975 hits included “Venus and Mars/Rock Show” and “Listen to What the Man Said, “ which would hit number one in the US. In 1976, Wings released two albums: Wings at the Speed of Sound and a live album, Wings over America. Both hit number two in America. They contained “Silly Love Songs,” which hit number two in the UK and number one in the US and “Let ‘Em In,” which hit number two in the UK and number three in the US. In 1977, “Mull of Kintyre” was released, instantly a huge hit in the UK, remaining at number one longer than any other song in British history until that time, I believe. However, in America, it didn’t fare so well, just getting to number 33.

It was at this time that Wings peaked. Already there was a third group of musicians and maybe it was chemistry, maybe Paul was burned out from the nonstop, frantic pace of the decade, I don’t know, but the following two albums weren’t nearly as good as the preceding albums by most accounts. In 1978, London Town was released. It didn’t do as well. Only Paul, Linda, and the lead guitarist were on the album cover because those were the only people in the band. It actually happens to be one of my favorite albums of all time, because I was a youngish kid when it came out and it was one of the first albums I had and my best friend and I listened to it over and over while building model planes. I love that album, but most critics do not. It’s not considered one of the better Wings albums, but it did hit number four in the UK and number two in the US. There were three singles released from this album, but the only one that really charted high was “With a Little Luck,” one of my all time favorite songs, which hit number five in the UK and number one in the US. Wings’ last gasp in the studio came in 1979 with Back to the Egg. It hit number eight in the UK and number three in the US. Its’ biggest single was “Getting Closer,” which made it to number 60 in the UK and number 20 in the US. And aside from some more solo work over the years, Paul was done and Wings were definitely done as a group. It was the end of an era. A highly successful era, a great decade of music, one of my favorite groups, as I said. And while the rest of the Beatles went on to do solo work and while John achieved some success, clearly Paul McCartney ended up the most successful Beatle of them all, post-Beatles. The best musician, the one who taught John and George how to play, ended up teaching Linda and helping his studio musicians put out a series of commercially successful albums and successful world tours, something the other Beatles rarely, if ever, achieved.

John sniped at Paul throughout most of their post-Beatles lives and Paul, on occasion, sniped back. Paul never really understood where John’s hostility came from, his utter hatred. Paul tried to make peace a number of times. There were a few times John seemed to accept the olive branch, only to blindside Paul later with public attacks that hurt Paul deeply. Fortunately, some time before John’s premature death, they buried the hatchet and reconnected, so that’s a very good thing and even though the author implies John was the major one to start things between the two, he treats all of the Beatles with reasonable respect and points out Paul’s faults when necessary.

The author stresses certain things that are important to Paul, such as family. He brought his family on the road with him, kids included. This sometimes made his band members uncomfortable, as it limited their abilities to lead the stereotypical 1970s rock and roll lifestyle (i.e., groupies), and it led to tension, but Paul was dedicated to his wife and kids and that’s generally a good thing. He was the only Beatle to have a 100% successful marriage/relationship. That’s impressive. He was also committed to financial honesty, at least in his dealings with the Beatles and in management’s dealings with the band. He figured out quite quickly that the manager the other three had hired had been screwing the band out of millions while paying the band crap, so he sued – and won – and was vindicated in doing so. The only difficulty with his financial honesty was in his dealings with his band because he stuck with his commitment to pay his band members their agreed upon wages, but when they struck it rich with their new number one hits and their world tours, he wouldn’t share the riches and it was truly rather greedy of him, unfortunately. A McCartney wart.

This hardback I read isn’t long, just over 250 pages. However, it’s packed with so much information and trivia, it takes longer to get through than your average 250 page book. Still, it’s informative and exciting and exactly what I’ve been looking for. I know a lot about the Beatles. I know a lot about John during the 1970s. What I didn’t know was what happened to Paul during the 1970s and the story of Wings and I didn’t know a book like this existed. So I’m elated to have discovered it and read it. I learned a ton of new information, some good, some bad, but all fascinating, and it answers a lot of questions I had about these people, that band, and that decade. For anyone who’s a fan of McCartney and Wings, this is a must read for you. Even if you’re just a Beatles fan or a 1970s music buff, this will be a good read for you. Four stars and definitely recommended.

View all my reviews

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End of the Year Post 2015

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2015

I wrote this blog post quite early this morning and didn’t post it. I wasn’t sure about it. Since then, I’ve reread it twice and have had second thoughts about posting it. I usually post an End of Year post on the last day of the year, but this one is too depressing, too negative. I don’t think I want to be a downer for my readers. Nonetheless, I’ve decided to post it after all, although I’m not sure it’s a great idea. It does, however, describe my year, which is my intent. If you’re not interested in reading a depressing or negative post, feel free to skip this one. No hard feelings. If you’re interested at all, feel free to read it though. Hopefully 2016 will be better for me/us and hopefully all of you will have a good 2016. Happy New Year!

 

On the last day of each year, I write a year in review post. Here are the links to the 2014 Year in Review blog post and the 2012 End of the Year blog post. I had a lot going on in both years. If you read them, you’ll note I had some health problems, particularly last year. Well, I’m about to write an abbreviated post for 2015. It’s abbreviated because this year was largely a personal disaster due to hideous, nightmarish health and pain problems and I/we didn’t really get to do very much at all.

In January, my mother celebrated her 85th birthday. Although she’s had a couple of bad falls this year with broken bones, she still is relatively good health and living alone in a condo in Knoxville, TN.

In February, I developed severe back pain to accompany my head and facial pain, out of the blue. It took time, but over the course of the year, I sought treatment from my orthopedist and a rheumatologist, as well as physical therapists. It seems I have spinal stenosis, degenerative disk disease, massive osteo-arthritis throughout my entire body, and a broken tailbone. They’re recommending surgery to remove my tailbone, probable spinal fusion surgery, and down the road, two hip replacement surgeries. My pain has been at about a 9.6 out of 10 level every day this year and virtually no pain medication helps.

About the same time, my head pain increased and got worse. My Trigeminal Neuralgia was joined by at least one, perhaps two, other types of head pain, which I have been trying to have diagnosed and treated all year, with little help. My two types of head and facial pain have been at a 9.6 out of 10 level every day, virtually all day all year long with virtually no relief from any pain medication. Any pain medication that used to be helpful is no longer useful. I now have three new diagnoses for additional types of head pain disorders, all three of which can be extremely painful, one of which is supposed to be the most painful condition known to mankind. I don’t know. My wife and I are convinced there’s another undiagnosed condition that has yet to be treated, since I’m responding to no treatment.

Since this spring, my longtime insomnia has worsened. I am averaging about three hours of sleep a night and am now, in fact, waking up and getting up between 11 PM and 12:30 AM. It sounds insane, but it’s true. That means I go to bed early, but I still get only two to three hours of sleep. I also can no longer successfully nap. I started falling asleep at red lights while out driving, and in chairs sitting up, and at doctor’s offices, and at church dinners, and my wife and I suspect I may have narcolepsy so I have an appointment with my sleep doctor in a few weeks to discuss this.

During the spring, somehow I was able to get to some of the concerts I was able to buy tickets for 2014 Christmas for my wife. Because of my health problems, we unfortunately had to blow some off and waste that money, but we did get to see Lewis Black, Weird Al Yankovic, The Who (which was awesome), and Barry Manilow, which was pretty much the highlight of my wife’s life. We blew tickets to Chicago and a Pittsburgh Penguins game. Oh well. We had good times.

In April, we celebrated our second wedding anniversary. It was pretty low key. It feels like we’ve been together for so much longer than that. We have a wonderful relationship and I’m very lucky to have Gretchen for a wife and best friend. April is also Gretchen’s birthday and so that was pleasant, although she’s not thrilled about getting older. I keep telling her she looks and acts infinitely younger than she is, looks at least 10 years younger than other women her age. I think she knows that intellectually, but still is annoyed with aging. I think she’s still sexy as hell. She always will be.

In July, I started going to a new neurologist who I didn’t like personally very much, but who, to his credit, did try some new things. He’s an egomaniac, but then many doctors are, I suppose. He’s given me a couple of Botox injection treatments so far and has tried a number of new medications on me, none of which have helped, but at least he’s trying.

Also, in July my head pain got even worse, if possible. Since I’m up 21 hours a day on average, it became 21 hours of pain a day, every day, without break. At a near 10 out of 10 scale, which combined with my back pain made life nearly unendurable. I applied to get into Vanderbilt’s Neurology Headache Clinic, which has a good reputation, thinking that after nearly six years of treatment in Chattanooga and only getting worse, I need to go elsewhere if I’m going to get better. July was also the second anniversary of my father’s death. It was a sad occasion.

I had my birthday in September. I suppose it was low key, as I remember nothing about it. This fall has been largely a blur, due to my pain status. I’ve been super focused, while also at the same time, largely oblivious. If that makes any sense. I particularly enjoy September and October because of sports. You have college football, the NFL, baseball, hockey just starting, college basketball just around the corner. It’s pretty awesome. I enjoyed watching my Pirates make the playoffs for the third straight year, watching my Tennessee Vols have a frustrating but ultimately successful 8-4 bowl year and my UCLA team have a winning bowl year, my Steelers have a injury-plagued year in which they still have a minor chance of making the playoffs and the hockey season, in which we paid for a year of NHL Gamecenter Live, in which you can watch any game you want – not on national TV – live for a one time set price. So I get to watch my Penguins quite often. If only they were playing up to their expectations and potential. It’s been disappointing so far. Of course, the UT Lady Vols are doing well so far, but they’ve had so many injuries, they’ve only been able to dress seven players lately, so it’s only a matter of time until they start losing many games and the men’s Vols basketball team has a great new coach, but not much talent while my Long Beach State team is having a rough year getting beat up by major teams like Duke.

In October, I finally got to go to Vandy. I was instructed to bring my medical records, so I spent two weeks and hundreds of my own dollars getting them, Gretchen took a vacation day, we drove six hours two ways, went to Nashville and met with a doctor who didn’t even want to look at my records, said they weren’t important, didn’t want to discuss my background with me, spent perhaps 15-20 minutes with me, prescribed a useless migraine medication for me, said I needed Botox immediately (so they scheduled me for three and a half months away) and, when Gretchen asked if we couldn’t just get this done in Chattanooga, reacted angrily and said it had to be done there. We left pretty ticked off at what waste of time and effort that was. I haven’t canceled my next appointment there yet, but I will. There’s no point in going. Meanwhile, my mom has stepped up to the plate and said she’ll pay for me to go anywhere to help get me fixed, cured, whatever. So, I’ve been researching Mayo, Johns Hopkins, the Cleveland Clinic, UCLA, etc. So far, Johns Hopkins would be convenient because that’s where Gretchen’s family lives, but Mayo seems most impressive by far. I’m not going to pursue it just yet though. Want to exhaust things here in town first.

In November, we traveled to Maryland to visit Gretchen’s parents, sons, and friends. It was a difficult trip for me health wise, but she had been wanting to go for months and we hadn’t been up there for a year and a half, so it was time. And we had a good time over Thanksgiving. It was good to see everyone. We also celebrated our one year anniversary of getting our kitten, Ace, who has become Gretchen’s baby. He’s now about 16 months old, and Henry just turned 10 years old, which is unreal because I can remember when he was just a month old, but they get along much better now and Ace is calming down a little bit finally. But just a little bit. Ace is also the most social, codependent cat I’ve ever seen in my whole life! He needs to be with people like nothing I’ve ever seen. He needs to be held. When we went to Maryland, we hired petsitters to come to the house twice a day to help mostly Ace. Henry is pretty independent and I’ve left him by himself for a good three days or so, but Ace couldn’t take even one day, I’m sure. It’s kind of sad. Cute, but sad. Nonetheless, we love them both and they add to our lives tremendously.

This month, we celebrated our five year anniversary of when we started dating. That’s always an exciting occasion for us and fun to remember. We also had a very subdued Christmas, which was somewhat anticlimactic. My pain was so severe and I was on so much pain medication, it was virtually impossible for me to function at all. My mother drove down from Knoxville to be with us on Christmas day and we exchanged a few gifts, nothing like last year. We couldn’t put up our tree this year like we’ve done in the past because of Ace. He goes wild. We put up a mini-tree we bought, with some lights and ornaments. That was destroyed the first night. We put up an old ceramic tree with plastic lights I’ve had for decades, but Gretchen thought better of it, so she got a little wooden tree with a string of lights and that was our tree. We didn’t even put presents out until the night before because Ace would destroy them. We try to control him, but we really can’t.

One year-long note. Early this year I was forced to drop my Obamacare and start using my Medicare I got last year when I went on disability. I had no idea how that would change my life. It’s been a nightmare. Medicare Part D is a freaking nightmare from hell! With Obamacare and BCBS, my monthly medical bills came to roughly $400 a month. With Medicare, I was quickly paying up to as much as $2,800 a month in medical bills, almost all of it prescriptions. One of my prescriptions alone had a co-pay of $800! That’s fucking insane! That total is more than double my disability check. How the hell am I supposed to pay for that? And I have no choice. As long as I’m on disability – and there’s no way I can work – I have to be on Medicare and as long as I’m on Medicare, I’m stuck paying thousands a month for medical/prescription bills. It’s unfair and cruel and I resent it like hell. It’s practically ruined my life even more. Thanks for the added stress, government. Thanks for practically bankrupting me. Appreciate it.

Well, I guess that’s about it for 2015. It was truly a horrible year. Probably worse than 2011, perhaps. I don’t know that 2016 will be any better, but I’m hoping it will be because we intend to aggressively pursue medical treatments for my back and head and solutions and ways to diminish and end my pain. I don’t know if that’s possible or reasonable, but dammit, we’ve got to try. My wife, meanwhile, has her good job, although without insurance, and Obamacare just doubled her premium, so we can no longer afford it, so that’s just great. So she’s actually thinking about looking for a new job next year, which would mean leaving her nice, cushy job that’s so great otherwise. Pity. I hope anyone reading this has a pleasant New Year and a wonderful 2016. Cheers!

 

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Weird Al Concert

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 9, 2015

Friday night was the Weird Al Yankovic concert in Knoxville. Back at the beginning of the year, I found out about it and bought tickets because my wife, Gretchen, is a HUGE fan. She knows all of his songs and all of the lyrics. When I told her about it, she was so excited and was disappointed she’d have to wait so long to see him. Well, the day finally arrived. Bear in mind that, for months, I’ve been having to deal with significant head and back pain. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t have any. So I was concerned. And in fact, I had some. A lot. Gretchen said we didn’t have to go, but I had to, we had to, she had to see her show. So we left Chattanooga at 4:30 and made the two hour drive to Knoxville and checked into our hotel and got a bite to eat.

Let me interject. The day before the show, I got a voicemail from someone from CID Entertainment telling me I had bought the VIP package and I’d have to pick up my tickets, not at Will Call, but in a different building entirely. Additionally, there’d be gift bags and a party. I called the next day, the day of the show, to confirm this and indeed I had bought VIP tickets. No wonder they were so damn expensive. I just thought they were cause they were in the third row. Oh well. Sadly, we couldn’t make the party. We hadn’t known about it in time and just couldn’t make it. But we got our gift bags and got the tickets and we went into the Tennessee Theater, which is a beautiful theater where we had seen comedians and concerts before. The show was sold out. We got Gretchen a concert t-shirt and she was excited. Then we found our seats. They were aisle seats, which I normally like, but in this case, they weren’t that great, even though they were close to the stage. There was a huge screen as the backdrop and I could only see part of it because I was simply cut off from seeing the whole thing. Oh well.

The show began promptly at 8 PM. On the screen, Weird Al appeared. He was outside somewhere singing his hit, “Tacky.” He was walking and singing. Soon it appeared as though he were actually outside in Knoxville near the theater. Soon it became apparent he WAS and he was walking toward the entrance, singing, and soon he entered the theater and made his way into the theater from the back and came down the aisle before going up onto the stage, all the while on the screen. It was a pretty awesome entrance.

He sang several songs from his new album, Mandatory Fun, and then spent the rest of his time singing old favorites. I knew the newer stuff, as I have the album, but as I’ve never been a real fan, I didn’t know a lot of the older stuff, although Gretchen had played some of it for me, so I did recognize some of it. He came out for one encore and it was pretty great. The crowd went wild for him all night. The crowd was interesting in that there were people our age, young people, old people, teens, and little kids. A lot of little kids. And every single person there was a nerd. I’ve never been around so many nerds in my life. It was hilarious. After the show, I was still feeling pretty wretched, so we would normally have a drink or two, but we just went back to our hotel room and I passed out. Still, it was a good night and I’m glad we did it and Gretchen was really happy, so that made me happy. Here are some pictures.

 

Weird Al singing "Tacky"

Weird Al singing “Tacky”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "Dare To Be Stupid"

Weird Al singing “Dare To Be Stupid”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "Fat"

Weird Al singing “Fat”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "I Want To Be Your Lover"

Weird Al singing “I Want To Be Your Lover”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al going out into the crowd

Weird Al going out into the crowd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "Amish Paradise"

Weird Al singing “Amish Paradise”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "The Sage Begins"

Weird Al singing “The Sage Begins”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen wearing her new Weird Al concert t-shirt

Gretchen wearing her new Weird Al concert t-shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

A Review of Comfortably Numb

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 21, 2015

Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink FloydComfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd by Mark Blake

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! After reading this book, I’ve come to the conclusion that Roger Waters was one of the biggest assholes who has ever lived. He was/is a freakin’ monster! A bully. A grouch. Never happy. Always has to be right. Always has to win. Always has to have the last word. Confrontational. Critical as hell. A royal dick. To everyone. Especially to David Gilmour. And Richard Wright. He generally spared Nick Mason.

This is one of the most comprehensive rock bios I’ve ever read, starting out with the group’s boyhoods in Cambridge in the 1950s to their forming the band in the mid-60s. Of course, Syd Barret was the singer and guitar player and was charisma personified. This book probably is probably one fourth about Syd, which irritated the hell out of me and nearly knocked it down a star. I’ve never understood the writer’s, fan’s, and band’s obsession of and love for Syd Barret. Floyd’s classic album Wish You Were Here was made as a tribute to Barret and just about every album they produced had songs that were tributes to him. Yet he was only with the band for one fucking album!!! The first one. The band has been in existence for 50 years and he was with the band for about two, so get the fuck over him people. Damn! He wasn’t even that good. And six months into their first album’s existence, he went insane. Too many drugs, mostly pot and LSD. Lots and lots of acid, daily. He burned himself out. He went from being a fun, eccentric, vibrant young man with lots of promise to a basic corpse on stage who couldn’t/wouldn’t sing and just let his guitar hand around his neck without playing it. So the band hired their friend David Gilmour to come in and back Barret up, to play the guitar for him and even sing the songs, all the while pretending it was Syd. But that didn’t last very long. After about six months of that, one night the band decided not to pick Syd up for a show. And then they didn’t the next night. And after that, he was gone.

Pink Floyd got their start playing at the UFO, a psychedelic club in London where they were the house band and everyone was tripping. When their first album came out, it generally got decent reviews and made them minor stars. They were doing what was called acid rock or space rock, take your pick. After Syd left, they had to find a new songwriter, so Roger took that role on his shoulders and became the band’s de facto leader. He wrote the songs, with minor contributions from the others and Gilmour sang. Gilmour was apparently an excellent guitar player, while Waters was a mediocre bassist, but he was an ideas man and felt good about that.

Their next few albums got decent reviews, but weren’t huge sellers and their record company was begging them for a hit single. Finally, they produced the all time classic, Dark Side of the Moon, which stayed on the charts for an amazing 14 straight years. That changed everything. It went to number one in many countries, made them superstars, and made them rich. And they went on tours. Big tours. Expensive tours. Tours that Waters became dictator of in regards to everything in every detail.

Wish You Were Here and Animals came out over the next few years and sold well. Everyone seemed to know the first one was the band’s tribute to Syd, who by this time was quite ill. But Gilmour was watching out for him, making sure he was getting his royalties and being taken care of. Around this time, Waters had had enough of Wright, who he thought wasn’t contributing enough, so he got the band to fire him, which was stunning. Wright’s keyboards played in integral role on virtually every Floyd song there was and he had even written some songs, so it was just a crazy power play. This didn’t sit well with Gilmour, who by this time was having a hard time even conversing cordially with Waters.

Meanwhile, Waters had a vision. He wanted to do a themed album, a brutal album about a rock star who goes crazy, gets power hungry, but is then redeemed at the end. In other words, himself. And Syd. He wrote the songs for The Wall and the band put it all together for a year and a half. The band hired Wright back, but not as a full member, rather as an hourly player with no credits. Somehow Wright agreed to this. When The Wall came out, it was a huge hit and Waters was flush with pride. And then they made it into a movie, starring Bob Geldoff as the main character. Waters hated Geldoff, but couldn’t do anything about the casting. The band went on a huge tour with some 200 roadies, all around the world, and made a killing, but Waters pissed everyone off so much, that a lot of people refused to ever speak to him again. Gilmour, by this time, hardly spoke to Waters, himself. He had had it with him. And Waters had had it with Gilmour. So he quit Pink Floyd and tried to dissolve the band. But Gilmour and Mason had other ideas. They wanted to keep the band going, with Wright, and still put out albums under the Pink Floyd name. Waters was incensed and sued them to stop it. He lost. Hah! Serves him right. He went on to do solo albums, none of which made a dent in the charts. He toured to crowds of 6,000 people, but claimed it didn’t bother him. Meanwhile, the remaining members of Pink Floyd gradually decided to do another album, after Gilmour put out his own solo album, which also didn’t sell. A Momentary Lapse of Reason was produced with Gilmour writing most of the songs, with the help of his then journalist girlfriend, later his wife. The album shot to number one everywhere and the band went out on huge stadium tours playing to 80,000 people at a time. Gilmour must have felt vindicated, but Waters couldn’t let it go, bitching that Gilmour could only do it with the help of his wife, that he didn’t have the talent to do it on his own. He also said the album sucked.

Fast forward a few years. There are more solo albums, by everyone. None sold well. The members of Pink Floyd decide to do another album and spend a good bit of time producing it. It hit number one on the charts too and they went on another big tour. During this tour, they played new stuff, very old stuff, including stuff from the first album, and the entire Dark Side of the Moon album. Recordings of the concert were later released as Pulse. Of course, Waters was immensely critical.

And that’s about it. Waters produced an opera that was mildly successful and allegedly mellowed in his 60s. The band reunited for Liveaid 8 around 2005 and there was speculation they’d get together again. Waters even indicated he’d be willing to, but Gilmour wouldn’t hear of it. He hated Waters too much. He turned down a $250,000,000 offer. The book ends with a new solo Gilmour album that becomes the band’s first solo album to sell successfully and with Gilmour finally finding some peace. And with Syd’s death in 2006. He lived very frugally, but to everyone’s surprise, was quite rich when he died. He left his money to his brothers and sisters. None of the band members attended the funeral. Syd was quite insane for most of his life. A pity.

One of the cool things about this book is the detailed descriptions of the covers and how they came about. How they were conceived and shot or drawn. You don’t usually get that in rock bios and I was glad to see that. You also get commentary on most songs on the albums. Pink Floyd is one of the most enduring and successful bands in rock history. This book does them justice and is definitely recommended for fans and anyone else.

View all my reviews

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Damyanti Biswas is an author, blogger, animal-lover, spiritualist. Her work is represented by Ed Wilson from the Johnson & Alcock agency. When not pottering about with her plants or her aquariums, you can find her nose deep in a book, or baking up a storm.