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Manti Te’o’s Top Five Playlist

We have it on good authority — well, ok, from an anonymous spokesman from the Grassy Knoll Institute for Conspiracy Studies — that the following songs are the five most played on  Manti Te’o’s iPod:

#5)  If The Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me — Jimmy Buffett

#4) You Won’t See Me — The Beatles

#3) Who’s That Girl — Madonna

#2) Imaginary Lover — Atlanta Rhythm Section

And last but not least,

#1) She’s Not There — The Zombies


Here Comes The Sun

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This morning I was amazed by some kind of new light shining in my window. It seemed to be coming from the sky. And the sky itself — it was some shade of blue, not gray.

What was this? We had torrential rain here in Walrustropolis continually from Sunday through Tuesday night, so it was a shock. Then it dawned on me (literally)  — it’s the sun!

I remember the sun. Warm, bright, welcoming as a good friend. I’d just started wondering if we’d ever see it again in the wake of Tropical Storm Debby. The slow-moving storm dumped a LOT of rain on our little corner of Central Florida. We’ve got some local flood damage, a few new sinkholes (the collection is getting quite impressive), and some other issues, but nothing catastrophic.

So we should be back to normal within a few days. Here comes the sun. And I say …..

Here Comes The Sun

Originality Is The Highest Form of Tribute

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There are some things I just don’t get when it comes to music. The ongoing popularity of The Doors, for example.  How bands such as Train can combine good music with God-awful lyrics.  Or why on earth Judas Priest recorded Joan Baez’s classic, autobiographical “Diamonds and Rust.”

But one of the biggest musical mysteries to me has always been impersonators and tribute bands. I just don’t understand why someone would want to perform in the persona of another artist — and why on earth people pay to see (and hear) them do it.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about COVER bands — a band that performs other people’s songs, but doesn’t try to look and sound exactly like the original artists. A good cover band can be a lot of fun, and a great one can really rock. But TRIBUTE bands that want me to suspend disbelief and think I’m seeing the original artist(s), not so much.

Take Elvis impersonators — please. Elvis Presley was a revolutionary. His arrival was a slap to the face of the stagnant, boring musical establishment of the 1950s. Elvis was cool, sexy, and most of all to the established order, dangerous  (Not as dangerous, perhaps, as the African-American artists whose style he emulated, but that’s another story). Elvis was nothing if not original.

I’ve seen Elvis impersonators, good and bad. I’ve seen imitation Elvii ranging in age from about 8 to roughly 60. And the one thing they have in common, both good and bad, is that they’re safe. They’re wholesome. They’re not dangerous. And that makes them emphatically NOT Elvis.

Same thing with Beatles tribute bands. I’ve seen a few, and while they’re very good at imitating the vocals, gestures and stage presence of the Liverpool legends, all the Faux Fours lack a certain something.– depth, say, or sincerity. Instead of John’s biting wit, Paul’s likable cuteness, Ringo’s goofy sense of fun and George’s spirituality, the tribute bands give us a “performance,” in the acting sense of the word. Once they step off that stage, they could be a completely different person, just waiting for their next acting gig.

I just don’t understand what makes people WANT to take on those personas. Is it insecurity that they’re not original enough to make it on their own? Plenty of folks prove otherwise every day. If you can sing like Elvis, you can sing, period. Why not be an authentic artist in your own right?

As for the audience, I know people want to see their musical heroes. I have a fairly long list of artists I’ll happily pay to see over and over again — think Springsteen, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Elton John — but there are plenty that I never had the chance to see.  I was too young to have seen the Beatles in their prime, and  I wasn’t born when Elvis was in his. I would love to have seen them then; I don’t want to see an imitation of them, no matter how faithfully reproduced, now. I’d rather make do with their recorded music, and with videos of their original performances.

Like so much in music, and in life,  it all comes down to originality and authenticity. Why would you want to be a second-rate member of the Prefab Four or an imitation Elvis when you could be an original, first-rate you?

Axl Rose Is Not Polite. Neither is Rock and Roll

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By now it’s old news that Axl Rose has declined induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The founder and namesake of Guns N’ Roses doesn’t want any part of the 26-year-old institution that wants to honor him and his band.

Rose has his reasons for rejecting the honor, and given the tensions among former GNR members, it’s probably just as well. And he’s not breaking new ground. The Sex Pistols also memorably snubbed the Hall a few years back, and didn’t phrase their rejection in as civil a manner.

In fact, the Pistols’ rejection was just like the group in its heyday — snide, obnoxious, in-your-face and not polite.

Just what rock and roll should be.

Don’t get me wrong. The Walrus plans to visit the Rock Hall someday, and most likely, will thoroughly enjoy said visit. Many of my favorite artists are enshrined there. But I’m still troubled by the question of why there should be a “hall of fame” in the first place for an art form that began as a loud, boisterous, even threatening form of rebellion. You can make the case that NONE of the artists inducted into the Rock Hall should be there — because the Hall itself shouldn’t exist. That’s just not what rock and roll is all about.

Think about it. The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, was a parent’s worst nightmare in the 1950s — A white singer who sounded black, singing with obvious passion and oh my, those hip swivels! We can’t have that on television — might give the kids ideas, y’know.

Others were no better. Jerry Lee Lewis, pounding that piano with a knowing leer. The flamboyant Little Richard tearing it up on both piano and vocals. Would you want your daughter — raised on a steady diet of Pat Boone — dancing to THIS?

Make no mistake — rock and roll was DANGEROUS in those days.

And the danger didn’t really abate. The Shangri-Las were a cute girl group, but you knew they’d cut you in a heartbeat. The Beatles might have looked innocent in 1964, but they wanted to do more than hold your hand. You could imagine getting mugged in a dark alley by the Rolling Stones. The Animals, The Kinks, The Doors, all had that kind of edge.

In the ’70s, there was Springsteen, KISS, Tom Petty. Then came the punks — The Ramones, Blondie, the Sex Pistols and many more. Rock and roll could be melodic, but it always carried a risk, an undercurrent of black leather, fast engines and switchblades. There’s a reason the rallying cry of the 70s was “sex, drugs and rock and roll.”

Nirvana, Metallica and other bands kept the tradition going in the ’90s. Nirvana member Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters have kept the faith into this decade.

The bottom line is simple. There has never been a time when rock and roll didn’t have at least a slight tingle of something anti-establishment, something forbidden about it.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame shatters that illusion, presenting rock and roll as mainstream Americana. The Hall not only admits children, it admits those under 8 years old FREE.


As Ray Davies put it when the Kinks were inducted, “Rock and roll has become respectable.”

But it shouldn’t be.

And Axl Rose is continuing the tradition of making sure it isn’t.

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