For what it’s worth…

Released a few months earlier, I didn’t hear this till early spring 1967. Driving to my maternal grandparents’ home in Milan, NY…a bit outside Red Hook in Duchess County. There was a family favorite coffee stop west of the Connecticut state line…and this was on the juke box.

Someone else had played it. I heard it and went to the juke box to see who this was, the name of the song. And played it another 3 or 4 times before we left and continued on to Milan.

Bought the 45 when I got back to Connecticut.

Couple guys we all eventually heard of, one from Texas, one from Canada, wrote a bunch of songs together, singing and playing in the band. Stephen Stills, Neil Young. Stills wrote and sang the lead on this one.

Born in the USA…two of a mind

President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen will release a joint book, Renegades: Born in the U.S.A., on October 26th globally via Higher Ground/Penguin Random House.

…”A collection of candid, intimate, and entertaining conversations,” which began in Spotify’s co-produced podcast of the same name. Published in an oversized, fully illustrated format, the book will also feature rare and exclusive photographs from the authors’ personal collections and never-before-seen archival material, including Springsteen’s handwritten lyrics and Obama’s annotated speeches.

“Over the years, what we’ve found is that we’ve got a shared sensibility,” Obama writes in the book’s opening pages. “About work, about family, and about America. In our own ways, Bruce and I have been on parallel journeys trying to understand this country that’s given us both so much. Trying to chronicle the stories of its people. Looking for a way to connect our own individual searches for meaning and truth and community with the larger story of America.”

Springsteen adds, in the book’s introduction: “There were serious conversations about the fate of the country, the fortune of its citizens, and the destructive, ugly, corrupt forces at play that would like to take it all down. This is a time of vigilance when who we are is being seriously tested. Hard conversations about who we are and who we want to become can perhaps serve as a small guiding map for some of our fellow citizens.”

They are what they say they are. “Renegades” compared to the average American stuck into the two-party carousel. Pretty much straight down the middle of any road I ever marched on.

I started a few years before either. It’s been 61 years since my first sit-in in a drugstore in Virginia. But, then I’m older than either of them, as well. My heart, my understanding of class and history stands to the Left of either. But, unlike some of those partaking of political struggle in this benighted land, it ain’t a sect or religion. It’s just what needs to be done to find justice for all.

We can march together.

How to use culture and music to protect the planet


Yo-Yo Ma plays a “Music in the Mangroves” concert to help scientists and community members drive home the importance of saving mangrove ecosystems

A child prodigy who performed for President John F. Kennedy at the age of seven, the cellist has since recorded more than 100 albums, received 18 Grammy Awards, and played for nine U.S. presidents. Yet at 65, Ma remains a self-deprecating, tireless, and purposefully optimistic human being who shares his music as a means of connecting with people and the world.

Ma believes that culture—which he defines broadly as the place where the arts, sciences, and society converge—can help assuage discord, strengthen community bonds, promote social justice, and protect the planet. In 2018 the cellist embarked on the Bach Project, an ambitious journey that uses culture as a bridge to connect with communities, launch conversations, and spotlight efforts that strive to do good.

The cello virtuoso has been playing Bach concerts on six continents. At every stop, he joins activities to support social justice and environmental causes…So far, Ma has been to 28 of the tour’s 36 destinations—places as far-flung as Mumbai, India; Mexico City, Mexico; Dakar, Senegal; and Christchurch, New Zealand. The anchor of the project is Bach’s six cello suites, which Ma plays from memory in concerts that last more than two hours, with no intermission. Performances are paired with Days of Action, where Ma helps raise awareness about issues of local and global importance during events with community leaders, citizens, artists, students, and activists. For example, in Chicago Ma confronted gun violence by joining a tree planting—using shovels that were made from donated weapons. In Korea the cellist visited an elementary school in the Demilitarised Zone with a traditional kitemaker, giving students, villagers, and teachers the opportunity to decorate kites with their aspirations for the future.

At every event and stop, Ma’s mission is the same: to listen, discover, and join with others to build a better future.

Everything I believe a true world-class musician should try to be.

Fast Car

I just spent the damndest Saturday night in years. After supper and a shower, I sat and watched over three hours of music videos.

Now, there ain’t much of anything in this century I found worth watching. I admit it must be around here, somewhere. Maybe next time I look, I’ll find something.

So, even though I went way, way back…this is one from later than my days of spending lots of time making music. And very, very good.