I hate when I feel like this. No, wait…let me start again. I wish I didn’t feel like this. It’s a combination of things I know, that has me in this mood, and I swore I wasn’t gonna write about it. Then tonite I said I would just write it in longhand and condemn it to a drawer in my room. But then, something told me I had to write this down so that it would be read by someone else besides myself.

I really wasn’t going to write about this.

I find myself thinking about ‘her’ these days. And I really hate myself for that. I thought, no, I knew I was past this, over her, and done with all that ‘we’ were, and all that ‘we’ weren’t.

Now, don’t think for a second that this is really about ‘her,’ it’s not. It’s all about me, my head, my heart and…why can’t I get past this??

Part of it is because my job currently has become a true, real challenge. Some days are better than others. Some days are far too long, and almost all days leave me drained and exhausted. I like my job, love the people I work with and most days, I feel that at least something was accomplished. It’s just, when I come home after a ten hour work day, I wish I was coming home to someone who was mine. Someone who was my partner to lean on and  celebrate with.

Now, I don’t live alone, and I love my mom like no one else, but I’m feeling very single at the moment. Ninety-eight percent of the time, I love being single, and I am fine with that ‘relationship status’. But lately…I am yearning for that other piece of the puzzle.

Now, don’t think that this means I want ‘The Girl’ that currently crosses my mind more than I will ever admit to you in public. I don’t. In fact, if she showed up on my doorstep tomorrow and said she was ‘willing to give this thing a try’, I wouldn’t be interested. I waited long enough, too long really, and she never ever really wanted to go that route. After years — and I mean years — of waiting for her to come to her senses, I’m done hoping that will ever happen.

What sent me into this mood?

She forgot my birthday.

Now, let me say that on my birthday, I had no less than 60 messages on Facebook from friends wishing me a Happy Birthday and, those were amazing. You, my friends, are amazing and you made my day great and made me smile. In fact, when midnite passed and it was 12:01am and no longer my birthday, I told myself it was no big deal and no surprise that she forgot. And it wasn’t really. She’s done it before.

It just stung. Really really stung.

She has said in the past that she wants to be friends. And I think that’s part of the reason for my current mood. Even though part of me, even at my angriest, darkest times, will always love her, I know now for certain that I can’t be just friends with her. Every time I see her, those unrequited feelings will bubble up to the surface, and I will manage to ruin an otherwise nice visit with a cutting, sarcastic but true remark, doing a half hearted attempt to mask my pain with humor.

In my most self confident moments, the song that sums up my current feelings about her is Elvis Costello’s ‘I Hope Your Happy Now.’ If you don’t know it, find it and listen to the words. They all ring true, and sometimes they ring too close to home.

Tonight though, the song that replays on my ipod and in my head is ‘Wishing’ by Sugarland.

‘I’ve done everything I can to forget / If there is a way I ain’t found it yet / I keep tellin’ myself I’m movin’ on / But I’m stumblin’ / Believing my heart was strong enough / But now I’m wonderin’ / Wishing I didn’t love you anymore.’

But I do.

Thanks for indulging. Here’s to tomorrow.


15 Albums In 15 Minutes

This was a note posted by me tonite on Facebook. Decided to repost here in case you are not already my FB friend.

The rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen albums you’ve heard that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what albums my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page. )

About my list: My boss tagged me in this note going around. This is being written late at night [or early in the morning, take your pick] so, that might color my choices. Songs/Albums are memories for me, so these choices are more about where I was when these albums found me than where they may rank on a ‘Best of’ list in a music publication. My own rule: An artist can only appear once.

1) KISS – Rock And Roll Over. The first LP I ever owned. Given as a birthday gift September 15, 1977. I turned four. I play this album in its entirity at least once a week. The cowbell in the intro of ‘Calling Dr. Love’ MADE me want to be a drummer. Maybe not their most known studio record [that’s probably Destroyer] but it’s the record that changed my life, literally forever. Plus…it ROCKS! I could write pages and pages about this album’s influence on my life, but I’ll spare you. My mom thought my KISS fandom would be a brief phase, like my temporary fascination with Legos. Thankfully, it wasn’t. Ten songs that I can’t imagine my life without; yes, even Peter Criss’ ‘Baby Driver’ even though I still don’t know what that song means. It doesn’t matter.

2) The Cure – Pornography. The album arrived in 1982, but I didn’t know it existed until 1991. The wailing guitars of ‘One Hundred Years’ with the opening lyical proclamation ‘Doesn’t matter if we all die!’ hit me square in the eyes. The rising tide of chaos and noise that concludes the title track had me wondering what the hell was going on…and it made me hit the repeat button to listen to the whole wonderful, dark project again and again. If you want one record that defines ‘Goth’ with no apologies, this is the one.

3) Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key Of Life. Heard this record as a young kid and wondered who ‘Sir Duke’ was. Some of the songs may go on a bit too long, and ‘Contusion’ sounds painfully dated, but this record rejuvenates me whenever I hear it.

4) Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water. This was always being played in my house when I was very young. In fact, I learned how to read around the age of two by reading the lyrics printed on the back jacket. I love every song on this record, and this record always reminds me of my dad.

5) The Beatles – Rubber Soul. Pick just ONE Beatles record? Impossible really, but…if I had to pick one it would be this one. In My Life is lyrical perfection and You Won’t See Me is probably McCartney’s best bass track ever. Seriously, go back and listen to that song and listen to the bass, it’s unreal. And it’s not like the other songs [Nowhere Man, Girl and Michelle to name but three] are throwaways either.

6) Nat King Cole Live at The Sands. This was released by Capitol soon after Cole’s death. My mom bought a copy on vinyl because her father liked Nat King Cole. Somehow the record remained in the back of her collection for me to find one night in 1983. At the age of ten, this record was a revelation. A crooner wowing a Vegas crowd, back when ‘Vegas’ was VEGAS. No real hits on this record, but it’s an incredible intimate performance. The record was on CD for a minute in the mid-80s but was out of print for decades. I saw an auction for a sealed CD [in the now defunct longbox that CDs used to be packaged in] on eBay in 2000 and figured I would get it cheap. Well, I apparently was not the only one who wanted this out of print disc. I won the auction…paying $62 for it. Worth every penny. [The CD is now back in print, so you can get it much cheaper!] Highlights: ‘I Wish You Love’ and ‘Funny [Not Much]’

7) Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Armed Forces. Front to back, this album still sounds great. ‘Radio, Radio’, ‘Oliver’s Army’, ‘(What’s So Funny Bout) Peace Love and Understanding’…and those are just the songs you hear on the radio. Other songs like ‘Two Little Hitlers’, ‘Chemistry Class’ and ‘Goon Squad’ show Costello proving the pen is indeed mightier than the sword. Pick whatever label you like: Post punk, new wave…whatever, the songs are classic.

8) Green Day – American Idiot. I admit. I wrote Green Day off as relavent after that ‘Time Of Your Life’ song was featured in episodes of ER AND Seinfeld on the same night in 1999. In fact, my brother had to convince me to listen to American Idiot, and he played it while we were on a road trip. I was floored. I bought a copy for myself and I listened to it non stop for weeks. Huge in concept and scope but not without humor, this is one of my top five discs from the past decade.

9) Pink Floyd – The Wall. While we’re on the subject of concept albums, this remains, truthfully, the only Pink Floyd album I like and can listen to. Not as trippy as the Syd Barrett stuff, nor as jammy and drawn out as parts of Dark Side and Wish You Were Here, this album is almost required listening in high school. And that’s where it found me, my sophomore year, when I could identify with the isolation of the main character, even though I only wanted to identify with the Sex and Rock And Rol aspects of the album. I’d have to wait a while for that, but I go back to this album and, when I do, I’m fifteen and searching again.

10) Taylor Swift – Fearless. I’ve been listening to this one for over a year, almost on a daily basis. The pleading lyric of ‘You Belong With Me’ hit me when I first heard it. In fact, it hit so close to home that I felt compelled to find out what other songs Swift had written. Then, before I knew it, I was [and remain] an unabashed fan of her and her confessional-toned songs. I’m in my mid-30s, but when it comes to love, I sometimes still feel like a clumsy, gawky teenager. This CD is perfect for that mindset. Can’t wait to see what she does as she grows up, and I hope I’ll never become so jaded or cynical enough to not love this record and how it got me through a very dark time.

11) Barenaked Ladies – Maybe You Should Drive. This came out in the US on September 9, 1994. I remember because I was very ill in a hospital bed when I asked my dad to go to Plan 9 to buy it. Long story short, I was NPO in the hospital, which means I could not have anything by mouth. No food, water or even mouthwash. Music became my food and this CD was the one I played non-stop. ‘Jane’ is BNL’s best moment on record and my fave song by them. Hard to believe it’s been 16 years, but it still stands up very well today.

12) Wham! – Make It Big. I had this on cassette in 1984. When the cassette got destroyed by a tape deck in 1986 I was crushed. This was one of the first CDs I bought in 1987 and it’s been with me ever since. Careless Whisper is the masterpiece here, but songs like ‘Everything She Wants’ and ‘Like A Baby’ give you a preview of what George Michael’s solo career was going to be like…minus the car wrecks and men’s rooms busts. What exactly did Andrew Ridgely do in this band anyway?

13) Prince and The Revolution – Purple Rain. No filler on this one at all. I don’t care if it’s 1984, 2010 or 2525, the solo at the end of Let’s Go Crazy will always rock! Very radio friendly songs [title track and When Doves Cry] along side a ditty that led to the formation of the PMRC [Darling Nikki]. Prince was strange even at the height of his success, but this album’s greatness can’t be denied.

14) The Decemberists – Castaways and Cutouts. Released in 2002, this record became a mainstay in my CD player as I managed an indie rock band. Literate, intelligent lyrics with catchy pop melodies made this an instant favorite. It was their major label debut and the band has come a long way since then, but this is the disc I revisit the most. Highlights: Here I Dreamt I Was An Architecht’, ‘Grace Cathedral Hill’ and ‘July! July!’ Looking back, I think I’ve seen this band live more than any other…at least 20 times.

15) Monty Python’s Instant Record Collection. I found this ‘Best Of’ cassette at Peaches for $4.00 in 1987 soon after I moved to Richmond. Only knowing John Cleese from ‘Fawlty Towers’ I bought it because I saw his name. One listen through and I ran out to rent ‘Monty Python and The Holy Grail’ on VHS. This cassette led me to Monty Python and all of it’s wonderful absurdity. Through this four dollar tape, I discovered the movies and television show and, my life was never the same.

There’s my 15 albums. Tomorrow this list might be different.

Thanks for reading

A KISS [or two] Goodbye

First some background info: Last week [July 21 and 27] KISS brought their ‘Hottest Show On Earth’ tour to Virginia for shows in Bristow [just outside of DC] and Virginia Beach. I was very lucky and surprised to attend both shows when, for a while, it looked like I was not going to be able to attend either. It wasn’t long ago I gave up on KISS as a touring entity, due to a series of events. If you’d like to read about that first click here. It’s not required reading by any means, it just fleshes out my love/hate/mostly love relationship with this band.

Dates were announced in June and immediately, my friend Eddie [whom, if you’ve read this blog, you know has attended many shows with me in recent years] and I were making plans to attend at least one of the shows and, we had a second idea: Let’s bring along Eddie’s seven year old son Dylan! Dylan really likes KISS, at least he said he did. And he said on numerous occasions when he saw me wearing a KISShirt how cool he thought it would be to see a KISShow. Well, original plans to attend with Eddie and Dylan fell through, so, I found myself wanting to see at least one show with no ride to get to a venue.

That’s when I did something I really didn’t want to do. I posted on Facebook that I was looking for a ride to a KISShow from a Facebook friend [so it would at least be someone I knew] and I was willing to pay for the ticket since said friend would be providing transportation. I posted that during lunch while at work and, by the time my lunch hour was up, I had someone express interest. I must take a moment to thank Julian. Someone I’ve known for probably more than ten years, though I never knew he was a KISS fan. He wanted to see the band because, he said ‘this could be it.’ I had the exact same gut feeling, that this tour would be the last to feature both Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons in the lineup. I think one of them is going to decide to stop touring after this go round, with no big announcement or any hoopla, just quietly deciding to stop while they can.

Feeling like that, I began to really hope that something would happen that would allow Dylan to attend one of the shows because he’s a huge fan of Gene Simmons and, if this was Gene’s last tour and Dylan missed it, I think he would hate that. I felt this way but I made no mention of the show to Dylan’s mom Tucker and only mentioned the show on one other occasion to Eddie just to let him know that ‘great tickets were still available’ a week before the show.

Now, here is my cumulative review of both shows.

I attended the July 21 show in DC with Julian. It was his first KISShow. His favorite band is Gwar, so I knew he would at least appreciate what a spectacle he was about to see. I didn’t know how much KISS material he knew going in, but I wasn’t worried. I’ve taken friends and relatives to their first KISShow. Some know most of the songs, one friend knew next to nothing from the catalog save ‘Beth’ and ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’, and everyone I’ve attended a KISShow with says almost the exact same thing: ‘I’ve never seen anything like that…that was the best show I’ve ever seen!’

Julian and I arrived at the venue as the first of three openers was starting. We went to the merch booth and each bought a voucher that would allow us to purchase the audio from the evening’s show. KISS has made all audio from every show on this tour available for $25 per show. The recording is soundboard quality. You get the first ten songs after the show ends and then a few days later, go to a website and download the remaining songs from your show and add it to your digital library or burn the songs to disc. Great idea. It beats the bootleggers…and it made me wish this technology was available in the band’s 70’s heyday, or even the 1996-97 Reunion Tour. Ah, if only…

Our seats were about ten rows back in the section right behind the orchestra seating, so we had fantastic center stage views of the stage. Upon arrival to our section, Julian and I immediately struck up a conversation with Doug, a DC native who has spent the last eight years in Turkestan working for the US Embassy. He was in DC for a week and had two free nights. He knew he was going to see a concert of some sort but couldn’t believe it when he read that KISS were in town and tickets were still available.

KISS Fans. They really are like no one else. This is one of those settings where I am completely at ease, I feel I can talk to anyone and know that we have an immediate kinship. Some of us have 34+ years invested in this band, others are attending their first show with their parents. All of us love KISS [in this crowd, there is no ‘like’], so we are all brethren, friends and cohorts of a wonderfully shared experience. Yeah, you can find this kind of community in sports, but this is different. Those of us who have seen a show [or twenty] will look at someone there for the first time with a knowing grin and say ‘Just wait. You are in for a treat my friend,’ and leave it at that, letting them be surprised by the effects, explosions and music that make up a KISShow.

I sat there in my seat, between Julian and Doug, ready to take this in for perhaps the last time.

Two plus hours and twenty two songs later, exhausted and sore, the last chord rang out and the lights went up. The show was over [don’t worry I’ll get to specifics in a bit]. As I watched the show, I thought to myself, ‘Yeah, this is probably it. Enjoy it.’ Truth be told, I’ve said that to myself since the band’s ‘Farewell Tour’ which, ironically was ten years ago. As we left the venue, I said so long to Doug and wished him well as he planned to return to the middle east, and I reveled in hearing Julian exclaim that this was the best show he’d seen since Prince, maybe even better than His Purpleness…something that is a very high compliment indeed. On the ride home, I had it in my head that ‘that was my last KISShow’, and I was okay with that. It didn’t hit me or affect me that much, apart from the normal soreness and post-show blues I get following a KISShow. I was resigned to the fact that I wasn’t going to see them the following Friday in Virginia Beach, and I was okay with that. Too many hassles with travel, tickets and trying to convince someone to go, so I was a bit relieved in a way. Plus, Taylor Swift’s new video was going to be on television Friday night, so I could watch that and enjoy it as a necessary distraction while two hours away, KISS played.

That’s how I thought I was going to spend my Friday. And then something happened.

On the Tuesday before the Virginia Beach show, I posted on Facebook the statement that I was gonna miss a KISShow in Va Beach and, yeah I’m bummed, but I’m over it. Then Dylan’s mom Tucker started to ask me questions: Are tickets still available? Could you get off work Friday afternoon? Can we pull this off as a surprise for Eddie and Dylan? And so, in the space of 24 hours, I went from lamenting my circumstances and the fact I don’t drive to trying to work out logistics and purchasing tickets for three.

By Thursday, the surprise was out of the bag, but excitement among Dylan and Eddie had reached a fever pitch. I’m still not fully sure what changed Tucker’s mind from ‘No’ to ‘Okay’ when it came to Dylan attending this show, but I was thrilled that things had worked out, mainly because Dylan would get a chance to see something unlike anything he’ll ever see again, and he’ll see it at a much younger age than I did. [I was supposed to see KISS in makeup in 1979 at age 5. Mom said no. I didn’t see KISS in makeup until 1996. Thankfully the Reunion Tour made up for one of my few regrets in life. I will always be grateful to the band for giving me that moment.]

Friday afternoon, Tucker meets me at work with Dylan and younger brother Bennett in tow. Dylan is all smiles with a star over his eye. We drive to meet Eddie at his office and, after pictures in the parking lot, the three of us, me, Dylan and Eddie, are off for a ‘boys night out’ filled with rock and roll.

We arrive at the venue, Eddie and Dylan both sporting ‘KISS Rock And Roll Over’ Vans shoes, which garner compliments immediately from fans as we exit the parking lot and make our way to the main concourse where the merch tables are. Here, we stood in line. For a long time. A very long time. Eddie bought Dylan a tour t-shirt, and I bought the audio as I had done at the previous show. We also bought earplugs for Dylan because we forgot them back at the house and, it was at my insistence and his mother’s as well that we made sure Dylan had the earplugs…in his ears…at all times.

It didn’t take much convincing. Once we found our seats, Dylan was holding his ears, so the plugs went in and did the trick for the rest of the night so that volume was a non-issue. As the last opener finished up, I think Dylan was a bit overwhelmed and unsure about what was gonna happen next. I put my arm around him and said ‘It’s okay Dylan. This is all like one big cartoon. It will be loud, but nothing’s gonna hurt you or burn you. I was nervous too at my first KISShow, and I still get a little nervous at each KISShow [that’s no lie either]. It’s okay. You’re gonna have fun.’

As Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ came to an end, I counted off facing Eddie, ‘Three…two…one!’ and then the lights went out and a droning bass note echoed loudly, so loudly you could feel it in your chest. Dylan stood up on his chair while Eddie put his arm around him. ‘Ya ready to rock!’ he asked. Dylan nodded, but I don’t think he was sure yet.

After the intro I’ve heard thousands of times on record and in person, ‘You wanted the best, you got the best. The Hottest Band In The World…KISS!!!!’ the band opened with ‘Modern Day Delilah’, a decent song from their latest record, ‘Sonic Boom.’ Admirable, maybe. But, when you have a festival crowd ready to hear classics like ‘Duece’ or ‘Love Gun’, the opener was a genuine head-scratcher. Even so, the spectacle that accompanied the song was more than enough to let Dylan know what he was in for. Next was ‘Cold Gin’, a song written by Ace Frehley, who is no longer with the band. While this song was a staple of their live set for decades, I really wished they would’ve played something else. Dylan just kinda sat back and took it all in. You have to remember, there is so much to look at on a KISS stage that it really is hard to decide who or what to focus on.

Then, Gene Simmons did his fire trick, holding aloft a torch and spewing fire toward the sky. I didn’t even see it live. I was watching Dylan. The smile that came across his face as that happened, along with a look of ‘What just happened? What was that? Wow, that was cool!’ was priceless. After that moment I think Dylan was sold on the night and was really ready to have a good time. Save for a quick beverage run by his dad during ‘Black Diamond’, Dylan was really into the whole show. I spent most of the night watching him, and making sure he was okay and could see, and when I knew key moments were coming up, I would motion to Eddie and say ‘Ya might wanna stand up for this…’

Now the setlist, and then some notes:

1.Modern Day Delilah

2.Cold Gin

3.Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll


5.Say Yeah


7.Crazy Crazy Nights

8.Calling Dr. Love

9.Shock Me  [sung by Tommy Thayer] / Guitar and Drum solo

10.I’m An Animal

11.100,000 Years

12.I Love It Loud 

13.Love Gun

14.Black Diamond [with a verse and chorus of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ sung by Paul solo]

15.Detroit Rock City


16.Beth [sung by Eric Singer, done in the Unplugged arrangement]

17.Lick It Up  [with a bit of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ during the solo]

18.Shout It Out Loud

19.I Was Made For Lovin’ You

20.God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You II

21.Rock And Roll All Nite

The band did three songs from Sonic Boom. The biggest surprise was ‘I’m An Animal’ and, I admit after being ambivalent to the song on record, live it really crackled with an electricity that surprised me. It reminded me of ‘War Machine’ [from 1982]. Biggest surprise of the set was ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’, mainly because Paul Stanley has no business singing anything from this record. The record, recorded in 1987 is probably Paul’s best vocal moment in KISStory, but that was 23 years ago. Paul just can’t hit the notes anymore. Eric sang most of the song and he did a great job. It was just tough for me to watch Paul visibly struggling to hit notes he shouldn’t even try.

Eric sang Beth. I have no problem with that, really. In fact, that feat makes the trifecta complete: Every drummer for KISS [Peter Criss, Eric Carr, and Eric Singer] has sung Beth. The problem I had with the set was Tommy Thayer singing Ace’s signature tune, ‘Shock Me.’ He did a fine job, and part of me knows that fans expect to hear certain songs at a KISShow. I just wish this wasn’t one of them.

Dylan’s favorite songs are ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’ and ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’ so I was happy to already know that both songs were in the set. In fact, during ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’, Paul flew out into the crowd on his zip line and sang the song from a rotating mini-stage just a few rows away from us. Again, the look on Dylan’s face was worth everything.

But the best moment of the night was during ‘Shout It Out Loud’, when it all just kinda hit me at once that, yes this is probably my last KISShow. Enjoy it. Take it in. Cut it loose because there won’t be one tomorrow. So, during Shout It Out Loud, I went into my own world for a moment, remembering my first KISShow, the moments at KISShows that quite literally changed my life forever, the smiles, the goosebumps…and I raised my fist and screamed along with about eight thousand other ‘friends’. As the chorus was repeating and the song was coming to it’s loud, bombastic conclusion, I looked back at Eddie and Dylan. Dylan had a huge grin on his face…and his tongue was sticking out, arms extended ‘flashing the horns’ [Ronnie James Dio would’ve been proud!] When I looked over and saw that, no lie, I got choked up.

THAT’S what a KISShow is all about. If you’ve been, you know. If you haven’t…well then, you probably won’t understand.

Part of me hopes I am wrong and Gene and Paul and Company tour for a long time, but the realist in me is ready to say goodbye and feel good about it. To ALL of those who have attended KISShows with me, from 1988-2010, thank you for being part of some magic in my life. To Julian, thanks again for helping me see that show in DC and I am thrilled you had a great time. To Tucker and Eddie, thank you for…everything. And lastly, to Mister Dylan: You made the night unforgettable for me. I thank you for that. I hope you remember at least part of this show for a long time. And the true test of how great a KISShow is will come when you see your ‘next’ band…and then realize that not everyone blows stuff up!

‘That was AWESOME!!’ – Dylan Pickering, as he walked to the parking lot at the end of the night.

Yes it was Dylan, yes it was.

Thanks for reading,