Just a few random music related questions and thoughts that have been rolling around in my brain lately…

– What do you think about live albums? Personally, I love them. I especially like when the artist does a version of one of their well known songs in a radically different way. I’d always assumed most people agreed with me about that, but over the years learned that I was mistaken. It seems that tons of folks get annoyed by the rearranging of a favorite song, and want it to sound just like what they hear on the radio.

As someone who spent many years working at classic rock radio stations I can tell you that just about every boss I ever had frowned on playing live versions of songs. I guess those bosses were mostly right, although my friend Brother Wease and I will argue with them forever that U2 doing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” with The Harlem Gospel Choir in concert on the Rattle and Hum album is the best recording ever of that song.

– Although I prefer live versions of many songs there will never be a better version of “Thunder Road” than the original studio recording that kicks off Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run album. It’s absolute perfection.

– I was recently listening to the “Music Exists” podcast with Chuck Klosterman and Chris Ryan discussing the relationship between music and sports. They asked a question that broke my brain. I’ll have to think about it more and give my answer some other day. What’s the difference between the love people feel for their favorite team and the love they feel for their favorite musician? In my case it’s the N.Y. Mets and Bruce Springsteen. It is different, but I can’t quite put my finger on why. I’m not even sure I know which one I like more. Is it like having a favorite kid?

– I’m going to admit something here, and I hope that by putting this out in the open I can reclaim a part of me that has been lost. I usually reject the term “guilty pleasure” … if something is legal there is no reason to feel guilty about enjoying something. Why have I for the past 35 years rejected the music of a guy who in the late 70s and early 80s was my favorite singer? He racked up hit after hit… was on the radio constantly… I had most of his albums, including the live one (of course) that I listened to more than any other. I’m of course talking about the legendary BARRY MANILOW.

Do you have any idea how many times I’ve been in record stores, thrift shops, and garage sales looking at old albums and come across the Manilow albums that made me so happy when I was younger? I’ll pick them up, carry them around for awhile, and then go put them back. Why??? I’ve found them for as little as a buck… even I can afford that. Maybe now that I’ve said (written?) that I will actually pull the trigger on my purchase next time (especially if I find the Barry Manilow Live album from 1977).

– Did you know Barry’s hit “I Write The Songs” was penned by Bruce Johnson of The Beach Boys? Isn’t that ironic, don’t ya think?

That’s all I’ve got for this week. After that admission of love for The Sultan Of Soft Rock I better regain some street cred by listening to something cooler. I’m thinking the soundtrack for The Muppet Movie might do the trick. Stay safe. I will see you soon. -Billy

Scroll Up