On Death and (Somebody Else) Dying


NOTE: Steve Moyer’s friends in the fantasy and baseball industries have begun a GoFundMe to help support his daughters, Harmony and Mary, who face college and adulthood without their pop. Please feel free to donate in honor of our friend. The link is GoFundMe Steve Moyer kid fund.

I have been trying to get my head around our friend and colleague Steve Moyer’s untimely passing last Thursday.

If you have followed my ramblings over the years, you know I have had a number of brushes with death myself, and that my own wife, child, and dog all left this plane within a year of one another between July of 2005 and April of 2006.

What these rather intense experiences seem to have made me, however, created a sort of paradox. On one hand, I accept the inevitability of our own human experience, understanding our time here is indeed finite and that there is no fairness within the amount of time we are granted here on earth.

Similarly, I can put it in a sort of detached-automatic mode, for lack of better verbiage, making certain the trash is taken out, that dinner is made, and that the appropriate persons are advised appropriately of the departure. 

Certainly, Steve was core to a lot of the fantasy industry, and having been colleagues for a quarter century I seem to be one of those who knew him the longest, and perhaps as well as anyone within our circle.

Still, it never occurred to me that Steve — hell, that any of us — would leave untimely, so soon. Further, I have had enough head butts with Steve that I was surprised to find myself at the center of coordinating updates about him, being the source for articles and news as well as disseminating funeral information.

I know I am not alone in banging egos with Steve, for as his fiance, Samantha Drennan — with whom I have unfortunately become friends under the worst of circumstances — acknowledged that Steve “argued with everyone about everything.” So I was happy Steve and I had a good clearing of the air last First Pitch, Arizona.

Furthermore, I was glad to help out during the couple of days subsequent to learning of Steve’s passing by sharing information and emailing so many who knew and cared about him. I helped my mate, Roto Expert’s Scott Engel gather information both for an article about Steve, and together we plotted a Hall of Fame Hour — one of the shows Scott hosts on FNTSY— on  Steve this coming Monday (listen from 7-8 PM, ET). I posted and commented on the Rock Remnants site that was Steve’s imagination, where Peter Kreutzer, Gene McCaffrey, and I made a musical home for our writing outside of fantasy sports.

The bulk of these activities occurred while I was still at spring training, usually one of my favorite trips of the year. For, in March, baseball is still fresh and optimistic, players are happy and mostly healthy, and drafts are gearing up.

Instead, within the throes of my “busy-ness” handling Steve things, I felt distracted. I was  disinterested in going to games and drafting and interviewing players. And, the truth was, I just wanted to go home and be with my family.

I did keep wondering, however: Why I was so ambivalent with respect to something I really enjoy?

Then it occurred to me that I was subconsciously being so busy detaching that I did not have to acknowledge how bummed I am. In discussions with several of the groups and leagues in which Steve and I both participate, I realized what an integral part of my life Steve was, and I guess vice versa.

And, that meant the bummed disinterested feelings I was trying to ignore were actually grief.

Life is such a silly ephemeral thing. So difficult to understand, let alone make reasonable. And yet it is wondrous and beautiful, for though in the end it takes us from one another, certainly prior to that life gives us the gift of one another.

It certainly is a shame, however, that we have forget to embrace this gift until that appreciation is no longer corporeal.

One of the bands that Steve and I shared a love for was the Small Faces, and perhaps their best-known song was “Itchycoo Park.” As a dog owner, and husband of an animal lover, I like to imagine The Rainbow Bridge in a sort of “Itchycoo Park” sense.

I hope I am right. I hope Steve is rocking out there, maybe with my son Joey and late wife Cathy, and our dogs Macaroni, Onyx, Jazzmine, and Mahina looking on. Miss ya Steve.

RIP: Steve Moyer (1960-2018)

It is with extreme sadness that I must report the departure of one of the core Remnants, Steve Moyer.

Steve, with whom I have worked and been friends for over 25-years, was indeed one-of-a-kind: brash, opinionated, fierce, funny, direct, loyal with a mischievous mind and mouth like no one else I know.

Of course like the core Remnants I met Steve via our other common love: baseball. So for those of us driven by the forces of the diamond and the guitar, endless hours of talk just flew from our mouths when assembled.

And, that “assembly” happened a couple of times each year. In the fall we all gathered for the Arizona Fall League, and over the first three weeks of March. For, the coming of March means the annual Fantasy Baseball industry tour together among various First Pitch conferences, Spring Training, The League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR), the XFL, all culminating with Tout Wars in New York City.

Last night, as we gathered after the American League LABR auction, we got the news that Steve, who was to be drafting in the National League LABR auction tonight, had passed away in his sleep at his hotel after handling some business before joining us in baseball nirvana.

I will leave it with that.

But, since Steve was such a music junkie, as I got into the car to drive back to my hotel last night, I plugged in my shuffle and wondered just what song Spotify would deliver as the tune to contemplate the passing of Steve Moyer, and amazingly–and somewhat eerily–Elton John’s Funeral for a Friend/Loves Lies Bleeding came on.

Now, I know Steve well enough to know that he would hate being remembered by Elton John of all people, but sorry, the universe gave me what it gave me. Although below, I also added the vid to his favorite song, Search and Destroy by Iggy and the Stooges.

RIP Steve. Your friends. Your family. Your colleagues. Your industry will all miss you to the max.

 

 

Classic Nuggets: Paul Revere & the Raiders, “Sometimes”

I am not sure why Sometimes of all songs from my past popped into my head the other day. I think someone asked me a question, and I answered “sometimes,” and poof, there you go.

But, I am glad because I remember loving the shit out of this song when I bought Paul Revere’s third album Here They Comethough it was never a hit or even released as a single. It was covered later by The Cramps and The Flamin’ Groovies, however.

The Raiders were certainly a hot band in 1963. I saw them twice in the early 60’s opening for the Beach Boys (whom I actually saw six times and was in attendance August 1, 1964 when Beach Boys Concert album was recorded) and with music and television growing, The Raiders became a house band on Dick Clark’s Where the Action Is, his follow-up to Bandstand aimed at the next generation of pop music kids.

But, talk about an advanced sounding song, recorded in 1965, Sometimes was produced by Terry Melcher. Melcher was a principal producer for Columbia Records at the time, and was the son of Doris Day. Melcher had a band–The Rip Chords–who had an early 60’s hit (Hey Little Cobra) and as part of Bruce and Terry (Here Comes Summer).

Bruce, was Bruce Johnson who eventually became a member of the Beach Boys, but Melcher also was tied to Charles Manson. Melcher rejected Manson’s audition tapes, clearly pissing Manson off. Melcher had owned the home where the Tate-LaBiancha murders took place, but (obviously) did not live there any longer when Manson’s minions did their dirty work.

Rumor has it that some of the recording of Here They Come was performed by The Wrecking Crew, but Drake Levin probably did play the guitar and his solo is pretty hot. Levin was a pioneer with guitar pyrotechnics, having been among the first to double-track a solo on Just Like Me.

To me, however, Sometimes sticks out as an actual substantive song as opposed to a lot of what turned into the car song pop dreck that highlighted pop music, along with surfing, before the Beatles and Brit Pop rescued us. Nothing represents this pre-genre better than Hey Little Cobra.

Compare that to Sometimes.

And, will try to write here more often. The re-launch of Creativesports, and work on my latest book have distracted me!

The Good, the Bad, and the Dead

Wayne Cochrane might have penned The Last Kiss, and Pearl Jam might have proved its camp essence, but the big hit was from 1964, by J. Frank Wilson. I remember this time vividly as it was the first summer I was sick with what became known as Crohns Disease.

I had been sick for several months, losing weight and unable to keep any nourishment in me when it was determined that I needed to go to the hospital for tests and observation So, on the way to Monterey and the family’s summer vacation, they dropped me off at the hospital and went on their merry way.

I got my summer solace first, not being around them, second with books, and third with my transistor radio which blared Ferry Cross the Mersey, and Bits and Pieces chunks of Brit Pop, but also the maudlin Wilson song.

The Last Kiss, however, belongs to a strange genre of pop song known as death songs. Some of the more prominant?

  1. Teen Angel, Mark Dinning (1960): When I was in third grade (also 1960) our classmate, Don DeVincenzi’s sister died in a local accident just like this.
  2. Patches, Dickey Lee (1962): Evolved into Poor Side of Town in a few years.
  3. Laurie, Dickey Lee (1965): Lee clearly had some kind of necrophilia thing going on.
  4. Tell Laura I Love Her, Ray Peterson (1960): Peterson actually had a pretty good hit with Corina, Corina.
  5. Honey, Bobby Goldsboro (1968 ): Arguably the most loved/hated of the maudlin.

There are more for sure. The links above lead to YouTube files of the originals. But, J. Frank lurks below.

Robbie Robertson Goes to Little Willie John, and then to Hell?

A few weeks back Peter noted some great stuff about Little Willie John on the site.

And, that kicked my brain cells back to Robbie Robertson’s eponymously named debut album which is a killer in my meager opinion.

Employing Peter Gabriel and U2 and the Bodeans among others to help with instruments and especially vocals, the album really goes all over the map musically, with each song a little stronger than the cut before.

This one, Somewhere Down the Crazy River is clearly the one that tripped the Little Willie John wires:

But, this song, Hell’s Half Acre is as driving and kickass a rocker as ever lived. I can actually leave it in a loop for five or six playings on my phone it is so good and visceral.

Here is hoping everyone out there has a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving holiday!

Tom Petty (10/20/50-10/02/17)

It is hard for me to compartmentalize the passing of the great Tom Petty.

I was a little later to the party than Gene, for I noticed Petty in the similarly great Rather Ripped Records in Berkeley Valentines Day in 1977 when I was buying Frampton Comes Alive (laugh if you will, but I was a big Humble Pie fan and had Frampton’s three previous albums which featured George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Klaus Voorman, to name a few).

But, I remember the stack of records and the debut album which held a sign that said, “his name might be Petty, but his music ain’t small.”

So, I bought both.

In April 1977, Petty and band played Winterland (with Greg Kihn) and a few months later–in September–he again played and I attended both, this time with the band opening for Be Bop Deluxe.

By then the group had become my favorite band, and this was all amplified when I went to London that fall and fell under the spell of the punks and Petty et al totally meshed with American New Wave to me despite the classic rock set-up.

In June of ’78 the band again played Winterland and again, I was there, and then again in December as part of the closing of the venue I had loved and seen so many great bands (in fact the final three acts were Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and then the Dead for New Years, and that was that for Winterland).

The following summer Petty was embroiled in a lawsuit and petitioned the court to tour and make some money since their next recording was tied up in litigation, so I saw the “lawsuit tour,” as it was known in Sacramento in the summer of 1979.

There were more. The Mountain Aire Festival (1983), Petty with Dylan at the Greek in ’86, Southern Accents in 1987, and unfortunately missed the Into the Great Wide Open tour due to strep throat. But, my ex-wife, Ava, who became a Petty fan used the tickets I got. In fact Ava said during Mountain Aire that she got the feeling Petty was looking at her for a moment, singing to her, connecting with her.

By then, Petty et al were an arena band so I saw them only once more, again at the Greek, in 2006 for the Highway Companion 30th Anniversary Tour.

I think that makes nine times, and aside from buying the bulk of the band’s albums (I am not a greatest hits guy) but, in 1979 I began working on a novel that became my Masters Thesis, a pretty chunky play on the Picaresque called Dirty Laundry and Petty and his band and that debut album–which I believe was among my essentials–were pivotal parts of the plot.

Petty was surely a rock star, and a wonderful song writer and lyricist in my view, but he was also a regular guy–or tried to be–and carried that attitude within several lawsuits he had with his record companies.

In the end, I am just at a loss how a guy, so vital on the stage, had a heart attack and poof, gone, but there you go.

If there is a West Coast/East Coast difference in sensibilities about the Heartbreakers and their name and band, I always thought of The Heartbreakers as Johnny Thunder’s band, as opposed to the West Coast band which was all lumped in with the name Tom Petty. As in “Tom Petty” included the Heartbreakers, and “The Heartbreakers” included Johnny Thunders, and I mean no disrespect to the great Thunders or his band in separating the two like this.

Here is an early live recording of a song of the band’s I always dug from the first record. There is a great story around this gig, and that the band got searched at customs getting into Germany. Apparently they had a big chunk of hash and were concerned, but the goods were never discovered.

Petty asked bass player Ron Blair, who was holding, what happened to the stuff and Blair smiled, showing off some very black teeth. And, he played this gig while blitzed.

 

Again, I just don’t know what to say, though. The Biletones have at least a half dozen Petty tunes in their setlist. I guess the only place I can go is thank you so much Tom, for your songs, your humanity, and for being yourself.

I hope things are as fun on the other side! RIP mate.

Obituary: Walter Becker (February 20, 1950-September 3, 2017)

Walter Becker, co-founder, guitar, bass player, and songwriter for Steely Dan has passed away from and undisclosed illness.

I pretty much dismissed the band following the release of their first single, Reelin’ in the Years, thinking it was a solid enough pop tune, but not thinking that much of the band, kind of the same as I liked Radiohead’s Creep when it was released never thinking what an incredible and rich catalog of tunes the band would produce.

In fact the analogy works for me since I bought both bands’ first albums, Can’t Buy a Thrill (Steely Dan) and Pablo Honey (Radiohead) liking the works in general, but never really suspecting how sophisticated the development of the band’s respective music would become.

But, starting with Countdown to Ecstasy, Pretzel Logic, Katy Lied, and then The Royal Scam, the Dan produced four albums that are as good, interesting, musically listenable and challenging as anything any performer could make

In fact, I think when I noted bands with three brilliant consecutive albums, Tom rightfully put Steely Dan’s–named for a chromed dildo in William Burrough’s Naked Lunch–list from above starting and stopping wherever you want, even adding Can’t Buy a Thrill on the front and Aja the back end.

I have to admit that with the band’s final big commercial success with Aja I became disinterested, slightly because it felt like I had been there before with the band, and partly because I was seriously into Punk and British Power Pop by then.

And, I had no interest in the band reforming and was no more interested in seeing their reunion than I would have been The Doobie Brothers or The Moody Blues.

Still, the band killed it for ten years with fantastic melodies and obscure interesting lyrics and a cluster of albums I still love.

Later Walter. Thanks for an incredible body of work and hours of pleasure. Here is a fave of mine.

The Story of Sister Rosetta Thorpe Part 1

While looking at more of Sister Rosetta, I stumbled onto this little documentary which is wicked good.

Thought her guitar might be a Guild also, but one of the Dixie Hummingbirds said her axe was all metal so I thought it might be a Wandre a la Buddy Miller, but who knows? There are some other vids of her playing what looks like a 335 E but not totally sure.

This is really good, though. It is also the first of I believe four 15 minute clips, so if you like this, there is more on YouTube….