It's A Valid Question, Mr. Hunter!

Today's blog topic was planned to be analysis of the NFL's 1-2 Punch theory, but I'm invoking my Second Rule of BI: check your work. Stakeholder resistance to a result is directly proportionate to how strongly that result contradicts the stakeholder's expected result.* So, when the outcome is dramatically different from "common knowledge," it pays to spend some time double-checking. Not to mention prepping a presentation, because you're going to have to go in-depth to reassure your audience.

So, I'm going to postpone the results of the 1-2 Punch analysis and post an article I started last fall, before life was derailed for a few months. This'll give me some time** to explore the NFL analysis more in-depth, so I don't present something that truly is flawed.

Alan Hunter is one of my favorite people to listen to, whether it's on SiriusXM or Twitter. In case you're not familiar, Hunter was one of the original MTV VJs, and is now a host on two of my favorite Sirius channels, 80's on 8 and Classic Rewind. He's a prolific Twitterer or Tweeter or whatever the hell we call it, and seems to be a genuinely nice guy, and the world could use a few more of those.

He's also very responsive to his fans on Twitter.*** Last fall, when I was giving some serious consideration to buying a ticket for the 2018 80's on 8 Cruise, I tweeted a question: would Fee Waybill be on the cruise? I think Mr. Hunter's response was giving me a small dose of good-natured sarcasm. (Like I said, genuinely nice guy.)

Still, it elicited some good-natured indignation from me. I know Fee Waybill is the lead singer for The Tubes.**** It's still a valid question. This is 2018, after all. If you buy tickets for an "80's band" concert, you'd better check the lineup closely.

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Case in point: a few years ago I saw Yes at WinStar Casino...and walked out thoroughly disappointed. The performance was excellent -- but they played almost none of my favorite songs. No "Leave It." No "It Can Happen." No "Love Will Find a Way." Why? Because there are two different Yes configurations today. If you're seeing Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, and Jon Davison, you're going to get a totally different set list than if you see Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman. 

Or how about Fleetwood Mac? I remember being really excited a few years ago to see Fleetwood Mac tickets on pre-sale (a year ahead of time) until I read that Stevie Nicks wasn't in the lineup. I'm sure it was still an awesome concert, but to me, just not the same.

The Cars, Styx, A Flock of Seagulls, Journey...fair to say, whenever you see any 80's band today, you should ask, "Who exactly IS Styx today?" Or in the case of Van Halen, "So, who's singing this month?"

That in mind, I can't wait to see Jeff Lynn's ELO in August. Yes, this is a very different lineup from ELO Part II. (But at least in this case each version of the group performs the original ELO catalog, as far as I know. If I don't hear Jeff Lynn singing "Can't Get It Out Of My Head," I want my money back.)

Mr. Hunter, maybe I'll run into you at the United Center for the Bon Jovi concert in April? But I won't ask you if Jon Bon Jovi is going to be there.  :)

* Irony: when the analysis supports the pre-supposition, everyone's happy to say, "Looks good. It's just like we thought!" Contradict the assumptions, though, and the first argument is that either the data or the analysis is wrong. Or both.

** I don't actually have time for this. I've got job applications to fill out, a screenplay to finish writing, and an iOS development tutorial that I really want to complete. But this NFL data is so intriguing...

*** I find this particularly cool. Too many celebrities forget that without the're not really a celebrity.

**** If you didn't know this, don't be embarrassed. It just means you haven't spent enough time on music trivia with me. To impress and enlighten your other friends, just reference Waybill's excellent solo contribution to the St. Elmo's Fire soundtrack, "Saved My Life."

Do You Need More Boss?

During my summer travels I spent a couple of days with Abacus, and as always with Abacus, many interesting topics came up.* One such subject: Bruce Springsteen. I am, of course, a devoted Springsteen fan.** Abacus is familiar with and a fan of some of Mr. Springsteen's catalog. Turns out that Abacus is mostly familiar with The Boss's massive chart hits, which isn't surprising -- considering that he has 18 singles that peaked in Billboard's Top 40, it's easy to have heard a bunch o' Boss on the radio while hardly penetrating his ~300 song catalog.

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Somehow we came up with the idea that I should write a list of "Springsteen Songs You Should Listen To For More Depth," or something like that. (I just remember there were a lot of capital letters.) Hence, the following list.

Most Springsteen fans and many 80's general music fans will probably say, "Hold the phone. These aren't obscure songs at all," but that's okay. I classify this list as songs that you may have heard on the radio (or should have seen on MTV) but didn't hear nearly as often as Hungry Heart, Dancing in the Dark, and Born in the U.S.A.

  1. Girls In Their Summer Clothes. This may be my favorite Springsteen song. It's from the album Magic, 2007. As poetry goes, the lyrics are very concrete imagery, about a guy who realizes that he's fairly far through life, is still working uphill to be successful with his business and romance, but is hanging on to some optimism.*** It's a beautiful song, with excellent music, even better lyrics, and a lot of feeling. I'm going to keep hitting Springsteen concerts until I hear it live.
  2. For You. For this one to be on your radar, you have be a) a Springsteen fan, b) around in the early 70's when it was a staple, or c) reading this list. You may have heard the electronified Manfred Mann version.**** This song must be one of the reasons critics hailed Bruce's talent as a poet early in his career. (But please don't use the "he's the next Bob Dylan" comparison. He wasn't the next Bob Dylan, he was the first Bruce Springsteen.)
  3. No Surrender. How do you make an awesome song somewhat obscure? By including it on the album Born in the U.S.A. If No Surrender had been on a less successful album, it might have been a bigger radio hit. However, my theory is that the massive Born overload kept No Surrender from getting more airplay -- there were already a half dozen other songs popping up once per hour on FM stations nationwide. 
  4. Bobby Jean. It goes hand in hand with No Surrender. Both songs evoke the memories of your best childhood friends, with Bobby Jean being a bit more on the bittersweet side -- the friend in this case is gone, seeking his/her way elsewhere, and the narrator is hopeful that one day they'll talk again. If John Irving novels had soundtracks, Bobby Jean would be one of the first songs listed.
  5. My Lucky Day. This one's from Working on a Dream, in 2009. Many Springsteen songs are about hope. (Yes, many are about cars, too, but hope is also a prevalent theme.) This is a favorite in the hope category. It's very specific: things really suck, but because I have you, I have reason to hope. 
  6. Drive All Night. Some of my Boss-fan friends will roll their eyes that I included this ballad from The River, and sure, it's a little sappy, but I think it's pretty awesomely sappy. Like My Lucky Day, the theme is pretty direct and concrete: the subject of the lyrics is the only person who matters in the singer's world, and you can easily replace "sappiness" with "devotion" if you give it a chance.
  7. Santa Claus is Comin' To Town. Oh, yeah. It's hands-down my favorite rock Christmas song. Besides being a great version of the song, it was the first song my youngest daughter ever requested in the car. She heard it once, and for the next two years asked me to play it every time we got in the car. During the song someone "ho-ho-ho's" a few times in the background; I'm pretty sure it's Clarence Clemens. However, my daughter was convinced it was Santa Claus himself, and she wanted to hear it over and over again. For someone who loves music, that bonding experience with your kid is priceless. 

There you go -- seven slightly lesser known Springsteen songs for you to start your music appreciation lesson. Give these in a try, and next time I blog about The Boss, I'll reach a lot deeper into the catalog and share some more recommendations.

*Sure, anyone in the vicinity is probably bored to tears listening to what we find interesting, but if you choose to hang out in said vicinity, you get whatever we're serving up. We don't write custom content for non-paying audiences, you know.

**After all, I'm reasonably civilized, and I like good music.

*** My interpretation. I haven't finished Springsteen's autobiography yet, and if he goes into detail about Girls... I haven't gotten to that part. Also, he's never called me to discuss the song, but I'm keeping the phone lines clear, just in case.

**** Trivia time! Name three Manfred Mann covers of Springsteen songs!  (For You, Blinded By The Light, Spirit in the Night.)