Last week, most of the world gasped in horror at the sight of children in Manchester, most of them girls, being blown apart for the crime of attending a pop concert. I say most; the satanic jihadists celebrated even as some among the oh so pure Konservative Kool Kidz Klub sneered how Ariana Grande had it coming because she’s said and done stupid stuff, and by default her audience as well for not knowing they’re not supposed to support someone not bearing the official seal of approval. Because, after all, every eight year old girl should be full up on politics.

The latter losers notwithstanding – and they have no place standing with anyone who has a heart – the terrorist attack was only one side of the war on children, specifically girls; sudden, brutal. There is another face of the war against children usually hidden from sight: the slow death of those ritually abused by adults. Be it sexual, this occasionally bubbling to the surface when another child pornography aficionado and/or sex trafficker is arrested, physical, emotional/mental/spiritual; it lives among us and almost always out of sight. As are its victims, who either put on a forced happy face to hide the truth, disappear from public view, or wind up in a morgue unless their lifeless body is thrown out with the trash. The abuse often doesn’t end at childhood’s end, as the obscenely high number of abused wives and girlfriends can attest once the swelling from their latest bouquet of physical or emotional/mental/spiritual bruises subsides. This noted, it is of the children this post speaks.

This is the world musician Randy Rose exposes in his latest offering Songs For The Ritually Abused. Rose, along with his brother Roger, is fondly remembered by hardcore Christian rock fans from his days in synth to hard rock Mad At The World. Currently working with his own band bearing his last name, Rose successfully went to the Kickstarter well last year to finance a new recording he promised would be anything but, well, roses and rose-colored stained glass windows. A few hiccups hindered the release schedule, but the album is now out. It is raw and real.

"Songs For The Ritually Abused" by Rose
“Songs For The Ritually Abused” by Rose

Musically, for those unaware of Rose’s sound the best comparison would be to think of Muse with the melodrama turned down and the snarl turned up to 11. Melody is often delivered with the business end of a fuzztone sledgehammer. There are quiet moments, but for the most part Songs For The Ritually Abused is pounding mid-tempo fury. It’s not metal nor goth, but fans of each genre as well as those attracted by anthems will find plenty to sink their teeth into even as the music bares its own teeth.

Lyrically, the only words that accurately capture the album’s horror and hope are its own:

You were ritually abused…battered, bloodied and bruised
But Jesus is calling your name and Girl, you’ll never be the same
Tears stain my cheek for the one who couldn’t speak
Sweet little Girl…

I know everything’s gonna be fine
Girl, I know He’ll wipe the tears from your eyes
So close your eyes and dream of things
Close your eyes and dream of things
So close your eyes and dream of things that
You thought that you’d never see

Beautiful Girl…

Havilah, your time has come
And now you get to speak…

You can speak.

For example. Other songs cut even deeper, exposing and calling out the monsters who abuse children while proclaiming Christ’s love in action for victims. It is a fearsome, brutally effective tour de force.

Songs For The Ritually Abused will not make anyone want to hit the dance floor, and it’s extremely doubtful the average Ariana Grande fan will find much, if anything, here to her liking. That said, it is precisely for her fans seeking solace in her music as an escape from their private hell that this album was made. If it moves people to action confronting this evil, or serves as a lifeline for those unwillingly described in its words, with this album Randy Rose has accomplished God’s work.

The album is available at Amazon, CD Baby, direct from the record label, iTunes, and Rose’s website.

This past weekend, the mysterious yet not mythical Mrs. Dude and I took some much needed time away from our respective workplaces to visit the mice, ducks, dogs, chipmunks, and other critters. In other words, Disneyland.

Given how we had an extra day, rather than take the quicker, fiercely duller I-5 freeway we opted for the more coastal I-101. The 101 mostly follows the trail left by Spanish Franciscans during the late 1700s and early 1800s as they established twenty-one missions stretching from San Diego to Solano, all of which still stand in some fashion.

As the 101 enters the lower reaches of central California, it goes through a lengthy stretch of mostly gentle hills, dotted or covered in evergreen oak trees with grasses and occasionally flowers underneath. In a few places man has unobtrusively made his present felt with the occasional vineyard or orchard, but for the most part everything is how nature has presently left things arranged. It is beautiful, peaceful, and pastoral.

It is also utterly deceiving.

The gently rolling hills, their surface worn to smooth roundness by millennia of rain and growth, thoroughly hide how whenever one travels through them one does so atop a ticking bomb. The San Andreas and ancillary earthquake faults lie beneath, their convulsive thrusting over countless years having formed the scarps and protrusions that we now see in gently sloped, innocent form. It is not a question of if the next great earthquake will strike this land, or north or south of here, but rather when, a question science answers with a supremely confident shrug. Save building upon and anchoring to a solid foundation, one that remains in place even as the structure it supports has sufficient flexibility to enable the passing through of energy expended whenever tectonic plates throw a temper tantrum, there is no possible preparation for when the earth forcibly reminds us we are not in charge.

That said, once proper preparations for the inevitable are made there is no excuse for not finding healing in the hills’ beauty. The moment one conforms his or her thinking to what the hills are, this as compared to what one wishes the hills to be, clarity ensues.

Clarity; seeing what is and responding accordingly in lieu of acting based on preferred reality, is a sadly rare commodity these days. Humanity has done an excellent job of convincing itself its perception is indeed reality. Self-identification has become sacrosanct. Few dare tell others they are not who they think they are. You are an expert witness, a political earthshaker because you say you are? Of course you are. Meanwhile, the real earthshaker lays beneath its benign disguise, waiting for a time of its own choosing to reveal its fearsome power.

The time has come to stop pretending and start living. Let the impotent rage and peacock posing go. Being a social media warrior is no more noble than being a social justice warrior. We are not shifting the dialogue; we are not changing policy. We’re just not.

What we can do is change culture from the inside out. Loving family and friends, tending to one another in heart, mind, and soul; this is achievable. We can preach, in word and far more importantly deed, Christ crucified and risen. Let us embrace truth as we live among the lovely and violent hills, practicing our love and faith while preparing for the inevitable upheaval we can neither prevent nor predict.

I never knew Bob Owens. Given how my Konservative Kool Kidz Klub application was stamped Return To Sender years ago, this is no surprise. He was one of the early conservative new media types, first blogging and later developing a more traditional media business model. He was quite the Second Amendment aficionado. Owens was a family man; wife, three kids. He was known and loved, personally and professionally, by many within CNM, including several people I know as friends.

Earlier this week he left a cryptic note on Facebook about being a coward and a failure.

He then blew his brains out.

An overriding theme in the reactions to Owens’ death is that no one, not even those closest to him, had the slightest inkling this was a possibility. There was nothing in his demeanor, nothing in his words and/or actions, giving any indication he was troubled unto death by his own hand. Owens’ suicide has been met with complete astonishment. The words from those who knew him have both poured out and fallen in shocked silence.

Being one who knows the dark side as something utterly removed from George Lucas’ film franchise, I speak with uncomfortable authority about depression. It is an irrational, illogical assassin; the father of lies’ most hideous, insidious lie. It blinds its victims to reality, convincing them there is no hope when in fact hope abounds. Depression tells the irreplaceable all would fare better without their presence spoiling life’s soup. It declares self-destruction’s broad road as the only road, doing its damnedest to block salvation’s narrow path. Depression is Satan’s scalpel, seeking only to cut out life itself instead of cutting out the cancer it forms on the soul.

While there can be, at least in some cases in part, an understanding of why someone would take their own life, suicide stands in direct opposition to God’s will and Word. No one has the right to dismiss God’s gift of life to us and/or destroy the Holy Spirit’s temple He made for us in His image. The forgiveness made available to each of us through Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross is never a license to sin. While faith alone cannot always completely counteract depression’s lies, it is a vital element in the fight. There are no echoes of throne checks or any other variation on “are you really saved” in asking someone not just how they are, but how is their soul. This said, God alone truly knows the soul. He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and He will have compassion on whom He will have compassion. We are His voice and hands on this earth; we must act and speak accordingly.

John Donne was right; no man is an island and the death of one diminishes us all. It should make us stop and take stock of priorities. Nothing exposes our online world’s triviality, the futility of our pursuit within our phonebooth kingdoms echo chamber of hyperlink and hashtag love as validation, like staring at a loved ones’ headstone. Today, now, is the time to preach in word and deed Christ crucified and risen to family, friends, and strangers alike.

I sympathize with Bob Owens’ friends. I grieve for his family. I pray God will have mercy on his soul. And I pray all the more the next Bob Owens among us will never be known as the next Bob Owens because someone reached out, and the person reached cried out to Jesus for the strength to live.

A couple of days ago, Breitbart published a story concerning how, in recent months, some Oreo cookie devotees have complained the flavor has changed, and not for the better. Said story insinuated the reason behind this, if in fact this be truth, is Mondelez, parent company of Nabisco (maker of Oreos) having moved production of said sandwich cookie to a plant in Mexico. Maybe the manufacturing process has crossbred with Pelon Pelo Rico. But I digress.

The story includes this as part of its case making effort:

Some companies are even willing to admit there is a difference in product quality — Fender offers Stratocaster guitars made in Mexico at a much lower price than their made in America product line — recognizing a difference in quality and materials.

At this point, I am reminded of a moment involving Drew Remenda, former NHL coach who currently works as an analyst for Edmonton Oilers televised games; previously he spent many years doing the same for the San Jose Sharks. During the latter stint, for a couple of seasons Remenda hosted an after-game call-in radio show. One evening, as a caller was railing against a Sharks player Remenda liked, he had had enough and cut off the caller with a simple statement: “You do not know what you are talking about. I do.”

Now, I play guitar. While I hardly give Eric Clapton anything to lose sleep over, I get by. My electric guitar brand of choice? Fender. The sound, the feel, the look … love ’em. As have other true guitar legends – the aforementioned Mr. Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and multitudes more.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to own a few Fender guitars. Some were basic models, some were upper end. Some were made in Fender’s factory in Ensenada, Baja California. Some were made in Fender’s factory in Corona, California. All had, and have, one unifying factor beside the name:

They were all top notch instruments.

The only major difference between American and Mexican models of the Stratocaster and Telecaster is the former having twenty-two frets, whereas the Mexican ones bear the traditional Fender twenty-one fret neck. They are made from the same kinds of, and quality, wood. Many share identical electronics. They have the same design. They work the same way. In short, they are all Fender guitars.

Yes, most of the high end models are made in Corona. There are also high end, superb models made in Ensenada, some with features unavailable on any American made model. And yes, the Mexican models almost always cost less than their American counterparts. Because of lesser quality materials used in the manufacturing process? No. Shortcuts in manufacturing? No. Poorer overall quality? No.

Try significantly lower labor costs.

That is all.

It is irksome when someone purporting to be a journalist, particularly one writing for a site devoted to exposing fake news, makes a false assumption in order to push a meme. It spreads incorrect information. It reinforces the stereotype of conservative websites perpetuating falsehoods and stereotypes. It is an unfunny joke. And it needs to stop. However, as long as partisan hackery takes precedence over professional journalism, it won’t.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got some guitar to play.

This weekend, two of my favorite veteran Christian bands (The Choir and Sweet Comfort Band) are playing some of their rare concert dates in Southern California. Great, awesome, and wonderful … for those able to attend. Due to family work commitments, namely an annual inventory, this will be the one weekend of the year I and she who is my wife are absolutely unable to traipse down the freeway and visit SoCal. No concerts for me. Very disappointing. Pales in comparison to so many other full-fledged hammer blows in life; regardless, very disappointing. Obviously no personally aimed conspiracy against me. But still, I’ve asked, of no one in particular, why.

We who believe are taught two things starting at our spiritual infancy: never judge anyone, and never ask why. We should never judge because we too are guilty of something, and we should never ask why as the answer is always “because God” and who is the creation to question anything under the Creator’s roof? Toss in a few Scriptural Cliff Notes, and hey presto! You are good to go, and if not it is all on you. Where is your faith?

The problem with this mindset, aside from the minor detail how it ignores a whole lot of Biblical observations about what to expect in life, is that it automatically disparages the human condition in a manner taught nowhere by Jesus or anyone else within the pages of Sola Scriptura. We are supposed to speak up when someone is messing up so they will get back on track. We are allowed to ask why, and the answer is not always “because God.” Sometimes, there is no apparent answer save silence.

The days will come, if they have not already arrived, when you realize you hold nothing but a fragile lifeline woven from a tattered thread of faith growing increasingly frayed. You have a laundry list of whys, and answers seem to be nowhere. You wonder if it’s possible to get ahead in life without being a self-fellating talentless walking sack of rancid, arrogant steer manure. You wonder not when, but if you will leave the unemployment line. You see beautiful inside and out members of the opposite sex either throw themselves into relationships doomed from the start or throw themselves firmly into the arms of one of the aforementioned self-fellating talentless walking sacks of rancid, arrogant steer manure while your Saturday night dates come in a box from Sunkist. You observe how the popular girl or boy shamelessly monetizes their loss while you are told to shut up about your grief. You ask why, and based on the non-existent answers you wonder if God so much as takes a message and will get back to you.

There are times I for sure wonder.

Yet, somehow, I hang on.

Some don’t. Some walk away from the faith. Some walk away from their lives. Some walk away from life itself.

Please, do not do these things.

Seek out the open, the scarred, the ones still bleeding who are not ashamed to admit. Seek out, embrace one another, and help carry one another through the living no man’s land life can often transform itself into in a moment.

Admit the hurt; confess the pain; reveal the scars. Help one another. Let them help you. Ask questions. Just don’t quit.

Please, don’t quit.

And never quit asking why.

Chances are I wouldn’t recognize Susan Slusser if she passed me by on the street. I’ve seen her photo online and her on local sports television a few times, but given how I’m the living embodiment of jokingly stating the reason retail workers wear nametags is so we can remember our own, it should come as no surprise I’d most likely miss her if she was tap dancing in front of me. In a duet with Stomper.

Ms. Slusser is a superb sports reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. Her main assignment since 1999 has been my beloved (albeit sometimes bedraggled) Oakland A’s. She writes with crisp, clean accuracy, covering the team’s ups and downs while drawing little if any attention to herself. It’s said the best referees and umpires are the ones you never notice due to their calling the game correctly. Similarly, in today’s world where reporting and opinion are far too often mixed in an unwieldy, unsatisfactory in both areas whole, Ms. Slusser is admirable in keeping the two separate, never tipping her hand or interjecting herself into the story. She is informative, in depth, and invisible.

Like most every media person in any field these days, Ms. Slusser has a social media presence. Unlike most every media person in any field these days, using said social media as something other than sheer self-promotion she engages with her readers, or at least the ones with a few synapses firing in coordinated fashion. I’ve exchanged a few tweets with her in recent months, and she has been unfailingly polite and informative. In like fashion, I have always addressed her with completely deserved compliments, respect, and consideration, often looking for a way to insert something she hopefully finds chuckle-worthy into the conversation. I gotta be me, after all.

I’m quite certain that Ms. Slusser and I voted for different Presidential candidates last November. Which is fine. Politics aren’t everything; I’d much rather chat about what the A’s are doing to address their defensive deficiencies or my beloved classic Christian rock artists. I don’t need to debate every policy and platform with everyone. Sometimes – most all of the time, in fact – I’d rather find common ground and not mix politics with everything else. I’d rather enjoy a ballgame. I also figured out quite some time ago that no one in Washington DC was refreshing any given blog site where I write fifty times a day, trembling with anticipation of my next great pronouncement so they’d know which policies and platforms to pursue. Something others, given their predilection for incessant self-righteous babble, have apparently yet to learn. But I digress.

There are many on my side of the political aisle who live for open combat with one and all in mainstream media. It works for them. It generates heat; it creates a scenario in which the fearless flamethrower, backed by gallant retweeters and such, speaks truth to power hiding behind corporate walls. Makes for great spectacle. Hail the conquering snarknado master!

If someone isn’t doing their job properly because of implied or overt bias, fine. Call them out. They deserve it. But with this duly noted, is it impossible to praise, and treat the same way you and I wish to be treated, reporters who regardless of their political beliefs do work of the highest quality? Or for that matter, members of any given profession?

Certainly engaging people as, well, people is far less exciting and attention-drawing than treating others as raw meat designated for tossing to your wolfpack fan club. But does the latter genuinely accomplish anything? Sure, you look like the tough guy or mucha macha chica on Twitter et al. You’ve also alienated, probably permanently, a whole lot of people you’re supposed to be trying to reach for your cause who, astonishing as it may seem, aren’t that interested in your totem pole positioning within their echo chamber. Why not for once try being respectful to another human being possessing the same dignity and worth as you? If it doesn’t work, you did the right thing. But if it does …

… you too can exchange tweets with the Susan Slussers of this world.

Had a bit of a health scare yesterday. Prepped for my closing shift; set out the door for my daily dose of public transportation thrills … and had to turn back toward home a few minutes into my usual twenty minute walk, as shortness of breath and overwhelming fatigue took center stage. Most unusual, in that I’ve never had the slightest trace of asthma. Caught my breath and a bit of energy some time after very slowly walking home, but definitely not how I’d planned to start the day.

Thinking back on it, I’m still not sure what set off the incident. What it accomplished was reminding me of a few facts, one being that I’m now entering the season of life where one need be mindful of family history regarding heart attacks, namely the plentiful nature thereof. Obviously it wasn’t one, given how I’m presently present, but still. Faithfully take your blood pressure medicine (I do) and watch the stress (okay, so I’m batting .500).

Without either becoming morbid or frantically running around like a moron trying to accomplish all my life goals before lunch tomorrow, it’s good to have a sense of urgency regarding what needs to be done. Have I chatted with that friend lately. Have I both told and shown those I love the love I hold for them. Am I actively fulfilling the Great Commission to tell others of Christ’s love in word and more importantly deed. These things I can do; indeed, these things I must do despite my rumbling bumbling stumbling fumbling humanity. If these together are not the central theme, life is an unbalanced gyroscope.

This ties into why I constantly beat the classic Christian rock drum. It’s not a job; I haven’t seen a dime for writing about it since my last paying gig freelancing for a music magazine in 1994, and I will never sell enough copies of my book to recoup expenses, let alone earn anything. Rather, it’s because I have to. It’s my obligation. Everything else, including (gasp!) politics, runs second.

Yes, it’s irksome when I see writers who, all false modesty aside, can’t hold a candle to me endlessly promote themselves while receiving lavish praise for their latest two bit entry in the great conservative new media circle jerk. They don’t change anything. They don’t influence public policy. They do precious little education save for the truly uninformed. That said, it is what it is, to resurrect that extraordinarily overused expression of some years ago. Far better to do what it is I am called to do, letting others deal with the consequences of their own actions.

There are times when we need a reminder – say, a health scare – taking us back where we need to be and back to what we need to be doing. I can’t change the world. I can’t, or at the least haven’t to date, convince nearly enough people to listen to and actively support music designed and dedicated as God’s language. But these things I can do: what I’m supposed to, and what I am able to do. So may it ever be.

As mentioned before in this space, many veteran Christian rockers have successfully turned to crowdsourcing as a means to both finance rereleasing cherished catalog albums and fund new projects. The 77s are currently working the former, with an unearthing (or rescuing from underwater, if you prefer) of their 1994 release Drowning With Land In Sight the pursued prize.

Drowning With Land In Sight was the 77s sixth album and their second major label release, albeit of a far different nature than the first which was put out in 1987 by Island Records only to be overwhelmingly ignored by same, it apparently too busy counting money from the latest U2 project to notice it had a terrific record by someone else on its hands. This time, the band was labelmates with Amy Grant and looked poised to claim their rightful place along Petra et al among Christian rock royalty. Which unlike regular rock royalty translated into actually being able to pay the rent on time each month as opposed to making sure the accountants properly cut a check for the new Lear next month. But I digress.

There was one minor problem with this approach. The 77s had always been Christian rock for people who hate Christian rock; never intentionally antagonizing their prospective core audience but also never comfortably nesting alongside the aforementioned Petra and variations thereof as readymade youth group fodder. The lyrics were too introspective, the accompanying music too challenging as it varied from shimmering, contemplative power pop minus the genre’s usual relentless cheerfulness to heavy blues. The band’s pop side had been prevalent on its previous release. Now it was time for the blues. And oh, did they deliver.

In the film Rattle and Hum, Bono commented, “Charlie Manson stole this song from The Beatles. We’re stealing it back” as U2 ripped into a cover of “Helter Skelter.” Without similar fanfare, The 77s did the same opening Drowning With Land In Sight by taking Led Zeppelin’s arrangement of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” and reuniting it with song author Blind Willie Johnson’s original lyrics, or at least a far more closely aligned set of words than what Robert Plant intoned. Making this a full throttle triumph, band lead singer/lead guitarist/main songwriter Mike Roe showcased how he was and is one of the very, very, very few guitarists on the planet capable of tackling a tune touched by Jimmy Page and not sounding anemic by comparison.

Roe and company were just getting warmed up. The album bristles with snarling jagged force. At the time it was being recorded, Roe was watching his marriage crumble while bandmate David Leonhardt was finishing a battle with cancer. This left little room for niceties or pious platitudes. Instead, Roe took what would have been the title track from his previous album had the distributor not nixed it, namely “Pray Naked,” and used its philosophy as a beacon, stripping bare his raw emotions and displaying them for all to see. Lyrically the theme isn’t centered on former partner bashing; reflections on one’s own shortcomings are woven throughout decried loss. The band occasionally dipped into its pop side for this, but for the album’s majority kept the sledgehammer cranked to 11. Only the last three songs featured The 77s’ softer side, with the final song “For Crying Out Loud” offering the hope most everything before it found lacking.

It’s little wonder Drowning With Land In Sight fared poorly in the Christian marketplace. Said collection of Christian bookstores and churches purchasing music from them was, if ofttimes grudgingly, acceptant of endless variations on “Praise Ye The Lord” by Petra. It had no idea whatsoever what to do with a primal scream. But for those who know pain, the album was and remains a hiding place for shared sorrow. Drowning With Land In Sight is a superb musical dark star, steeped in the blues and made for those walking in the valley of the shadow.

Creative people, regardless of their chosen vessel, almost unanimously share two common traits. They are to some degree unbalanced (more on that in a future post), and they are inept at judging their own work. A prime example is Robert Plant’s unshakable belief that Physical Graffiti was Led Zeppelin’s best album. Um, sure.

Another trap into which artists often fall is dismissing, without a second thought, their audience’s discernment regarding their work. While popularity (or lack thereof) can never be taken as sole or primary indicator of creative quality, it possesses at the least some credence when calculating art’s worth. The Beatles haven’t sold, depending on who you ask, somewhere in-between six hundred million to over two billion records – that’s billion with a B – strictly because teenage girls in 1964 thought the four moptops were cute.

Artists undervalue their work as often as they overestimate its worth. The better the artist, the more likely he or she is to lowball his or her accomplishments. The late Irish blues guitar master Rory Gallagher twice threw away completed records that, upon rescue by third parties, showed themselves easily up there quality-wise with approved releases. For example, consider this track which, were it not for Rory’s brother Donal’s efforts at keeping Rory’s legacy alive, would have remained forever unheard.

Taking this into the land of the living, not one but two Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees care not a whit about their recorded heritage. Steve Miller’s catalog is available on download sites, but anyone preferring something with actual sound quality, i.e. compact disc, will quickly discover most everything has been out of print for close to a decade. Yet this pales in comparison to Bob Seger. Want anything prior to his breakout 1976 live album Live Bullet? Other than one thin compilation, it doesn’t exist. No CDs, no downloads, nothing. There are a few scattered CDs released in the 1990s and a handful of somewhat dubious legality ones from a decade ago, all long out of print and correspondingly now exchanging hands for a king’s ransom. But readily available? Ain’t happening.

This scarcity of product, as a recent NPR article notes, is serving two purposes, neither of them good. It is alienating Seger’s large fan base, and it is blunting his legacy on classic rock radio. Seger flat out owned mainstream (now classic) rock radio from 1976 forward until well into the 1990s, cranking out hit after hit superglued onto playlists across the land: “Night Moves,” “Old Time Rock and Roll,” “Still The Same,” “We’ve Got Tonight,” etc etc etc and several more etc after that.

Fast forward to today. When by all rights and logic he should be similarly prominent on classic rock radio, Seger seldom gets airplay. Why?

There’s no reason to play his music. There’s nothing to support it. Remember, the music industry and terrestrial radio have a very cozy relationship. Record labels provide the programming, a/k/a music, to the radio stations for free. Radio stations play the music. Licensing fees and artist royalties? What’s that then? Songwriters get royalties from whenever one of their songs are played on a terrestrial radio station. Performers do not. They are placated by the notion of hear song/like song/buy song via CD or download or vinyl. Hence the eagerness for all involved parties to play what people want to, and can, purchase. Remember, catalog sales (music released more than eighteen months prior to the current date) are running higher than new music sales, and by an ever-increasing rate. There’s gold in them thar repackaged, remastered rereleases of albums fans more than likely already own, but are even more likely to purchase again if there is sufficient added value in the new package.

Seger isn’t part of this scenario. He has none of the rereleases constantly refreshing the catalog other artists enjoy. In many cases, a release period. There are no “oh man, I haven’t heard this song in ages – I love this song – I have got to buy a copy while it’s fresh in my mind” moments for an audience that still buys music in lieu of streaming pop puff pastry without filling today and forgetting it this afternoon. If it’s not on Seger’s most recent (now six years old) greatest hits compilation, which while okay is hardly comprehensive, and you’re not willing to go on a very well-financed musical archeological expedition, not only will you not be following up on your impulse … you can’t.

It’s tempting to attempt a dramatic overlay here, using Seger’s story as a grand allegory for some deep political or societal tale. But no. Art needs no justification, and not everything has to have a moral of the story attached. Sometimes, and put plainly far more often than not, the story stands on its own merits. So c’mon, Bob. How about you and your manager – mostly your manager, since apparently he’s the (quote) brains (end quote) behind all this – get it together, respect your fans, reclaim your rightful heritage in rock’n’roll royalty, and make available some new copies of those old records we can each take off the shelf and listen to by ourselves should we choose to do so? Today’s (again quote) music (again end quote) ain’t got the same soul. We like that old time Bob Seger rock and roll, and we want to be able to get our hands on it. Please.

PS: A fun example of older Seger:

A phrase oft heard during any given sporting event where the heavily favored team finds itself on the score’s short end is “the other team practices too.” Meaning: nothing is a given and no matter how talented, or better on paper, someone or a collection of someones is than the competition, if you dismiss the other team out of hand and don’t compete up to your ability level you will not win. Ever.

The same principle applies to life. We all have our burdens and battles; our private little hell that can and all too frequently does consume us. These must be tended to, otherwise they can severely damage us. Sometimes irrecoverably.

This duly noted, it is easy but dangerously shortsighted to exclusively focus on our own situation, neglecting to note that the other person has problems too. John Donne was right; no one is an island. We all have oppressive elements besetting our every day and every step.

To behave as though we alone are suffering while everyone else is on their own under the veneer of “they know their problems and I don’t” is pathetically short-sighted. Empathy is not contingent on complete understanding of someone else’s pain. We are all human, and we all share humanity’s common threads.

It is equally short-sighted, with a hefty dose of narcissism on the side, to focus so heavily on our own problems while neglecting to value others sufficiently to, at the least, inquire as to how they are doing that our life becomes a one-note samba of “woe is me.” The other person hurts too. Their hurt is equally important as ours. Ignoring them while bemoaning our state helps no one. It makes the other person quite apt to wonder why they should help, or care for, us when our actions and words make it apparent our concern for them extends only as far as their willingness to feel sorry for us. And, simply put, in such a scenario we are doing more than enough feeling sorry for ourselves to where the other person has zero inclination to join our pity party regardless of how deeply they care for us. We are pushing them away at a time when we most need them.

The other person matters too. Ask them how they are doing. You will be surprised how much it helps you both face the wounds and scars we all – all – bear.