Author: DB (Page 2 of 280)

Emergency Playlist

A special playlist is in order this morning.

There are plenty of other songs about this fine state that I’m guessing came from folks not happy with what went down in Georgia last night, thus they have been left behind. Hell, some of these may make no sense in the context of the election, Jay Farrar comparing his impending estrangement from Jeff Tweedy to a Civil War battle, for example. Nonetheless, a few songs about the state of Georgia. Thanks, ya’ll!

December Media Mega Post

A lot of material to get through, so strap yourselves in.


The Holiday Shit

Classics:
Elf, A+
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A
A Christmas Story, A
Die Hard, A+
A Charlie Brown Christmas, B
South Park: Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo, A
The Office, see here

New:
Holiday Baking Championship
Lorenzo and Juliana were the most impressive competitors all season. Lorenzo is crazy talented for his age, and always taking his baking interesting angles. Juliana matched him, possesing amazing skills and creativity for a home baker. She was a worthy champion.

A-

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Tons of references/influences, but somehow it all works. Not strictly a Christmas movie, but rather one that takes place at Christmas. But as a movie the entire family can watch together, it ends up being an ideal show for the season.

B+

The Holiday Movies That Made Us: Elf
There is some good trivia in here about the holiday classic. But the way the information is presented made the show hard to watch. The producers tried to be way too clever in how they cut up the interviews and voiceovers.

C-


Shorts, Shows, and Movies

Dua Lipa: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert
Over the past couple years I’ve given over the car radio to the girls, with some caveats. I’ve put in a few “hits” stations as favorites and we listen to those on rides to and from school. So I’ve heard 8 million Post Malone, Lizzo, and Ariana plays over that span. A lot of the artists kind of run together. I knew Dua Lipa’s name, but not sure I can always connect her name with her songs. I saw her on a lot of Best Of lists for both songs and albums for 2020, so when her Tiny Desk (Home) Concert popped up, I decided to give it a try. What a delightful performance! What a dynamic presence she has. Yes, she’s tall and gorgeous with a fine voice. But what struck me most was how she carries herself with a glorious, bubbly confidence that more women in this world need.

A

Inception
I’m ashamed to admit I had not watched this until last month. It was a first class mind fuck and I loved it.

A+

Bruce Springsteen’s Letter To You
A documentary companion to Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You album, it showed the Boss and the E. Street Band in the studio last year banging the songs out. He still plays with a remarkable energy, but the man is 71, and it shows. The songs are still pretty great, but the sections when Bruce speaks suffer. He’s always been long-winded. Thank goodness Bob Dylan told him back in the early ‘70s that he used too many words in his songs.

A- for the music/B- for the spoken parts

How Tag Became a Professional Sport
This is the good shit right here.

A

The Vast of Night
A quirky, low-budget thriller set in late 1950s New Mexico and presented as if from a Twilight Zone knock-off of the same era. Some parts of it, especially the end, are fabulous. And the camera work is excellent, with several exceptionally long takes. But other parts of it are very slow and keep this from being a great movie.

B+

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Based on one of the greatest spy novels ever written, this was extremely difficult to follow for the first hour as it constantly jumps around. Sometimes a scene would include just a single spoken sentence before it leapt to a completely different shot. But it all comes together nicely as Gary Oldman finds a mole in the 1970s British intelligence service. Ironically I watched this just hours before John le Carré’s death was announced.

B+

Following Seas
A really interesting documentary about the Griffins, a family who spent most of the 1960s and early 1970s at sea. It is told from the perspective of the mother, Nancy, in interviews done in the final year of her life and almost entirely through the film they shot on their trips. I used to be fascinated by people who sailed around the world. It’s pretty sobering to see how difficult life on a sailboat actually was.

B+

The Barkley Marathons
The Barkley Marathons is an annual race in the woods and hills of eastern Tennessee. When this movie was shot, only ten people had ever completed its full 130 mile course within the 60 hour window. The filmmakers caught a break and saw three people finish this insane race, the winner breaking the previous record by over an hour. Even back when I ran a lot and had way more energy, I don’t think I could have even completed even a single loop of this race.

A-

WW84
So you have Gal Gadot, the woman for whom the term “Galacticly Hot” may have been invented. You have Kristen Wiig, one of the funniest people on the planet. And somehow you still make a movie that is plodding, bloated, and has you hoping for the finish not to see how it ends but so you can stop watching. Pedro Pascal was very good, but it’s like he was acting in a completely different movie than everyone else. He was cartoonish and over-the-top where everything else was reserved and somber. A disappointment.

C-

Bee Gee’s: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart
I heard raves about this and since we have HBOMax for a month – we got it so L could watch WW84 – I figured I would check it out. I knew much of the Bee Gee’s story already from a podcast I listened to a year or so back. But it was interesting to see interviews with the brothers rather than a narrator telling their story. I don’t know that it breaks much new ground, and I’m betting they had more struggles than just not getting along for a year or so in the early ‘70s. But the music, man… You can argue they are one of the most unfairly judged bands ever, given how they took the brunt of the backlash against disco. What they did from 1975–1979 was as good as any band outside the Beatles has ever done.

A+ for the music, B for the content

Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo
I watched this about a year ago with L, when we were watching a bunch of space shows together. I was pushed to watch it again by the podcast listed below.

A

Spies in Disguise
Third time L and I have watched this in the last 12 months.

A

Scoob!, B
Doolittle, B
Our New Year’s Eve movies. Not great but not terrible either, and L enjoyed both, which was the point.


Bond

Casino Royale , A
Quantum of Solace, B
Skyfall, A
Spectre, C
Goldfinger, C+
I went on a mini-Bond run right after Christmas, re-watching the Daniel Craig movies and capping it with a trip back to one of Sean Connery’s best. That was a mistake; if you want to watch old Bonds you need to watch them on their own, not after watching a bunch of new ones. They look awfully dated and cheesy in comparison. I debated whether to watch From Russia With Love, my favorite Connery edition, but decided not to ruin it. And somehow I don’t think I had ever watched Spectre. It was kind of a mess. Here’s to No Time To Die being more like Casino Royale and Skyfall, my two favorite Bond films, and ending the Craig era properly.


Audio

13 Minutes to the Moon
A BBC podcast that aired a year ago for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 flight to the moon. I meant to listen to it then but never got around to it. Picked it back up after I saw a recent recommendation for it. It focuses on the final 13 minutes of the LEM’s trip to the moon’s surface. Over 10 episodes they set up everything that led to that sequence and break down little moments in the sequence. Then, the final two episodes are a guided trip through the 13 minutes, then an episode where they play all the NASA audio from the 13 minutes without any commentary. It’s a brilliant way of setting things up so, by episode 11, you can listen into the tapes from 1969 and have an idea what is going on. And it is just another reminder of how freaking amazing the Apollo program was.

A

Two Broke Watch Snobs
I’ve been dabbling in the horological information space a bit over the past couple months. I still love my Apple Watch but I also love regular watches, and have been debating whether I should be rewarded with a nice mechanical watch of some variety when I mark 50 years on this earth later this year. TBWS is the most irreverent watch podcast out there and highly entertaining whether you care about watches or not.

A

American Top 40 Year End Countdowns
For much of December 29–31 and listened to the AT40 station on iHeart Radio as they worked through the Top 100 Songs shows of the late 1970s. My constant complaint of this station is that they don’t play enough late ‘70s shows. Listening to these scratched that itch rather nicely.

For grins I tracked how deep I could go into each countdown before I came across a song I could not immediately recognize. Here’s how it broke down:

1976: #7
1977: #4
1978: #43
1979: #29

I think I need some more weekly countdowns from 1978 because that year clearly resonated with me.

A++++

Sports Takes

A lot of sports to get through, so let’s tackle the biggest issues of the day in no particular order.


CFP

Alabama crushing Notre Dame was no surprise. As an Indiana Catholic school parent I don’t hate Notre Dame nearly as much as I used to. I don’t mind them winning, but still take some pleasure in their losses. One day that fan base will wake and realize it isn’t 1977 anymore. Brian Kelly is the perfect Notre Dame coach: no doubt he’s an excellent coach, but ultra thin skinned and bristles at any suggestions the Irish might be overrated, not at talented as the elite, and benefit from decades of institutional bias toward their brand.

I think it’s funny that Ohio State waxing Clemson was seen as such a huge upset. It’s Ohio State we’re talking about here! They are the third leg in the current Kings of College Football triad. You expect them to be in the playoff every year and if they have a good QB, have a solid chance to win it all.

That it was a surprise that they beat Clemson is just a confirmation of how preseason narrative controls college football. This was supposed to be Trevor Lawrence and Clemson’s season of redemption. And so the whole season was just playing out the string until we could get to Clemson-Bama. Ohio State being sucked into all the drama of the Big 10 season kept them from making a claim to be one of the best teams in the country. But they thoroughly exposed Clemson, so much that I saw a couple “how can Clemson fix this” posts yesterday. Which are 100% idiotic. Play ten games and those teams probably split them evenly, or maybe one team goes 6–4. Clemson ran into a motivated opponent and lost a playoff game. I don’t think that’s a sign that they need to blow the program up. Although firing Dabo would be cool…

That said, Alabama is just a freaking machine, and this could be their best offensive team ever. If Justin Fields is 100% Ohio State certainly has a chance. But I see another Saban/Crimson Tide title coming.


KU Hoops

We Jayhawks fans were feeling pretty great after KU used a huge second half to run away from West Virginia in their final game before the holidays. It looked like they crushed the souls of the Mountaineers that night, as WVU seemed to completely give up in the final 10 minutes. Hell, Oscar Tshiebwe even left the program after playing particularly poorly.

We were all saying, “Damn, now they have to take 10 days off?”

The layoff sure showed on Saturday vs. Texas. All those shots that fell against WVU were bricks against the Longhorns. For once all that athleticism Texas always has proved to be too much for KU. A convincing win that makes Texas a threat not just to Baylor to win the Big 12, but to actually go deep into the tournament too.

BTW, I found it both ironic and fitting that Texas’ biggest basketball win in a decade or so came on the same day most UT fans were distracted by their football team firing their coach. News even broke of Tom Herman’s firing just before tipoff, meaning most Longhorns fans were busy scrolling and texting and reading about football for the two hours their basketball team was getting a signature win.

I believe I said this last month, but my feelings for college hoops are dialed way back this year. While the season has been without interruption for KU so far, I don’t expect that to hold. The games still feel very different without true crowds. I watch them all but don’t get nearly as up or down as I normally would. I wish that meant I said fewer bad things about David McCormack during games, but I can’t help myself there.

That’s not to diminish Texas’ win, or any other games KU will lose in the coming months. There won’t be an asterisk next to home loses for KU just because there aren’t 16,300 packing Allen Fieldhouse. It just means my emotional investment is not where it has been for the past 35 years or so.


NCAA Tournament in Indiana

This has been rumored for some time and has finally been locked in. The entire NCAA tournament will be played on a variety of courts here in Central Indiana. The plan is for it to still be a March/April deal. I don’t think anyone would be surprised if a champion is crowned later than that, though.

I don’t know that another area could pull this off like Indianapolis. Obviously it helps that the NCAA is headquartered here, and has a long history of working with local government agencies. My only quibble with the plan is that it makes no sense to keep the Final Four at Lucas Oil stadium. Whether there will be crowds or not is still to be determined, but I am confident if fans are allowed, there will not be 40,000+ allowed to watch the game. At a minimum the game should be moved to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse. Ideally it should be played at Hinkle Fieldhouse on the Butler campus. Some people have suggested playing the final at a historic high school gym. That’s a step too far for me. But there is no way it should be played in a huge, empty football stadium.


Colts/NFL

The Colts snuck into the playoffs on the back of Jonathan Taylor’s breakout performance against Jacksonville. For some reason Phillip Rivers struggles against the Jags, and for awhile Sunday it looked like the Colts would be on the outside looking in thanks to him playing poorly twice against the worst team in the league. Fortunately the defense and Taylor bailed Rivers out.

The Colts are an odd team. When they look good, they look really freaking good, like a team that could give the Chiefs a run for three quarters. But in every game they have lapses when things fall apart, when the offense suddenly can’t move the ball, when the defense can’t stop anyone, when penalties pop up at the worst possible moment. They feel like a team that should have been better, but probably got about as much out of their talent as possible. And now I guess we get Rivers back for another year. Yay?

I know the Bills are the hottest team in the game right now, but I think I’d rather the Colts play them than the Ravens. That’s probably dumb, since the Ravens beat the Colts earlier this year and that could be a motivating force. I don’t have much faith in the Bills, though, where I think the Ravens are the Wild Card with the best chance of winning two games.

Looking at the bracket, I admit I did a triple take when I saw that the Bears made the playoffs. I knew the NFC East was awful, but there are enough Bears fans in my Twitter feed that I assumed they were 5–11 or something. I mean, 8–8 ain’t great, but it’s much better than I thought the Bears’ record would be.

That said, I was shocked the Dolphins were a win away from making the playoffs. Weren’t they intentionally choking just a year ago? Things change quick in the NFL!

Right now, I see no reason not to call a Chiefs-Packers Super Bowl and install the Chiefs as early 7.5 point favorites.


Pacers

The Pacers are off to a solid start, sitting at 5–2 after last night’s overtime win at New Orleans. That was the first game I watched almost start-to-finish.

New coach Nate Bjorkgren has them playing faster, which is fun and suits the roster. But, man, they just get killed on the boards. When you give the other team three chances to score, it sucks the life out of you.

TJ Warren is now expected to miss significant time with a stress fracture in his foot. Jeremy Lamb is still a month or so away from returning from his ACL rehab. Since these are the Pacers, you have to expect at least a couple of the current starters will suffer significant injuries and miss large stretches of games as well.

Yep, the Pacers are still in that weird middle ground they seem to be perpetually stuck in: good enough to make the playoffs, but not good enough to make a deep run. Which means they are never drafting in the lottery. And since free agents do not want to come to Indianapolis, they must rely on savvy trading and take fliers on guys other teams pass over. And then hope they get hot in the playoffs. I guess it’s better than sucking.

“There’s Only One Animal That Can Kill a Snake”


I watched a shit-load of TV in December and have an extra-heavy post coming up soon to cover all of that. First, however, something that would normally go into my January list requires immediate attention.

Netflix did the world a solid by releasing season three of Cobra Kai on Friday. I watched the first two episodes in the gap between the CFP semifinals games that night. Then I crammed the remaining eight into my Saturday. It was the highlight of my weekend!

So, thoughts…

THERE WILL BE SPOILERS

First off, YES!!!! You know when you find something cool and it continues and you fear that it might start to suck? Well season three does not suck. For sure, it starts off a little slower and less even than the first two seasons. But once it finds its footing, it hums along equally as well as seasons one and two.

Before I get to details, I wanted to speak about the show at the macro level.

There are many things that I love, love, love about Cobra Kai. At the top of the list is how well balanced the show is. And I mean that in many ways. The writers do a brilliant job of balancing cheese and schlock and over-the-topness with moments of genuine heart and emotion. The serious moments are just serious enough to bring the show back to center without being shmaltzy or sanctimonious. And all the moments of balance between characters and within the plot are genius. There are always forces that are opposing each other, and the moment something gets either too comfortable or too stressful, another element comes in and counters those feelings.

That balance is what makes it all work. It never veers too far in one direction for too long, which would be easy to do for writers that were trying too hard.

For example, at first I thought sending Daniel LaRusso to Tokyo and Okinawa was a mistake. It seemed like a needless distraction. And when Kumiko and Chozen from The Karate Kid Part II made appearances, I really thought it was going to go off the rails. You know what? It really worked well! The two Japanese characters brought in useful elements for the advancement of the overall story.

Two examples from the Okinawa storyline that show how well this show is written. When Kumiko told Daniel that she had never married because, after him, no other man had fought to the death for her, I was worried. This seemed like a clear chance for a guy who is facing the destruction of his business to give into a moment of weakness when he runs into an old flame. Especially one who lays that on him (I felt really bad for Kumiko, although she seemed to accept her fate happily). A lessor show puts them in bed together. Cobra Kai allowed them to speak to each other as adults and find a genuine, emotional connection to each other than had nothing to do with sex. More on that angle in a moment.

The interactions between Daniel and Chozen were also well done. Their first extremely awkward interaction was terrific. Then, as they were forced together, there were plenty of opportunities for things to go off the rails. Chozen, after living with the humiliation of his fight with Daniel for 35 years, could easily be a total dick, force a confrontation, and get his revenge. And the story does slide toward that direction. Until Daniel earns his respect and we see that Chozen really was changed by their 1980s encounter and is no longer a thug, but rather a guardian of Miyagi-do karate. There was plenty of cheesiness to the resolution of their story. I mean, it was a little too convenient, right? But the scenes are done so well that you forget about the cheese and enjoy the heart of those moments. There was a little Ted Lasso to the Okinawa trip.

Johnny Lawrence remains the best character on the show. William Zabka is just sooo good at bringing all these layers to Johnny. His “you can be a badass without being an asshole” ethos is one a lot of folks should learn to live by. And Johnny constantly digging holes and then climbing out is super compelling.

As with Daniel and Kumiko, Johnny got to confront an old love. Elisabeth Motherfucking Shue shows up as Ali Mills! I knew it was coming but it was still a jolt to see her on the screen. Johnny coming clean to her about his life and their day at the carnival together was great. They came far closer to getting physical than Daniel and Kumiko did, but that phone call that interrupted them was perfectly timed. And it set up the look on Johnny’s face later when Ali learned he was dating someone and asked him about her. Johnny may have had an urge to get the girl from his past and reclaim all his mid–80s glories, but he has grown enough to realize the smart move is to chase the future with Carmen. Well done!

By the way, any time you get Daniel and Johnny together with Amanda LaRusso and Johnny’s date, it works great. Amanda getting a few drinks in her and calling people out for their petty, 30-year-old shit, is outstanding.

As for all the kids, there were some kickass fights. Especially the one in the LaRusso house in the final episode. I have teenagers and I’m starting to fear them having a party when we are gone. Can you imagine coming home to your house being utterly destroyed by a three-way karate fight!?!?

Again, the kids display the show’s balance. Miguel, Sam, Robby, and Tory form a nice love…square? Rectangle? It can’t really a triangle with four sides, right? Anyway, any time one of them, or a pair of them, seem to be finding normalcy, here come one/two of the others to upset that. It is relentless and gives the show much of its momentum.

The backstory on Kreese was interesting. Not just in showing how he became a psychopath, but also by showing that he was once a caring person. The question for season four is does something reignite that caring side of his personality, or is he so far gone that he must be destroyed?

Some other bullet points:

  • Eagle Fang Karate? Hell yes!! Johnny insisting a mongoose isn’t real about had me falling off the couch.
  • Hawk is an absolute menace. And then he does the heel turn in the final episode. For all the twists and turns this show throws at you, that one still has me reeling a bit.
  • I do not buy, for one second, Yas and Demetri as a couple. I can handle a lot of unrealistic shit in this show. But I will not stand for this.
  • I noticed that Courtney Henggler always wears flats. I don’t normally notice these things but I thought it was weird she had them on with a business suit and began keeping track. I assume this is so she doesn’t appear taller than Ralph Maccio, right? Pussy.
  • Speaking of the exclamation “Pussy!” I need a Johnny Lawrence soundboard.
  • Dee Snider!!!
  • Peyton List. I’m having a hard time with her. My girls watched all the Disney shows she was on, so I literally watched her grow up. And her body is very, very different than it was then. I understand puberty, I know how young people’s bodies can change dramatically. But I keep wondering if all those changes were natural. If you know what I mean. Which, you know, who cares? And, also, stop being a dirty old man. While I am thrilled she seems to have survived the Disney machine, it is distracting to see a child actor as an adult. Especially when they are, um, very curvy.

There are dozens more things I could write about. But, bottom line, season three of Cobra Kai was another triumph. Shooting for season four is expected to begin soon – Covid allowing of course – and may debut next January. I can’t wait to see how the writers handle LaRusso and Lawrence teaching together. As much as anything they’ve done so far, that likely has the most potential for disaster. But also potential for absolute magic.

If we do get a January 2022 release date, I know what I’ll be streaming next December to prepare.

A

A (Gradual) New Start

Families in Indianapolis got an early Christmas present about two weeks ago when the county health commissioner said that schools could return to in-person classes beginning today, rather than waiting until Jan. 19.

St P’s normally starts the Tuesday after New Year’s Day, so today is a mini-virtual day with the kids having a few light assignments but no actual classes. Then they will be back the classroom tomorrow.

CHS will begin virtual classes tomorrow and return in person next Tuesday. They have an extra week’s buffer knowing high school kids were probably together on New Year’s Eve (M hung out with four friends who all come from families that seem to be keeping safe, although five girls spending the night together is probably not strictly a super-safe event…)

I think the girls are all happy with the change. I certainly am, although my fear is that this will be a short-term routine and schools will return to eLearning sometime between now and spring break.

This has certainly felt like the longest Christmas break ever, since the girls have all been home since before Thanksgiving. Not being able to do normal Christmas break stuff made it feel even longer. There were some friend hang-outs, but they were much more sporadic than they were a year ago. We didn’t go out to eat at all. Other than one car trip to look at Christmas lights with a couple nephews, we didn’t go to any holiday events. Family events were obviously much more scaled back. Fingers crossed that being in school is safe, but we all needed a change in routine after seven weeks home together.

Lots of content in the queue for this week. There are sports to discuss and a metric ton of media I consumed over the past month to review. My Friday Playlist pool is overflowing.

Hope all of you had good New Year celebrations, your families are healthy, and your homes are starting to return to some normal rhythms.

Friday Playlist

It’s not every year that Jan. 1 falls on a Friday. I better commemorate the day properly.

“The New Year” – Death Cab for Cutie
“New Years Morning” – JarJarBeatz
“New Year’s Day” – U2
“New Year” – Beach House
“Happy New Year” – ABBA
“This Year” – The Mountain Goats

Stats

I’ll dispense with the monthly stats, since December is dominated by Bing and Frank and other seasonal fare.

Instead here are my totals for the year. I believe they reflect the oddness of 2020 appropriately. I would not have guessed Pearl Jam, Springsteen, the Beatles, or Prince would be in my top ten one year ago.

* Pearl Jam – 347
* Bruce Springsteen – 301
* Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – 228
* The Beatles – 205
* Phoebe Bridgers – 165
* Doves – 156
* Prince – 134
* Ratboy – 126
* Waxahatchee – 125
* cartalk – 123

And an annual refresh of my total Last.fm stats since I began using the service in February 2005.

* Frightened Rabbit – 3452
* Pearl Jam – 3295
* The War on Drugs – 2433
* Ryan Adams – 2248
* The Beatles – 2234

Complete stats available at my Last.fm page.

Good Riddance

Welp, it’s almost over. The worst year ever has but a few hours left. And then everything will magically get better at midnight, right?

If only…

2021 has to be better. Vaccines are being administered and research continues to find more ways to fight Covid–19. It may take months, but the tide is turning.

While Covid is our biggest issue, there are plenty of other issues for which there are no vaccines. And even if there were vaccines for racism and hate and greed and lack of empathy and people focused on obtaining/maintaining power by finding ways to divide us, well, let’s be honest, most of those fools wouldn’t take it.

There are lots of reasons to be pessimistic about the future. Rolling the calendar over to a new year won’t fix that. That doesn’t mean we can’t take a moment to celebrate putting 2020 in our rearview mirrors.

Happy New Year, be safe.

And fuck you, 2020.

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 52

Chart Week: December 22, 1984
Song: “Bruce” – Rick Springfield
Chart Position: #33, 6th week on the chart. Peaked at #27 for a week in January.

As artists move through their careers they often jump from one record company to another. This can lead to uncomfortable situations when the artists break through and their previous employers attempt to capitalize.

Rick Springfield was about as big of a second-tier pop star as there was in the early 1980s. He never quite reached the heights of the giants of the era: Hall & Oates, Prince, Madonna, or Michael Jackson. But he was a consistent hit-maker in the first half of the decade. After some minor hits in the 1970s, his ‘80s run began with the classic “Jesse’s Girl,” which hit #1 in 1981. Over the rest of the decade he had 14 more Top 40 hits and four Top 10’s, including the #2 “Don’t Talk to Strangers.” He sold out concerts. He had a major role on the wildly popular soap opera General Hospital. And he was one of the biggest male sex symbols of the era.

By many measures, he was a bigger star than Bruce Springsteen.

Until the Boss broke through with Born in the USA in 1984, Springsteen had been more of a critical darling than commercial star. Sure, he had a wildly devoted following and sold out arenas. But his songs were never mainstays on the pop charts the way Springfield’s were. Only 1980’s “Hungry Heart,” which peaked at #5, made a real dent in the public consciousness.

Born in the USA changed that. “Dancing in the Dark” made it to #2 and began a run of eight-straight top 10 hits over the next two years. Bruce added two more top tens from the Tunnel of Love album before the decade was over. Springsteen became one of the biggest acts in music, a spot he’s maintained for over 30 years despite massive changes in the music industry.

With Springsteen’s success came an effort by record companies to push artists similar to him. John Cougar Mellencamp and Bryan Adams were touted as Springsteen-like. John Cafferty sounded a whole hell of a lot like Bruce, and in 1984 catapulted from the clubs of Rhode Island to the pop charts. Billy Vera and the Beaters got some run for their Springsteen-light vibe.

Rick Springfield didn’t sound a thing like Bruce Springsteen. But apparently some folks got their names confused. Which kind of makes sense. They were born a month apart, struggled through the ‘70s before breaking through in the ‘80s, both had dark hair, and both had last names that began with ‘Spring…’.

This had apparently been a problem dating to before the men became stars. For his 1978 album Beautiful Feelings, Springfield recorded this track, a humorous account of getting confused for another young singer. A woman calls out “Bruce” name during sex with Rick. An autograph seeker tells him he loved “Born to Run.” It’s light-hearted, fun, and weightless. I don’t think Springfield was trying to piggyback on Springsteen’s success, since there wasn’t much to piggyback on at that point. It was just him sharing a funny story of life as a struggling artist.

With Springsteen’s ascension in 1984, Springfield’s former label, Mercury Records, pounced. They held the rights to Beautiful Feelings. Without any input or involvement from Springfield, Mercury re-recorded the music for the album, slapped his original vocals over these new tracks, and re-released Beautiful Feelings with “Bruce” as its lead single.

It worked. Kind of. Despite the combined Springfield/Springsteen mojo, it could only climb to #27. The album could only make it as high as 78 on the Billboard 100 album chart.

I can’t find any comments from Springfield related to the song or album. I would bet he wasn’t thrilled. His Hard to Hold album, released by RCA, was still on the charts, spawning three top 20 singles. A fourth single did not quite reach the Top 40, but its lack of success may be more because it was a B-side than because “Bruce” was taking away airplay and sales.

I was also unable to dig up any comments from Springsteen. I’m guessing he realized the song was from a different time and totally harmless.

I wonder if Bruce and Rick ever talked about the song, and swapped stories from those early days when they were both trying to carve out identities for themselves.

This video features the original backing music tracks. Below is a Spotify link to the 1984 single version.

Beatles Songs, Ranked

“Favorite Songs by Artist X” lists are a dime a dozen when it comes to certain bands. They are click-baity and unnecessary, as they’ve been done and done and done again. Still, as a music fan I will almost always read them and listen to the songs they cover if it is a band I care about.

I think that is why it took Steven Hyden so long to get to the Beatles. After doing Springsteen, Petty, U2, and the White Stripes, he finally got to the Fab Five just before Christmas.

The great thing about a Beatles list is you can get through it so quickly. I started listening to this one evening and finished it early the next afternoon. Compare that to his Springsteen list, which took me several days to get through.

If you need a time waster in this week between, pull up this list and get to reading and listening.

The Best Beatles Songs, Ranked

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