Fun 80’s Metal Wacky MTV Videos and Cubs banner raising 108 years in the making

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The Cubs line up during player intros on banner night before defeating the Dodgers 3-2 in an NLCS rematch at Wrigley Field. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy Cubs.

So, I was sitting downstairs in the entertainment room with the TV on. A flat screen like so many other spoiled people. But we’re a family. So, we take turns watching and share.

I was mostly locked in on the Cubs epic banner raising ceremony 108 years in the making. Rain delayed the game about an hour at Wrigley Field. Once it got going, boy was it something to behold. I’m not a Cubs fan. I’m not from Chicago and have never been there. But watching the festivities along with the nice scenery at one of the oldest ballparks, I concluded I need to get to Wrigley. Bookmark that.

My favorite part was following the awesome player introductions for both the Dodgers and Cubs in an NLCS rematch, seeing all-time Cubs greats Fergie Jenkins, Billy Dee Williams and Ryne Sandberg help raise not one banner but two. They first did a banner for 1908. The last one before they came back to defeat the Indians from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series in 2016. Then as every great sports movie soundtrack played including favorite themes from Rudy and The Natural, up went the 2016 World Championship banner by the ivy on ESPN. Wow.

Maybe it’s the historian in me. When it comes down to it, I appreciate the history of sports. Seeing the Cubs finally get to do a banner raising was one of the coolest moments. I can only put it on par with the Rangers finally raising the Stanley Cup banner honoring ’93-94 after waiting 54 years for their fourth championship. Think about this. That is half as long as Cubs fans waited. That defines crazy and explains the fandom. They have a great team capable of repeating. We’ll get into that another time.

What’s great is that you had Anthony Rizzo marching out the World Championship trophy as the Cubs all came down the stairs following the ceremony in from the outfield. It was really well done. Even more appropriately, Wayne Messmer performed an unreal edition of the star spangled banner. He used to be a regular at Blackhawks games along with the White Sox and Bears. To hear Dad tell it, there was no one better than Messmer when it came to our national anthem. I had never seen him perform live. But watched classic videos on You Tube. My favorite current anthem singers are John Amirante and Jim Cornelison. Amirante used to do O Canada and the Star Spangled Banner frequently at MSG before being phased out. He’s 82. Cornelison replaced Messmer at Hawks games. He is terrific.

If there is one more thing I loved, it was the organ playing during the intros. It really gave it an old school feel. The organ is something that isn’t used enough at games. I have always enjoyed it. Now, arenas and stadiums blast music through the sound system as if it’s some deejay event or concert. It’s a game. The organ has a nice touch. It’s soothing and whispers to you that a good event is coming, building anticipation.

As for the game, eventually it was played. The Cubs won 3-2 over the Dodgers on Rizzo’s walk off single in the home half of the ninth plating Jon Jay. His first run batted in of the season was a clutch two out game-winner. What you’d expect from one of the National League’s best players. He finished in the top four for MVP last year. An award won by teammate Kris Bryant, whose double plated the game’s first run off Alex Wood.

The Cubs scratched out an unearned run too due to an E9 from Yasiel Puig. Chicago ace Jon Lester’s RBI fielder’s choice put them ahead 2-0. But the Dodgers were able to come back late. Corey Seager’s RBI double scored Joc Pederson in the sixth. They would tie it in the eighth with an unearned run due to an E6 from Addison Russell. Two of the game’s best teams combined for five errors.

Seager is an emerging star who won NL Rookie Of The Year and finished third for MVP. He’s a unique talent at short with great bat speed and terrific instincts. He’s everything Pederson isn’t. I would know. I drafted Joc in the first year of my Franchise League in the minors before trading him and then getting him back and keeping him. I keep thinking he’ll figure it out. But he still can’t hit lefties batting way down in the lineup when he starts. He also had a key at bat with the bases loaded and nobody out against Justin Grimm. Pederson let Grimm off the hook missing his pitch on a 3-2 count with a weak pop up to short right which prevented a run from scoring. He should’ve crushed it. Instead, Grimm escaped a bases loaded no out jam getting Carl Edwards, Jr. off the hook when he induced an inning ending 4-6-3 double play.

While Pederson remains an unfinished product, leave it to me to not insert Michael Pineda on the one day he pitched up to his talent. On Yankees Opening Day at Yankee Stadium in the home opener, Pineda was the story taking a perfect game into the seventh inning. Yankee killer Evan Longoria broke it up with a double down the left field line. Pineda was brilliant pitching into the eighth inning allowing only one earned run on a solo shot from Logan Morrison while fanning 11. That is the kind of quality outing that can get Yankee fans on his side. It’s about finding consistent. The talent is there. Let’s hope this gives him the confidence boost he needs.

The Yankees had plenty of offense. Aaron Judge went yard for the second straight day for home run number two, driving a hanging curve into left field 10 rows back. With Gary Sanchez officially sidelined a month, the Bronx Bombers need Judge to produce along with Greg Bird, who should be good to go in a couple of days. For now, quality backup catcher Austin Romine is starting with prospect Kyle Higashioka up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Down two starters on the infield with shortstop Didi Gregorius also missing April, the Yanks have gotten nice contributions from 24-year old utility man Ronald Torreyes. He’s filled in admirably at short while hitting a home run and driving in eight to lead the team.

For now, skipper Joe Girardi has gone back to the 1-2 of Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the order. They’re both off to good starts with Gardner swiping two more bases to hike his total to five while scoring two runs. Ellsbury is hitting .348 with a homer and two RBI’s. Matt Holliday, who recently became a member of the 2,000 hit club, had a pair of hits and his fifth RBI. So far, so good for the proven veteran. Starlin Castro went yard for the first time parking one to right center. One of three long balls the Yanks hit. Chase Headley got the other for number two. With two straight wins, the Yanks are 3-5 and at least can cool off some of the panic from the April Mattahs crowd.

The Mets won in Philadelphia 4-3. Jay Bruce continues to swing a hot bat going deep twice. That included the go-ahead game-winning two-run bomb for his fourth dinger. Remember all that talk about them dumping him in the off-season. Sometimes, the best moves are the ones you don’t make. Even though Terry Collins must fit Michael Conforto into the lineup when he can. Jacob de Grom got a no decision despite grinding out six innings while allowing two earned with two walks and three strikeouts. Addison Reed earned his second save in two nights pitching around a solo home run from Brock Stassi in the Phils’ ninth.

Among the notables, Bryce Harper went 4-for-4 with with two runs and three RBI’s along with six total bases in a Nationals’ 14-6 win over the Cardinals. Stephen Drew had three hits and four RBI’s. Seriously. Khris Davis is up to four homers already as Oakland shutout Kansas City 2-0. Wil Myers became just the second Padre to hit for the cycle highlighting a 5-3 win over the Rockies. He hit his third home run and is up to seven RBI’s.

As the Cubs and Dodgers moved at a snails pace, I flipped on MTV Classic between breaks to catch Metal Mayhem. Just your classic hour of cheesy and classy metal videos full of electric guitar shredding, drum beats and edgy lyrics. I still can’t believe they mixed in Suicidal Tendencies in a weird video where the lead singer talked in gibberish like a pre-Henry Rollins. It had its moments. A throwback Guns N’ Roses live concert from 1988 with the original band performing a stirring rendition of “Welcome To The Jungle.”

There also was the underrated “Fallen Angel” from Poison along with “Youth Gone Wild” from Skid Row in their debut album with Sebastian Bach screaming his lungs out. I had never seen this one from Twisted Sister before. It was released as a single in 1987. It’s called “Hot Love” featuring Dee Snider’s hot wife Suzette:

What would a Metal Mayhem be without an appearance from Diamond Dave? You betcha! David Lee Roth when he went solo after a bad break up with Van Halen. It’s Yankee Rose. A hilarious satirical look at immigration in the intro along with stereotypes. Imagine if this video aired now. The ridiculous overreaction it would get. Music shouldn’t be censored. That whole thing with Tipper Gore and Snider testifying in court was crap.

Anyway, you get all these crazy characters in a convenience store with an immigrant behind the register. Then David Lee Roth recites the classic line:

“I’ll take a bottle of anything and a glazed donut to go!”

Of course, the scene shifts to Diamond Dave on stage shouting, “Whoa!!!!! She’s beautiful!” What a comedian he was. Great presence. He had fun. Eddie Van Halen didn’t. Remember that reunion disaster as presenters at the VMA’s? Here is the song from Mr. Roth:

Yeah. 80’s metal was epic. 😀

Until the end of the world

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The title choice is inspired by the wild and wacky weather we’ve had this week. We have gone from snow not too long ago and icy conditions to Spring conditions with temps approaching 70 degrees. It really is crazy for late February. Not that I mind. I didn’t even have to wear a jacket to work.

So, is the end of the world near? If you’ve heard U2’s underrated hit “Until The End of The World,” from the overlooked Achtung Baby  album in the early 90’s, then maybe you can feel it too. But despite all the warning signs of manic and panic, the world isn’t ending. That’s a good thing.

We get to choose what we want to do each day. I choose to enjoy every day to the fullest. Not the dullest like my job which can put you in a sleep induced coma. Customer service is so thankless. But I’m not here to discuss that. I’m here to remind everyone of everything good. You won’t get anything negative from me in this space.

I choose to stay positive and think about the people in my life. My family is all here. My friends are too. The awesome coworkers I share laughs with over these six years. Of course, my writing which always has some creativity and paints a different picture which is unique and takes me away from everything. That’s art.

That includes music. Something I will always share with people I meet. It also includes my random rhymes. I got my new car finally washed Thursday. It only took 30 minutes after the first place was too backed up. Everyone wants to do it when the sun is shining and the weather is nice. Almost too nice for words. But I’ll take it. We all will.

Do I have any pearls of wisdom? You bet your ass I do. 😉

Current mood: “Good Vibrations” Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch

 

Stay true to yourself 

And in good health 

See the good inside 

Smile on the outside 

Let the sun shine 

Like a fancy rhyme 

Enjoy the poetic sky 

As the birds echo a cry 

Fly away into a different dimension

Beyond the level of comprehension

Raise the roof 

Because each and every day you are the truth

Hit it out of the park 

Like the Babe lighting up a spark

I got more bars than electric guitars

Like Jimi Hendrix and all my shining stars

They sit high above the roof top 

Cause legends never die the cream of the crop

Jimi, 2Pac, Biggie, Marley and Lennon 

Were champions of life always winning 

Their message was one of hope 

Rather than the negative spread by mainstream media dopes

Whose only goal in life is to bring you down 

When we should be our own person minus the frown

Spreading a message of peace and love 

End the hate conquer and divide rise above 

Live for each day and do it our way 

Yesterday is gone it’s all about today 

Love and respect each other 

Stand together for one and another 

We can accomplish anything our heart desires

My heart bleeds red with plenty of fire 

Showing emotion because I care 

Never live my life in fear 

I’ll rise above the rest 

God willing we’ll pass this test 

From coast to coast 

East to west we must be the best 

Why I Heart The Cars

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You know. I’ve been here before. I’ve harped on why I believe The Cars are deserving of inclusion into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Of course, they’re not going to be inducted for a second straight year. This year’s class is highlighted by Pearl Jam, Tupac and Yes. Electric Light Orchestra, Joan Baez and cool 80’s band Journey are also included.

So, how come The Cars aren’t in? Were they not influential enough? Are you kidding?!?!?!?!?! Their combination of alt pop rock and new wave was something never heard or seen before. They certainly produced enough hits during a decade long run. The highlights include the timeless “Drive,” the fun and poppy “Just What I Needed,” and the ultra cool and hilarious “You Might Think.”

None of their songs are bad. How about the classic “Moving In Stereo” which was featured in Fast Times at Ridgemont High in a epic scene where Judge Reinhold’s character Brad Hamilton fantasizes about his sister’s hot friend Linda Barrett played by sex symbol Phoebe Cates at the pool. A scene no heterosexual male will ever forget.

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The way the song is played with that base just gives it the right touch. It was perfect for that movie and Hamilton’s pornographic scene where Cates’ Linda catches him in the dirty act by opening the bathroom.

You could listen to any song by The Cars or watch one of their unpredictable and downright laughable videos and get sucked in. It’s not just the music either. It could be the uncanny yet talented Ric Ocasek with a few of the videos featuring mesmerizing model wife Pavlina Porizkova. It could be the wacky stuff they did when MTV was hot in the 80’s. They had fun.

But make no mistake about it. Ocasek and gone too soon Benjamin Orr, who took turns on vocals depending on the song, were a terrific combo along with lead guitarist Elliot Easton, drummer David Robinson and keyboardist Greg Hawkes. The thing I like most is they all could play instruments. Orr doubled on bass and Ocasek played rhythm guitar. How many bands boast two talented vocalists? They were perfect choices for each song. Orr’s pipes are amazing on Drive. The band’s biggest hit. But Ocasek is so good on You Might Think. Not to mention him being a bee in the bathroom of his future wife during the memorable video.

Orr has been gone for 12 years losing a battle to pancreatic cancer. What if he were still around? Would he have been part of the reunion they had? One can only wonder. I say yes. But that’s with my heart. They went onto successful solo careers.

As long as they’re on the ballot, I’ll continue to vote for them until they get in. In the meantime, here are some videos as a daily reminder of how great their music was.

 

 

Just A Song

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If ever there is a time for just a song, it’s now. In this time and age where everything is so broken down in a cold world divided by hatred and misunderstanding, we need music more than ever as a good reminder that not everything is bad.

It’s time to accentuate the positive. That’s my approach on February 1 in New York City. So, a video I love and have since it first came out. It takes me back to the days of covering the Staten Island Yankees a decade ago. How did that much time pass between 2006 and now? Is it really 2017? It is.

Here are one of those bands I can’t get enough of The Fray with the classic video “Over My Head (Cable Car.” And how this video still grabs me for the cool school scene with Isaac Slade’s younger brother basically playing a younger him. Listen, sing along because you know the lyrics and watch. Enjoy. 😉

I just love how this was directed. It’s got such a cool feel. The school setting and classroom which we all know so well. The annoying test we struggle with where he looks around and searches but must find the answers himself. And then the awesome rock setting at the end with the live concert.

Anyway, this song was playing in my head at work yesterday. So, it’s definitely appropriate.

Music: R.E.M. Kurt Cobain Tribute

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R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe’s tribute to friend Kurt Cobain in 1994 gem “Let Me In” from the Monster album remains one of my personal favorites. 

Truly great music comes in all art forms. No matter the category or style, it can blow your mind. Lately, I’ve been listening to classical in the car. Sometimes, it just helps soothe me when I’m overthinking. I just had a nice get together with one of my closest personal friends who is home for Christmas and then back on a flight Monday to California.

For some reason, these hangouts in South River, New Jersey get my juices flowing. I can’t explain why. As I drove what was probably the easiest and most peaceful 20-minute ride minus traffic, I opted for classical over classic rock. Q 104.3 was playing all the hits of the bands that are going into the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame. I was bored. So, I decided for classical instead.

It was that kind of mood. I just wanted peace and quiet. Classical gives you that. Normally, I would never listen to it. I’d jam out to something hard that I identify with. But I guess I was a bit anxious to see my friend along with our core who go back two decades. That was Friday. Today’s different.

As we celebrate the first night of Chanukah and enjoy Christmas Day with the Knicks and Celtics at noon before another anxiety driven visit to Mom for more birthday and holiday fun, I was listening to Q 104.3 most of the first part of the day. I put in a few hours at work early and then was tired. Maybe the combination of seeing my buddies last night caught up to me. I am in the process of getting a new car. And that can weigh on you. We should’ve just closed on the silver Honda Accord I wanted. I regret it. But things have a way of working out.

Anyway, they played a lot of good music. Of course, you had your combination of Christmas hits from U2, Springsteen, Bryan Adams along with classic throwbacks like Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” and Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation.” Christmas songs rock. The one performed by many of music’s biggest stars in 1985 for Band Aid’s memorable “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” remains my favorite due to its significant meaning.

Feed the world. Let them know it’s Christmas time!

That is truly what the Christmas spirit is all about. Sticking with that theme, I randomly decided to go to Barnes & Noble and see what they had. So, after careful thought and consideration, I wound up getting my father a cool 1967 magazine on the great music scene with personal fave Jimi Hendrix on the cover. I knew he’d love it. I then stumbled upon a Rolling Stone commemorative issue on Guns N’ Roses. As I glanced through a couple of parts, I knew it would make the perfect gift for my brother. You better believe I’ll also read it. 😉

It’s already 12:27 in the morning here on an overcast mid-40’s night in Staten Island, New York. There will not be a white Christmas in New York City. Instead, the temps will be mild. These days, you never know what you’ll get. Sometimes, it can be bitter cold as it was all of last week. Now, we just had some rain. Gone are the days where you could wake up to snow on a Christmas in the city that never sleeps. It’s not as common.

So, why tell all this before I get to the topic of my post? Because it’s the holiday season for believing and dreaming. It’s where and hopes and dreams float through the sky and leave you feeling high. Anything’s possible. That is my vision for this time and what follows in 2017.

I was on You Tube because where else would I be. I watched M83’s fancy “Midnight City” because I really dig it. It’s such a different and unique sound. Plus the video’s interesting. I then took a listen to another one of their songs which I came away impressed with.

Then I punched in R.E.M. and Kurt Cobain because “Let Me In” from the memorable 1994 Monster album remains a personal favorite. I always loved that song. Back then, I was a wide eyed student at Fairleigh Dickinson in the beautiful surroundings of the Madison, New Jersey campus in Morristown. A 17-year old freshman who even took a crack at being a radio deejay from 8-10 for a night. That was my paradise. My chance to experience college radio. Cue up music and read PSA’s.

I was big into Hendrix, The Beatles and most of the new stuff. You had your Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Nirvana, Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins and R.E.M. I also loved rap but there wasn’t as much of a selection. Of course, I preferred Dr. Dre’s The Chronic with Snoop Dogg and Tupac even though most of his great stuff came afterwards.

It is interesting to note that R.E.M. had recorded most of the Monster album live and without much trouble. But they added the special tribute to Cobain, who committed suicide. Interestingly, frontman Michael Stipe had spoken with Kurt about Nirvana’s next album and they were supposed to team up for a trial run of the album.

“Let Me In” is one of those songs that takes you into a different dimension beyond comprehension. The song is played in a high emotional pitch and tempo. It just feels different and more important. The way Stipe sings it is powerful. You can tell this was personal for him. He noted that it was supposed to be him on the phone with Cobain trying to help him. What if he had saved him? We’ll never know.

Kurt’s legend grows along with the infamous 27 Club which features Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Brian Jones, who all passed between 1969-71. Amy Winehouse also passed at 27 in 2011. She actually was afraid she would die at that age. The list is long and also includes 2Pac contributor Stretch and rising actor Anton Yelchin. Someone I remember most for his performance in Alpha Dog. Most of the list is made up of musicians. It’s bizarre.

Getting back to the song, it’s not the longest but doesn’t have to be. If you listen to it, you get the message right away. It’s high energy and an emotional tribute to Kurt Cobain. I have enough Nirvana stuff including their famed Unplugged in cassette. I also have a cassette of the Weezer debut blue album. I lost The Chronic twice. It’s amazing some of the stuff I had. Some of it disappeared. Now, cassettes are extinct. It’s either CD or i-tunes.

Here is the memorable “Let Me In” with a nice video tribute to Cobain:

The back drop is pretty cool. It’s almost like he’s singing through emotional tears instead of rain drops. The blue color and the random images of Kurt are perfect.

Whatever holiday you celebrate, Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas!

Cool Video: The Cars “You Are The Girl”

How many people have heard of The Cars? If you haven’t, you’re missing out. Quite honestly, their unique style and sound was unlike anything I ever heard before growing up.

I look at what Ric Ocasek, the gone too soon but never forgotten Benjamin Orr, Elliot Easton, David Robinson and Greg Hawkes accomplished and think it’s some of the best music of the late 70’s and 80’s ever produced. What I really love about them is their music was different than anyone else. It had a poppy combination of new wave and rock intertwined. They also had both Ocasek and Orr splitting time as lead singers. What other group would do that?

The thing that sticks out for me is when Ocasek decided to let Orr sing their most popular hit, “Drive,” it showed just how smart and uncanny he was. He knew he wasn’t always the best to be the lead vocalist. I guess it depended on the song and what delivery and sound they were going for. They both were great.

When you listen to any Cars song, they all go together. They have a unique style which is distinct kind of like Tears For Fears, The Cure or Depeche Mode. Three other 80’s acts I loved. Somewhat appropriately, none of them are in the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame. Or as my Dad refers to it:

“The Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Shame.”

They recently announced the Class of 2017. Yes finally made it and Tupac Shakur did as expected. So did Journey, who even though I like their stuff, I don’t think they’re better than any of the aforementioned 80’s bands who had more staying power. Particularly The Cure and Depeche Mode. Electric Light Orchestra also got in as did Joan Baez. Big 90’s act Pearl Jam is the big headliner. They are great and their music still stands like other big 90’s bands who went in before them. Though I can’t stand Eddie Vedder even though his Cubs Take Me Out To The Ballgame was pretty kick ass during the World Series.

The idea that The Cars aren’t in is ridiculous. They had more talent than anyone. How many hit songs did they produce? “Just What I Needed” is great. Their videos were to die for too with a cartoon feel featuring Ocasek’s model wife Pavlina Porizkova. She was featured in so many videos. Wow. She was a stunner.

“You Might Think” won Video of the Year in 1984. In it, Ocasek plays a bumble bee that invades Porizkova throughout. It’s one of those classics that’ll make you smile and laugh. That’s one of the great qualities The Cars had. They didn’t take themselves too seriously. Their music was amazing and the videos were perfect for Music Television which became a phenomenon when it debuted. Too bad MTV hardly shows any videos and only cares about its silly awards show that really sold out. I can’t even remember the last time it was relevant. Yet I still get sucked into watching. I don’t know why. My brother won’t ever give it the time of day.

Our video feature was their last hurrah. It’s a single released in 1987 called “You Are The Girl.” I can recall listening to it on my Walkman. Remember those things? Yeah. They were pretty cool too before I-Pods and I-Phones. Back in the days when cassettes were huge and vinyl was still a thing. If I did come into any money, aside from getting my own place, I would invest in a record player and buy vinyl. Records don’t get enough play.

“You Are The Girl” is another one of those random whacked out Cars videos that leaves you thinking, “What the hell am I watching.” But halfway through it, you can’t help but laugh at the creativity. They’re in outer space and dressed as astronauts who meet girls from another planet. There’s a part that’s basically sexual but it’s so hilarious that you can’t take it seriously. It just creates laughter.

The song is rather catchy. When it comes down to it, this is who they are. The Cars music always had that cool sound. I would hear this song in middle school thinking of my sixth grade crush in science out of all things. Kinda poetic considering the video and time.

But seriously. Listen to almost anything Cars from their first two albums and you’ll agree they belong in the Hall. Particularly Candy-O which doesn’t get as much air play. There’s not a bad song on it. I can’t think of too many Cars tracks I disliked. It all has to do with the way they played and delivered each song. One day, they’ll get in. It won’t be soon enough to suit me.

MTV Unplugged: “Hurt”

In the previous post I just finished, I included a link to the infamous Nine Inch Nails hit song, “Hurt” because it kind of goes with what I’m expressing. If you’ve ever listened to their music, vocalist Trent Reznor always delivers every lyric like it’s his last.

It certainly applies with Hurt. I used to do Video of Days. This is the music portion of the blog. I’ve always been a huge NIN fan. They were up for Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame induction last year. I’m not sure if they’ll ever make it. But they have always produced great albums which hardcore fans identify with. If I could ever see them in concert, I’ll sign. Now that I’ve seen Axl and Slash together again sharing a stage with Duff for the Guns N’ Roses tour, anything’s possible. I really should post some of the video footage I took one of these days at Met Life Stadium.

As for Reznor, I never realized or maybe forgot that he did an MTV Unplugged of “Hurt.” This is a zillion times better than the link of the studio version I included in the last entry. Take a listen. Feel every word he delivers because it’s done with emotion and has so much meaning. Truly masterful.