The greatest rock & roll record of all time.

I was recently asked if I could name one record that epitomizes rock & roll—one track that embodies its spirit and pulse, in all its insolent glory. A preposterously tall order I thought. But I was already hooked.

So I pondered the great rock tours-de-force over the years, from 'Satisfaction' by the Rolling Stones to 'Rock & Roll Hoochie Coo' by Rick Derringer to 'Old Time Rock & Roll' by Bob Seger. I thought I might even include a recent tune for my short list: Green Day's 'Know Your Enemy'.

But the truth be told, these songs—and many other such classics from the last four decades—rocked more than rolled. The real heart and soul of this musical revolution, in my humble opinion, is best captured in the swaying, fluid rhythms of its 1950s pioneers—the true R&R architects—who had some swing in their rock.


The role of rock.

Watching the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concert on cable tv this week, I was reminded what rock brings to the party.

Bono put it beautifully when he pronounced from the stage: 'For a lot of us here rock & roll just means one word: liberation!'

Then Bruce Springsteen standing next to him, concerned that Bono might be taking things a tad too seriously, piped up, 'Let's have some fun with this.'

These two statements together capture the rock equation for me. R&R = freedom + joy. And this, as I repeatedly argue on these pages, is a spirit that business is in desperate need of—especially now, when surveys show that workplace morale is plummeting. (An estimate suggests that sixty-five percent of US workers are looking for a new job!)


Random musings.

Visiting family, friends, and colleagues this month, I had several days—and 2500 miles—to reflect on musical and business matters while cruising Interstate 81 with iPod blasting…

I'm always looking for new rock bands with a wildly innovative approach—a way of performing or recording (or even marketing) that fundamentally changes the game.

Maybe those bands are out there but I haven't heard them. Perhaps the quality of popular radio is driving the best stuff underground? I'd like to think that's the case, but a lot of the subterranean stuff is not, well, groundbreaking.


The running game.

After twenty-five years I guess it's time I come out of the closet on this one: I was an independent candidate for United States President for 1984.

It began as a sociological experiment of sorts, to test the premise that any American citizen can—and has the right to—run for US President, even a rock musician. In fact, I immediately discovered that it doesn't cost a dime to run for national office. (It costs a tad more to win, however.)

It proved easy to grab media attention for my "Everyman candidacy" as the news corps desperately pursued any storyline it could find in an otherwise tediously dreary campaign, dominated by the likes of incumbent Ronald Reagan and challenger Walter Mondale.


It was forty years years ago today.

On September 26, 1969 The Beatles released their much-heralded Abbey Road album, which captured their final recording session together (though earlier recordings were later released on Let It Be).

Whoda' thunk The Beatles would still dominate the music news four decades later?

Two weeks ago their video game "The Beatles: Rock Band" was released to much hoopla and frenzied demand the same day that their digitally re-mastered catalog hit the street, propelling them onto the record charts (yawn) again.

The following week five of the ten best-selling albums in the US were Beatles albums. (I thought I was having an acid flashback to April 1964 when they had the top five singles in the Billboard Hot 100.)

How is it possible that every product release by The Beatles—even the Love soundtrack from Cirque du Soleil a few years back—can crash the party, gobble market share, and grab headlines? Is it because The Beatles were that good or because the contemporary competition is that weak? (Try both.)


Nurture the freaks and geeks.

This weekend marks the anniversary of a significant event in my young life. In August 1972 my rock group, the Band of Angels (originally known as The Berries, which I mentioned in a previous post), was performing a weekend gig at the Flying Jib, a legendary rock club in Redondo Beach, California.

The Jib was a step up in quality from the half-empty beer bars we had just played in the San Fernando Valley. (On a slow night in the Valley we would record our first set on our trusty Teac reel-to-reel tape recorder then play the tape over our PA system instead of performing live for our second set, just to see if people noticed. They didn't.)

But a Saturday night at the Jib was different and we rose to the occasion, showcasing original tunes in front of a packed audience that was enthusiastic, appreciative, and thoroughly hammered.