15
Jun

Bob Schneider — “40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet)”
(from Lovely Creatures) —

It’s Sherry Ann’s birthday, and she always says her annual devoted Buzz post is her favorite gift, so I hope she enjoys this one just as well. Congratulations on hitting the big four-oh, madam, and rest easy in the knowledge that, no matter how old and decrepit we end up becoming, you’ll always be a month older than me.

8
Feb

Randy Travis — “I Told You So”
(from I Told You So: The Ultimate Hits) —

I invited A to write a guest Buzz post explaining in further depth why and how — regardless of history and/or statistics and/or odds and/or any other data at hand — he had such faith that Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos were going to ultimately prevail as Super Bowl champions this past weekend. His response was that his guest post would be exactly three words long: (1) Told. (2) Ya. (3) So.

Fair enough.

Nothing is official, obviously, and Manning will likely go radio silent for the next few weeks as he deliberates upon what his future holds. But it seems wise to assume that he stepped onto an NFL field as a competitor for the final time on Sunday, and if that is indeed the case, he just became, at 39 years and 300-some days, the oldest quarterback to ever win the Lombardi trophy, and he also became the first quarterback in NFL history to notch 200 total victories (including both regular season and postseason games), passing Brett Favre’s previous mark of 199. (Don’t expect that record to stay in Peyton’s ledger for very long, though: Manning’s rival Tom Brady currently stands at 194 total wins, so barring a freak injury and/or a complete collapse of the Patriots’ dynasty, it seems reasonable to foresee that Brady will assume that particular crown sometime next season.) Still, here’s to Peyton enjoying his latest victory lap. Well-earned, sir.

7
Feb

Gavin DeGraw — “Belief” (from Chariot [Deluxe Edition]) —

A chastised me for the decidedly bittersweet tone of my blog post from exactly two Sundays ago, which was more or less a farewell to legendary NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, whose Denver Broncos I strongly suspected were not going to be able to vanquish Manning’s eternal rivals — Tom Brady and the New England Patriots — in the thrilling AFC Championship Game fourteen days ago. A’s stance was that I should have had more faith in the abilities of both Manning and his compatriots, and while he’s probably right about that, he also has no real way to appreciate how many times over the past seventeen years that I’ve had my football-loving heart broken by that exact Manning/Brady matchup. (Betcha dollars to donuts that, in said title game two weeks ago, when Tom Brady got the ball back in his hands with something like two minutes left on the clock and down only one score, every last Peyton Manning fan in creation muttered something to the effect of, “Fuck me running, here we go again.”)

In the end, I should have trusted the pattern of history: Manning and Brady have met a total of five times in the postseason, and in each of those five games, the home team won. So the Broncos ended up punching their ticket to today’s Super Bowl (the kickoff for which is roughly forty-five minutes away as I type this) to face off against Cam Newton and the cagey Carolina Panthers in what seems nearly certain to be Peyton Manning’s final Sunday as an NFL quarterback. And, fitting for a man with a bulging book full of records, Manning snatches yet another slice of football history for himself today: at 39, he becomes the oldest quarterback to ever start a Super Bowl game (besting his boss, former Denver quarterback John Elway, who was 38 when he won Super Bowl 33 in 1999).

I’ll take A’s advice and allow myself a moment to imagine — indeed, to believe — that the Broncos will win today’s game, giving Peyton Manning’s triumphant career the kind of utterly incredible fairytale finish that no screenwriter would even dare to script for a movie. (This much I know: [a] I’ma be a sobbing, blubbering mess by the end of this evening, win or lose; and [b] if Denver’s defense manages to toss Newton up and down and all around the field like a G.I. Joe doll the way they did Tom Brady two Sundays ago, this game is going to be a lot closer than the Vegas oddsmakers are currently projecting.) But regardless of the result of tonight’s game, Peyton’ll take that field as the Sheriff, and he’ll leave it as the Sheriff, now and forever. One finds it difficult to fathom when we’ll ever see the likes of his grit, grace, and greatness pass this way again. Unleash fire on those Panthers tonight, Number Eighteen, and thanks — thank you so damned much — for the exceeding excellence of your example.

24
Jan

Counting Crows — “Omaha”
(from August and Everything After [Deluxe Edition]) —

As I type this, Peyton Manning is roughly half an hour away from leading his football team — the Denver Broncos — onto an NFL playing field for what could well be the final time in his titanic eighteen-season career. I, who have followed Manning since his second season in the league (back when he was under center for the Indianapolis Colts), have spent much of this weekend trying to psych myself into making peace with the fact that this day could well be the end of the line for a man whose talent, work ethic, and punishing pursuit of perfection I have spent most of half of my existence on this planet admiring beyond expression, and I more or less have indeed come to terms with that very notion. (True story: the day after Manning lost his first playoff game — a January 2000 squeaker against the Tennessee Titans, who would go on to lose the Super Bowl that year by one excruciating yard — I felt as though I had been gut-punched. I was all of three months into my newfound status as a football fan, and literally called my father in tears, wondering how he had done this all these years; how had he survived the years when his beloved Dallas Cowboys broke his heart and didn’t make it all the way to the Super Bowl? As I recall, he chuckled gently and said I’d better get used to this feeling if I was going to cut it as a true fan.)

Regardless of what this afternoon holds as Peyton prepares to face his longtime rival Tom Brady and the New England Patriots one more (one last?) time, and regardless of what you might hear in the coming days and weeks as discussion turns to what exactly Peyton Manning may or may not have accomplished across the breadth of his glorious career as a professional quarterback, let’s all just agree to agree that, in an eighteen season career, there is nothing to be ashamed of about playoff appearances in fifteen of those seasons, conference championship appearances in five of those seasons (including this one), Super Bowl appearances in three of those seasons, and a thrilling Super Bowl victory in one of those seasons. (To, of course, say nothing of the fact that Manning owns essentially every significant record that a quarterback can conceivably own, from number of completed yards passed to number of touchdowns thrown to take your fucking pick.) Win or lose today, Peyton can exit that field at the end of it with his head held triumphantly high. (How fitting, then, that today’s game will be taking place one full mile above sea level.) Give those shifty Patriots hell out there today, Peyton, and soak in every last second of this experience, sir.

12
Jul

Lamya — “Empires”
(from Learning From Falling) —

A was incommunicado for a large portion of the week — go figya this: turns out Alaskan glaciers and cellular reception aren’t such a cozy couple — but he did check in with a photo dispatch near the state’s famed Mount McKinley, which Wikipedia tells me is, at a mere 20,237 feet above sea level, the highest peak in North America, and which A reports can only be seen in full (read: not shrouded by clouds) around thirty percent of the year. I betcha no Palin ever taught y’all any of this information, so I am perfectly happy to consider this paragraph my public service for the day. (Luckily for all of us — up to and including our two dogs, who have missed him maniacally in his ten-day absence — A is coming back home to Texas tomorrow, and we’ll be able to put this entire episode far behind us.)

 

Alex - Mt McKinley pic

5
Jul

The Chemical Brothers (featuring Noel Gallagher)
“Setting Sun” (from Dig Your Own Hole) —

Whilst most of the rest of us char to a crisp down here in the steamy contiguous forty-eight, that crazy fool A is spending his week fighting for his very survival in an Outward Bound-style group trek through the wilds of Alaska. I’m still a bit fuzzy on the full details of his adventure — let’s invite him to chime in through this post’s comments section if he wishes to elaborate further — but from what I’ve been able to gather, he is basically tasked with climbing mountains, clawing his way across glaciers and other profoundly frozen plots of earth, and trying like hell not to become the easy prey of a famished moose. He texted his first pictorial dispatch just prior to midnight last Thursday evening, and as you can see for yourself in the stunning image just below this paragraph, when you hear someone refer to Alaska as the land of the midnight sun, you’ll now know they ain’t pulling your leg.

 

Alex - Alaska sunset

4
Jul

James Taylor — “On the Fourth of July”
(from October Road) —

Happy 4th, y’all. The Buzz hopes your holiday weekend is progressing most excellently.

3
Jul

Shawn Colvin — “When the Rainbow Comes”
(from Armageddon: The Album) —

Seven days have passed since the Supreme Court demolished all barriers to true marriage equality from coast to coast, and surprise surprise, the republic somehow still stands in spite of such runaway judicial activism. (Dreadful sorry, Ted Cruz.) The image below remains one of the most arresting to emerge from Pride 2015, and seems likely to become central to the iconography of the evolving new normal in this millenium’s defining civil rights battle. True colors rarely shine more radiantly.

white house rainbow

1
Jul

R.E.M. — “Lotus” (from Up) —

Heads up, R.E.Maniacs: Rhino has just released on DVD and Blu-ray the brilliant R.E.M. by MTV, an extraordinary full-length documentary — comprised solely of existing interview and performance footage and music video clips which were painstakingly unearthed and culled from deep within the vast vaults of MTV’s various domestic and international networks — which presents the entire story of the band in its warts-and-all entirety, from their humble beginnings playing Georgia dives, to their ascension to icon status among the college radio set, to their explosive success as Top 40 tastemakers. The gripping, gorgeously curated film premiered across MTV’s sundry television platforms late last fall, and has heretofore only been commercially available as part of the more comprehensive REMTV, a wondrously sprawling six-DVD treasure trove which also includes both of the band’s legendary appearances on MTV Unplugged, their VH1 Storytellers performance, and any number of other archival gems from three full decades of rock pioneerdom. If you’re a shameless Stipe stan like me and you let this one pass you by in the holiday crush last fall, time to play catch-up. Take it from someone who finally watched it just last weekend: you’ll be in ecstasy long before the first act finishes.

30
Jun

Lisa Stansfield — “All Around the World”
(from Biography: The Greatest Hits) —

Via a press release in my email last week, I was quite excited to learn that my fierce, flawless Lisa Stansfield is blessedly returning to record stores in September with a new two-disc live album, the news of which compelled me to immediately fire off an email to her publicity team begging for an interview for Brandon’s Buzz Radio. (This same PR firm helped me wrangle an interview with the one and only Meat Loaf a number of years ago, so I’m feeling pretty good about my odds in this endeavor.) Watch this space for more developments on that front whilst you enjoy the coolly seductive slice of pop perfection that carried La Stansfield to global superstardom exactly a quarter of a century ago. (I was stunned just now, scanning the Buzz archives, to discover that Miss Lisa has not one time in five years popped out of the Hive’s speakers, and that’s just shameful. Consider that error now officially corrected.)

28
Jun

Bob Schneider — “Let the Light In” (from Perfect Day) —

It is an awful, wonderful beast, this nation, this country which — quite literally — was founded with the words We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal. Rights truly are unalienable and certain in this awful, wonderful behemoth of a republic that our forefathers created and that our fathers — indeed, my father — fought to maintain. What the Court affirmed on Friday, ultimately, is the notion that when we decide to cast an entire subset of Americans’ rights to the swirling winds of fate and/or to the shifting whims of a popular vote, then — sooner or later — every American’s right to do, or say, or be, or live, or pursue happiness in whichever way they choose to is bound to be tossed up for grabs.

It is an awful, wonderful nation that is governed by humans with distinctly human foibles, but it is a nation whose history nonetheless nearly always — to steal a saying from the sages — bends toward justice, and toward fair, and toward right.

Takes a little longer than we might like sometimes, but love always conquers.

There are days when identifying as a gay man, a gay Texan, a gay American plainly sucks. Happily, today is not one of those days. Today, I am equal.

15
Jun

Kelly Willis — “Don’t Know Why”
(from Translated From Love) —

Sherry Ann will tell you that any and every day is a good day to blast some Kelly, but this being SA’s birthday makes it feel like a particularly apropos occasion. (Happy birthday, Sherry Ann; the Buzz hopes you’re living it up wherever you currently find yourself!)

23
Feb

Genesis — “I Can’t Dance” (from R-Kive) —

“Progressive rock bands, according to their fans, are supposed to stop about two albums into progressing and progress no more. . . . I think the secret to Genesis’ longevity is that they are the progressive rock band who progressed. And that’s why they’ve survived.”

— British comedian (and rabid Genesis fan) Al Murray, simply shedding light on the band’s four-decade-plus status as one of the world’s pre-eminent rock bands, at the end of Genesis: Sum of the Parts, a riveting documentary that premiered on cable’s Showtime last November. (Parts has just been released on DVD and Blu-ray and includes candid, no-holds-barred interviews with all the band’s principals — including Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins, and even Peter Gabriel, who split from the band in a hellacious huff in the late 1970s before embarking on one of the most magnificent solo careers in music history — and is exceedingly worthy of a couple of hours of your time. As, for that matter, is the album linked above: R-Kive, a first-of-its-kind three-disc, thirty-seven-track compendium of the greatest of Genesis’ hits alongside hits and highlights from Collins’ and Gabriel’s ravishing solo work, plus selections from Rutherford’s hit-making side gig Mike + the Mechanics. Taken as one, a veritable Genesis-inspired abbondanza awaits you, people.)