Switchfoot — “Hello Hurricane” (from Hello Hurricane) —

Keeping Florida — and all my friends of friends who live there — in my thoughts as hellacious Hurricane Irma bears down on her latest landfall today, and praying that her furious wrath is as muted as is naturally possible.


U2 — “Staring at the Sun” (from Pop) —

Because, duh. (Happy Total Eclipse Day, y’all, and please stay safe when you’re looking skyward this morning.)


Shanice — “I Love Your Smile” (from The Ultimate Collection) —

“I wanted to have a hook that, even if you don’t speak English — if you’re from Nigeria, or wherever you are — that’s your jam.”

— songwriter and producer Narada Michael Walden, speaking to TVOne’s Unsung about the bubbly, instantly iconic vocal hook at the core of Shanice’s breakthrough 1991 smash. (This tune’s effervescent innocence feels like it belongs to an entire other age from the one we currently inhabit, but, be it on the radio or in a random iPod shuffle, this jam never fails to improve my humor whenever I stumble across it.)


Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison — “This Will Be Our Year”
(from Our Year) —

Let’s all pray for Sherry Ann today: while I get to stay 40 for a whole other month and change — and I’m hanging onto it for dear life, people! — she leaves that age behind today for the untested wilds of 41. Vaya con dios, doll; I’m sending you much love across the miles and hoping you have the happiest of birthdays.






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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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

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