September 13, 2013 - 8:28 AM
There are three typical responses I get from people when I tweet out the countdown of my 100 all-time favorite albums: 1. This should be higher; 2. You've lost me on this one; 3. No one cares!
Actually, I care, which is all that really matters. About four months ago, I decided to put together the list as a fun way to revisit my favorite music and recall moments and periods in my life. That's the great thing about music, the way it connects us to certain places, times and people.
Tom Waits is my favorite artist. I have been listening to his records since my first girlfriend sent me a copy of his first album for Christmas in 1976. I remember falling asleep on the floor of my parents' living room during the holidays that year, listening to Closing Time on headphones after a night of moderate drinking. I've stayed loyal to Waits during his brilliant and twisted musical evolution. I sometimes call his records the soundtrack of my life.
I remember listening to Aqualung in my room in high school. I played a couple of the songs low -- Hymn 43 comes to mind -- because they seemed disrespectful to religion and I didn't want my mother to think I was listening to devil rock. I remember listening to Paul Simon's "Graceland" 25 years ago. I would dance my baby daughter around the room in my apartment in Brooklyn. I like to think that's one reason she became a music student who traveled to South Africa to study the musical traditions there.
My old friend, Randy, a sports writer in Denver, used to send me cassette tapes. He was always on the cutting edge, while I was listening to Waits and Neil Diamond. He turned me on to Cracker and Dada. I introduced him to the Tragically Hip. He sent me my first copy of "Henhouse" and "Day for Night." He flew all the way from Colorado to go to the Another Roadside Attraction show at Darien Lake in 1997. I still have the t-shirt. Yes, I'm the guy who wore it to the show this past summer on the waterfront.
My first memory of music is lip synching (remember that term?) to Meet the Beatles in front of the mirror when I was 8. My buddy Charlie and I listened incessantly to the Allman Brothers' "Live at Fillmore East" while playing Strat-o-Matic baseball in high school. I remember playing "Zenyatta Mondatta" while driving back to Missouri on a summer vacation with Jeff Jacobs in 1981. I was listening to "Car Wheels On A Gravel Road" when I began dating my wife, Melinda.
The late Jay Bonfatti gave me a copy of "London Calling" when we were practicing guitar one night. I was a little late to a lot of music, I must admit. When I listen to Ryan Adams, I remember that Chris Parker used to burn old Whiskeytown records for me. Listening to the Drive-By Truckers takes me back to a concert at the Town Ballroom, where John Wawrow and I bought flimsy tee shirts.
My kids used to love listening to Elvis Costello's "Tear off Your Own Head" in the car when they were young. I can still see my friends driving around in the car in high school, trying to hit the high notes on Elton John's "Rocket Man" off Honky Chateau. Gary Pufpaff and I belted out "Funeral For a Friend" on the dance floor at his wedding. Bruce DeHaven, the long-time Bills special teams coach, told me about Wilco, Son Volt and Uncle Tupelo back in the 1990s.
When I listen to John and Mary's underrated "Victory Gardens," I'm reminded of the night I had to drive John Lombardo home to North Buffalo from The Big Tree late on a Sunday after a Bills game. He had forgotten where he parked his car.
I could go on and on, of course. Music is about memory and place and friendship and love and marking the passage of time. It brings joy to our mundane daily existence. Imagine how quiet it would be if we had to go through life without it.
Yes, I care. There have been times when I said to myself, "This should have been higher," or "How could I have left this off the list?" or "Why did it take me so long to discover The Replacements"? It's not a scientific exercise, but it's sure been fun.
I'm down to my top 30. Here's a review of Nos. 31-100, working backwards:
100. Son Volt, "Trace"
99. R.E.M, "Automatic For the People."
98. Paul Simon, "Graceland"
97. Aimee Mann, "I'm With Stupid"
96. Radiohead, "The Bends"
95: John and Mary, "Victory Gardens"
94: Lou Reed, "New York"
93: Drive-By Truckers: "Blessing and a Curse"
92. The Police, "Zenyatta Mondatta"
91. The Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1
90. Jethro Tull, "Aqualung"
89. Mike Oldfield, "Tubular Bells"
88. Allman Brothers, "Live at Fillmore East"
87. Tom Waits, "Bone Machine"
86. Elvis Costello, "When I Was Cruel"
85. The Doors, "Morrison Hotel"
84. Tragically Hip, "Trouble at the Henhouse"
83. Boz Scaggs, "Silk Degrees"
82. Ryan Adams, "Cold Roses"
81. Santana, "Abraxas"
80. Elton John, "Honky Chateau"
79. Leonard Cohen, "Live in London"
78. Neil Diamond, "Tap Root Manuscript"
77. Lucinda Williams, "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road"
76. The Spinners, "Spinners"
75. Richard Thompson "Rumor and Sigh"
74. Lowest of the Low, "Shakespeare My Butt"
73. Traffic, "Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys"
72. Eels, "Shootenanny"
71. Cat Stevens, "Tea for the Tillerman"
70. INXS, "Kick"
69. Tom Waits, "Frank's Wild Years"
68. Dire Straits, "Brothers in Arms"
67. Meet the Beatles
66. Leo Kottke, "Dreams and all That Stuff"
65. Uncle Tuepelo, "Anodyne"
64. Randy Newman, "Land of Dreams"
63. Jason Isbell, "Here We Rest"
62. Bob Dylan, "Bringing It All Back Home"
61. Wilco, "Being There"
60. Joni Mitchell, "For the Roses"
59. Neil Young, "Harvest Moon"
58. Jackson 5: "ABC"
57. Sheryl Crow, "Tuesday Night Music Club"
56. Tom Petty, "Wildflowers"
55. Steve Earle, "El Corazon"
54. Counting Crows, "August And Everything After"
53: Michael Jackson, "Thriller"
52. Cracker, "Kerosene Hat"
51. Cowboy Junkies, "Blackeyed Man"
50. Dada, "American Highway Flower"
49. Fleetwood Mac, "Fleetwood Mac"
48. Tragically Hip, "We Are the Same"
47. Bonnie Raitt, "Nick of Time"
46. Strokes, "Is This It"
45. Tom Waits, "Mule Variations"
44. Grateful Dead, "Workingman's Dead"
43. Steely Dan, "Aja"
42. R.E.M., "Document"
41. Miles Davis, "Kind of Blue"
40. Ryan Adams, "Heartbreaker"
39. Billy Joel, "The Stranger"
38. The Replacements, "Tim"
37. Steve Earle, "Transcendental Blues"
36. 10,000 Maniacs, "In My Tribe"
35. Wilco, "Summer Teeth"
34. The Clash, "London Calling"
33. New Riders, "Home Home On The Road"
32. The Eagles, "On The Border"
31. Hootie & The Blowfish, "Cracked Rear View"
August 30, 2013 - 9:35 AM
August 29, 2013 - 11:07 PM
Doug Marrone had a beleaguered look after Thursday's 35-13 home loss to the Lions in the final preseason game. It was understandable.
Marrone's Bills were bad for the second time in six days. At halftime, they were down, 35-6. They were outgained badly for the second game in a row in the first 30 minutes -- 221 yards to 44. They turned the ball over three times, including two brutal interceptions by emergency quarterback Matt Leinart.
In assessing his team's overall play, Marrone made it clear that some of his backups were not taking advantage of their opportunities in the preseason. He seemed to be coming to the realization that his team lacks the overall talent to be a contender at this stage of the game. In other words, the Bills aren't very deep. I asked him in the post-game press conference if he was concerned about his depth.
"I am," Marrone said.
Marrone said the Bills will be scouring the waiver wire after NFL teams make their final cuts. He said every team does it. After the draft, it's one of the crucial ways to improve your roster. But the better NFL teams will surely cut players who are better that some of the marginal players who will make the Buffalo roster.
Meanwhile, Marrone said he remains encouraged by EJ Manuel's recovery from his knee procedure. Manuel worked out on the field before the game. He seemed to be favoring his bad leg, but Marrone said his rookie quarterback is "progressing well."
"I really feel good," Marrone said of Manuel. "If he's back by Wednesday, he'll have an opportunity (to play in the opener). If not, I'm not going to look to play him in the first game."
Marrone said he didn't want to give the wrong impression about Manuel's condition. Jeff Tuel is still slated to start against New England. The Bills shouldn't play Manuel unless he's close to 100 percent. But Marrone seems reasonably confident in Manuel's progress.
August 23, 2013 - 12:45 PM
On EJ Manuel's injury and the Bills' quarterback situation:
August 23, 2013 - 8:56 AM
August 9, 2013 - 2:18 PM
PITTSFORD -- Any golf fans who decided to follow Phil Mickelson around Oak Hill the first two days certainly got their money's worth. They got to cheer for the beloved Lefty -- and they also saw the two guys who happened to lead the PGA Championship midway through the second round.
Adam Scott, the reigning Masters champion, shot 2-under 68 today and led the field at 7-under 133 with the afternoon group just beginning its round. Justin Rose, the U.S. Open champion, was a shot behind at 6-under after shooting 66, including a blistering 29 on the front nine -- his second nine of the day.
Rose was seven shots back of Scott after they completed their first nine Friday. Rose promptly birdied four of the next five holes on the front side. Then he birded his last two, the 8th and 9th, to finish his round. Scott played the front side in 35.
Oh, I almost forgot Mickelson. He shot another pedestrian 1-over par 71 and stood at 142, nine shots back of Scott after two days. Mickelson had only one birdie. He shot identical rounds of 37-34 the first two days of the championship. He's likely to make the cut, but has only a remote chance of becoming the first man to win two majors after his 43rd birthday.
Webb Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, tied the course record with a 6-under par 64. Simpson, who opened with a 72, was in a four-way tie for seventh at 136 heading into the afternoon session. Simpson played the back nine (his first nine) in 32, then birdied the second, third, fifth and sixth, putting him at 7-under with three holes to go. By parring in, he would have broken the Oak Hill record and equaled the record low of 63 in any major.
But Simpson bogeyed the seventh and parred the last two, settling for his 64. On Thursday, Simpson was 5-over par through his first eight holes. That means he played his next 25 holes in 10-under par to get back in the hunt.
"It was a great day," Simpson said. "I thank the Lord for giving me patience yesterday. At 5-over through eight holes, it was a pretty low moment for me. But I kind of had a pep talk with myself on the seventh green, and you know, just told myself, 'One hole at a time,' and tried to get a birdie here, a birdie there."
"Two-over felt like 64 yesterday after being 5-over. So I was extremely happy with my game today. All around, it was really solid."
A steady rain on Friday morning softened the already receptive greens and prevented a lot of tee shots from rolling into the difficult Oak Hill rough. The field continued to have its way with the East Course. Robert Garrigus birdied four of his first seven holes in the afternoon and moved into a tie with Scott at 7-under. Jason Dufner eagled the second hole, and was 4-under through five holes.
Jim Furyk birdied the first and was at 6-under. You got the feeling that another 64, or even something lower, might still be there.
August 8, 2013 - 4:19 PM
PITTSFORD -- Tiger Woods took lots of momentum to his second nine Thursday in the opening round of the 95th PGA Championship at the Oak Hill Country Club. Then the tournament favorite promptly gave it away.
Woods missed reasonable birdie putts on his first three holes of his back nine (Oak Hill's front) and finished with a 1-over par 71. Woods had turned in 2-under and was within a shot of the leaders early in his morning round. But he finished the round six shots behind Jim Furyk, who tore up the normally treacherous East Course layout with a 5-under 65.
Only 2.2 percent of the golfers who finished 72 holes had posted under-par scores in the seven previous majors at Oak Hill. But an overnight rain and faint winds made the course vulnerable to low scores in the opening round. In the morning, 21 players finished under par, which is 70 at Oak Hill.
But Woods, who has been seeking a 15th major title since his U.S. Open win in 2008, couldn't capitalize. He bogeyed the par-5 fourth hole, the easiest birdie hole on the course. He was still under par until he double bogeyed his final hole of the day, the 452-yard, par-4 ninth.
Still, Woods was pleased with his round, which has become typical of the world's No. 1-ranked player when he performs below expectations.
"I played really well today," Woods said. "I made some nice key putts and the key is I left it in all the good spots, too."
Well, he didn't hit it so well from those spots. Woods was short on many of his approaches. He hit irons off several tees, evidently because he doesn't trust his longer clubs. He didn't look much like the Tiger of old, or for that matter, the Tiger of a week ago at the Bridgestone.
He looked like just another player, and the leader board reflects it. There are quite a few obscure names in front of Woods on the board.
"I'm still right there," Woods insisted. "I mean, as of right now, I'm only six back and we have a long way to go."
Yeah, and he'd better get it going soon.
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