Tag Archives: musings

Cooking for Pleasure and Profit, Part 2


Today’s Music: Fountains of Wayne

So after I left the restaurant business, I was a burnt out husk of a man, in dire need of a haircut. And a shave.
And I hated cooking.
If I couldn’t boil it, nuke it, or eat it out of the bag, I wasn’t making it for myself.
When people would ask me cooking questions, I would violently refuse to answer them.

I took a 10 month vocational program, collected unemployment and learned how to maintain computers.
And I didn’t cook.

Four months later, I met the most wonderful girl in the universe, who would later agree to be my wife.
But first I had to hook her.

We went out on a few dates – nights out for dinner, as well as day trips. Then one day, I asked her to come over for dinner. She said yes.
Excellent! But now I would have to cook for her.

We’d talked a bunch about food (I managed to be calmer than I had been, since I didn’t want to scare her off – hey, save the exciting demons to spice up the relationship later on, I say), and I knew what she liked and didn’t, and some foods she just wouldn’t eat.

I settled on the basic chili recipe I had used, and modified it to be neither too hot, nor have beans. She hates beans.
Ground beef, crushed tomatoes, peeled tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, cumin and some other seasonings (probably salt and sage, among others). Saute the vegetables, add the meat, season and cook that, drain off the fat, add the tomatoes, bring it all up to a nice simmer for a little while, and throw it all over some rice.
Simple.
But even the act of making that simple dish, one I could make in my sleep (even the vegetable chopping), was elevated to me. Here I was, doing something that I had run screaming from, but I was doing it for someone I really really liked, and I had a skill that I could use to demonstrate that affection.
Plus what girl doesn’t like a guy who cooks?

She came over. I may have done something silly with candles. I probably gave my roommate beer money so he would head out. And we enjoyed our meal.
It wasn’t intricate or gourmet. It was two people having a lovely evening over food one of them had prepared for both of their enjoyment.

And I loved it.
And ten years later I married that girl.
She said that me being able to cook wasn’t the reason. But it was a spiffy side benefit..

But not all the dishes we’ve made since then were keepers.

One of the worst:
I had a block of Tofu. And a wok. And some vegetables and rice.
What could possibly go wrong?
SQUEEZE THE TOFU. Put it under a weight and let the water ooze out of it. That’s what all the recipes say. But I cooked for a living. I know what I’m doing. Yea, right.
So basically I ended up with a big wok full of…well…glop, really. The tofu didn’t brown, the rice kept steaming into a blob of starch from all the extra water, and the vegetables (also steamed to hell) were limp and uninteresting.
And there’s only so much damage that can be covered by throwing in Chines 5 Spice.
But there was about $6 dollars worth of food int that pot, and I didn’t want to throw it all away.
So I ate it. For the next 2 days.
Made my wife a delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead.
Because I love her and don’t use food as punishment.

Possibly the worst:
Fondue.
Image from SlashFood.com
Slice the cheese. Coat it with flour, garlic the pot. Add the wine. Add the cheese. Melt, slowly.
Slice up the bread, vegetables, fruit for dipping.

We had a fondue pot. It was a gift. the difference between ours and everyone elses though, was that we were using ours.
The pot wasn’t the problem. The recipe was.
We followed the recipe. I swear.
Now, I’m notorious for glancing through a recipe, then doing whatever I want. But this time, we followed the recipe.
Used the right measurements. The right techniques. I even measured the wine for goodness sakes. Before I drank some of it.
But the recipe didn’t work.
The fondue wouldn’t thicken.
We added a bit more cheese. Then more flour. Tried some cornstarch.
Nothing.

So, my wife and I, looking at each other over the pot, thought it was ruined.
“Not totally ruined” I said. “Maybe we can turn it into a nice cheese soup”.
I went to the closet, gathered some other ingredients and spices, and went back to the kitchen.
“This should fix it”, I said confidently.
I took lids off everything, started adding various things, adjusting the heat, stirring, whisking..
The soup started to take shape. I tasted it. Needed something. So I popped the lid off the Cajun Spice, and went to do a hard shake – not to overpower it, just to get enough spice to come through the shaker top.
Which it didn’t have.
So half the jar came out.

My wife and I looked at the pot, then at each other, with the same expression of surprise and dismay that I think would happen if I parked my car, got out, then turned to see it rolling off a cliff.

We looked at the pot then back at each other.
“Ok”, I said. “Now it’s ruined.”

For dinner that night, the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were delicious.

Epilogue:
It was the recipe. We’ve since regathered our courage and tried fondue again. It has come out excellently.
And now, whenever we have a cooking debacle, the standard for edibility we use is “Better or Worse than Cajun Cheese Soup”.

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Cooking for Pleasure and Profit


Today’s Music: Duran Duran

    Part one – Cooking for a living

As an unselfish way of giving pleasure, cooking is second only to oral sex – Anthony Bourdain (not an exact quote, but he said something like it in his great book, Kitchen Confidential)

I worked in restaurants for about 15 years.
Some of it was crap, cooking in and managing a Bennigans, some was over my head – being a line cook in a private club, whose clientele (as the chef described it) were the people who ran the world.

But the most fun I had in restaurants was working in the kitchen. It was the last time I could go to work and actually have fun.
In cooking for money (at least at the level I did it), the food was the least important part of the process.
Which is not to say it wasn’t important. but running a kitchen line is similar (I would guess) to commanding a small army unit in the field.
When it’s busy, there’s constant mayhem. There is always one guy running a spotless station while chaos spins around him, another guy who is a blur of bits of food and crumbs, cursing up a storm as he tries to keep up. there are waiters asking where their food is, or relaying compliments or complaints, or trying to change a ticket that they ordered wrong.
And then there’s me.
I was at my best in the kitchen when all hell had broken loose, and things had gone horribly, horribly wrong.

I was the expediter. It was my job to plate the entrees, cook off side dishes, make sure each station knew what dishes they needed to prepare, and make sure everything (steaks, salads, Mexican) were all up at the same time.
And fix it if it wasn’t.
That was the fun for me. I didn’t enjoy the downtime. I didn’t really care for the day to day details of managing (which I was good at. I just didn’t like it), the staff personal issues that constantly came up. I liked that moment when something went wrong, everything was off balance, and I could step in, grab hold and straighten it out.

A typical night on the line:
Adam on the grill, Abel on Mex, Brian on salad, Randall on desert. Some jackass (who had been there 3 months, but wouldn’t last much longer) expediting (in the window).
Jackass forgot to order a burger set from Mex and sent out a tray of food incompletely.
Abel was scrambling to get the burger set, Adam was pulling a new burger (the original was rare, and had worked it’s way up to med-well waiting to be served), and tickets were stretched from the printer to the floor and hadn’t even been looked at yet.
I step in.
“How are you, Jackass?”
He has the deer in the headlights look, sweat pouring down in his face, head whipping back and forth, tongs waving as he tries to figure out what he should be doing. He was good when it was calm, but hadn’t learned how to deal with the volume.
“don’tknowdon’tknowdon’tknow” he sputtered back at me, deep in the weeds.
“Stop” I said, hand on his shoulder. I pointed to the tickets in the window. “Show me where you are”.
His head moves to the string of food orders hanging in the window. “don’tknowdon’tknowdon’tknow”.
“Fine.” Is say, taking his tongs and setting them on the counter. I grab a fresh pair from the rack (I had a personal relationship with my tongs and didn’t like using a set that had been handled already). “Stand over there” I tell Jackass, grabbing all the tickets off the rail with one hand.
I start reading through them – sandwiches, salads, burritos and quesadillas, steaks of assorted cuts and temperatures. “Abel” I call out in my “war mode” voice. “What do you have, all day”
All day refers to everything being on the board (ordered) for that station.
His heavily accented voice comes back, while he does a spinning ballet of kinetic culinarianism.
“3 quesadillas, 1 no cheese. 7 burgers, 3 chicken sandwiches. I have (he pauses to count the plates on his station) 4 burritos, 3 chicken enchiladas, 1 steak,” he tells me as he spins and whirls, grabbing plates, rolling burritos, melting nachos.
By now I’ve read all the tickets I pulled.
“Add on 2 burgers. ! steak ench (never say a full word when you can shorthand it), 1 chick ench, no cheese. I’m going to need 2 more burritos too.” I look over at him. You good?”
He smiles, knowing exactly what I’m asking. “I’m good Popi. I do. you watch”. Abel would cut off his own hand before asking for help. Which was fine because he rarely needed it.

I hang all the tickets back on the board, and pull the eighteen or so hanging from the printer. As I start to sort those, I call down the line.
“Brian” I bark. “What the hell is going on?”
He yells back without stopping what he’s doing. “Saturday night. They’re trying to kill us”
“Suck it up wuss.” It’s an old conversation. Brian will bitch about it all night, but unless the wheels come off, he can hold down his end. Unfortunately, as soon as that burger got lost, the wheels came off.

See, we have five stations. All of them are producing food, sometimes independently, sometimes with another station, for the same tables. A 6 top might want 3 steaks, 2 Mex items and a salad. All of it has to come up at the same time.
In addition to his own cooking and plating responsibilities, the Expediter has to coordinate all stations to sell the same table at the same time. So now the main window (that I just took over)and salad were crashed. Mex was keeping up, barely. And the grill was covered and about to dump 30 steaks and burgers in my lap.

Back to the action.
“Brian” in the loud voice again. “Tell Randy what you need, and dammit, take his help. I ain’t going down tonight and if you morons make me late for my first beer, I will personally gut and fillet every last one of you”
“Oh no, Popi” came Abel’s voice. “Brian, he ugly. He no taste good”.
Brian’s response was inaudible, but was probably unrepeatable anyway.
“Here’s your all day Brian. Let me know what I’m missing, let me know what you’re missing”. I called out about 18 items for him, while he rifled through his tickets, matching up the counts.
He came back with what he had and what he needed. I moved Randy to work on the dishes Brian couldn’t get to, then turned to the grill.
“Saturday night, Adam” I said, quietly this time.
Adam was tall and very thin, which made him look even taller. He was a goofy guy with a dry sense of humor and was the only one of us (myself included) that could hold down a busy Saturday on our coal and wood fired grill. And crack jokes while he did it.
“Sounds like you’re having some problems back there”.
“Blow me. You ready?”
He looked at the tickets on his board, then at his grill, then at me. “I’m ready. You?”
I looked down the line. “Ready as we’ll ever be. Call out table numbers for me as you sell them.
Oh, and these are for you” I said, as I handed him the tickets that had rolled off the printer.
“Ok kids” I yelled down the line. “Show me why I haven’t fired you yet. Adam. Sell it all baby!”
Adam started spinning back and forth, at each turn pulling more meat off the grill and dropping it on my pass through.
I started grabbing tickets and steaks, burger, shrimp, chicken, calling out to other stations to plate the accompanying dishes and pass them through to the waiters.
“Brian, I need that shrimp caesar salad now. Not 2 minutes from now, NOW!”
“It isn’t ready yet” was his panicked reply.
“Abel” I called out, not even looking away from my plates. “Give him the shrimp skewer from the fajitas and drop another quick quick. Adam” I continued, “Keep selling. Put weights on everything on the grill. I want this ticket rail cleared”. All the while, my tongs spun and clattered as I used them to grab steaks, drop them on plates, pass burgers to Abel, and lift plates over to the waiter side of the counter.
Jackass meanwhile was still standing where I put him, watching me send out eight full plates at a time. I ignored him.
“Brian, I’m waiting on 2 salads and that shrimp appetizer. Where the hell is it?”
“It’s working” he called back. “One minute”.
“You don’t have a minute, you lazy bum. We’re clearing the board. Now.”

A good cook will ignore the cursing and the yelling at this point and make the food the ways it’s supposed to be made, instead of rushing and selling undercooked food.

Adam came out of the grill and reached around me, dropping a 16 oz prime rib cut into my fryer. I looked at him.
“Well done” he shrugged.
I was calling out the Mex orders to Abel that were coming in as I hung the next set of tickets, handing the grill copy to Adam and giving all day counts to Brian on the cold side of the line.
At this point, everyone had everything they needed, and while we were still going fast, my job was mostly air traffic control, or lending Abel a hand when he needed to get out a load of plates all at once.

See, when you go to a restaurant, the food should be cooked right. But your friend having a medium rare hamburger should get it at the same time as you get your 20 oz well-done steak. If the food is cooked wrong, well that happens some time. But if it comes out in dribs and drabs, someone should lose his job.
I was great at managing that mayhem and bending it back to where it needed to be.

Simply being aware of what everyone needed, and making sure they knew it was enough to straighten everyone out. I had worked with these guys for a while, trained most of them, and held my own against any of them (except Adam on the grill on a Saturday. I could do, but lord it wasn’t pretty).
My loud voice and vaguely annoyed attitude told these guys that this was a normal night, it wasn’t all that bad, and that they’d get through it fine if they didn’t panic.

10 minutes later, Adam pushed another fifteen steaks at me. I plated half and turned the station back over to Jackass, who literally was agog at what he had just seen.

It may seem in the above that I was a dick to my guys. And I was. But they were just as bad to me (and each other). In a good kitchen, it doesn’t matter who is in charge. It’s all about how good you are at your job. The best guy gets to be the loudest voice because he earned it. And while I was rough on them on the line, I picked up their shifts when they needed time off, covered their stations so they could grab a cigarette, and did the best I could to make sure they were well fed and rewarded for their work.

Those Saturday nights were the most fun I ever had in a job. They were also the most brutal of any job, before or since.

And when I finally stopped cooking for a living, it was two years before I could make something for myself that wasn’t boiled, microwaved or eaten from the bag.

Next time I’ll tell you about how cooking became fun again, and the worst dishes I ever made.

Random Notes


Today’s Music: The Wombats

Haven’t posted in a few days.
Just thought I’d throw out some of what’s going on.

Music
Medium
The Wombats are again Today’s music. I had tickets to see them last night. Couldn’t make it. A little grumpy about that.

Health

The sick relative has been moved to a post-op facility and is getting better. Doesn’t mean they are good yet, just not quite as bad.
That means that instead of trekking out to Long island every night and on weekends, I will be hauling to the wilds of Queens.
On the bright side, there is the chance of a good restaurant nearby, so that’s something anyway.

And my wife (most wonderful girl in the universe) is getting over a cold* that only lasted 2 days. For her, that is ridiculously short. And there was only a minimum of chasing her under the blankets or up to bed. (mostly because I’m exhausted and probably just barely holding off a cold myself).

*Her being sick and me almost being sick has not stopped me from kissing her. Some risks are just worth the reward.

Cooking

Still going with the “cook like hell” on Sunday so my girl and I have food to eat during the running around weeks of work and healthcare visits.
Cooking 3 or 4 meals at once on the weekend makes it a lot easier during the week. It’s nice to know that we will have something good to eat when we get home, and I prefer bringing my lunch to work so that A – I don’t throw away 10 bucks for a bad sandwich, and B – I know what I’m eating.
I believe there is beef stew and chicken soup (yes, from scratch) on next weeks menu…

Mental

You know, I’m kind of run down.
It’s not just the sick relative. Work has been busy and the peanut gallery has been getting more worked up than usual. I’ve gotten to the point where I pretty much ignore everything they say
unless it is directly related to work. Which means I’m ignoring about 95 percent of the noise they make. They are in a different office, but close enough that they don’t have to go to far out of their way to try and piss me off.
There’s a reason I don’t own firearms folks.
I’m also a bit concerned about money. We’ve bought many of the prescriptions the sick relative needs, we were driving out to see him daily when the rel was on long Island, and there have been too many days/nights where we had no prepared food, so lunch and or dinner had to be bought.
We aren’t falling behind or on the verge of going broke, but I do worry about it…

Bright Spots

I have my health (such as it is).
The rel is getting better
The wife is getting over her cold
The weekend is coming and surf conditions might be good if the wind comes down a bit
Doctor Who Series 6will be out on DVD next month
I have been subjected to almost no Kardashian/Gaga/Michael Jackson/Britney news lately, and Lindsey Lohan should be fading from the spotlight again shortly.

Now if we could just make the politicians be civil, that would be fantastic….

Hopefully I’ll be a bit more coherent after Friday and will be back posting, updating, and above all, babbling more regularly soon.

How has your week been?

On Blogging


Today’s Music: The Wombats

Over at Smart Boy Designs, Christian Hollingsworth did a survey, asking “Why Do You Blog?”. He profiled several bloggers, and there answers were quite interesting, as were the comments.
They ranged from altruistic – “I want to help people with whatever it was that I’ve also gone through”, to more self serving – “I think I can make a living at this”, self-help – “I can become a better writer by blogging and practicing my craft”, to a host of other reasons.
It’s worth checking out.
I myself follow several blogs – John Scalzi (observations about everything), The Bloggess (can’t be described. Just go check it out.), Old Dog, New Tits (very entertaining about a woman researching breast implants, with occasional interruptions form the rest of the universe), Old Jules (also commenting on anything and everything, in a very laid back style. And lately, with lots of limericks).
Each of these blogs is different. Each wants readers and comments. I think each, without readers and comments would still be posted to regularly by the authors.
See, everyone has something to say. Everyone has thoughts or ideas they want to shout out to the universe.
So do I. That’s why I’m here. The universe, being what it is, really doesn’t care. But that’s not really the point, is it?
I’ll publish this entry, I’ll flog it on twitter.
I’ll comment in other blogs, where hopefully the comment will be relevant and clever enough to make it’s readers curious enough about me to draw them here.
Maybe they’ll read through the posts, or the music page and find something that interests them, and they’ll comment, or like, or tweet, or something else that lets me know they’ve been here.

But I don’t think that’s what’s important to me (though I can’t speak to what is important to the bloggers called out here (or any of the other millions of bloggers out there)).
To me, the point of my blog is to give me a soapbox to shout from. And to just get whatever it is off my chest. Whatever it may be.
I’d like it to have a theme. That’s part of why I have the “Today’s Music” link at the top of every post. I had originally had “Today’s Adventure” too, but lately it seems like I haven’t had any real good adventures. And sometimes, what is on my mind is out of left field…

So basically you’re getting music, and my babblings.

But another part of why I blog is to vent. If you look through the older posts, you’ll see that there are a few related to having a crappy week, or a relative’s health issues. I can talk about it to my wife (the most wonderful girl in the universe), but I don’t want to unload on her (though I could and sometimes do).
The posts I’ve had about music aren’t at all objective. I’m not interested in the skill (mostly) of the band, more on whether or not I like the music. So another point of the blog is to show what great music taste I have and hopefully turn you on to something you might like.
In the end, I think perhaps the primary reason I blog is to put it out there, to leave some record that I was here, even if it’s a short, frequently inane one.

Oh, and some posts have limericks too!

Why Adventure?


There are things that are important to me. One of them is adventuring.
Why? is a question a lot of people ask me. It’s a question I ask myself as well.
Part of it is being part of a group that understands the thrill of doing these things, that have felt the same thrill.
I’ve jumped out of airplanes twice – the first time on a static line, the second time as a tandem.
Most people I’ve spoken to that have jumped all say the same thing – they don’t remember the first five seconds of their first jump.
I have the same gap. I think that happens because there is just no frame of reference for the brain to process what it’s just done.
Even after the brain catches up, it’s kind of hard to process. But it leaves a pretty damn big smile on your face, even after (if you’re like me) you blow the landing, smack your knee into a rock and limp for the next three weeks.
Battle scars are cool.

Part of what I love is the discovery of what this magnificent, complex, under-appreciated body is capable of.
I’ve gone climbing many times at the Shawangunks in New Paltz, NY.
Sure, there’s a safety line, but once it’s fixed and checked for security, it’s forgotten, only used as a last case if (when) you come off the wall.
I remember 2 climbs in particular: Slightly Roddy, and the second pitch of High Exposure.
Slightly Roddy is a short climb – about 25 feet vertical, with a 10 foot overhang ledge. To reach the end of the climb, you shimmy up a very accessible face, then climb out parallel to the ground along a crack that is navigated by jamming both fists and both feet into it.
It’s a short climb, and as a Top-Rope, it is well protected. But on my third try, I was laughing so hard at the absurdity of the position I was in, that it was guaranteed I was going to fall off. And, laughing to my partner who was belaying me, that’s exactly what I did.
I never finished it, but it is one of the stand out climbs of my trips there.
High Exposure is memorable for a different reason.
Finishing a 100′ climb to a ledge, the exit move is done from that ledge onto a point.
To make the move (just below the woman in the picture), the climber has to lean forward over a 100′ drop, reach over their heads to find a hold, then grab it, spin around and climb up into nothing. Nothing.
I couldn’t do it. I took that look down and seized up.
If the two climbers rappelling down hadn’t stopped, called out encouragement and yelled guidance on where to put my hands, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.
But they did. And with their words, they welcomed me into the club of “Because it’s There”.
That day, I learned, more clearly than from any other situation before or since, what my body and mind can do when they work together.
Same thing with hang gliding. The body and mind have to be focused and working together, or bad things can will happen.

Or scuba diving.
As an insulin-dependent diabetic, I’m not supposed to dive. But it was pretty high on my list of things to do, and on a resort vacation one year, I decided to take the whole Open Water Diver course.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Flying. I was flying. Moving in three dimensions with a wave of my arm or kick of my leg. Hovering. Rising. Falling. Flipping (a little weird doing somersaults in scuba gear, but still fun). And so, so relaxing. If you’ve done it, you know what I mean. And you can understand a conversation about the fun of being self-contained in an alien world.
If you haven’t, stop reading this, find a dive shop, and get your butt in the water.
You’ll thank me for pushing you into it later. Even you, Greg.

Or surfing. Which I suck at.
I don’t suck at all parts of it. there’s a move called “pearling”, which is flying off the front of the board. While it’s not the goal of surfing, I have managed to discover 117 different ways to do it. And mastered them all.
But I keep going out and I keep trying. Because it’s fun. And lets face it, driving through suburban NYC with a surfboard strapped to your roof is cool. Especially if you know how to use it! (Which I will one day. I hope).

It’s part of being in a group that knows what it takes to do these things, of the commitment and focus needed to ride on that edge between lots of fun, slightly insane, and totally unbelievably stupid.

In the end though, more than the community, more than the cool factor, even more than discovering my limits and how to get past them, it’s about discovering joys and perspectives that I just can’t find commuting to work, or just sitting at my desk, or doing any of the mundane daily tasks that are part of life.

If someone asks “Why adventure?”, my two answers are a quote from George Mallory, “because it’s there”, and the other, even truer for me, to answer every surprised gasp or aghast sneer of “why would you do that?”, I can only answer…

“Why would you not?

What makes a song great?


Today’s Musice:Dave May – great traditional country
Today’s Adventure: Adapting a dynamic climbing line to be a surfboard roof rack (bad idea!)
I listen to a lot of music. It’s one of the things I enjoy most in life.
And sometimes I wonder about what makes a song great.
There are songs most people agree on – The Beatles – Twist and Shout, Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven, Eric Clapton – Layla.
There has to be a hook. It might be something catchy that sets your feet to unconsciously tapping. It might be something haunting that grabs you low in your gut or make you joyously, ecstatically happy.

The musicians have to know what they’re doing.
I saw a guy recently open for Buckethead (who was incredible). The opening act, however, was singing through his tuba. Couldn’t understand a word (not the venue’s fault). He was playing riffs then looping them over each other.
He was crap. There was no musicality to it. I can appreciate the skill in techno, in industrial, and  in anarchistic screaming punk, but if you’re going to take my money to see you perform, at least have one song recognizable as such.

There’s nothing at all wrong with using technology. Kraftwerk are nothing without electricity. And check out this video of K.T. Tunstall – Black Horse and a Cherry Tree. A master class in using loop pedals, but don’t tell me that song isn’t stuck in your head, at least for a little while…

On the other end of the scale are performers like Lou Reed, who once said he knew 3 chords, and was still trying to perfect those, but Walk on the Wild Side shows he’s got them down just fine.

I’ve been subjected to some hideously memorable hooks over the years. the worst lately is the Ting Tings, who I hate. But just typing “Ting Tings” has started the endless loop of “that’s not my name” in my head. Where it will be for the next 3 hours.

But what about great songs that don’t find an audience?
A lesser known song I’ve been listening to is They Might Be Giants – Anna Ng. If that song were coverd by the Foo Fighters, it would be in the top 10, but aside from Ironic Hipsters, how many people do you know that recognize that song, let alone They Might Be Giants.
Sometimes it’s cool knowing about a song that no one else has heard of yet. I saw David Gray perform Babylon right before it exploded, and that night, it didn’t seem like there was any way possible it would be a monster hit.
I hope everyone will hear and love The Vaccines Wrecking Bar, partly because it’s a great song, and partly because then I’ll be so much cooler for hearing them first!

But the songs that stick with me after the “Breakfast at Tiffanys” and “Tub Thumbings” have faded away into “whatever happened to…” status, are ones that make a point – Neil Young – Rockin in the Free World (great hook, good lyrics, strong statement) or Paul Simon Spirit Voices which gets me every time, especially at the bridge.

You may think I’m full of it, and that every song I’ve singled out is crap. You may have your own list that has nothing to do with mine, filled with Trance and Industrial and other sounds I really don’t like.
But if we put our lists side by side and described what it was about those songs that moved us, that made us think they were great, we would probably both be saying the same thing – we are emotionally invested in them, because they make us feel something. They make us angry, or they inspire us, or they let us let it all out and forget our problems and lose ourselves in the moment.

Isn’t that what makes a song great?