Wednesday, November 30, 2022

BOPPIN's Monthly Day Off

Once a month, Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) hits an all-too-brief pause on its certifiably stupid commitment to daily public posting, and instead preps a private post only for its beloved paid patrons.

This month's private post for patrons is a two-fer from my long-threatened book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1), both spotlighting the unlikely subject of...wait, really? Bob Seger? BOB SEGER...?!

A quick check of the records confirms: yeah, Bob Seger. The first of the two pieces is a previously-published diatribe about how much I still despise most of Seger's best-known hits. The second piece is an as-yet-unseen celebration of an absolutely fantastic 1960s Bob Seger System track called "2 + 2 = ?" 

Given my loathing of "We've Got Tonight" and "Old Time Rock & Roll," it's all the more remarkable for me to note how flat-out great some of Seger's '60s output was. An infinite number of tracks can each be THE greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. "2 + 2 = ?" absolutely deserves one of those infinite turns.

My patrons will see this month's private post on Thursday. You can join their proud ranks and read all about the yin and yang of Mr. Bob Seger by becoming a patron of this blog, all for a mere $2 a month: Fund me, baby! Regular daily public posting will resume tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022


The hits of Tommy James and the Shondells were a vital part of the 1960s. Looking back, I'm a little surprised to note I didn't fully appreciate the Shondells at the time, nor even really become much aware of them until the following decade. I was a kid in the '60s, and I certainly heard a lot of popular music contemporary to its rockin' AM radio reign. But somehow, my full embrace of Tommy James and the Shondells was delayed until my overall rediscovery of the magic of the '60s when I was an adolescent and teen in the '70s.

The one exception was Tommy James and the Shondells' first hit, "Hanky Panky." I was six years old when "Hanky Panky" topped the Top 40 in 1966. My baby does the Hanky Panky. Everyone on my block knew "Hanky Panky," and I clearly remember my friend Sharon singing it to herself. It was the sound of 1966, playing everywhere. Batman and later The Monkees were my predominant new discoveries of '66, but "Hanky Panky" was also essential.

And as for the rest of the Shondells' cavalcade o' hits? I must have heard them--hell, probably all of them--but it wasn't until the '70s that I began to pay attention. "Crimson And Clover." "Crystal Blue Persuasion." "Mony Mony." "Sweet Cherry Wine." James' 1971 solo hit "Draggin' The Line." And especially "I Think We're Alone Now," which implied teen canoodling and was immediately appealing to this then-teen. I don't think I heard "Gettin' Together" or "Mirage" until even later, but add them to the honor roll anyway, alongside the still-great "Hanky Panky." It came after the fact, sure, but I was an enthusiastic Tommy James and the Shondells fan in short order.

(Tommy James and the Shondells also served as my gateway into the splendor of the Rubinoos, courtesy of the latter group's 1977 cover of "I Think We're Alone Now." I was seventeen, and teen canoodling was beginning to have more than theoretical relevance. "I Think We're Alone Now" was the Rubinoos' only chart hit, but it led to my subsequent immersion in so much sheer pop brilliance from this fantastic group.)

Let's jump ahead a decade and change. By the late '80s and into the early '90s, I had started writing about music as a freelance contributor to Goldmine magazine (a long story told here). My concert-going resumé included a number of '60s acts, from Herman's Hermits through the Monkees, plus survivors like the Kinks and the Rolling Stones who were still making new records. I saw the Beach Boys at The New York State Fair Grandstand. Over the next few years, I would witness performances by many other classic acts (like Ray Charles, the Everly Brothers, Gene Pitney, and Bo Diddley) at the Fair's free-with-admittance Miller Court shows.

In general, I favored the club shows. Club shows felt more real, more immediate. An early '80s Buffalo club show by the Searchers remains one of my favorite live music memories. The end of the '80s brought an unbelievable opportunity to see the Ventures play at a bar located within a shopping center in Baldwinsville, NY. Around 1988 or so, I saw the Rascals--Felix Cavaliere, Gene Cornish, and Dino Danelli, missing only Eddie Brigati from the original quartet--at Stage East in East Syracuse, the same venue where I'd seen 1979 shows by Artful Dodger and the Records

And it was sometime circa 1989, maybe '90, when Tommy James played at Uncle Sam's in Syracuse.

Uncle Sam's had been a disco in the '70s, known for its flashing lights and an alcoholic concoction called the Firecracker. It became a very cool rock club, and the venue looms large in my concert memories. My biggest individual Uncle Sam's evening was July 6th, 1979, when a screening of the Ramones' movie Rock 'n' Roll High School was followed by a live set by my heroes the Flashcubes, and then by...well, by the Ramones themselves. SCORE!! Uncle Sam's was also where I saw the Pretenders, Joe Jackson, and legendary British guitarist Chris Spedding, who was playing with the Pretenders' opening act the Necessaries.

By '89-'90, Uncle Sam's was nearing the end of its vibrant life. My final visit there was to see Tommy James. 

And I was so primed for it. The Ventures and Rascals shows had each been one hell of a good time, and I knew Tommy James would be just as great. My wife Brenda accompanied me, we met some friends, and we all settled in for an evening of the best of the '60s.

As a performer, Tommy James was flawless that night, and his material was impeccable. He had his own bona fide hits to sing; he didn't pander by covering other '60s acts, nor did he insult us by padding his set with his renditions of, say, stuff by Neil Diamond or the Electric Light Orchestra (questionable choices that compromised my enjoyment of some other classic performers at other times). Tommy James sang Tommy James material, which is what we were there to hear him sing.

I don't have a lot of concrete memory of the night's specifics. I do remember that he sounded great, and that he did nearly all of his expected hit songs. I also recall that his set included "Tighter, Tighter," a song he and Bob King cowrote and coproduced as a 1970 smash for the group Alive and Kicking. It was a nice surprise in James' set, and we were fully stoked from start to finish.

Our only complaint? The whole show--the entire performance--lasted for maybe twenty minutes. If that long. Start to finish. No opening act, no closing act. And no encore. Suddenly, he was gone. Poof! 

Like a mirage.

We were disappointed, and taken aback. There may have been other factors prompting the show's brevity, but we had expected a little bit more show than we got. Instead, we turned our attention to Uncle Sam's sound system, which was playing fare from the '70s (including, as I recall, "Saturday Night" by the Bay City Rollers). We had a few drinks at the bar, and we did have a pretty good time overall. 

I know it sounds like I'm complaining, but I'm not. Not really, anyway. I wish there had been more live music for our ticket-buying dollar, but even a mere twenty minutes of Tommy James was at least twenty minutes of top-notch Tommy James.

Uncle Sam's is long gone. It went through a subsequent incarnation or two, lingered as a decaying and defunct eyesore for years and years, and fell to the wrecking ball in 2017. The memories linger. Yes, even in spite of the number of Firecrackers I may have consumed during my visits there.

In collaboration with Martin Fitzpatrick, Tommy James wrote an autobiography, published in 2010. Me, The Mob, And The Music tells James' story of being a pop star signed to a record label that was tied to organized crime. Hijinks ensued. I bought the book a few years ago (in part as research for a Green Hornet story I was noodling with), but it's in my huge, huge wall of still-to-be-read books. I'm looking forward to reading it, and I will spend much more than twenty minutes with it when its time comes.

When Joan Jett and the Blackhearts were (FINALLY!) inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2015, the one and only Tommy James joined Jett for a performance of the Shondells' "Crimson And Clover." The song was also a Top 10 hit for Jett and her band of Blackhearts in 1982, and it was very cool of Joan to share her Hall of Fame spotlight with Tommy. Given the RnRHoF's ongoing myopic disdain for singles artists, it's likely the closest Tommy James and the Shondells will ever come to induction. 

And that's crystal blue baloney on the Hall's part. We should honor Tommy James and the Shondells. Those hits are still vibrant, still essential. I'm grateful I had a chance to hear them in a live setting, even for an abbreviated set. Hey, Tommy! Come out and take a bow!

Tommy? Tommy...?

He left?


I think we're alone now.

Join me for a Firecracker? Here we come now spendin' money money....

If you like what you see here on Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do), please consider supporting this blog by becoming a patron on Patreonor by visiting CC's Tip Jar. Additional products and projects are listed here.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at You can read about our history here.

I'm on Twitter @CafarelliCarl

Monday, November 28, 2022

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 1157

Maturing may be beyond our ability. But even if we can do it, I don't want to.

As this year's calendar nears its final page, I feel the accumulated weight of sand in the southernmost part of the ol' hourglass. I'm pretty sure that none of us is getting any younger. Man, we've been doing Dana & Carl radio shows for nearly 31 years, and 
This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio is approaching its 24th anniversary. Aches? Barnacles? We HAVE those! In abundance!

But this show is built from pure adrenaline. Music is timeless, then and now, the thrill of the new always forming and renewing an alliance with classic favorites. Rockin' pop is its own reward. It doesn't keep us young. It does slow the process of getting old. 

Plus: it's FUN!

So here's another three hours of fun on the radio. The sense of delight remains fresh. Invigorating. Evergreen. The spark remains. 

And so do we. 

This is what rock 'n' roll radio sounded like on a Sunday night in Syracuse this week.

This week's show is available as a podcast: TIRnRR # 1157

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, on the web at, and via the TuneIn Radio and Radio Garden apps as Westcott Radio.

REMINDER! You can help our friend (and Radio Deer Camp host) Rich Firestone, and we hope you will: Support Rich's Transition To Disabled Living. And we thanks ya!

You can read all about this show's long and weird history here: Boppin' The Whole Friggin' Planet (The History Of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO)

TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS are always welcome.

The many fine This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio compilation albums are still available, each full of that rockin' pop sound you crave. A portion of all sales benefit our perpetually cash-strapped community radio project:

Volume 1: download
Volume 2: CD or download
Volume 3: download
Volume 4: CD or download
Waterloo Sunset--Benefit For This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio:  CD or download
***And NOW AVAILABLE! This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 5!***
     CD or download

PS: SEND MONEY!!!! We need tech upgrades like Elvis needs boats. Spark Syracuse is supported by listeners like you. Tax-deductible donations are welcome at

You can follow Carl's daily blog Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) at

TIRnRR # 1157: 11/27/2022
TIRnRR FRESH SPINS! Tracks we think we ain't played before are listed in bold

THE RAMONES: Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? (Rhino, End Of The Century)
THE T-BONES: No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In) (BGO, No Matter What Shape [Your Stomach's In]/Sippin' 'N Chippin')
HOLLY GOLIGHTLY & THE BROKEOFFS: Gettin' High For Jesus (Damaged Goods, Dirt Don't Hurt)
MEN WITHOUT HATS: The Safety Dance [extended dance version] (Unidisc, Rhythm Of Youth)
BRENT SEAVERS: Roller Coaster Ride (Omnivore, VA: International Pop Overthrow Vol. 23)
ROTARY CONNECTION: Love Me Now (Chess, Black Gold)
STEVE ROSENBAUM: Girl From Seventeen (Big Stir, Have A Cool Summer!)
PEZBAND: Ally Sally [demo] (Airmail, Pezband)
THE BEAT: Don't Wait Up For Me (Wagon Wheel, The Beat)
OSCAR TONEY JR.: Ain't That True Love (Ace, VA: The Soul Of The Memphis Boys)
SPARKLE*JETS UK: You And Your Sister (Big Stir, single)
ANCHOR & BEAR: Cool Water (Futureman, No More Nights On The Roof)
THE BLADES: Hot For You (Red Rubber Ball, VA: Metrojets Vol. 1)
DONNA SUMMER: Hot Stuff (Mercury, Summer: The Original Hits)
THE MONSTERS: Why Don't You Let Me Go (Royal International, Beat'n Hits!!!)
THE TREMBLERS: You Can't Do That (Cherry Red, Twice Nightly)
THE VAPORS: Turning Japanese (Cherry Red, Waiting For The Weekend)
THE BABLERS: Holding Me Tight Tonight (Big Stir, single)
BLONDIE: (I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear (Chrysalis, The Platinum Collection)
HOOVER & MARTINEZ: What The Heart Wants (Kool Kat Musik, VA: This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 5)
U.K. SUBS: She's Not There (DMG, VA: 100 Hits Punk & New Wave)
JOHNNY JOHNSON & THE BANDWAGON: Gasoline Alley Bred (Kent, Breakin' Down The Walls Of Heartache)
THE FLYS: Love And A Molotov Cocktail (DMG, VA: 100 Hits Punk & New Wave)
ADAM & THE ANTS: Deutscher Girls [7" edit] (DMG, VA: 100 Hits Punk & New Wave)
THE GO-GO'S: We Got The Beat [original single version] (IRS, The Whole World Lost Its Head)
THE FLYING LIZARDS: Money (DMG, VA: 100 Hits Punk & New Wave)
OTIS REDDING: Your One And Only Man (Rhino, Otis!)
THE ASSOCIATION: Along Comes Mary (Rhino, Greatest Hits)
THE AMPLIFIER HEADS: Underground (Rum Bar, Rectifier)
CARMEN & THE VIKINGS: I Do (WSEN, VA: The Syracuse History Of Rock-N-Roll)
THE CYNZ: Narrow Hips (Jem, single)
CLOCKWORK FLOWERS: Whatever The Weather (Assorted Gemstones)
P. P. ARNOLD: To Love Somebody (Sequel, The First Cut)
CHEROKEE: Funky Business (Light In The Attic, VA: Country Funk 1969-1975)
THE MUFFS: Saying Goodbye (Omnivore, The Muffs)
NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE: Cinnamon Girl (Reprise, NEIL YOUNG: Greatest Hits)
LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS: I Better Get Home (Big Stir, Handclaps & Tambourines)
GRAHAM PARKER: Back Door Love (Mercury, Heat Treatment)
WILLIE NILE: It's All Over (Razor & Tie, Willie Nile)
CLIFFORD CURRY: She Shot A Hole In My Soul (Ripete, VA: The Beach Music Anthology)
THE RAMONES: I Wanna Be Sedated (Rhino, Road To Ruin)
MAKAR: I'm Glad (n/a, Fancy Hercules)
THE MONKEES: Listen To The Band (Rhino, 50)
GAME THEORY: Laurel Canyon Reprise [solo demo] (Omnivore, Across The Barrier Of Sound: PostScript)
GUIDED BY VOICES: Teenage FBI (Matador, The Best Of Guided By Voices: Human Amusements At Hourly Rates)
SCOTTY GRAND, JACOB YOFFE & ROAHN HYLTON: All I Know (Theme From Wonder Years) (single)
THE ZOMBIES: What More Can I Do (Big Beat, Zombie Heaven)
THE SMITHEREENS: Face The World With Pride (Sunset Blvd, The Lost Album)
MAJOR LANCE: The Monkey Time (Rhino, VA: Beg, Scream & Shout!)
THE DAVE CLARK FIVE: Glad All Over (Hollywood, The History Of The Dave Clark Five)
OLD 97'S: Turn Off The TV (ATO, Twelfth)
RICHARD X. HEYMAN: Crave (Turn-Up, 67,000 Miles An Album)
THE KINKS: All Day And All Of The Night (Sanctuary, The Ultimate Collection)
THE BEATLES: I Want To Tell You [2022 mix] (Apple, Revolver)
DR. FEELGOOD: She Does It Right (United Artists, Down By The Jetty)

Sunday, November 27, 2022


We observe the aftermath of Turkey Day by opening with a big hit record from the 1960s, then proceed through an irresistible menu of fresh goodies and leftovers alike. Our better'n fair fare includes the latest delicious releases from THE BABLERS, THE AMPLIFIER HEADS, CLOCKWORK FLOWERSSTEVE ROSENBAUM, and ANCHOR AND BEAR, perched all pretty and inviting alongside THE BEATLES, THE CYNZ, ROTARY CONNECTION, OLD 97'S, THE KINKS, THE RAMONES, LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS, ADAM AND THE ANTS, PEZBAND, THE MONKEES, SPARKLE*JETS U.K., OTIS REDDING, a trio of delights from THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO, VOLUME 5, and more tasty treats than you can shake a drumstick at. I mean, if that's your idea of a good time. OUR idea of a good time is THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO! Sunday night, 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, on the web at, and via the Radio Garden and TuneIn Radio apps as WESTCOTT RADIO. The weekend stops HERE!

Saturday, November 26, 2022


This was written for my proposed book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1), but it is not part of that book's current blueprint. Consider this one of the essential building blocks for Volume 2.

An infinite number of tracks can each be THE greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Today, this is THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE!

THE MUFFS: Saying Goodbye
Written by Kim Shattuck
Produced by Rob Cavallo, David Katznelson, and The Muffs
From the album The Muffs, Warner Brothers Records, 1993

In the words of Ray Charles: Hit the road, Jack.

For a very long time, "Saying Goodbye" by the Muffs was my top track of the '90s, and I'm not sure that's changed since then. The song came from the group's eponymous debut album in 1993, an album I reviewed for Goldmine:

"There is a current branch of chaotic pop--call it melodic thrash, or bubblegrunge, or bash and pop (to steal the name of Tommy Stinson's new group)--that seems to draw equal inspiration from the New York DollsKISS, the Ramones, the Runaways, and the Buzzcocks, though the Replacements are the most obvious common reference point. It's a broad category, and it includes to some extent the Goo Goo DollsStar Star, various ex-Replacements, and even Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit.'

"The Muffs' debut album is squarely of that strain, and it's a right exhilarating whiff of same. The Muffs include Kim Shattuck and Melanie Vammen, two former members of the Pandoras, whose best work deserved a wider audience. Shattuck and Vammen have traded in their respective bass and keyboard duties for lead and rhythm guitars here, and Shattuck does most of the lead vocals. Bassist Ronnie Bartnett and drummer Criss Crass are the token males.

"The Muffs' 16 tracks jump up and down with manic glee, characterized by amphetamine-fueled rhythm and punk-pop hooks. It's an immediate improvement over all of the Pandoras' work since 1986's Stop Pretending, and it's a righteous, rowdy good time. Key tracks include 'Saying Goodbye'--a rockin' delight that would be getting saturation airplay right now in a world more just than our own--plus 'Don't Waste Another Day' and 'Eye To Eye,' each of which is as close to a power ballad as the Muffs are likely to come. The acoustic 'All For Nothing' closes the show in style (with an unnamed 20-second hardcore thrash serving as an unbilled encore). Anyone who mourns the demise of the Pandoras, or who simply enjoys the the thrill of a pop-rock assault with intent to kill, will be well-served here."

I did not know Kim Shattuck. I've been a fan for decades, going back to the Pandoras, but we were, at best, casual friends on Facebook. I don't think we ever had a conversation or shared message. Yet news of her death in 2019 at the age of 56--56!--prompted a sadness within me apart from the all-too-familiar ache of saying goodbye to another one of our heroes.

Why? I guess because she felt to me like someone who was close to all of us, even though she wasn't really. She was an actual part of the lives of a bunch of people I do know--a friend, a loved one--and our communal sense of loss can't compare to what they went through when Shattuck died. But man, this one hurt. I didn't know her, and it hurt anyway.

(You wanna see an illustration of why we love Kim Shattuck? Go to YouTube and watch the video for Derrick Anderson's "When I Was Your Man." Anderson's ably supported here by Vicki and Debbie Peterson (his bandmates in the Bangles) and our Kim. The song and video are irresistible, but Kim especially? She's a bundle of goofy, guileless energy, a nerd and a rock star at the same time, naturally, unconsciously, absolutely. She's not exactly one of us, but she understands us. I refuse to change that into the past tense, at least for tonight.)

The Pandoras. The Muffs. The BeardsThe Coolies. And one of the greatest screams in all of  rock 'n' roll. All heart, all fire, all go! Kim Shattuck made her indelible mark on this rockin' pop scene we so cherish. Anyone who didn't love her simply wasn't paying attention.

But before we fell in love with Kim Shattuck, we...well, we were already in love with Kim Shattuck. Fait accompli. "Saying Goodbye" is the most invigoratingly pissed-off diatribe one could ever hope to hear, a blistering and unequivocal shrugging aside of hangers-on and clueless cast-offs whose status has been changed to "debris." I've got better things to do, and better things to listen to than all your ranting and raving on me. Hit the road, Jack. Kim doesn't need you. She never did.

If you like what you see here on Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do), please consider 
supporting this blog by becoming a patron on Patreonor by visiting CC's Tip Jar. Additional products and projects are listed here.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at You can read about our history here.

I'm on Twitter @CafarelliCarl

Friday, November 25, 2022

Guitars Vs. Rayguns! An eventual collection of short stories

Sometime in between the Spring 2023 publication of my first book and the eventual (I hope!) publication of my proposed book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1), I intend to poke at the idea of self-publishing a collection of my short stories. Because...why not? Here is the tentative Table of Contents for that hypothetical collection, Guitars Vs. Rayguns! 

Guitars Vs. Rayguns!
Home Of The Hits
Pop Friction
Montie Pylon Finds His Holy Grail
The Picture Of Amontillado
Sword Of The Chosen One
The Greatest Thud Never Heard
Rain-Hat Sam
The Traitor's Tour Guide To Hell
Dreaming Deadly
Seven Minutes To Blackout
The Junk Food Of Your Life

All of the above is very much subject to change, and the whole idea is still in the Hey-wouldn't-it-be-cool? stage. The book will not contain any of my connected Copperhead Kid stories; I would still prefer to develop those into a novel instead.

Three of the stories listed here have not yet been completed, and could certainly be removed from the book if, y'know, I don't feel like finishing them in the short term. With or without them, I think I have enough material to move forward.

That other book coming out in the spring is the first priority, and I'm continuing to work on the GREM! book, too. But that's all nonfiction, and I feel a need to get a book of my fiction out into the world. My expectations are modest. Nonetheless, I do think it's about time I told some stories.

If you like what you see here on Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do), please consider supporting this blog by becoming a patron on Patreonor by visiting CC's Tip Jar. Additional products and projects are listed here.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at You can read about our history here.

I'm on Twitter @CafarelliCarl

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Tales Of Thanksgiving Past (And Present)


I have two conflicting childhood memories of Thanksgiving. I remember turkey prep in our little suburban kitchen, with my Dad buttering a brown paper bag, placing the turkey in the buttered bag, and then putting the big, bagged turkey into the oven. It sounds like a weird method to cook a turkey, but I tell ya, it results in a moist 'n' delicious bird and a tasty holiday meal.

But I also remember going to my Aunt Mary's house on Park Street in Syracuse for Thanksgiving dinner. I don't know if I've confused different Thanksgivings in my mind, or if my Mom baked the turkey in North Syracuse and we transported it to Aunt Mary's house for the family dinner. Or maybe I'm confusing Thanksgivings with the Christmas Eves we spent at Aunt Mary's. I don't know.

But I think we did go to Aunt Mary's house for most of our Thanksgivings. And my memories of holiday dinners there remain full and vibrant, and plentiful: turkey and stuffing, roasted potatoes, macaroni and meatballs (We're Italian, fercryinoutloud!), and sweet, sumptuous desserts. As far and away the youngest kid at these dinners, I was usually relegated to a meal at the kitchen table rather than the dining room. And I vividly recall loud conversations after the meal was done, as my Uncle Art and Uncle Mike argued politics, and my Dad--ever the peacemaker--tried to referee. It is an indelible, happy memory, no matter how much fuzz my aging brain tries to gather around it.

Uncle Mike passed away in the mid-70s, when I was in high school. Uncle Art died in 1995, when my lovely wife Brenda was pregnant with Meghan, our only child. I lost my Dad in 2012. Aunt Mary, now 93 years old, resides in an assisted living facility; the family house on Park Street, which had belonged to my grandfather, was sold long ago. At 91, my Mom still lives in our old house in North Syracuse, and I check in with her every day.

For Thanksgiving this year, my brother Rob and sister-in-law Barb invited us to join them in Albany for a family meal. Rob and Barb have a new grandson, whom my Mom had not yet had the opportunity to meet. With that added incentive of allowing Mom to meet her newest great-grandchild, we agreed to make the trip. On Thanksgiving morning, Brenda, Meghan, and I picked up Mom, and set off down the New York State Thruway for Thanksgiving dinner in Albany. (Aunt Mary and my cousin Mary Ann had planned to meet us in Albany, but a morning phone call from Mary Ann informed us that her Mom didn't feel up for the trip. It was the only disappointing aspect of an otherwise-lovely day.)

Travel can be intimidating, even precarious around here at this time of year. Earlier this week, Syracuse had been the unhappy recipient of almost two feet of snow dumped upon our sorry souls; it took my ol' Cub Cadet and me an hour to clear the driveway Monday morning, and I don't want to imagine how long it would have taken (and how much I would be achin') if I'd been armed with just a freakin' snow shovel.

But fortune favors the cold! Or the bold. Whatever. By Thanksgiving, temps had risen, excess snow had melted, and driving conditions were conducive for a road trip.

My wife's car has satellite radio, so Little Steven's Underground Garage channel accompanied and propelled our ride: Moby Grape, James Brown, The Dave Clark Five, The Ramones, and Lesley Gore were among the sounds keeping this intrepid driver on the straight and narrow. We were ahead of schedule, so I added two pit stops near journey's end, just so we wouldn't arrive at my brother's house before they were ready for this Syracuse invasion. We got there just as the other guests started to filter in.

A word about my brother's in-laws: like Tony the Tiger once said of a specific sugary cereal, they're great. I often joke with Brenda that both she and I lucked out when it came to in-laws, and that goes for the extended family, too. I love my family, and Brenda's family, and my sister-in-law Barb's family, and so on through all the attendant family tree branches you could name. I hear so much about people who can't get along with their own family, or with some element of their family, and it saddens me. Even during our holiday dinner this year, Meghan heard from a friend suffering through Thanksgiving with her aunt, in a setting where she didn't feel welcome. I realize it's a common situation, and it's alien to my own experience. I appreciate how lucky I've been to never know that kind of life.

For me, family--even extended family--has always been about love, and delight, and camaraderie. It's not that we all agree about everything--we don't--but we agree on what's basic and important. And we enjoy spending time together, laughing together, remembering what was and hoping for what may be. I wish more of my family could have been there--I wish my brother Art and his family could have come in from Ohio, and I wish my sister Denise and her family could have flown in from England, and I wish Mary Ann could have come with Aunt Mary--but I'm grateful for the opportunity to gather with those who could be there. And I'm aglow with the contented feeling of seeing my daughter grow into the incredible young adult that now stands where my cherished little girl used to be; I look back in awe, and I look on in wonder, and marvel at the grace life has granted me.

I wish we had more time together. I wish we had more time. Meghan joked that we need another wedding, just to gather the family together. I agreed, while thinking to myself, Please, not your wedding next. Not now. Not yet. We last gathered en masse for my Mom's 90th birthday celebration in August of 2015. That was a blast. We need more happy get-togethers like that. We need a chance to toast, and dance, and tell stories, and reminisce.

As a family, like all families, we have suffered loss. We have endured the trials of time and distance, and done what we could to sustain our fragile hearts. Time is cruel, and we are mortal. But we live, we love, and we understand the bounty that we have been given. On Thanksgiving, members of our family gathered once again to enjoy a fabulous meal, and to enjoy our all-too-brief time together. That's sufficient cause for gratitude right there. That's reason enough to just say Thanks.


Much has changed in the past two years. Mom is now in a nursing home. Last December, a fall at home made it clear that she could no longer live on her own. I was with her for the ambulance ride to the emergency room, as EMS workers lifted her out of the house that had been her home for more than 65 years. She knew, in her heart, that she would not be returning there. She never had an opportunity for closure, to say goodbye to the house in which I grew up. She does not want to visit that house now. The memory of what was, and which only lives on in memory, is too painful to reconcile.

My daughter Meghan and her boyfriend Austin live there now, as guests of my sister Denise (who bought the house from Mom when Dad died in 2012). It was time for Meghan to start building an independent life, and that's a good thing. But the house's current state is less than ideal, as a persistent leak in the ceiling near their bed has proven difficult to remedy. Attempts to patch the roof have been as effective as BBs shot at Superman. I haven't even been able to get an estimate on replacing the roof, because, y'know, winter in November. I'm trying to come up with at least some kind of temporary solution, and I'm beside myself with worry that the leak will grow larger and that Meghan and Austin will not be able to stay there. I feel helpless.

Last Friday, Meghan, my wife Brenda, and I attended a memorial service for my sister-in-law Patty. Patty married my brother Art in 1972; her family had lived kitty-corner across the street from our house in North Syracuse until the early '60s. When Art started dating Patty around 1970 or so, Mom asked him, Isn't she a little young for you? But together, Art and Patty were just right, and so much in love. Fuck cancer. She was only 67. Brenda thought of Patty as a sister, and she's devastated, as we all are. We all wanted to get to Columbus for the service, so we dodged threatening weather conditions for the drive to Ohio. My other brother Rob and his wife Barbara drove in from Albany as well, and we surprised Art and his family with our presence. We felt that we needed to be there for him, for my nephews and their wives and kids, and for Patty's siblings. They used to live across the street from the house where Mom no longer lives, the house where a ceiling drips ominously upon Meghan and Austin. Family needed to be there for family.

My sister Denise lives in England with her husband Tony. Tony's mom passed away earlier this year. Last week, Denise and Tony's own home was devastated by fire. No one was hurt. They will not be able to move back into their house for up to a year. They are too far away for us to hug and offer comfort.

Aunt Mary, who could not make the car trip to Albany in my previous Thanksgiving story, also passed away this year. She was the last of my father's siblings. That generation of Cafarelli is now gone.

Today, Brenda, Meghan, Austin, and I will go to Mom's nursing home for a Thanksgiving meal. The nursing home staff allows guests to join residents for holiday celebrations, requiring only notice and a $5 fee. Rob invited us to Albany, as he always does, but we need to stay closer to home this year. We presume that institutionally-prepared turkey will not match Barb's cooking (a pretty safe presumption), but Brenda is making some corn casserole, noodle kugel, and sweet potato pie to supplement the fare provided. More importantly, we will be there. We will try, not so much to preserve the elusive illusion of normalcy, but to be together in whatever circumstances fate allows. We all wish we could be together, all of us in Syracuse, Rob and Barb and their extended family in Albany, Art and his boys (and their girls, and progeny) in Ohio. Denise and Tony, their son Tim, their daughter Mallory and her newlywed husband Alvaro. Patty. Aunt Mary. Tony's Mom. Dad. My niece Stephanie, taken from us a decade ago. We wish things were different. We're grateful for the grace we've had.

I'm not as strong as I need to be. But I'm trying. I succeed some days. I keep trying. And I write all of this, not to bring anyone down, but to acknowledge our common frailty, our shared vulnerability, our mutual mortality. My tale is only unique in the sense that each person's tale is unique. I know others suffer, many far, far worse than I can even imagine. A high school friend wrote recently of how Thanksgiving has always been a time of struggle for her, a holiday she simply can not embrace or celebrate. I wish there were a way I could help to lift her heart. I wish I could lift a lot of hearts, my own included. But still, I give thanks. I give thanks for family, and friends, and love, and life. We will struggle. We will fall. And we will keep on trying. We will be as strong as our spirits allow us to be.

Happy Thanksgiving Day. Happy Black Friday. Happy Cyber Monday. Happy December 17th, January 23rd, February 11th, whatever. Happy any day you can. We can't be happy on all of the days. Here's hoping we can each find a few happy days here and there.


This year, it can be difficult to feel thankful. We can't wish away the troubles, can't pretend things are as they should be. They are not. For now, we have each other, and we have our music. Thank you for that. 

The quarantine scene means there will be no family gathering for Thanksgiving this year. We'll have an international Zoom call this afternoon, and later my daughter Meghan will come over for a socially-distanced meal. She'll sit at the opposite end of our dining room's more-than-six-feet long table, we'll enjoy some wonderful food and conversation, and remain masked when we're not at the table. In the evening, her boyfriend Austin will join us--masked--to decorate the Christmas tree. It's not the holiday we want. It's the holiday we have. And we're grateful for that.

I won't see my Mom at all. Her nursing home is on a state-mandated lockdown, closed to visitors until the All-Clear sounds. She has tested negative know, as have all of the other residents of her building. But the lockdown remains in force, and for good reason. There have been positive test results in other buildings within the nursing home's complex. Visits would present a foolish and unnecessary risk. She understands. We understand. It's not what we want. It is what we have. And we're grateful for that.

Things will get better. They may still get worse before they get better, but they will get better. Not soon enough, but as soon as they can. It's not the timetable we want. But it's...yeah, you get it.

We have what we have. And we're grateful. Thank you.


Time is the enemy. Yet it's an enemy we're grateful to have for as long as we have it.


Last Thanksgiving, we knew full well what was coming; Mom passed two weeks later. I have absolutely no memory of Thanksgiving Day in 2021.

But today, Brenda is cooking a turkey. It may seem an obvious choice, but we usually don't have turkey on Thanksgiving. We feel like having turkey this year. Meghan and Austin will come over. We will enjoy time together as a family.

And we will be thankful. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

10 SONGS: 11/23/2022

10 Songs is a weekly list of ten songs that happen to be on my mind at the moment. The lists are usually dominated by songs played on the previous Sunday night's edition of This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl. The idea was inspired by Don Valentine of the essential blog I Don't Hear A Single.

This week's edition of 10 Songs draws exclusively from the playlist for This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 1156. This week's show is available as a podcast.


This sublime song (and current single) from Librarians With Hickeys' recent album Handclaps & Tambourines has already established itself as a TIRnRR Fave Rave. There's a new video to go with it, and we endorse the video, the song, and the album with all the celebratory HEY!s we can muster.

We are broken. You can see that graffiti scrawled near a heart on a wall, as depicted in the video and in the cover graphic for the single. The group's Ray Carmen sits atop that crumbling wall, looking upon the words, perhaps contemplating the melancholy they express.

It suits the song. Sometimes it suits my mood, too. This Thanksgiving week, it seems a suitable choice to open our show.

HEY! Let's play it again next week! With our best thoughts of home in mind, the holidays won't even know what hit them.

THE TEMPTATIONS: Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)

While we don't necessarily believe that Little Steven Van Zandt stole TIRnRR's format to create Underground Garage--well, Dana believes it, but I'm not sure--the similarities are certainly there. Given the fact that TIRnRR does predate Underground Garage, I'm not ashamed to admit when we do the turnabout-is-fair-play bit and nick an idea from one of the many fine shows on the SiriusXM Underground Garage channel. I'm a subscriber. More great radio shows mean more great radio.

I wish I'd made specific note of which fab Underground Garage jock played the Temptations' "Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)" last week. I think it was either Michael Des Barres or Palmyra Delran, but I'm not testifying in either case. Whoever it was, thank you Mr./Ms. DJ! Your airplay of this wonderful Tempts tune prompted me to dig the track out of my own CD library for TIRnRR programming purposes. We are one!

But, uh...make no mistake: Little Steven still owes us a beer.

THE COCKTAIL SLIPPERS: St. Valentine's Day Massacre

Hey, speakin' of Little Steven, and speaking of melancholy, please welcome back to the TIRnRR stage: the Cocktail Slippers! Little Steven himself wrote this one, and it earns a defiantly tear-stained spot in my long-threatened book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1):

"Van Zandt's lyrics here imply a lovers' drama playing out in rapidly elapsing time. Was it adventure, was it fear, or sanctuary? Modesty Blaze's voice is tinged with both regret and resignation as she sings; behind her and with her, her band of sisters seems hellbent on holding an Irish wake for broken hearts. Across the calendar pages that fly by with cruel indifference--Thanksgiving night, Christmas morning, New Year's Eve--a love that can't even evolve from pencil to ink careens toward its inevitable erasure come the 14th of February. Now even your carrier pigeons have been picked off by the vultures/There's only one thing left for you to confess.... The song flies to its foregone conclusion on a conjugal bed of the most bittersweet la la la la lala las in rock 'n' roll history....

":...After those faux but convincing garage rockers the Twylight Zones performed 'The St. Valentine's Day Massacre' in Not Fade Away, Little Steven hisself recorded the little ditty for the 2017 Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul album SoulfireNot to slight the song's author, nor to diss a made-for-the-movies band already dealing with the handicap of never actually existing in the first place, the song will always belong to five women from Norway who asked if they were still penciled in on your calendar. I know you're busy directing your life-long documentary/You never mentioned what part you wanted me to do...

"....Who'll be the last lover standing? Whether they liked it or not, the Cocktail Slippers knew the answer to that one. La, la, la, la, lala, la."

POPDUDES: Share The Land

The esteemed John M. Borack--writer, drummer, debonaire man about town--is the mastermind at the helm of We All Shine On: Celebrating The Music Of 1970, a superb various-artists tribute to the sounds of '70. A joint release from the combined forces of SpyderPop Records and Big Stir Records, We All Shine On came out this summer, and I think one or another of its tracks has seen TIRnRR airplay nearly every week since then.

John's group Popdudes contributes this cover of the Guess Who's 1970 smash "Share The Land," with (fittingly!) shared lead vocals from Michael Simmons and Robbie Rist, and it was the first of two covers of 1970 Guess Who hits we played this week (see below). It was also the first part of a Robbie Rist twin-spin, as we followed "Share The Land" with Robbie's own combo Ballzy Tomorrow, singin' a song from our current compilation This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 5. Worth sharing!

THE CYNICS: Girl, You're On My Mind

Dana's been on a little bit of a Cynics kick lately, and we all benefit from that. "Girl, You're On My Mind" is my # 1 top Cynics track, written by Bernard Kugel of Buffalo's phenomenal fuzz combo the Mystic Eyes. I knew Bernie a little when I lived in Buffalo in the '80s, and I was just thrilled when the Cynics' circa 1990 video for "Girl, You're On My Mind" scored a spin on MTV 120 Minutes. The song still gets the ol' blood a-thumpin' and a-pumpin' like Rock 'N' Roll oughtta.

THE HALFCUBES: Hand Me Down World

In my proud, long-standing (and self-appointed) role as the Flashcubes' most insistent fan, I love their original songs even more than I love their cover tunes. My possession of a pulse means I also love the covers they've recorded. The Flashcubes have always been armed with great taste and great ability to execute. The 'Cubes renditions of various ace gems previously done by the likes of the Move, Chris Spedding, Badfinger, the Bay City Rollers, and Paul Collins' Beat are wonderful, live covers of the Who, the Kinks, Arthur Alexander, Eddie Cochran, Link Wraythe Raspberries, Larry Williams (via the Beatles), and Big Star captured on Flashcubes On Fire are the sonic equivalent of amphetamines, and I think the Flashcubes' version of "Do Anything You Wanna Do" somehow edges beyond Eddie and the Hot Rods' seemingly nonpareil original. I'm biased--I'm a FAN!!--but the evidence is in the grooves. Cubic grooves.

All of the above serves as explanation for why the Flashcubes' current series of digital singles for Big Stir Records has been so compelling: enthusiastic and riveting new versions of rockin' pop classics, usually recorded in partnership with either the original artist or a like-minded performer. Each single has been the percolatin' embodiment of Oh HELL yeah!!

I believe the current single--a collaboration with Ohio '60s pop legend Randy Klawon, covering Cyrus Erie's 'Get The Message" (written in 1968 by Eric Carmen)--is the best one yet. That, my friends, is saying something.

Randy Klawon also joins Flashcubes bassist Gary Frenay and drummer Tommy Allen to form the Halfcubes, alongside Mike Kallet and Nick Frenay. The Halfcubes' cover of the Guess Who's "Hand Me Down World" is unreleased for now, but I betcha we'll be hearing more of it as part of a forthcoming various-artists project. Taste and execution. This part of the pop world is in good hands.

THE KINKS: You Really Got Me

The Greatest Record Ever Made!

TALL POPPY SYNDROME: Come Some Christmas Eve (Or Halloween)

From our absolutely irresistible compilation This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 5, Tall Poppy Syndrome's ace invigmoration of the Bee Gees' "Come Some Christmas Eve (Or Halloween)" isn't really about either one of its titular holidays. So we felt secure in blasting it now, in this time frame smack dab in between visits from the Great Pumpkin and Santa Claus. A fantastic track in any season.

THE RAMONES: Sheena Is A Punk Rocker

The record that changed my life. Dana and I had already settled the playlist when I realized that this week also marked the 45th anniversary of the first time I heard "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" by the Ramones. In November of 1977, less than two months shy of my 18th birthday, I was already an enthusiastic rockin' pop addict, a dyed-in-the-wool Beatles, Monkees, Kinks, and Dave Clark Five fanatic, and a burgeoning punk rocker. Listening to that "Sheena" 45 shifted everything--everything--into overdrive. It's not an exaggeration. The first spin of "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" changed my life.

Looking at the calendar for November of 1977, I've gotta guess it was either Wednesday the 23rd or Thursday the 24th--Thanksgiving Day--when my ears opened, my eyes widened, and my mind kaleidoscoped as I listened to a 2:45 single over and over for twenty minutes or more. 

I couldn't let that anniversary slide by without commemoration. 45 years! A 45 that changed my life. I'll be speaking about the Ramones a lot in 2023. The manifestation of that ongoing obsession started here: Thanksgiving week, 1977. I remain grateful. Thanksgiving really has it all. Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh YEAH...!

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This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at You can read about our history here.

I'm on Twitter @CafarelliCarl