About Scott: Music

Memories and a list or two

Stage with musicians going at it

Gogol Bordello at the Newport, Columbus, OH, October 2017

Reading time: 4 minutes

Bad configuration of Message to Display in Plugin parameters.

I remember the first time I heard:

Dreaming, Blondie.
A friend and I listened to a lot of music in his parents' basement bar. It was 1979 and, for reasons I don't have time to get into, I'm almost certain they hosted orgies down there.

I'm almost certain they hosted orgies down there.

Anyway. We both liked Blondie and my friend bought Eat to the Beat as soon as it came out. The first song is Dreaming. By the time we got to the brilliant lyric, "He asked me was my pleasure/A movie or a measure," I was so hooked on the drumming that Clem Burke became the second drummer's name I ever learned. (The first was Peter Criss, of course.) I was ten. All I could hear was the drums. It's still all I hear, decades later.

Straight to Hell, The Clash (You can only watch it on YouTube)
I was thirteen, watching Saturday Night Live in my room. I had a glass of Mello Yello - no ice - and a bowl of dry roasted peanuts. I remember because when The Clash played Straight to Hell, everything stopped.

Musicians on stage and crowd in the pit

Counting Crows at Express Live. Hollis Brown and Citizen Cope opened. It was a very, very hot day. Sep 2015

Mick Jones and Paul Simonon pranced around like goofs, but something about the performance mesmerized me. When Joe Strummer put fingers to his head like a gun and breathed out to the count, I almost spilled my drink. The next week I went to the record store and bought Combat Rock. That album led me to London Calling, which is the one I'd take to a desert island.

The only disappointment of that SNL performance, ex post facto, was that drummer Topper Headon had already been kicked out of the band for his heroin addiction. It's probably good I didn't know that at the time.

When Doves Cry, Prince.
It was summertime. I was fifteen. I had been out all day and was tired. I was listening to the radio, flipping through a magazine. When Doves Cry came on and my head shot up. What the hell is that?

It wasn't the sparkly guitar intro, the cool lyrics, or the fact that, overall, the song sounded different and it was hard to pinpoint why. (Now I know: there was no bass.) What made me stare at the radio was the grunty, guttural exclamation right after the opening riffs. And then the harmonizing during the chorus - in that same low, vibrating tone.

I had a glass of Mello Yello - no ice - and a bowl of dry roasted peanuts.

The song was brilliant, sweet, and sad. I didn't even know what crying doves were supposed to mean. But it was all the more beautiful because of ugly grunting. Only a genius could pull that off.

Blister in the Sun, Violent Femmes.
In 1985, as a high school junior, I drove a used Pontiac Phoenix (aw yeah). Someone gave me a tape to listen to; I popped it in and heard...magic. Loving Blister in the Sun is a cliché, but the opening notes, the spare and somehow full sound, the brushes on the snare drum, the odd lyrics, and a chorus you could belt out full-throated were miraculous.

A crappy old Pontiac

A late-model Pontiac Phoenix. Mine was gray with a red interior, and was not a hatchback; photo by Bull-Doser, Public Domain. (Mods)

A few days later, I gave a girl a ride home. I knew she liked OMD and New Order, but it didn't matter - she was going to listen to the Femmes as we cruised down the freeway. After Blister in the Sun and Kiss Off, she stopped the tape and said, "I can't see you listening to music like this." I couldn't tell if she was insulting me or complimenting me.

Situation, Yaz ("Yazoo" in the UK).
In the fall of 1985 - around the time I was processing the virtuosity of Violent Femmes - a friend and I went to William and Mary for a...[clears throat] "college visit." It was his girlfriend's first year there, and she had lots of new friends.

We arrived on a Thursday night. Cut to the pre-party. I'm in a dorm room full of women two years older than me drinking peach schnapps and beer. As one might imagine, I didn't want to go anywhere else - but eventually we shuffled over to an enormous fraternity house. Kegs lined the backyard. Tables were covered in liquor bottles, mixers, and towers of red cups.

Gina and me with Matisyahu

Hanging out with Matisyahu after his show at the Newport, Columbus, OH. Dec 2017

We wandered inside. The women from the dorm started flirting with random guys, with my friend and me, and - thank you, kind and benevolent Jesus - with each other. The pulsating music was infectious. The women undulated, arms raised, hips rotating in glorious waves. I didn't need any more visits. I was ready to go to college immediately.

Then Situation came on. The catchy melody started warbling - you know the one - and suddenly the floor compacted. People melded personal space and more dancers crowded the floor. Two women wrapped themselves around me, and each other, and throbbed their way through the song.

The women undulated, arms raised, hips rotating in glorious waves. I didn't need any more visits. I was ready to go to college immediately.

The moment was so infectious that once I understood the chorus, I wanted to belt it out at the top of my lungs: "Move out...Move out..."

Thankfully, a voice in my head took charge. You and two women are a gyrating pretzel," it said. Everywhere you put your hand, there's a boob. Important body parts are grinding against your thighs. These lovely women are breathing in your ear. How about not singing a song you don't know? How about not signing at all? Focus on the vastly more important things demanding your attention.

And for the rest of the night, I didn't sing a damn word.

Gina smiling hard with a big screen in the background

Floor seats at the Elton John Farewell Tour, Vivint Smart Arena, Salt Lake City. Sep 2019

A guy dressed as Elton John in his sequined L.A. Dodger costume

A fan recalls Sir Elton's headier days, Vivint Smart Arena, Salt Lake City. Sep 2019

Come Friday morning, we did not speak to admissions officers, audit classes, or see the library. It was the first time I ever drank chamomile tea, though. The woman whose bed I woke up in - I just crashed there, nothing more - told me it was good for hangovers. She was categorically wrong.

Other Shows

Shows I've loved over the past few years:

  • Toots & The Maytals. Toots was a legend, and in 2013 he still had the pipes. May he rest in peace.
  • Warren Haynes. The guests! The musicianship! At the Ryman!
  • Gogol Bordello. They grab you by the entrails and let go when they're good and goddamn ready.
  • Elton John. Big, beautiful, and the tightest performance I've ever heard.
  • Team Dresch and Bikini Kill. I saw them at the UJZ Kornstrasse in Hannover in March of 1996. I loved them both, but Team Dresch's set was just...phenomenal. Their drummer, Melissa York, killed it.

Baroque Music

Particularly JS Bach, of course. Also Telemann, Corelli, Albinoni, and Rameau.

She stopped the tape and said, "I can't see you listening to music like this." I couldn't tell if she was insulting me or complimenting me.

Once or twice a year, Gina and I see the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra at the gorgeous Southern Theater in downtown Columbus.

Recent Posts

Postcard: Los Angeles  11/5/2021

Afropean  8/6/2021

Roadrunner  7/22/2021

Red Dust  6/30/2021

Eat Pray Love  6/10/2021

Voyage au Brésil  5/16/2021

Postcard: Lake Tahoe  4/30/2021

Baedeker's United States  4/5/2021

To Shake the Sleeping Self  3/7/2021

Adrift  2/25/2021



A smiling Francis and me, sitting outside in front of some shrubs

Some basics

A brief biographical sketch

Me on top of a sunny Mt Pilatus in Switzerland, with mountains in the background


Pardon the saccharine and the obvious, but travel is everything

A couple standing in front of a large Gothic church, on a bridge over the Seine


France deserves its own section

Francis, as a two year-old in a car seat, in sunglasses reading a French picture book


The bullshit of daily life? I'd rather read.

Stage with musicians going at it - they're Gogol Bordello, and they're crazy


Let me take you back

Little boy sitting on a big white bed, looking at a tablet


I watch a lot more television than movies

Live action from a soccer game at Crew Stadium - yellow versus blue


The only sport that matters

Ugly photo of a pig knuckle after it's been eaten - really, it looks horrible


As a travel writer, I have to talk about food

Me in an outdoor restaurant drinking from a green coconut with a long straw

Dumb stuff

You will not feel smarter after reading this

Dumpster full of garbage


Trying to live simply

Me getting out of a red Ferrari F430 with a guy clapping for me

Other Interests

I've only driven a Ferrari once

Dude wearing orange pants and orange and green shoes walking on wet grass

Get off my lawn

A few brief rants

Recent Instagram Posts

Recent Tweets