Insert Foot: Stop talking (and breathing on me) and listen up

Insert Foot, Tony Hicks

Insert Foot practices COVID-19 social distancing.

During these strange COVID-19 times of lining up with hundreds of other breathing consumers so you and their germs can avoid grocery stores for a week, it’s fantastic to have an Internet for distraction and insight.

For example, I discovered Pornhub is one word instead of two (I read it in an article, you guys). I didn’t know that (yes, I did). But I do know I’m 52 and that part of the Internet is a young person’s game.

So, because I’m fantastically old, I am expected to listen to music as a condition of a music magazine publishing my drivel. I’ve been listening … and watching. For example, from watching an amazing Allman Brothers concert from the University of Florida bandshell (one word, not two … I think) in 1982, I know Greg Allman found the secret to having shiny, silky long hair without split ends.

His band could play a little bit, too. They were almost as good as his hair.

Music just makes sense right now. I don’t know about you, but I need distraction from Wolf Blitzer’s icy stare and Andrew Cuomo’s 2024 presidential campaign. In Europe, and even Italy, people are coming together by standing on balconies and at elevated windows and singing together.

My friend suggested I try this. I suggested he come over and build me a balcony … and a second floor while he’s at it.

We can’t really congregate to make music or experience it live. And, while I’m seriously missing my BFF doing things like spontaneously dancing and singing along to country songs about beer (you had to be there), there’s an incredible amount of material out there with which to make this weird time more palatable.

For example, after killing an hour with the Allman Brothers–the second greatest thing to come out of Florida behind alligators—I found an old Police concert … which simultaneously heartened and crushed my spirit, as I realized I will never play as well as Stewart Copeland.

But, my goodness, is he fun to watch.

Since my gym closed, I’ve been taking long walks up and down hills every morning, enjoying the view and seeing people walking the opposite way panic and scurry across the road, as if I’m wearing a “Kiss Me – I’m Irish” T-shirt and puckering up. Fortunately, I got used to this as a young rock guy with the hair and boots of a Pearl Jam roadie back in the ’90s, when parents in my affluent community would see me in public and shield their children like I was aiming a flamethrower at them.

Flamethrower is one word … I checked.

I’ve correlated sections of my hike with certain music. For example, I’ve rediscovered one of the most aptly named bands ever: Lush. Right–the ’90s were indeed good to some of us. Call it shoegaze (one word?), call it dream-pop (one word?)[Editor’s note: it’s hyphenated!]; whatever … it’s gorgeous. Lush makes me forget people are suddenly telling me to wear rubber gloves to pump gas. “Desire Lines” makes me want to curl up under a tree and take a dreamy nap, which you really shouldn’t do, because some people own guns and don’t want you on their lawn. Trust me on that one.

For climbing up hills, aggression is key. I dug around and found Bad Religion’s “Beyond Electric Dreams,” another example of the group’s underrated 21st century catalog. The Melvins, Helmet and Queen’s “Dragon Attack” is also good for hills. It tends to keep one marching steadily, despite the horrible pain in your lungs.

Well … in my lungs, anyway.

Coming down hills can be equally challenging (agonizing). Funkadelic’s “Can You Get to That” keeps the pace while distracting your brain wondering why this song wasn’t a bigger deal—and if you steal it, will people believe it’s yours?). Funkadelic played one of the last shows at the Cornerstone Berkeley before the shutdown, if you’re keeping track).

I guess I would need to find a band first.

The point is this is a great time to stop talking–you’re disgusting and spreading germs–and start listening. And watching. Everybody thinks they don’t have enough time to catch up, or even digest, good pop culture. You do now. Take a walk, listen … and try to stay on your side of the trail.

Follow music critic Tony Hicks at

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