Insert Foot: The watering hole is drying up for music—and writers


Rendering: Adam Pardee/STAFF.

If you’ve watched a lot of Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom—whatever, you’ve witnessed the time-lapse scenery progressions of the African watering hole, as the animals continue to show up despite the lake becoming a pond, then a puddle, then mud.

Then the thunder claps, the rain begins, and the animals are saved. And the they dance with joy and sing a curiously catchy tune …

Sorry. Too many kids and too much Disney. The point is music lovers are starting to get mighty thirsty.

Of course, the closest I get to a social life these days is pushing around a shopping cart while my daughters tell me what I’m about to buy them. But that would likely be my middle-aged reality, with or without COVID.

But just to make sure it wasn’t just me, I checked Rolling Stone a few minutes ago. Not that RS is anything near the be-all, end-all of all things music like long ago. But they usually have an inkling of what’s going on, even if it’s a little late. Not on politics, which is a gold mine of material right now.

But as far as music … the lead story was about why the Beatles are still relevant, and the content recounting fascinating details concerning why a band broke up 50 years ago.

Uh … OK. When the page loaded, my computer coughed up a dust ball.

I still read it, I mean … it’s the Beatles—a band I still don’t count when I list my favorite bands because to me, it’s like listing Jesus on one’s list of favorite Christians.

But it takes a little effort to engage with music during a pandemic. Maybe short bursts are best for cabin-fever-infected attention spans:

The best part of Quiet Riot, Frankie Banali, just died from cancer. He was always the biggest reason why I always hesitated while turning away from Quiet Riot when the band became ridiculous. I never met him, but I know people who did, and his reputation was as stellar as his drumming, which was meaty and right on.

My kids don’t listen to me because they’re smart: About four hours after I told my oldest daughter she probably had nothing to worry about as lightning-induced wildfires raced toward her home earlier this week … the authorities came by and told her she had to pack up and leave … because lightning-induced wildfires were racing toward her home.

She’s OK. The house survived. And thankfully, since she’s smart, she’ll never listen to me again.

Of course, I’m the idiot who goes outside during lightening storms to see awesome lightning more betterer.

I did get an awesome piece of encouragement regarding another one of my kids this week: she asked me if I have a bass she could borrow. I don’t, because people who don’t tell their kids to flee fires and go outside to watch lightning are only bright enough to hit drums. She said she’s taking up bass. I offered my congratulations … as long as it’s not to play prog rock.

Rick Springfield

Rick Springfield performs at Uptown Theatre in Napa on April 29, 2018. Martin Lacey/STAFF.

Speaking of prog rock … metal, whatever … the very underrated Coheed and Cambria just released a brilliant sequel to Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” cleverly called “Jessie’s Girl 2,” with a fun video starring Springfield himself, who gets the girl this time, only to find out she’s … not right. But never mind that. It’s genius, and not just because it’s a good hook wrapped in a heavily ’80s-themed video with a new ending. But … doing a sequel to a hit song that pays tribute to the song and uses its camp status to get attention while not ripping it off to the point where anyone else earns songwriting royalties? Add it to the long list of things I don’t know how I didn’t think of first.

No … my band used to do things like find an old demo from Cheap Trick and cover a really good song they somehow forgot to put on a real record, then not tell anyone it wasn’t ours (which wasn’t technically a lie; we never said we wrote it). We thought we might have a problem when Tom Petersson of the real Cheap Trick showed up to one of our shows. Thankfully, we talked with him after and he didn’t remember … or just didn’t care. I’m thinking he didn’t feel very threatened …

Stay safe out there and keep the masks on, so we can all go back to concerts in 2021.

Follow music critic Tony Hicks at

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