Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Things I Think | Dan's Top Albums

"10 of my all time favorite albums, in no particular order. Albums that really made an impact and are still on your rotation list, even if only now and then. Post the cover, no need to explain."

That was the task. Thanks to a Facebook tag I joined in on the fun. I've really enjoyed reading people's lists. I opted just to post and not tag anyone, for fear of rejection primarily but also... you're welcome.

You could read this so many ways, so I want to start out by telling you how I chose and what part resonated with me. "Albums that really made an impact" was the key for me. So before you jump on me for including Silverchair in a top 10 albums list, please remember that it's one of a hell of a long list. I'll do a proper top 10 at some point as I did with the top ten songs here.

Here in this edition of TITs, I'm going to give a little background on what made that album so important to me.

So, it's day 10 and those following from FB are wondering what the last album in the list will be I assume. Or you saw the preview image so you already know, but without further delay:

Nirvana - Nevermind

This album came out when I was 12/13, so I wasn't ready for it just yet. But a couple years later as I went into High School I was all over it. This sound was unlike anything I'd known before, and it was so raw. I, like so many, remember seeing the video for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and just feeling that energy, and the way it made me feel was something I couldn't really put my finger on. I still feel that when I listen to it today.

Silverchair - Frogstomp

In 1995 a kid my age, also named Daniel, on the other side of the world wrote a song with his friends and entered a contest that secured them a number one hit in Australia. "Tomorrow"  ROCKS. I was so impressed that it was possible, this album really hit home to me that anything is possible. I learned it all in my early days of playing guitar.

Pearl Jam - Ten

A masterpiece that would be in my actual top ten greatest albums ever made list if this was that. Grunge, alternative, whatever you want to label it is a theme among this list. My formative years were in High School musically. What I listen to today is primarily made up of what came out in the nineties. I remember (poorly) playing "Black" at a talent show with my friends and band. Heavy song for teenagers! Pearl Jam remains one of only 4-5 bands that are must buy for me when they release new music or tour.

Alice in Chains - MTV Unplugged

Kids these days will never know the joy of MTV Unplugged. Pearl Jam, Clapton, STP, SRV, and many more were some of the most incredible offerings on this station when it was actually about music. Alice In Chains is at their absolute peak when stripped down. The way that Layne and Jerry harmonize has never been replicated IMO, and it's a damn shame Layne's life fell to drugs because the music Jerry has continued to make is all great but that haunting voice of Layne is dearly missed. I realized how kick ass an acoustic guitar could sound when played well on this one. Still in heavy rotation today, and always will be. I prefer this album to any studio AIC.

Tool - Aenima

I clearly remember flipping through the CD jacket trying to understand what I was looking at, there was so much thought put into the artwork. It's no surprise Tool continue to be a musical enigma as we wait another 10,000 days for their next record. This album kicks in with Stinkfist like nothing I've ever experienced and takes you on a journey from start to finish. Clearly thought out, nothing out of place. No track left behind. Everything with a purpose. This was my discovery of Maynard, and I've been a fan of all his projects every since. I actually think Lateralus is a better album than this one but Aenima was more important in my discovery of all things MJK.

Sevendust - Home

I was in High School the first time I heard Sevendust. My friend Cullen showed me their debut CD and I was like WHOA I don't get this at all, I'll pass. I wasn't ready. In fact, the first time I owned this album I sold it to Pure Pop thinking it wasn't for me. Fast forward to a couple months later, and in the midst of a crazy time in life it suddenly clicked. I caught them live twice in short time, and was HOOKED. There isn't a better live band out there, I promise. They still own the stage 20 years later. I've seen them 20 or so times and it never gets old. They never made a big radio splash, so they still live life much like most of us. They are great dudes, and this album is a crusher. Turn it up to 11 and throw yourself into a wall kinda music. This is the album that got me through all sorts of darkness in my life, it's always my outlet. 7D is like my therapy.  Their music has saved me, I honestly don't know what I would have done without it.

Green Day - Dookie

One of my very first compact discs, I got this from my friend Courtney in 8th grade? Maybe 7th I can't recall but it was all over the radio and my first exposure to "punk." I loved how fast and quick the songs were. Fun, poppy, and full of ridiculousness. I wore this one out and have bought it a few times before digital came into life. Woodstock 94 was a big deal for me, and this was one of the bands I recall most vividly. It was muddy!

Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral

Trent Reznor and NIN quickly became a favorite of mine like many when we heard "Closer" or saw it on MTV,. Those controversial lyrics and my teenage brain were a match made in hell. I've been following Trent's work ever since. This album has been many things to me over the years, but it remains a go-to. It's brilliant from start to finish, and lyrically is some of the most powerful, disturbing, and sexual stuff I've ever heard even today. I'll buy anything Trent does, it rarely disappoints.

Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream

Continuing in the theme of music from High School, this album is still often played at home. They have never come close to matching the brilliance of this in my eyes. My friend Chris had a band that often covered the pumpkins and that was some of my early exposure to it. The sound of Billy Corgan's and James Iha's guitars on this album are so rad. The tone is one of my favorites, I've never been able to recreate it as I'd like to but I've sure tried. Full of hits as it is, my favorite track is "Mayonaise" and you should check it out in the spotify playlist linked below.

Metallica - Metallica (The Black Album)

Haters gonna hate, but this album is fucking magical. I've yet to find a record that sounds as good, it's masterfully produced (maybe even overso) and I've heard it so many times, often I hear new things or nuance depending on volume, location etc.. June 10, 1994 will be the day for me that will always be the most important time in my musical life when Metallica came to my hometown of little Essex Junction, Vermont and TORE IT APART. From then on, I was changed. I've never looked back. I don't know when I first owned this album, or the order in which I progressed through their catalog but despite it's popularity or when "they sold out, man" it remains a regular listen for me among their catalog. For many fans this was the end for them, but for me and many it was just the beginning. I have bought this in various formats probably ten times. The riffs are still some of the best I've ever heard, and fun as hell to play. I never got good enough to solo like Kirk but Metallica have been a very important band to me throughout my life. I suspect, at 38 years old they always will be.

So there you have it, ten of my top albums. All have made a huge impact on me, but to leave it at ten, most of which were made over the course of 3-4 years, is a bit of a shame. So to that end, here are fifteen more. I'll write more about these another time perhaps. I've included some of the standout tracks for me in this playlist. 

Collective Soul - self titled
Stevie Ray Vaughan - Couldn't Stand the Weather
The Cranberries - No Need to Argue
Tom Petty - Wildflowers
Gov't Mule - Dose
Stone Temple Pilots - Core
Soundgarden - Superunknown
Jimi Hendrix - The Ultimate Experience
Pink Floyd - The Darkside of the Moon
Guns n' Roses - Appetite For Destruction
Weezer - self titled (The Blue Album)
Rage Against the Machine - self titled
Dr. Dre - The Chronic
Led Zeppelin - 4
Dave Matthews Band - Before These Crowded Streets

If you don't use Facebook, or haven't done this what were your favorites? 

Music is life \m/

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Things I Think | The Greatest Songs Ever Written, Recorded, and Performed

Good morning!

Welcome to another editions of "Things I Think" In this TITs post you'll get to participate!

If you follow me over on Twitter than this is old hat for you, but I wanted to put it in here for later use. This morning Amy spinning the album "Thriller" has me thinking about a new series about my top ten (or more albums). Look for that soon over on the platform the prez is destroying.

So, since limitations exist on character limits over there here are #DansTopSongs with a bit more explanation as to why they made MY list.

What are your top songs? Why?

The 10 greatest songs ever written, recorded, and performed according to me are. 1. Tiny Dancer - Elton John

  • I had heard this song a number of times as a younger person, but it wasn't until I saw and heard it in "Almost Famous" that it connected with me in some magical way I still can't explain. Every time I hear it in any format I kinda lose it, I don't know why. That is the power of music.

2. Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd

  • Just sensational song writing. The simplicity of this song is perfect. The music, the lyrics, that opening solo just pops. Easily my favorite PF song, and one that has had many meanings for me throughout my life.

3. All Along the Watchtower - Bob Dylan (but give me the Hendrix or even DMB versions)

  • Dylan is the best songwriter ever, and perhaps the worst singer. I can't listen to him at all but I first learned of him in 8th grade Social Studies class with just the words on paper by a pretty hip teacher who used music to teach history. It's always stuck with me, but when I heard Jimi Hendrix play it a year or two later it all made sense. This song has a epic quality to it that I love. It's a never skip track for me.

4. Imagine - John Lennon

  • My dad is the biggest Beatles fan I know, and I grew up hearing all of it. I didn't really get it though. Good singalong stuff, but it wasn't until I was an adult that I understood how important they were to music history. This song is as relevant today as it was the day John wrote it. It's a timeless piece that is always appropriate, always worth reflection. Often covered, but no version matches the original.

5. Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin

  • I got shit for this one, primarily from the overplayed, overdone crowd. These people are the ones that don't like a band after they made it big. Well...fuck them. This song is perfection from end to end, and I don't give a shit that you can't play it in guitar stores, or that many of my generation awkwardly danced to it in 8th grade or similar. I hear something new in this song whenever I listen. Led Zeppelin, another band introduced to me by my Dad. He has great taste in tunes.

6. Thriller - Michael Jackson

  • Ground breaking in every possible way, this song could be made today and would be ginormous. From the Vincent Price piece, to the dance, the video, everything about this is fun as hell and the album of the same name is a masterpiece and (spoiler alert) will surely make my top albums list.

7. Baba O’Riley - The Who

8. The Chain - Fleetwood Mac

  • Listening to "Rumours" now, and TBH could have chosen "Go Your Own Way" with this spot as well but "The Chain" just has all of the things that make this band so great. Stevie's voice is what I imagine great drugs must be like. I'm probably wrong, but that is what I'm going with. LB rips on guitar as always, totally underrated.

9. Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones

  • Another "hey thanks for liking awesome music" to my pops on this one. I will always remember his handwritten cassette tapes, drawer after drawer lined with classic rock and this was one I just loved hearing than and still do now. Everything about this says legendary. Only as an adult did I learn about the Stones, the Beatles and the British rock scene proper and it only makes the tune better.

10. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana

  • If this list was "TITs | Most Important Songs to Dan" it's quite possible this would land number one as it likely would for many of my nineties high school peeps. I was entering that phase when you really don't know wtf you are doing in adolescence. I was coming out of the pop phase, and moving into weirder time that would include dabbling in Dr. Dre, Cypress Hill, and Boys 2 Men. Along with "Headbangers Ball" I wasn't really sure what I was supposed to like. When I heard Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and others it all really made sense for that rebellious teen anger I felt. I found my niche. This song is so simple, but so perfect. It was one of the earliest songs I remember learning on guitar, we played it in a jam session and the rest is history.
I'll probably continue this list through to 20 at some point, so keep an eye out for that but first up will be my top ten albums.

Would love to know what your favorites are, post them on here or over on twitter. I'm @metallidan

Cheers! \m/

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Things I Think

Welcome to a new and exciting series, that will probably only be one post but this morning I have some things on my mind...

Some weigh heavily, and some less so but all are equally important in that they really don't fucking matter because it's just me. A dude with a keyboard. Like many with a keyboard these days we are made think we can make a difference, which probably isn't true at all but it is a nice feeling and since its holy week I'll roll with some nice feelings in the face of a potential zombie jesus rise.

I digress.

So, like I said...things I think or TIT for short. New series or single post sweeping the nation. TBD.

  • Jack White is terrible. How can anyone tolerate his voice at all? He is to ears what six pack rings are to sea birds. It's really bad. HOWEVER, he made the news recently for two reasons that I think are interesting. 
    • First, obviously pawn shop guitars aren't going to work out in the long run dude. Welcome to being in tune.
    • Second, I LOVE his concert camera and cell phone ban. Other bands have been doing this lately, and I'm fully on board. A Perfect Circle comes to mind. There is a company (Yonder) that even locks up phones at some shows. I'm all in. I like to take a couple quick snaps and perhaps a short vid but people aren't even watching the show with their eyes anymore, it's totally out of hand. Live in the moment yo. 
  • Privacy, do you think you really ever had it? Yeah I get your #DeleteFacebook holier than thou quest. Would you like a t shirt or a badge? Maybe some trophy? You can put it right next to your Amazon, Google, or Apple Wiretap you got for xmas. Be smarter with your shit, I support that. We all overshare, and put too much out there. I'll give you that, guilty as charged but your car is listening, Alexa is listening, SIRI is listening etc.. I'm not worried if Facebook knows I sent Amy texts about dinner and called the Dentist to get my grill shined. Also, everyone should brush up on how paid advertising works on the internet, but put on your tinfoil hats first because it gets wildly personal.
  • I don't understand office plants, and people spend way too much effort on them. 
  • Guns.....uh oh, triggered are ya? Hear me out, it's not that complicated. I think that it is reasonable to make it as difficult to get a firearm as it is for a women to get an abortion, or anyone to get a car. Shit you can't even get a tattoo of Taz without parents permission until your 18. You have to register your car and pay an annual fee for the right to do so, yet nobody loses their collective shit because of this? How is it unreasonable to keep track of who has them and what they are? Are you in fact part of a "Well regulated militia?" NO YOU FUCKING ARE NOT. Nobody, not me, not Obama, not these amazing kids marching are trying to take your fucking guns away. Can we not just be smarter about them? It isn't that hard. It really fucking isn't. I believe in the 2nd amendment, you want to be able to defend yourself in the unlikely event that a whole bunch of things line up perfectly for you to do so. I get it, that is indeed your right. Do you need a fucking machine gun to do it? If you have such a boner for guns like that, go join the army and do something with life. Otherwise pop in Call of Duty like the rest of us.

Well, that is about all I can handle for this morning. I need more coffee, and you probably need a nap. I hope you enjoyed the first in a possible series of TITs. Until next time, lets all keep yelling into the abyss, eventually someone will hear us. 


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Understanding & Recovery

More often than not I compose blog posts in my head, or get loose ideas and never actually come here to write them down and share.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about putting my thoughts down around the subject of understanding what it means to be in recovery, and how that is perceived by folks you care about. Folks you think may care about you, those who do not, and those you hate or hold a grudge (likely for very good reasons).

I've come to the conclusion that people generally just don't understand...may never understand, and I need to be okay with that.

When you work so hard to downplay a problem, or hide it from the world. Make excuses, cover it up, and believe yourself that you are just fine. Convincing yourself an others that drinking is a good hobby. I think then, to no surprise people begin to believe you.

Despite the blackouts.
Despite driving drunk.
Despite being inappropriate.
Despite being an asshole.
...and so much more.

There are many stories, some are funny. Especially after the fact, the stuff of legends. I was that guy.

I'm not that guy anymore. I'm just a guy figuring out who I am, who I want to be and trying to make amends for who I used to be. I lost so much time, so much money, so many friends.

I don't think people understand that had such a problem.
Sure I stopped drinking, and it was not as hard for me as it is for some. That doesn't make me any less of an alcoholic. I wish it wasn't this way, I wished I'd never started to be honest. It is what it is.

I don't want to be around drinking if I can help it, I don't want to celebrate "holidays" that exist for drinking only, I don't want to hang out with drunk people or be anywhere near them. All I see is me, my mistakes, my problems, my former life. All I want to do is yell, cry, fight etc...

3 days short of "holiday" that used to have me drunk by 9am, people asking me what my plans are.

It's weird. I guess this is just how it is, how it will be.

Take care of yourself.

 - db - 1156 days -

Monday, May 8, 2017

Room With A View

 “It’s the alcohol! I know that this is the constant binging,” a wife cried to her husband of over 40 years in the hospital bed beside my father, who was recovering from surgery.

This is not what I expected to witness whilst at the hospital taking care of Dad over the weekend, but it is what I got. It shook me.
The sun sets over Lake Champlain | view from the room

It was the morning after Dad’s surgery and he was recovering fine (still is, but this is not that story). His neighbor in room ‘622 with a view’ the previous evening had been a surly fellow who had a stroke, but couldn’t wait to get outside for a smoke.  Meanwhile, his family of ashtray hearts bantered around the bedside, complaining how far they had to walk to find a place to light up. “Just go daown to the gararge and smoke in the truck—it’s closa,” one family member suggested. Again, this is not that story.

When I arrived the next morning, I noticed the new neighbor. Dad told me he had arrived late the night before. I’d later learn from the fact there is no privacy maintained by a sheet with hooks in the ceiling that this neighbor was a 70-year-old retiree. He was a former doctor at this very hospital, and a good one based on his address in Shelburne on the lake. He and his wife would spend the next couple hours arguing about many things, she pleading, he dismissive of her and her pleas.

He apparently had suffered a seizure of some kind, though you wouldn’t know it from his demeanor—he looked and seemed just fine to me. He had also been on the tail-end of a 4 day booze binge, which was par for the course for this avid golfer since retiring. What was supposed to be a time of great joy in his life, was “the worst thing that ever happened to him,” according to his loving wife. She told doctors and nurses, and anyone else that would listen, that he had been anxious, depressed, lonely, and even suicidal since retiring. He was unable to find ways to calm his mind and to keep it from slipping away from him. I learned he loves to run, has a drink “or two” before bed, and again when he wakes up.

When the doctors finally came in to discuss their findings, things took an even darker turn. I wanted so badly to give them the privacy they deserved, but this hanging sheet told all and no effort was made to hold back. “Early onset Alzheimer’s” was the cause. More episodes were to be expected, more tests would be needed. But, alcohol wasn’t the problem here. It was a problem, but not the one the doctors were inclined to speak of.

The wife pleaded with anyone who would listen.  “He was binging. This has to be because of all the drinking. You have got to tell him to stop drinking, he won’t listen to me,” she said sobbing, pushing through tears. She was shocked to learn her husband wasn’t just an alcoholic—now he was an alcoholic who was losing his memory.

The doctors calmed her as best they could, but she left the room crying while they continued to speak to her husband.

“She thinks it’s the booze,” he said. “She wanted it to be the booze.”
The doctor suggested that the drink certainly wasn’t going to help and offered to refer him to a psychiatrist, but mostly focused on the need for him to go to memory center for more testing. The test results did not weigh heavily on the man and he was mostly concerned about his lost sweatshirt from the ambulance ride.  He mentioned how his father was a shell of himself at death and how he didn’t want to be the same. He talked over and over about his own chart. He read his MRI and saw his brain had shrunk since his previous test and he knew everything was totally out of his control. He seemed resigned to his fate.

Later, his wife returned still crying, still pleading with everyone. She had hoped the hospital could at least solve one very big problem, when life just piled on another. Eventually they left, discharged back to their life of privacy, one with walls thicker than a nicely hung sheet dividing a small room in two.

Dad did not say much and just watched his TV, hoping to get out soon himself. But I could not stop considering that man’s life as one direction my future could have gone. It was surreal.  I felt like Ebeneezer Scrooge being flown around by the Ghost of Christmas Future, looking down on what could have been my fate. To think about how booze can cause that kind of strain, to make a married couple of 40 years seem like they hardly know each other. Their goals, polar opposites. She clearly loved him, he didn’t seem to even care about himself, much less her. It was awful to watch, to hear. So much denial, so fucking sad.

He said things like, “Well, no need to stop now,” and “What the hell is the point, I’m just going to die anyway,” and “My wife thinks I’m an alcoholic…maybe I am, but who cares…I knew this had nothing to do with booze.”

I’m so thankful to be where I am today, 846 days free of the crutch of alcohol. I know the numbness this man was searching for. This was a hell of a reminder I didn’t expect this weekend. It certainly got me thinking and there was so much to learn from their situation. Life is easy to take for granted.

My Dad is doing well. His story also involves retirement, but that isn’t the most important part for now. Perhaps I’ll write about that soon as well.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Dear Canada, I Miss You

Did you know that Canada routinely, and rightly denies entry to their country for folks with a criminal record? I get it, keep those borders safe. They seem to do it right, however did you also know that I can't go to Canada anymore? Yep, I'm a criminal, a danger to all. Watch out. I'm coming for ya.

Anyway, of all the consequences of my actions, this is the one that doesn't go away. I've done the time. I've done Crash, I've lost my license, I've paid thousands in fines, fees, damages, etc.. I've been sober since. I still can't go to Canada.

It's something I love, and I miss it. Recently the Prime Minister has been outspoken in reference to the Trump tragedy here in the states, including the #WelcomeToCanada hashtag on Twitter. I figured, why not write him a little letter of consideration. Not all criminals are created equal. I'm sure he will never see it, but it made me feel a little better.

Do the crime, do the time as they say. Forever seems like forever.




Good morning Sir,

First of all, I would just like to thank you and the people of Canada for proving to be a great neighbor to the USA, and ambassadors to the world. Especially in light of these difficult times we are having in the states. I'm so glad to see you be accepting of others, including refugees. Your recent twitter remarks gave me great hope when my own nation is failing me on that end.

I live in Vermont, a neighbor for my 37 years to Quebec. I've spent many amazing trips in your country, I'm only a short drive away. It is with regret that I must say I can no longer travel to Canada due to an unfortunate criminal incident that I'll never be able to undo. However, I'm working daily in that effort. On January 13th of 2015 I made a poor decision to drive while intoxicated, resulting in being pulled over for a DUI. It is my only criminal offence, I'm otherwise an upstanding citizen. College graduate, and now 2 years and some days Sober as I chose to give up drinking after the embarrassment and shame of the offence.

Its to that end I contact you today, as your neighbor to the south I can no longer travel to Canada because of this DUI. I understand why you would be weary of having folks with a record come to your country, and I respect it. However, I wanted to share my story because I don't think the blanket "ban" works well. People like myself, who are a short drive away and would love to spend money in your country and take in its history no longer can.

I miss it quite a lot.

I don't imagine that you will ever actually read this, but if you do, thank you. I appreciate the consideration. I'm not sure what can be done, but some reports show me as never being able to visit Canada again. That is so sad.

Warm regards,

Dan Barnes