WHICH ONE IS BEST? – Rich Paschall

MAX hits, by Rich Paschall

If you were here on Sunday seeking intelligent life, you may have read about rising star Max Schneider. If you have been watching national or local television lately or listening to local radio or streaming music services you would have found it hard to miss MAX. He is currently on The Intimate AF Tour with plenty of media stops along the way. He even got a gig one afternoon at the mega rock festival, Lollapalooza.

MAX in Chicago

Sunday we gave you a link to his live performance of the radio hit, Love Me Less, on the Today show. He is also promoting another song he hopes to climb the charts. It is supposed to reveal the love for his wife. “I knew immediately that this was a special record when I wrote my first verse instantaneously in front of my wife while she was in the room,” MAX said.

You’re beautiful
Something like these acid dreams, acid dreams
You’re something I ain’t used to, girl (no)
I’m gon’ give you everything, everything

Which one of these current songs do you like better? I’ll take the first one, Love Me Less. It might be a little harder to write a good lyric when you are too close to the subject. That’s my vote between the two, but there are a lot of tunes on his YouTube channel.

Just for fun, I will give you a performance by MAX which I like the best among his high-energy, up-tempo efforts:

See also: “MAX Unveils Funky New Tune, ‘Acid Dreams,’ Featuring Felly: Listen,” Billboard.com July 19, 2019.


Gotta Make You Understand, Rich Paschall

Never gonna give you up 
Never gonna let you down 
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

We’re no strangers to love
You know the rules and so do I
A full commitment’s what I’m thinking of
You wouldn’t get this from any other guy

The 80s dance sensation was the first single released from Rick Astley’s 1987 début album. It rose to number 1 in 25 countries and was, by all measures available, a worldwide hit. It was played so often for so long that people started to get sick of it. This sometimes happens with a mega-hit.

Never gonna give you up

The pounding beat was actually mesmerizing.  The lyric was catchy, as they say. The dancing in Astley’s video was just fun.

The dance video premiered when MTV was still big into playing music videos and this one caught almost everyone’s attention.  With his good looks and deep voice, Astley became a star.  He was categorized not just as a pop singer, but also labeled “blue-eyed soul.”  Many singers with this label were not actually “soul” singers, but have been dubbed so due to their vocal quality.

One of the top cover songs of 2018 is said to be that of Never Gonna Give You Up by Bronze Avery (Gabriel Brown).  The pop singer has slowed down the song and removed the driving beat. The vocal is now a sensuous and soulful take on the original.  It certainly will never achieve the overwhelming success of Astley’s hit, but it can stand on its own merits.

In case you wonder if Astley still has fans, his official music video was posted on his channel in 2009 and now has over a half billion views there.  The lyrics are still well-known, as the ever-young Astley proves when these festival fans sing along at a more recent appearance.

Source: “The Best Cover Songs of 2018,” covermesongs.com, December 17, 2018


A Different Road, by Rich Paschall

There are many people, especially those who live in third world countries I presume, who live in poverty, can not get a good education or good job, have infrastructure in need of building or repair, and have government leaders who only take care of the rich and those with special interests.  They have little hope of something better in their own country so they dream of going elsewhere.  If they can get a passport, a visa and enough money, many still aspire to travel to the USA.  When they arrive, all but the lucky few will eventually discover that they have moved to a country where many live in poverty, can not get a good education or good job, have infrastructure in need of building or repair, and have government leaders who only take care of the rich and those with special interests.  In fact U.N. Envoy Philip Alston (Australian) found things to be quite bleak. “The American dream, he says, is an ‘American illusion’.” (as reported on NRP.org).

another world

Once they have arrived, these immigrants can not turn around and go back.  They have sold everything and come with just a suitcase or two of clothes and memories.  Right wing nationalists will tell them to go home, but there is no home to return to.  They have already given up everything.  The only choice is to try to make the best of it.  Many will eventually succeed. Some will stay and struggle. Some will return to a land they had hope to give up forever.

These immigrants certainly did not expect the streets to be paved with gold, but they certainly felt the standard of living was high and almost everyone had instant success.  Life was just one large party where everyone dressed in good clothes, ate well and enjoyed the good life.  Some friends of mine who have come from other countries tell me that friends back home still believe in the great American Dream even when relatives who live here tell them it is not so.  What fuels this “streets paved with gold” thinking?  Why does anyone think someplace else is better if relatives say it is not? Do they not hear the discouraging comments of our right-wing politicians?

Paved with gold?

Anyone can see the road that they walk on
Is paved in gold
And it’s always summer
They’ll never get cold
They’ll never get hungry
They’ll never get old and grey

The Grass Is Greener:  If you live in an area where the prospects are bleak, it may seem logical to believe that life must be better somewhere else.  Your heart and mind may tell you, “This can not be all there is.”  From there you may make plans to travel to a place where life will be better.  It seems to be in our nature to believe in “the grass is greener somewhere else”, especially if you have no grass at all.

Depression and Hope: It is certainly depressing to live in a community, and in fact a country, where there is little hope to get ahead in society.  If you struggle to get enough food for your meager existence, then going elsewhere is the logical response.  If the US offers hope to you, then that may be your destination of choice.  But why do people see USA as the place to go?  What continues to fuel the belief for many that everyone lives on easy street in America?

Television:  Many successful American television shows are broadcast all over the world.  I watched The Simpsons in Spanish in Colombia, but there were also a variety of comedies and dramas.  Would “Friends” give you a good idea of what life is like in America?  Would any of the other long running comedies or dramas show an accurate picture?  Do the police procedurals, as many now call them, reassure people since the bad guy is always caught?  People are not living in poverty or struggling to get by in these shows.

Music Videos: For younger people there seems to be an endless supply of music videos in Spanish as well as English showing the non stop dance party.  Beautiful young people in fashionable clothes are dancing on rooftops and beaches, across New York City, Miami and Los Angeles and living the good life.  Everything must be good as everyone seems to be having fun.

These random thoughts of mine are supported by more than the anecdotal evidence provided by the tales of my neighbors.  If you live in or near a large US Metropolitan area, you can hear many stories that are the same if you care to listen.  As far back as Benjamin Franklin, people “have formed, through ignorance, mistaken ideas and expectations of what is to be obtained there.”  We have disappointed immigrants from the beginning, and their stories are always being told.

The sad stories of those who travel here are also the disappointments for many of us.  The wealthy class may get ahead through inheritance and connections, while the rest struggle.  At present, the government promotes the idea that the rich should get richer, as in the previously failed promise that the money in the pockets of the rich will somehow benefit all.  This trickle down nonsense is not portrayed in the American television shows and music videos playing in other countries.

Sources: The Way by Fastball, lyrics by Tony Scalzo, https://www.azlyrics.com
America Has Been Disappointing Immigrants For A Long Time by Jared Favole, https://medium.com
U.N. Investigator On Extreme Poverty Issues A Grim Report — On The U.S.” by Sasha Ingper, www.npr.org
U.S. students’ academic achievement still lags that of their peers in many other countries,” February 15, 2017, http://www.pewresearch.org

Also read: What international test scores reveal about American education,” Louis Serino, 



For Whom We Grieve, by Rich Paschall

In our younger years I suppose it is common to develop heroes in sports and entertainment.  Most of them will be real people, some will be fictitious characters, but they will come to mean a lot in our lives.  We follow their careers.  We cheer them on in the theater and at the movies.  We listen to them on the radio, CDs or streaming apps on our mobile devices.  We watch them at concerts and on television.  We grow attached to our heroes as if they were personal friends or members of the family.  After all, many of them enrich our lives.  Of all these, I think our musical favorites affect us the most to us.

Perhaps you have heard the phrase “the soundtrack of our lives.”  Radio stations love to use it, especially oldies stations.  When they say they are playing our “soundtrack,” what do they mean?  Do our lives have a soundtrack?  I believe they do and they contain many heroes and icons.

From a young age up to the early 30s, I think we develop a “soundtrack.”  It is the music we listen to the most.  It is the records, CDs and digital downloads we buy.  How many of us bought an album in our late teens or early 20s and then listened to it many times in the decades that followed?  While some continue to embrace new artists throughout their lives, many cling to the stars of their youth.  For example, I saw Chicago the band in college in the 1970s and more times than I can count in the following years.  I saw Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin (Beach Boys) in 2016.  I saw the Rolling Stones a few years ago in Chicago.  It is a joy to listen and reminisce.

Chicago in Chicago, August 2014

Chicago in Chicago, August 2014

When the artists who played the music we grew up listening to pass away, we are understandably sad.  If they pass away from old age or sickness, we not only grieve for them but for ourselves as well.  Their passing is a reminder of our own mortality.  We do, however, have their great music to help ease the pain of loss.

In 2016 it seems we lost some iconic figures who played on the soundtrack of my life.  Maybe they played on yours too.    It was a year that stunned many in the music industry.  My mother would have known Kay Starr (94) and Julius La Rosa (86), who performed until recent years.  Fans of folk music would mourn the loss of Glenn Yarbrough (Limeliters) at 86.  Country and Western fans lost a huge star in Merle Haggard (79).

Elton John lost a hero and musical favorite in Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Leon Russell (74).  It was Russell who helped John to become a rock star, and John returned the favor in recent years by touring with Russell and recording an album with him (The Union).

Fans of the 1970s Grammy winning rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer saw the passing of both Keith Emerson (74) and Greg Lake (69).  ELP won the Grammy for Best New Artists in 1972 and Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1981.  The progressive rock group sold an estimated 48 million albums.

Of my favorites I will give an honorable mention to Rick Parfitt (68) of the British rock group Status Quo.  The biggest hit I can remember was “Pictures of Matchstick Men” from 1968.  I loved the “psychedelic sound.”  They had a few more hits over the years.  Parfitt is on the left at this 2014 festival performance, proving old guys rock:

One of the first singers I remember was Bobby Vee (73).  He was already a rock star when I became aware of Rock and Roll.  He had quite a string of hits in the 1960s and of course, appeared on American Bandstand with Dick Clark.

Glenn Frey (67), was a musician, songwriter, founding member of the Eagles and a lead singer on many of their hits, as well as an occasional actor on television and in films.  The Eagles Greatest Hits was the best-selling album in the US in the 20th Century and second all time behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller.   The track listing of the Eagles iconic album is the finest collection of rock and roll of the 1970s.

Prince Rogers Nelson, or just Prince to you and me, was another multifaceted artist.  He picked up 7 Grammys in his career as well as an Academy Award (Purple Rain).  With numerous hits to his credit, Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. At the time of his death he was seeking professional help for constant pain.  He was only 57.  Prince performed Purple Rain live in a rain storm at the Super Bowl:

One of the most iconic rock stars of our era was David Bowie (69).  He was a constant innovator, often reinventing his musical style and his personal image at the same time.  Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. In addition to his musical career, he appeared in many theatrical productions and films.

Perhaps the biggest shock in the Rock and Roll world was the sudden death of Grammy winning artist George Michael (53), reportedly of heart failure.  Michael burst on the music scene as one half of Wham!  Their good looks, high energy and lively tunes brought them huge success.  When Michael went on to a solo career, he tried to concentrate on more adult themes in his music.  Careless Whisper was one of those songs and a big hit: