My Obsessions (Ain’t What They Used To Be)

Art by ATELIER DAYNÈS; PHOTOGRAPH: S. ENTRESSANGLE

Friendship is one of the things I appreciate a lot at this point in my life. Don’t ask me why, but for some reason I have more strong friendships now, in the way-past-my-prime years, than I did in my younger days, which were back when Neanderthals were disappearing fast from the face of the Earth. Ah, the Neanderthals. I was real, real sorry to see them go. They kept to themselves for the most part, sure, but they were good people. They had hearts of gold. I mean, they’d share their last hunk of fire-roasted, olive oil-infused wooly mammoth meat with you if you were hungry. Or give you pots of pigments, whatever colors you needed to finish your cave paintings. What the hell can you say? Times change.

Anyway, fast-forwarding through many millennia, I was at dinner recently with two of my great pals, Mike and Jeff, guys I used to work with. We hook up for meals, and sometimes for concerts and other stuff, on a regular basis. We get along swimmingly.

We were at a tavern in a tony section of Philadelphia, downing beers and pretty good food and yapping about the usual. Donald Trump, cute girls, movies, television, travel and sports, for instance. We detest the first subject on that list and plenty like all the others. The conversation turned to baseball. Aware that the local team had lost a ton of games recently, I genteelly said to Mike and Jeff: “What the f**k’s wrong with the Phillies this year? They’re f**king awful!”

“Right,” said Mike, “I was talking for an hour about exactly that with a group of guys this morning.”

But I couldn’t go into great detail about the Phillies’ situation, because I barely knew what was happening with the team. I had no idea which Phillies were stinking up the ball field and which, if any, were playing decently. That’s the way I am these days when it comes to sports. I keep up with certain athletics a bit in the newspaper, watch a few minutes of some games on the boob tube now and then . . . and that’s about it. I still like sports, sort of, but my interest is almost nothing compared to what it was in the 1960s and 70s and much of the 80s. In those years I ingested sports voraciously, in person, on television and by reading about them. And it wasn’t only the most popular games — baseball, football and basketball — that I followed. I was into tennis, golf, track and field, boxing, bowling . . . there wasn’t much I didn’t invest countless hours keeping up with.

But those days are long gone. Starting in the late 80s I began to experience déjà vu whenever tuning in to a game. “I’ve seen all of this before,” I would think to myself. “Like, eighty thousand times before.” Which was very, very true. And so my interest in sports started its what I imagine to be predestined decline. By the time I met Sandy, my wife, in 1990, I wasn’t all that big a sports fan anymore. That’s lucky for me because she’d have bid a quick adieu to anyone obsessed with sporting affairs. And I totally understand that viewpoint. These days I too don’t enjoy spending much time with anyone who is magnificently hung up on and consumed by sports. Or by any other subject, for that matter.

Such as music. Some people who have known me for years still think of me as a total music nut. Well, music is a big interest of mine, as the pages of this blog prove. But I’m one-fifth the music guy that once I was. Where I used to make a startling effort to follow what was going on in rock, jazz, blues, singer-songwriter, reggae, Americana and you-name-it genres of music, no longer do I behave that way. My effort these days is limited, not startling. And I’m much the happier for it. Now I have loads of time to spend on more important activities, such as trying to devise innovative afternoon-napping systems that will benefit mankind immeasurably by invigorating the human spirit as never before. Such work, I’m quite confident, will prove to be my most important and lasting legacy.

Still, music is wondrous. And, unlike sports, I couldn’t live without it. Or live without writing about it. And that’s what I’m about to do. You see, one morning last month I heard a song on WXPN, the University of Pennsylvania’s crackerjack radio station, that instantly blew me away. The song made my ears stand up, and then it carried me from the bathroom in which I was brushing my teeth to cosmic pastures. The date, I’m fairly sure, was April 24, two days after the band called The War On Drugs released Thinking Of A Place.

Now, I don’t know much about The War On Drugs, further proof of the enormous diminution of my once-obsession with music. I’ve never delved into their music. What I do know is that they are based in Philadelphia, the city I live near, and that they are a big name and also quite popular in the rock music world. Their most recent album, Lost In The Dream, came out in 2014. Thinking Of A Place, a sweeping, calming and improbably long (11 minutes and 12 seconds) song, is the first new material the band has released since then.

WXPN is pretty obsessed with Thinking Of A Place, and I am too. Despite its length, the station has been playing it once or more on most days. And though I don’t listen to XPN all that much, I seem to catch the tune half the times that I turn on the station. Which can’t be coincidental. Meaning, the music gods high above us have their gazes firmly fixed upon me. Without a doubt they want me to make known the existence of Thinking Of A Place to some good folks who likely haven’t heard it before.

Sit back, close your eyes and let The War On Drugs take you on a splendid ride. Thinking Of A Place is good for whatever might ail you. Here it is. Peace out, brothers and sisters.

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45 thoughts on “My Obsessions (Ain’t What They Used To Be)

  1. The Artist's Child May 31, 2017 / 12:48 am

    Really enjoyed that beautiful, haunting music. Thank you for posting it. Definitely one to download for repeated listening especially when you want to be in a good place.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alice May 31, 2017 / 5:00 am

    The Neanderthals WERE good peeps, weren’t they. *sigh* And their wooly mammoth was always organic…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. C. C. Cedras May 31, 2017 / 7:44 am

    Lushly beautiful music this morning, thank you! Adding that one to my playlist.

    I dated a Neanderthal in college who taught me many wondrous things. Ah, good times.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. greenpete58 May 31, 2017 / 7:58 am

    Can’t listen to The War on Drugs now, but I will later. I agree totally about a dilution of obsessions, and that our obsessions weaken as we get older and wiser. Driving to work this a.m. I was thinking of just that. It’s much healthier to sample a little of this, a little of that, rather than to monopolize one thing all the time. I feel that way about religion, politics, books, food, geography, music… So many people aren’t wired that way, unfortunately, and it can get them really f***ed up.

    Liked by 2 people

    • yeahanotherblogger May 31, 2017 / 8:39 am

      Thanks for adding your thoughts, Pete. You said it better than I did. I’m going to hire you as a ghostwriter!

      Like

  5. Still the Lucky Few May 31, 2017 / 8:53 am

    Having cut back your involvement with sports and music, I am relieved to read that you haven’t given them up entirely. After all, how much napping can one person do?

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger May 31, 2017 / 10:16 am

      Hello Diane. When I think back on how consumed I used to be by music, I’m pretty amazed. But I still pay a decent amount of attention to music. I’ve been to 10 or more concerts in the last few months.
      Take care —-

      Like

  6. Cindy May 31, 2017 / 1:06 pm

    Thanks for sharing that beautiful song. We tune in to XPN now and then, but hadn’t heard it. I’m glad the music gods and you are still connecting!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Rob May 31, 2017 / 1:24 pm

    I like that choice of words…”a startling effort to follow music”. I think my similar efforts could be described that way as well currently (though I’m younger! maybe I’ll get less startling as I get older…ha ha). Thanks for linking to the song too – it’s great. Will have to look for the album when it comes out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger May 31, 2017 / 2:06 pm

      Hi Rob. I plan to give a listen to their album that came out in 2014. It got strong reviews.

      See you —

      Like

  8. Alyson May 31, 2017 / 2:26 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone speak so fondly of Neanderthals – I now have new respect for this ancient species. Another great Wednesday read (I like when bloggers stick to a specific day of the week to press publish – it’s always a lovely surprise to see what the topic will be). I’m with you on the sports though and I suspect there are an awful lot of men in the UK who aren’t actually that bothered about football (or soccer as you call it) but they feel pressured into going along with the charade of following it, which in turn means our television schedules become football-laden!

    As for the song you shared, another lovely surprise – always nice to make new discoveries.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger May 31, 2017 / 3:09 pm

      Hi. Every once in a while a song really grabs me. This one did, for sure.

      Take care, Alyson. Thanks a lot for stopping by.

      Like

  9. hairytoegardener May 31, 2017 / 5:06 pm

    I enjoyed the mellow, calm vibe of this song.–Thanks! Your Neanderthal photo also made me chuckle.

    Your post is food for thought…You say your obsessions have waned over the years. Since I retired (early), I’ve had more time to focus on those things that were/are important to me. Before, life revolved around work and weekends were used to try to catch up with laundry, bills, yard work, grocery shopping, and if I was lucky, a bit of time to hang with friends. I’m glad those days are gone, but my obsessions are still there.–I just have more time now to indulge them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger May 31, 2017 / 5:43 pm

      Hi. Yeah, I understand what you’re saying. In my case, I think I was too heavily invested in sports and music for years, so the time eventually came when my interest in them decreased. But, music is still a big part of my life (but not as big as it used to be).

      Thanks a lot for visiting. I appreciate it.

      Like

  10. cincinnatibabyhead June 1, 2017 / 1:05 pm

    I’m having a hard time getting by the photo (can’t stop chuckling). CB is about a half generation removed from that era. Man do I hear a lot of influences coming through this band and song. It’s really good Neil. Love when the guitar kicks in, adds a nice bite. Real good stuff. Thanks. ( My trust level in you is pretty high on your choices). Letting go of certain things isn’t as hard as we think. Some things that is. That was a good little read Neil and listen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 1, 2017 / 4:30 pm

      Hello, CB.
      The War On Drugs hit the bullseye with this song. It’s terrific.
      Have a real good rest of the week. We’ll be in touch with one another again soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Aunt Beulah June 1, 2017 / 4:28 pm

    I liked learning I’m not alone in abandoning previous obsessions: the Mickey Mouse Club, the Miss American Pageant, the Academy Awards, college basketball, Wolf Man Jack, Stephen King, the Olympics and Willie Nelson to name a few. However, I’m sticking with the St. Louis Cardinals, novels, and pepperoni pizza. I really liked Thinking of a Place. I’m going to get it to dust to. I like to play music that puts me in another zone when I do that onerous task.

    Liked by 2 people

    • yeahanotherblogger June 1, 2017 / 7:24 pm

      Hello, Janet. Pizza remains one of my addictions too. And Cheez-Its! And beer!
      Have a good evening. Take care.

      Like

  12. Lori Stratton June 1, 2017 / 11:01 pm

    Love The War on Drugs. Lost in a Dream is one of my favorite all-time albums. Under Pressure and Red Eyes never get old!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 2, 2017 / 7:07 am

      Hi Lori. I definitely need to check out their albums.
      They have a tour coming up in a few months, by the way.

      Thanks for visiting. See you —

      Liked by 1 person

  13. andrewcferguson June 2, 2017 / 2:19 am

    Tucked the track away for a listen later, Neil, but you’ve hit the bullseye for me musically here. I got into War on Drugs when their last album came out, and saw them at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall when they came by on their last tour. Great gig, even allowing for the excruciating backache that I developed from standing on a sloping floor! Ah yes, I remember the Neanderthals too…

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 2, 2017 / 7:12 am

      Hi, Andrew.
      The War On Drugs starts their upcoming tour (in September, I think) in their hometown, which is Philadelphia. They will be at an under-used outdoor venue in a huge park. I hope to be at that show.
      Take care. Bye for now —

      Like

  14. sniderjerry June 2, 2017 / 2:48 pm

    Great friends, good music…now that’s the way to travel the years. Good post. Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 2, 2017 / 3:33 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Jerry. Always good to hear from you.
      Enjoy the weekend—

      Neil

      Like

  15. Martin June 4, 2017 / 5:31 am

    Great post and a great track. It’s weird about losing your obsessions. Recently I’ve lost interest in fishing which has sustained me since I was a boy and I feel really sad about it.

    BTW Neanderthals are alive and well and living in Lincolnshire. I’ve taught quite a few.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Lucie June 4, 2017 / 9:16 am

    WHAT?!!! You’re not obsessed with football???? I mean, I understand not being ga-ga over baseball (it bores the living daylights outta me!), but you’re not a Eagles fan? Oh dear…… And how can you not be enthralled with our lovely POTUS? He’s such a Neanderthral!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 4, 2017 / 10:55 am

      Hi Lucie.
      Neanderthals were good guys and gals, not much different from us.

      Trump, on the other hand, is a creep. He’s sub-human.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lucie June 4, 2017 / 7:01 pm

        Boy, do i hear u on that opinion! He is one unbalanced person whp is encouring the other unbalanced humans to crawl outta their holes and be mean to people….scary stuff going on these days…makes me sad…😕

        Liked by 1 person

  17. pjlazos June 5, 2017 / 2:01 pm

    Great stuff, thanks! The lead singer sounds like a mix of Jacob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. 👏

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 5, 2017 / 3:14 pm

      Hi.
      I’ve listened on YouTube to their album Lost In The Dream. Sounds terrific. I’m going to buy the cd.

      Liked by 1 person

      • pjlazos June 5, 2017 / 3:51 pm

        I just may have to do the same! Cause they’re from Philly and all.😎

        Liked by 1 person

  18. aj vosse June 10, 2017 / 1:39 pm

    Wow… now I’m hooked as well! Thanks!! 😉
    Peace on brother and all the other brothers and sisters! Be blessed!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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