Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Hey Baby, It's The 4th of July

According to a good many people - some of them paid quite well to say so - I hate America.
I am, after all, a member in good standing of the latte-sipping costal elite. An avowed big city-dwelling cosmopolitan. I went to college. I have a subscription to the New Yorker. With some luck, talent, and hard work, I have have clawed my way to a comfortable status among the creative classes. And to those who don’t accept the very wide gap between mindless jingoist and ‘Merca hating commie, I am the enemy.
And the thing is - I love America, and I love being an American. It’s an essential part of my identity. I have been around the world and have made great friends in far-flung places and fallen in love with many a foreign land, but in the end - I can’t wait to come home. But I also think there’s nothing more un-American than the notion that you can’t criticize the place. Being able to criticize the place is the whole point. That’s how it improves.
In these days of uncivil discourse, the easy thing would be to retreat to my bastion of the like-minded, but it’s not that easy for me. After 25-plus years of touring the country - from the biggest cities to the very smallest towns, I have met pretty much every kind of American. Sure, racists and sexists and conspiracy-theorists and xenophobes and homophobes and faux christians and belligerent assholes are everywhere (including right here in L.A.), but they are not most people. They are often just the loudest. I have blocked far more of them than I have met. Most people are kind. So kind that sometimes you want to cry with gratitude. 
The internet allows us to dehumanize those who do not see the world as we do, and I admit I’ve indulged in this behavior myself. But in my travels around the country and around the world, I realized long ago that there are people who don’t see the world as I do because they don’t live in the world I live in. To be able to go where they are and meet them face to face changes everything. This is the best part of my job. It gives me hope.
So on this 4th of July, I wish a Happy Independence Day to my friends in the red states and the blue ones. Grill up some meat, get drunk and be someone, put on your flippy-flops, and go blow some shit up!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Red-Eye to West Virginia


So there I was: at home in LA, grilling tri-tip out on the balcony. Next thing I knew, there I was, on a 1am red-eye, West Virginia bound.

• Up for 30 hours? Check.
• Connecting flight nearly cancelled? Check.
• Luggage lost? Check.
• Unexpectedly becoming on-the-spot musical-director for a member of the Temptations. Check.
• With a band I'd never met. Check.
• Still wearing the same clothes I left the house in? Check.
• Making a friend and fan very happy at his surprise 60th birthday party with a set of his fave Malone tunes? Check.

In other words - totally worth the trip. 

Next stop: Spain! 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Passing It On

I just spent 3 amazing, sleepless days as the musical director for the Ultimate Vocal Music Summit here in Los Angeles. We mentored a group of stunningly talented young people, ranging in age from 4 to 20, and got to show them what their dreams of a life making music looked like up close. The growth I saw from them in just three days was astounding. I was on panels with songwriters, players, and producers who have all been responsible for countless hit records (I have been responsible for exactly zero hit records, but there I was anyway!), and I sang a few of my songs and told the stories behind them. But mostly, I was the musical director: I wrote band charts and arrangements for some 30 tunes. Transposed them a few times, and rewrote them, as the kids worked with their vocal coaches and got closer to their vision of how they would perform the songs. Then yesterday, I led an all-star band of amazing players - including my John Fogerty bandmate Kenny Aronoff - through a concert featuring all of the singers. And even though I was sleep-deprived nearly to the point of hallucination, and I had mostly forgotten to eat for most of the weekend, and I had stared at sheets of music until they had nearly lost all meaning, I was transported with joy as I sat behind the piano and saw the show through the eyes of these young singers who were having their musical dreams come true. Many thanks to Dawn Elder World Entertainment for inviting me on this journey - it was unforgettable.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Notte Rosa

The first sign that this was going to be weird was when we pulled the van up, and two guys stumbled down the stairway that led to the stage carrying a third guy who was too drunk to walk, and seconds from spilling his cookies all over the road cases. These three were followed by a steady, firehose-like stream of drunken young people. As we loaded in, we were like salmon swimming against the stream. And the stream was seriously hammered. It was 3:30 am, and we were scheduled to play a 5am sunrise concert to close out the seaside bacchanal know here on the Italian Adriatic Riviera as Notte Rosa (Pink Night) - where the pretty girls wear crowns of flowers, and the pretty boys do their best to impress them. There wasn't a person over the age of twenty-five in the vast horde, and by the time we took the stage, they had been raging all day and all through the night. But from the first notes the drunken throng pressed up to the edge of the stage and sent a wave of happy, drunken, manic energy our way. For the hour we played, the scene was always on the razor's edge of spinning out of control. As I worked the crowd I thought: "Fuck yes! This is rock and roll the way it should be!" I also feared for my life. By 6:30, the sun was up, the show was over, and most of the kids had begun their long unsteady walk home. That was a gig I won't soon forget. #notterosa

Monday, June 13, 2016

Love & Hate

I am flawed beyond comprehension. A lucky flesh covered skeleton, passing my short time on a beautiful planet I can only barely appreciate. Prone to addiction, petty jealousy, gluttony, insecurity, cruelty, and self-loathing. But still I love. I love the creatures to whom this earth belongs - from the pod of dolphins wheeling magnificently before a Pacific sunset, to the mealybug making its way across my concrete balcony garden. And despite all of the well though-out and seamlessly logical reasons I have for disliking my fellow man, there’s nothing I love more than the human race. The only thing I crave as much as being alone is being with others. 

And because I am only human, I hate. And my true and lasting hate is mostly reserved for those who hate. Not the ones who have been dealt a bad hand in life and act out their rage on an indifferent world, but those who are dedicated to the destruction of that which they do not understand - or simply do not like - and use religion or ideology to cover their tracks. The person who picks up a gun and does the deed himself is the easiest to hate, and is indeed loathsome. But make no mistake, that person was not born that way - that person was made. Made by those who have the power and position to spread a poisonous message daily and methodically - all the while picking up a fat check, maintaining a facade of respectability…and using religion or ideology to cover their tracks. And when some unstable little fuck who has guzzled their Kool-Aid to the last drop does the dirty work for them, the idealogues feign shock and blame The Other, and the religious nuts offer aggressively misinterpreted quotes from their chosen book of faith to justify the act. And blame the other.

I am flawed beyond comprehension. And I am not qualified to judge. But it seems to me that the ones who pull the trigger are the symptom. The ones who convince them to do so are the disease.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Je Suis Paris

Years ago, my wife Karen Nash and I discovered a wonderful little hotel near the Denfert-Rochereau Metro station in Paris called Villa Montparnasse. Whenever I play Paris, we always stay there. It's well off the beaten tourist track, and that's what we like about it - it's just a typical Paris neighborhood, with life going on as it does. Some of our most romantic memories as a couple center around this neighborhood. Ducking out of the pouring afternoon rain into the local art-house theatre - not even knowing what was on - and ending up seeing a wonderful documentary about flamingoes (flamant!). Dining at the local cafe where the waiter eventually came to know us by name. The accordion store up the street. The butcher around the corner who would stand outside his shop and say "jambon" in a low and ominous voice as we walked by - as if he were offering something illegal. And Paris in all its glory laid out before us as we stood on the tiny hotel balcony. The last time I was there, Karen could not come along, and it made me so sad to be there alone, I got a song out if it. My heart goes out to the people of Paris tonight, and thinking of our special little corner of their city makes me feel even closer to them. Je suis Paris.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


I am in New Orleans smoking a cigar on Suzie Jagger Richards porch while the rain comes down. I have been in such constant motion all year that it's only now occurred to me that today I just played my final Mojo Deluxe tour show of the year. I have a couple of private benefit shows with John Fogerty in NYC this coming week, and a theatre gig in Italy MD-ing and piano-ing for Jonny Blu in December. Other than that - I intend to rest, nest, feed the birds in Nash Gardens, celebrate the holidays and my 50th birthday  with Karen Nash, and recharge my badly depleted batteries. I have been running on empty for quite some time now - it's been the busiest year of my life. The "Mojo Live" DVD comes out November 20. Put that bad boy up on your flat-screen and crank up the sound - it's just like being there (without me having to be there)! I want thank all of the great musicians who have worked so hard on the road with me this year, and all of you who came to the shows and bought my stuff and showed so much love and support. Next year, we'll do it all again!