A Fan’s Notes: Rick Barry, “No Such Luck (Surprise, Surprise)” – Exclusive Premiere

Rick Barry enjoys working in his garden. Sometimes it seems that he’s happier getting his hands in the dirt than he is getting his hands on a guitar. And yet, he still manages to gift us periodically with some new music. The New Jersey-based singer/songwriter was a Grand Prize winner in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest for his song “Courage For a Rainy Day” and he was also awarded second place in the same contest for “Graphic Narrative.” Both songs appeared on his debut album Declaration of Codependence. Rick is the recipient of several prestigious Asbury Music Awards and was a finalist in the Unisong International Songwriting Competition.

Rick experienced a career highlight in 2015 when he was chosen to perform with his band before a capacity crowd at New York’s Lincoln Center as a part of that august institution’s American Songbook Series.

“Lincoln Center’s American Songbook is our celebration of great American popular songwriting and the people who sing it,” said Charles Cermele, Lincoln Center’s Producer for Contemporary Programming. “The beauty of Rick Barry’s songwriting and the quality of his performances express the heart of what this series is all about.”

Rick Barry

On June 7, Rick will release his new album *A Sunk Cost Fallacy and the Enduring Mirage as a follow-up to his highly acclaimed 2016 effort Curses, Maledictions, and Harsh Reiterations. The album was recorded at the Farm Studios in West Chester, PA and produced by Rick along with keyboard player Mark Masefield (Remember Jones). Other core members of the band include guitarist Justin Bornemann (of the band Dentist), drummer Santo Rizollo, and bass player Zach Westfall, who also created the cover art (right). Maggie Rose, Emily Rose, and Tara Dente contributed backing vocals.

Rick says of the songs on the new album, “Most of them are break up songs I guess. I think that’s because it’s just an easy sad bastard topic to pull material from. I go to that well with relative frequency.” He cites Bob Dylan as an influence while acknowledging that there are very few songwriters these days that Dylan didn’t influence but Rick also lists less obvious artists like David Bazan and the band Frightened Rabbit as inspirations.

“Mostly when it comes to my influences, anybody who sounds and feels honest fits that description. Not that I try to emulate them, but in my mind I say ‘I want to make someone feel the way that song made me feel,’ and that’s really what keeps me doing this. Life doesn’t often inspire me to write anymore,” Rick added. “I wish it were that simple. I write because it’s what I’ve always done. I don’t know why. I just know that I have to keep doing it or I’d feel, I don’t know, ordinary.”

Remember what I said about Rick and his garden? Here’s what he had to say about promoting the new album:

“We will be celebrating the album release on June 8th at The Saint in Asbury Park. We have East Coast and West Coast tours in the works for the fall as well. I don’t like to tour in the summer. It takes time away from my gardening.”

See what I mean?

Popdose is proud to host the Exclusive Premiere of the first single from A Sunk Cost Fallacy and the Enduring Mirage, “No Such Luck (Surprise, Surprise).” Please be aware that the lyrics include language that may make the song unsuitable for a work environment.

*According to Rick, “sunk cost fallacy” is a behavioral economic term which states that the more you invest the harder it is to get out even if the investment is not paying off. The “enduring mirage” refers to the dream that one day the investment will pay off. The parallels to the failed relationships that Rick documents in his songs and the struggle to succeed as an artist are there for the taking.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Woman Problem

This is the first in a series of articles about the various problems the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has with its nomination and election processes. Focusing on the last decade of induction classes (but occasionally going back further), I’ll be documenting the four things the Hall of Fame electors keep exposing: An overall problem with Women; a problem with UK under-representation; a problem with California over-representation; and, an inability to move on from older acts to newer ones. A fifth article will address ways in which these problems can be dealt with so the Hall of Fame can properly represent the true scope and depth of this genre.

————————————————————-

In the last ten years, there have been 57 acts inducted into the main roster of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHoF). Here are all of the female-oriented acts among those 57:

2010 – ABBA ( 2 of 4 members)
2011 – Darlene Love
2012 – Laura Nyro
2013 – Heart (2 of 6 members) and Donna Summer
2014 – Linda Ronstadt
2015 – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (1 of 5 members)
2016 – NONE
2017 – Joan Baez
2018 – Nina Simone
2019 – Janet Jackson & Stevie Nicks

That’s eleven acts total. (Counting the sex of all the band members inducted, that actually works out to 10.03 acts.) While it is almost understandable that less than 20% of the acts that made it in were female (almost all forms of music that fit under the “rock & roll umbrella” have been dominated by men through the years), take a look at how many years it took after each of these acts were eligible for inclusion for them to finally be elected (one is eligible for induction 25 years after their recorded debut):

2010 – ABBA (10 years)
2011 – Darlene Love (26 years)
2012 – Laura Nyro (19 years)
2013 – Heart (12 years)
2013 – Donna Summer (13 years)
2014 – Linda Ronstadt (19 years)
2015 – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (9 years)
2016 – NONE
2017 – Joan Baez (41 years)
2018 – Nina Simone (43 years)
2019 – Janet Jackson (11 years)
2019 – Stevie Nicks (12 years)

Only Joan Jett was able to get in less than a decade after becoming eligible. On the other side of things, both Joan Baez and Nina Simone were eligible from the very first RRHoF class in 1986–yet the years they were inducted were also the first times they were actually nominated. This means in the last five RRHoF induction classes, only four women got in, two of them were a folk singer and a jazz singer who technically had been eligible for 40 years but weren’t previously considered to be “rock & roll”, and one (Nicks) was someone who had already been previously inducted within a band being re-inducted for her solo career.

Meanwhile, over the same previous ten years, Nirvana, Guns ‘N Roses, Green Day and Tupac Shakur were elected in their first year of eligibility, Radiohead in their second, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in their third.

This is not a case of there not being a big enough pool of female acts for RRHoF voters to nominate and elect. The following sixteen female acts, for instance, were also eligible last year. A number of them have been eligible for many years with hardly a nomination among them:
Tori Amos
The Bangles
Bjork
Mary J. Blige
Kate Bush
Sheryl Crow
The Go-Gos
Emmylou Harris
PJ Harvey
Grace Jones
Chaka Kahn (and Rufus)
k.d. lang
Salt n Pepa
Liz Phair
Carly Simon
Lucinda Williams

And then there are at least these five eligible bands led by women or with super-significant female members also shut out to date:
Hole
Pixies
Sade
Smashing Pumpkins
Sonic Youth

While there may be debate about the level of worthiness of the twenty-one acts that I have just listed, can you really say ALL of them were less worthy of inclusion than this year’s inductees Def Leppard, Roxy Music, and the Zombies? Or last year’s Bon Jovi, The Cars, and The Moody Blues?

Whoever are the individuals putting together nominating lists for the induction classes, it still appears being a female artist-even in 2019-is something that needs to be “overcome” by the voting body, whereas the masculine continues to be treated as a “normal” state in defining what “rock” is. Notice that even among the eleven acts in the last decade that have entered, only Heart and Jett play what traditionally could be called rock music. Of the other nine, only Laura Nyro and Stevie Nicks are usually seen as songwriters, while only Nyro, Joan Baez, and Nina Simone are known for playing instruments. The rest are singers, and singers alone.

Going back further, you’ll find the vast majority of female acts that have gotten in tend to be girl groups, or mixed-sex groups in which the female(s) usually take a singing-only role. The only women that both play and compose who get in are usually some undeniable force of nature (Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith) that simply HAS to be in the Hall of Fame. Meanwhile eight members of Deep Purple were elected in 2016, and ten members of The Cure are on their plaque this year. Those two acts combined contain five more men (18) than the total number of women (13) who have gotten in during the last DECADE.

The fact is, simply put, whether measuring “worthiness” for RRHoF induction by sales and chart numbers, quality of music, or influence on other acts, there are a number of female acts which deserve priority over yet another 1970s-era stadium band “finally” getting in every single year….But we’ll get to that in a future article.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Woman Problem

This is the first in a series of articles about the various problems the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has with its nomination and election processes. Focusing on the last decade of induction classes (but occasionally going back further), I’ll be documenting the four things the Hall of Fame electors keep exposing: An overall problem with Women; a problem with UK under-representation; a problem with California over-representation; and, an inability to move on from older acts to newer ones. A fifth article will address ways in which these problems can be dealt with so the Hall of Fame can properly represent the true scope and depth of this genre.

————————————————————-

In the last ten years, there have been 57 acts inducted into the main roster of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHoF). Here are all of the female-oriented acts among those 57:

2010 – ABBA ( 2 of 4 members)
2011 – Darlene Love
2012 – Laura Nyro
2013 – Heart (2 of 6 members) and Donna Summer
2014 – Linda Ronstadt
2015 – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (1 of 5 members)
2016 – NONE
2017 – Joan Baez
2018 – Nina Simone
2019 – Janet Jackson & Stevie Nicks

That’s eleven acts total. (Counting the sex of all the band members inducted, that actually works out to 10.03 acts.) While it is almost understandable that less than 20% of the acts that made it in were female (almost all forms of music that fit under the “rock & roll umbrella” have been dominated by men through the years), take a look at how many years it took after each of these acts were eligible for inclusion for them to finally be elected (one is eligible for induction 25 years after their recorded debut):

2010 – ABBA (10 years)
2011 – Darlene Love (26 years)
2012 – Laura Nyro (19 years)
2013 – Heart (12 years)
2013 – Donna Summer (13 years)
2014 – Linda Ronstadt (19 years)
2015 – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (9 years)
2016 – NONE
2017 – Joan Baez (41 years)
2018 – Nina Simone (43 years)
2019 – Janet Jackson (11 years)
2019 – Stevie Nicks (12 years)

Only Joan Jett was able to get in less than a decade after becoming eligible. On the other side of things, both Joan Baez and Nina Simone were eligible from the very first RRHoF class in 1986–yet the years they were inducted were also the first times they were actually nominated. This means in the last five RRHoF induction classes, only four women got in, two of them were a folk singer and a jazz singer who technically had been eligible for 40 years but weren’t previously considered to be “rock & roll”, and one (Nicks) was someone who had already been previously inducted within a band being re-inducted for her solo career.

Meanwhile, over the same previous ten years, Nirvana, Guns ‘N Roses, Green Day and Tupac Shakur were elected in their first year of eligibility, Radiohead in their second, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in their third.

This is not a case of there not being a big enough pool of female acts for RRHoF voters to nominate and elect. The following sixteen female acts, for instance, were also eligible last year. A number of them have been eligible for many years with hardly a nomination among them:
Tori Amos
The Bangles
Bjork
Mary J. Blige
Kate Bush
Sheryl Crow
The Go-Gos
Emmylou Harris
PJ Harvey
Grace Jones
Chaka Kahn (and Rufus)
k.d. lang
Salt n Pepa
Liz Phair
Carly Simon
Lucinda Williams

And then there are at least these five eligible bands led by women or with super-significant female members also shut out to date:
Hole
Pixies
Sade
Smashing Pumpkins
Sonic Youth

While there may be debate about the level of worthiness of the twenty-one acts that I have just listed, can you really say ALL of them were less worthy of inclusion than this year’s inductees Def Leppard, Roxy Music, and the Zombies? Or last year’s Bon Jovi, The Cars, and The Moody Blues?

Whoever are the individuals putting together nominating lists for the induction classes, it still appears being a female artist-even in 2019-is something that needs to be “overcome” by the voting body, whereas the masculine continues to be treated as a “normal” state in defining what “rock” is. Notice that even among the eleven acts in the last decade that have entered, only Heart and Jett play what traditionally could be called rock music. Of the other nine, only Laura Nyro and Stevie Nicks are usually seen as songwriters, while only Nyro, Joan Baez, and Nina Simone are known for playing instruments. The rest are singers, and singers alone.

Going back further, you’ll find the vast majority of female acts that have gotten in tend to be girl groups, or mixed-sex groups in which the female(s) usually take a singing-only role. The only women that both play and compose who get in are usually some undeniable force of nature (Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith) that simply HAS to be in the Hall of Fame. Meanwhile eight members of Deep Purple were elected in 2016, and ten members of The Cure are on their plaque this year. Those two acts combined contain five more men (18) than the total number of women (13) who have gotten in during the last DECADE.

The fact is, simply put, whether measuring “worthiness” for RRHoF induction by sales and chart numbers, quality of music, or influence on other acts, there are a number of female acts which deserve priority over yet another 1970s-era stadium band “finally” getting in every single year….But we’ll get to that in a future article.

The Vinyl Diaries: Dylan and Kendrick

I am 48 years old, and my hero is a 19-year-old named Dylan. You may recall him from some of my previous entries on topics like his birthday, his one-time Justin Bieber fixation, and other happenings and circumstances in his life. We’ve known each other a long time.

Dylan struggles with things I find easy. He excels at other things that baffle and frustrate me. Our tastes in art and artistic expressions rarely intersect, but when they do – when a song moves us both in similar ways, or when we leave a cinema together having just been mutually entertained – there’s a connection between us that draws us closer, and certainly transcends the usual father-son banter in which we typically engage (“How was your day?” “Fine. How was yours?” “Fine.”).

He processes the world differently than I do, a combination of the usual generational contrasts and disparities, and the symptomatology inherent to his non-specific pervasive developmental disorder, a dot somewhere on the higher-functioning end of the autism spectrum. Over time, these circumstances have frustrated us both. As he grew up, I had to find a new way to communicate with him—one that provided me with space and some modicum of time (sometimes mere seconds, sometimes hours or days), to enable me to process him, his emotional fragility versus my impatience; his genuine anger or anxiety or confusion versus my own anger or anxiety or confusion. Many times, I failed to find that way; I snapped when I should have asked questions; I tried to leave my impression on a situation when I should have simply let it be; I wounded him verbally when I should have held my tongue.

But there were other times (more other times, I’d like to think) when we clicked and both walked away stronger. When I was for him what my father had been for me—a rock on which he could lean; an example he could use to model a correct response, or at least an appropriate one. I don’t know that I ever celebrated those moments as much as I mulled over and regretted those in which I did the wrong thing, leaving him to figure out the right way to proceed, in spite of my adding to his burden.

One thing I could not give him was the emotional and intellectual fortitude to persist. That, he found for himself. It’s probably the aspect of his person and personality of which I am proudest, in addition to his kind heart, his cheerful spirit and his propensity to give of himself to his friends, his family, even strangers in need.

High school can be hell for people like Dylan, but he made it through the social and academic gauntlets of that most questionably useful of institutions, with his humor and kindness and curiosity intact. The ignorant cretins who taunted and goaded him and made every attempt to embarrass him, all of them lost in the end—he got out wiser, with a thicker skin, and has proceeded to college and employment and other, better things in environments where their small-mindedness and cruelty hold no sway. They, in turn, have largely slithered back to their small lives under rocks he will one day trod over with greater confidence than even he could have ever before envisioned. They won’t even recognize him.

I was sent flying into this bit of reflection by the story of Kendrick Castillo—the student of STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado, who was killed when he rushed a gunman who had entered his classroom.

The first thing that struck me about Castillo was his appearance—he was a big kid, with a similarly built body to my boy’s, and his eyes had the same qualities of piercing intensity and kindness. Then I read about him—his classmates spoke of his genial nature, his sense of humor, his helpfulness; his teachers likewise lavished news stories with similar descriptions and remembrances.

They made me remember the times I saw Dylan helping teachers, carrying boxes or other ephemera, before or after a school event. They made me think of the fact that he carried extra pencils in his backpack and classmates up and down the social continuum knew he’d give them one if they needed one. They reminded me that he had some popular friends, but he was also the first to sit with an outcast at lunch, or to hang out with a physically disabled kid. 

Kendrick Castillo deserved better than the fate that was forced upon him. I admit I have become numb to stories of shootings in this country, my country; their frequency and the inability and/or unwillingness to do anything substantial about them are the numbing agents, as awful as that is and sounds. Castillo’s death – and his resemblance (physical and otherwise) to the person I love most in this world cut through the gauze and awakened me to a realization that I’d relegated to the back of my mind.

That could have been my kid.

I am not the first to make that realization about a shooting, of course, but seeing Castillo’s face accompanying the story of his murder was as close as I’ve ever come to seeing Dylan’s face next to such a story, and it rattled me to my core. Kendrick Castillo lived his last moments in fear, in yet another damnable scene of senseless violence in another town in America, and he nevertheless decided to fight back, to put himself, his life, on the line to save his friends. He was a hero.

That could have been my kid.

The thing is, Castillo should have never been put in that position, in that situation, should have never had to make the decision he made. He should have been left to finish watching The Princess Bride with his classmates; he should have been left to deal with his senioritis (he was three days from graduation); he should have been allowed to leave high school behind and go on with his life. A year from now, he should have been celebrating the end of his freshman year of college, as my son just did.

This has to stop.

But he will not. He is gone, like so many others, and almost certainly so many more to come. I am grateful for him, for waking me up, and for helping me recognize my good fortune, to still be able to hold a conversation with my boy, to still be able to watch him grow up into a young man, to still have days with him, however many more there are.

But I also mourn for Castillo, as should we all. One can only hope that after being exited from this life, he shattered through whatever barrier that keeps us – our spirits, our beings – stuck in place here. If there’s anything peaceful or beautiful that awaits our consciousness beyond this life, may he have found it; may it surround him and buoy him and carry him on.

Nestled in your wings, my little one
This special morning brings another sun
Tomorrow, see the things that never come today

When you see me
Fly away without you
Shadow on the things you know
Feathers fall around you
And show you the way to go

It’s over …