My original attempt at a “bio” (above) identified only that I’m a former sports executive at Madison Square Garden, and the current self-proclaimed music aficionado for SoMuchGreatMusic.com. Still true. But maybe I should offer a little more. For close to 30 years I did work at MSG – The World’s Most Famous Arena, as we liked to call it – in a variety of mostly sports-related roles for the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, helping to market and promote the teams, assisting in building management and operations, and leading departments that sold a whole bunch of tickets. I pored over spreadsheets and ice sheets, and one incredible night I even witnessed the Rangers win the Stanley Cup, breaking their then-54-year curse.
When the building underwent its unprecedented “Transformation” – changing everything but the floor and the iconic, spider-webbed ceiling in a phased 3-year execution as games and events still continued – I walked every step of the renovated lobby, concourses, food courts, suites, clubs, locker rooms, broadcast facilities, and probably sat in every seat of the fully reconfigured seating bowls (and first-of-their-kind suspension “bridges”) to check out all the new views. And I’m really not exaggerating.
I also had the opportunity to attend a lot of concerts, both at The Garden and at sister New York City property, The Beacon Theater: Classic rock heroes Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Bob Seger, and Sir Paul McCartney; legendary bands The Who, Steely Dan, U2, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers; next generation stars like Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Weezer and Oasis; current dynamos Tedeschi Trucks Band, Jason Isbell, Marcus King, and The Mavericks; and too many Allman Brothers Band and Bruce Springsteen shows to possibly remember. In other words, basically from AC/DC to ZZ Top (yup, I saw both of them too).
I was there, too, for lots of special events, such as The Concert for NYC (just a month after 9/11), 12/12/12 (for Hurricane Sandy relief), The Crossroads Guitar Festival, and the 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert.
And, during the same time span, I was also frequently able to see many of my favorite bands and artists in smaller venues as well (which I secretly preferred), a sampling of which would include The Jayhawks, The Bottle Rockets, Cracker, Trombone Shorty, Soulive, Reverend Horton Heat, Southern Culture On The Skids, Los Straitjackets, Matthew Sweet, Junior Brown, Joe Bonamassa, Buckwheat Zydeco, Low Cut Connie, Drive-By Truckers, London Souls, Cake, Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. Multiple times for all. I really wish there was a frequent flier program for concert attendance.
In the time since leaving The Garden I’ve searched myself a fair amount about what’s next. And ultimately, I reached some partially surprising conclusions: notwithstanding my career and lifelong involvement with sports, teams can disappoint you, even break your heart. Players – most certainly – will let you down. And, losing being the bitch that it is, there can be long periods of dissatisfaction or unhappiness with both (at least given the teams and players I’ve been burdened to follow).
Conversely, I can scarcely recall a bad concert. Some are better than others, sure, but they’re never a “loss,” and quite often they’re as magical as a once-in-a-lifetime Stanley Cup. In fact, you never really lose with music, whether live or recorded. It’s the only thing that’s reliably an instant mood-changer: I can be stressed out or pissed off, hear the indescribable opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night,” the single crack of a snare drum to open “Light My Fire,” and a million other moments, and be instantly – well, to borrow a term back from MSG – transformed.
And that’s always. It’s better than any drug. I’d honestly like to know how it possibly happens. Then again, maybe it doesn’t matter what neurons and dopamine pleasure centers are being activated, or whatever. I’m just so glad that it does. Thus I came to realize, family and friends aside, music is the only thing that I really, consistently, give a damn about. And fortunately, there is so much great music.
Which, as you may now have guessed, led me to conceive of and create this site, So Much Great Music, to try to capture and celebrate just a bit of that extraordinary, inexplicable feeling. So, I encourage music fans and listeners – fellow music lovers, shall we say – to peruse these posts, at times involving my personal experiences and offbeat relationship with the music, at others exploring the unusual background of a band or the unique intricacies of a song.
Hopefully you’ll find something interesting and informative, and occasionally quirky and amusing. Maybe you’ll discover a new artist, or notice something different in a song you’ve heard hundreds of times before. Or, as I said at the top, even just harmlessly kill a few minutes of your day…you know you’ve wasted time on far worse. Welcome to So Much Great Music, a lighthearted look at one forever-smitten fan’s love of music, and the unmatched joy that it brings.
*Just try not to have your mood instantly change when, say, this song starts*